The Bible is the authority for the Christian life. Without the Bible the Christian is like a soldier withot a commander – he remains in darkness, confusion and chaos. That is what happens when we approach the topic of sexuality by our own wisdom. Fortunately, the Bible has a lot to say about this important topic.
1. Sex(uality) is a good part of creation
This is very helpful today because sexuality has been seen as a taboo topic among African parents. This is informed by the past upbringing and cultural outlook on sexuality. Thus, what parents have told their children is that “sex is bad”. This guideline helps us to expand that counsel to “sex is bad outside of marriage”. But otherwise, sex and sexuality is a good part of creation and is to be expressed appropriately within the covenant of marriage. When the only message we give to our youth is that “sex is bad”, some of them may have a difficult time expressing themselves with their spouses in marriage.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Gen 1:28)
2. Sin’s effect on sex(uality)
The Bible also teaches about the effect of man’s fall. Because of the influence of satan and man’s sin nature, distortion, brokenness and addiction in the area of sex and sexuality is a part of our world:
- Rape – of Dinah by Shecemites (Gen 34) and Tamar (2 Sam 13).
- Homosexuality – in the account of Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19)
- Incest – by Amnon with her half-sister (2 Sam 13)
This shows us how sin has affected all of the human person, including the area of sexuality. These abnormal and distorted sexual activities are clearly defined as abominable before the sight of God (Gen 19:4-7, 1 Cor 6:9-10). God not only intervenes in these circumstances through judgement but observes that those who continue in sexual immorality “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:9-10).
3. Healing and new life in sexuality
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.1 Cor 6:9-11
Whereas the church has focused on the teaching of abstinence before marriage, it has not spoken clearly to those who have engaged in sexual activity and desire to follow Christ faithfully or are struggling with past sexual practices. 1 Cor 6:11 shows that those who have faith in Christ have a new life and lifestyle, and that they “were” washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ when they believed in him by the Spirit of God. This is good news for believers who are dealing with the guilt of sexual sin and shame from past practices – God has pronounced them clean in Christ and they have a new motivation to pursue purity in their sexual lives.
4. Sexual intimacy reveals God’s covenant
One of the most common questions among young people exploring Christianity is “is sex before marriage wrong?” This shows you how much popular culture influences the thinking of young people in the church. Yet, we need to say more than “the Bible calls it a sin”. Whereas that is true, the young person asking this is struggling with how to respond to the biblical command in light of the pressure from around them. Why sex is bad outside of marriage is that it is rebelling from God’s wisdom. But secondly, sex is an act of intimacy between a man and his wife within a covenantal relationship of marriage. Sex has been designed to function within the environment of trust between a man and his wife. Thus, when engaged in before marriage, it leads to unnecessary bonding (which negatively affects one’s marital bond in the future), hurt and disappointment when a relationship ends and negatively affecting one’s spiritual life. 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 interprets sexual immorality as an intimate bond with a prostitute – I think the imagery is used to caution young and old people alike to “flee sexual immorality” as their bodies are now part of the temple of the Holy Spirit – bonded to the fellowship of believers.
5. Purpose of Sex
Within its covenantal environment, sex has three main purposes including pleasure, procreation and passion. The end of these three is to serve God’s purpose. The Song of Solomon uses romantic language to illustrate the relationship between a man and his wife. The concepts of pleasure and passion feature prominently in the book. However, this illustration of a romantic relationship is used to show the deeper relationship between Christ and his beloved Church. This is the same imagery used by Paul in Ephesians 5:22-33, in his teaching on how husbands and wives should relate. In the Genesis mandate of Gen 1:26-28, the call to “multiply and be fruitful” between a man and his wife, is the primary way through which God ensures godly generations. The mention of various genealogies in the book of Genesis portray God’s faithfulness in keeping his people and ensuring that his purposes for the world prevail. Therefore, sex serves the purposes of pleasure, procreation and passion, all for the ultimate glory of God.
This article reminds us that the Bible is foundational for our Christian life. Without it we lack the authority to function as God intended us to. The following and last article of this series will equip you with practical tips on how to talk with your teen about sexuality.
This article is part of a series in Parenting and Youth Sexuality. See below:
Parenting Teens in a Sexual Age (Part 2): Definitions of Key Terms
Parenting Teens in a Sexual Age (Part 4): Practical Tips