If what the Bible says about homosexuality is clear, we must also see that it should not stand alone as all that it says to the homosexual. It must be heard within the broader message of God’s Word about God’s good design for humanity and the good news of Jesus Christ.
Christians who want to explain the Christian faith to gay friends need to know that what the Bible says about homosexuality is not the only thing they need to explain, and it is probably not the first thing, or even the main thing, they need to focus on.” – Sam Allberry (26)
First, what the Bible says about homosexuality must be heard in light of God’s good design for sex, marriage, and singleness.
Another way of saying this is: God’s “no” to homosexuality must be seen in light of his “yes” to sex, marriage, and singleness. Or God’s hard word against homosexuality is matched by his good word about His design for human sexuality.
Genesis 1-2 lays the necessary groundwork for understanding God’s design for sex and marriage. From the beginning, God has given sex as a good gift to be enjoyed within marriage.
A few points worth noting from Genesis 1-2:
- God made us male and female (Gen. 1:26-28)
- God did not merely make us humans, but he made us male and female.
- Gender is interwoven in God’s good design. While it may find different cultural expression and human interpretation, it cannot be redefined apart from the God’s design.
- Sex is a good gift from God (Gen. 1:28; 2:24)
- Sex is for reproduction (“be fruitful and multiply,” 1:28)
- Sex is to express and deepen union (“it is not good for man to be alone” & “they shall become one flesh,” 2:18, 22-25)
- Sex is for marriage (“a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife,” 2:24)
- Marriage is designed to be between a man and a woman (1:28; 2:24-25)
- Marriage is dependent upon the sexual differences between male and female.
- Marriage is the context in which God designed male and females to experience physical union.
Jesus also taught about God’s good design for sex and marriage, but he also highlighted another good aspect of God’s design for human relationships—singleness
And the Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause? He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh?” So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. – Matthew 19:3-6
Notice that Jesus affirms what we saw from Genesis 1-2:
- God made us male and female (Matt. 19:4)
- Sex is a good gift from God (Matt. 19:5-6)
- Sex is to express and deepen union between husband/wife (Matt. 19:5)
- Sex is for marriage (Matt. 19:5)
- Marriage is designed to be for life and between a man and a woman (Matt. 19:5-6)
In verses 7-9, Jesus shows what this understanding of sex and marriage means in regard to adultery and divorce. Sex is meant to be exclusively for one’s own husband/wife within the confines of marriage. He demonstrates that monogamy is reflected in God’s good design from the beginning (v. 8) The Bible presents a consistent message that all forms of sexual activity outside of marriage are sinful, whether heterosexual or homosexual in nature.
“For the Bible authors, questions of sexual ethics were not framed in terms of ‘Does some behavior cross an arbitrary line?’ The real question was, ‘Does this behavior honor the Creators plan for human sexuality?’” – Adam Barr and Ron Citlau (31)
In Matthew 19:10-12, Jesus takes his argument a step further. In response to his Jesus’ teaching on the commitment and responsibility of marriage, his disciples questions whether it worth pursuing. Surprisingly, Jesus does not blindly encourage them towards marriage.
The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.” – Matthew 19:10-12
Sam Allberry’s explanation of these verses is worth quoting in length:
Eunuchs were the celibates of their day, and Jesus indicates that their celibacy might be the result of birth or human intervention, or a voluntary decision to forego marriage. Whatever its cause, that Jesus there right after his disciples have balked at the commitment and seriousness of marriage shows that Jesus regards it as the only alternative.
One marriages, or remains single.
There is no third possibility, whether of a homosexual partnership or a heterosexual unmarried partnership. As far as Jesus is concerned, the godly alternatives before us are (heterosexual) marriage or celibacy. (42)
The credibility of Jesus’ statement finds no better example than in his own life. Jesus was the must fully human person that ever lived. And he never had sex, he was never married, and he fully fulfilled the Father’s purpose in his life on earth. Jesus shows us that our sexuality is not our identity.
Jesus’ teaching regarding singleness and celibacy is reflected elsewhere in Scripture as well. Paul teaches that singleness is a good gift from the Lord that allows one to full devoted to the Lord:
I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, to how to please the Lord. But the marriage man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the marriage woman is anxious about world things, how to please her husband. I say this for you own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
Not only is the Bible’s message about homosexuality clear, but its message about sex, singleness, and marriage is clear. God is for sex and sex is for marriage. Marriage is designed to be for life and between a man and a woman. Yet, neither sex nor marriage is ultimate. In both marriage (Eph. 5:22-32) and singleness (1 Cor. 7:32-35), God entrusts us with the opportunity to display his goodness and serve him faithfully. In both marriage and singleness, the focus must ultimately be on Jesus or we will fail to be stewards of the gifts God has given us.
“Union with Christ forever is what the earthly states of both marriage and singleness actually point to. The purpose of earthly marriage is not to fulfill us, but to point us to the relationship that does. The purpose of of singleness is not to show that we are sufficient, but to point us to the one who is.” – Sam Allberry (82-83)
Even more foundational than the goodness of God’s design for humanity, what Bible says about homosexuality must be heard in light of the good news of Jesus Christ. See What Does the Bible Say About Homosexuality? – Part 3