What Genesis Does SaySeptember 19, 2013
Addressing a culture confused with sexual ambiguity, Bob Lepine takes us back to the very beginning, reviewing what did, and did not happen in God's creation of man, woman, marriage, and sex.
Addressing a culture confused with sexual ambiguity, Bob Lepine takes us back to the very beginning, reviewing what did, and did not happen in God's creation of man, woman, marriage, and sex.
What Genesis Does Say
Bob: When you compare thinking about human sexuality, there’s a very different standard being expressed in the Bible than what we’re hearing in the culture today.
[“Man on the Street” interviews]
Interviewer: “Hi, can I ask you a couple of questions?”
Female: “What’s the question?”
Interviewer: “What do you think sex is for, really?”
Male: [Laughter] “Really?” [Laughter]
Female: “I don’t know—love, I guess.”
Interviewer: “Can we talk about sex?”
Male: “That’s a dangerous topic.”
Interviewer: “Let’s talk about some of the boundaries.”
Female: “So, they’re really broad. I mean, as long as you kind of agree on everything and you’re in love—or at least, in lust.”
Interviewer: “Do you have any moral sexual boundaries?”
Male: “Boundaries? There are no boundaries!”
Male: “Yeah, whatever feels good!” [Laughter]
Male: “I guess if it’s by consent”—
Interviewer: “So what is sex for, really?”
Female: “Can we talk about this?”
Male: “Are we supposed to be—?”
Female: “To get a man!” [Laughter]
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, September 19th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. The culture certainly doesn’t have a biblical world view as it relates to human sexuality; but the truth is, in the church today, the boundaries are starting to break down, as well. We’ll talk about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. We’re going to start on Page One of the Bible today; aren’t we?
Dennis: We are. In Genesis 1:27, it says: “So God created man in His own image. In the image of God, He created him.” Then, God didn’t stutter. He said this: “Male and female He created them.”
Dennis: I don’t think we realize what’s at stake in the national debate around human sexuality because it’s no mistake how the Bible begins and how God created men and women. He created us with two distinct sexes to represent Who He is and what He is like to all of humanity.
Bob: Yes. I had an opportunity to speak on this subject of human sexuality at Redeemer Community Church in Little Rock as a part of a sermon series. I had a chance to really dig in and address some of the places where the Bible and the culture are at odds with one another.
Dennis: I listened to the message, in its entirety. I came back to Bob and said, “You didn’t waste any words.”
Bob: [Laughing] You only have so much time, and there’s a lot to say!
Dennis: And there was a lot to say; but this is a really, really helpful perspective of how, I think, our listeners can gain courage in engaging around issues in the culture today—but do it in a way that has humility, that has love, that has kindness, and has a winsomeness about it that enables us to have an ongoing conversation—that doesn’t just occur at the water cooler at work, but may occur over a period of time with some of our office workers.
Bob: Alright; are you ready? Should we just hop in and start listening?
Dennis: Here is Bob Lepine—speaking on “Do Christians Have It Wrong When It Comes to Human Sexuality?”
[Previously Recorded Message]
Bob: If you have your Bible—I hope you do—I want you to turn to the very first page. I want you to turn to the book of Genesis, Chapter One. We are in a culture today that is moving farther and farther away from the clear teaching of Scripture about God’s purpose and God’s design for human sexuality.
This morning, I want to speak to what I think are the two primary issues where the culture is at odds with the biblical teaching about sexuality. The first issue is—we’re going to talk about sexual—what the Bible calls sexual immorality—sex outside of the bonds of marriage. Obviously, we live in a culture where that is not the commonly accepted idea of human sexuality. The second thing we’re going to look at is what the Bible has to say about homosexual acts. Again, the Bible is clear on this; and the culture thinks it knows better than the Bible. So, these are the two big areas where I think the Bible and the culture are at odds. That’s what we’re going to talk about this morning.
The truth is, the culture has already won the argument, on both of these issues, with most people. We just have to acknowledge that we live in a day where we hold the minority view. You undoubtedly realize that if you believe that sex should be reserved for a man and a woman in a committed, monogamous relationship for a lifetime, then you are out-of-step with what most people in the culture believe. I’m sure you realize that if you believe that homosexuality is morally wrong or unnatural, then you have, over the last five years, moved—in this culture—from being a part of the majority to being in the minority.
The culture is not moving in the direction of the Bible on this subject. The culture is moving in the opposite direction. It is aggressively rejecting and declaring its independence from biblical teaching in the area of human sexuality. I think it’s important for us, before we get too much into the immorality side of human sexuality—I think we have to look at the morality side. What is it that God had in mind when He invented human sexuality in the first place?
For some of you, that statement was just revolutionary: “God invented human sexuality.” Verses 27 and 28 of Genesis 1: “And God created man in His own image. In the image of God, He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and over everything that moves on the earth.’”
Let’s just stop there. I want to make six observations about those two verses, related to the issue of human sexuality. First of all, when God created man, as male and female—in that act—He was creating sexuality. It’s His design; it’s His idea. The second idea—our sexuality is connected to the fact that we are the same species but different in gender. To put it another way, in order to have sexuality, as God intends for it, you have to have both a man and a woman.
Notice, too, that the very first instruction—and here is my third observation—the very first instruction God gives to the man and the woman, in Genesis 1, is: “Be fruitful and multiply.” The command to “be fruitful and multiply” involves, by God’s design, sexual engagement, on our part. That engagement, by the way, comes and it says: “God blessed them and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply.’” So part of the blessing of God is this command that they be engaged, sexually, with one another.
By the way, the connection between sexuality and repopulation—we have to acknowledge that there is a connection there. It’s not that God did not have any other way to repopulate. He could have taken lots of dust forms and breathed life into them; He could have taken lots of ribs out of lots of people and made new people. He didn’t. He said, “This is how repopulation is going to happen.” Their engagement with one another is high on His priority list.
We should see that there is a connection between sexuality and having and raising children. In some cases—and it’s mysterious to us as to why—a man and a woman come together in marriage and are unable to conceive. I don’t know why that happens, but God’s design is that a man and a woman would come together and they’d be able to bear children.
There’s nothing in the design that indicates that it’s supposed to work with a man and a man coming together to have kids—or a woman and woman. You say, “Well, science can do this and that.” Yes, but what science can’t do is take the seed of a man and the seed of a man and make a baby. Science cannot take the egg of a woman and the egg of a woman and make a baby; okay?—because God’s design is a male and female coming together to make children, which is the point here. In order to have biological children, by the means that God designed, you need a man and a woman.
So, in summary, God made us male and female. Our sexual differences are built into that. His gift of sexuality is a good gift. It’s connected to conceiving, and bearing children, and raising them. Now, we’re going to jump from Genesis 1—one whole chapter—to Genesis 2. We’re going to zoom in with God, at the end of Genesis 2, and we are going to see more of what He had to say about the creation of the man and the woman on the sixth day of creation.
Look at Verse 20 of Genesis 2. You remember that the man has given the names to all of the livestock, to all of the birds of the heavens, to every beast of the field—but “for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.” Now I have to just stop right here because I looked up that word, “fit”, in the original language. I wanted to know, “What does that mean—‘fit’?” Well, it’s neged—the word—not “naked”—but neged; okay?
Neged is a word that means: “facing, or toward, or corresponding to”.
In other words, there is no creature that God has created that Adam can face or that Adam can correspond to. There is a hint of sexuality in that fitting together. This is a reference to the fact that the man and the woman are designed to fit together—to complement, to correspond. That’s not true of men and men. That’s not true of women and women. You stand them—face to face—they don’t fit.
Verse 21: “So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on the man and while he slept, He took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The rib that the Lord God had taken from the man, He made into a woman and brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh. She shall be called ‘woman,’ for she is taken out of man.” Now, there’s a lot in that, but all I want you to see is that when God fashioned the woman to be a complement to the man, He was not yet done with the crescendo of His creation.
It is not until He takes the man and the woman that He has created and He puts them back together and “the two become one flesh”—in that act of marriage and sexuality—we arrive at the summit. When God reaches the pinnacle of creation, it’s that point in which human sexuality is experienced. He brings the two back together in that pinnacle. It says: “Therefore, a man leaves his father and mother and holds fast to his wife.” He can’t be talking about Adam and Eve right here, because Adam and Eve don’t have a father and mother. He’s talking about generally—He’s looking forward so men leave father and mother and cleave to wife—the two become “one flesh”—joined together in that summit.
I think there’s something central and profound in the sexual act, as a part of marriage, as designed by God. It’s no wonder, as a result of that, that Satan would take delight in trying to undermine, pervert, and destroy our human sexuality. Is it any wonder that this is the big deal in the culture?—because, if Satan wants to attack, he’s going to attack at the headwaters—and this is it. God designed sex to happen inside of marriage for, at least, a few reasons.
Number one: It draws us closer in union to one another. God wants the husband and wife to be one. The sexual act is a part of—the recurring, ongoing participation in sex is a part of—the tool—the instrument that God uses so that we can experience a closer, richer, deeper relationship with one another. He also wants to teach us more about the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Spirit in the Trinity. There is oneness within the Trinity—within that relationship. There are three persons, but they are one. In marriage, there are two persons; but they become one. We learn something about the intimacy that God enjoys within the context of the Trinity—the intimacy that the Father has with the Son, and the Son with the Spirit, and the Spirit with the Father and the Son. We learn about that when we experience a taste of it in the oneness that we enjoy as husband and wife—which is not limited to our sexuality—but is expressed in a unique way in our sexuality.
It also teaches us something about the nature of real love because, in order for our sexuality to be expressed in the way that God intended it, the key aspect needs to be an unselfish sexuality. Husbands and wives, who learn God’s design for sexuality, learn that it requires—not a selfish approach to sexuality—but a giving approach—an unselfish approach. Finally, we get, as Paul says in Ephesians, Chapter 5, we get a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church when we see the husband and wife relationship. Our sexuality is tied to that.
So, “Why is it that God says sex should not happen outside of the bonds of marriage?”—Because, in a marriage relationship, we enter into a covenant relationship with one another. In that covenant, we make promises to one another. The promises are promises about abiding with one another in all kinds of settings—creating a place of security, loving one another—no matter what is going on—all the way to the finish line. That’s the covenant promise. God says sex should not happen outside of that promise being in place because, when sex happens outside of that promise being in place, you may experience physical pleasure, but there will be an emptiness—there will be an aching in your soul. There is something missing. There is a defrauding. There’s hollowness to the sexuality that you’re experiencing because it’s not the culmination of the promise. It’s happening apart from the promise.
God’s covenant promise, to us, is mirrored in the covenant promise of marriage. That’s why we say to one another when we get married, “…for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer,”—“No matter what, until death parts us, I’m here,”—and I’m not just “here,” but, “I will love you.” When we make that promise to one another, we are mirroring the promise that God makes to us when He comes to us and adopts us into His family and unites Himself to us in Christ. So sex should not happen outside of marriage, in part, because it should not happen outside the bonds of that covenant.
Secondly, if our sexual union should produce offspring, it is best for the offspring that they grow up in a relationship—in the bonds of a covenant relationship between a husband and a wife who are loving one another and who are together. If a child is growing up in a setting where there is one parent or where two parents are not bound together in covenant love with one another, that child is missing something.
Genesis 2 ends with this glorious declaration that the husband and wife come together. The man leaves father and mother and cleaves to his wife—the two become one flesh. Then it says, “The man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” That’s an odd thing for the writer to throw in here. “Why does He bring up their nakedness and why does He say they’re not ashamed?”
Well, we’re going to find out because, in just a few verses, we’re going to see how that’s undermined. He wants to show the right picture in the garden—is the man and the woman coming together, there’s the sexual union taking place, they are transparent with one another, there is no shame, they’re protected, and they feel safe. Nothing is broken yet. But in Genesis 3, when they declare their independence from God—when they say, “I don’t need God,” there’s something significant that happens.
You know the account of the Fall—we won’t go through that—the first six verses of Genesis, Chapter 3—where the serpent comes to the woman, and he tempts her. She takes the fruit, and she eats it, and gives it to her covenant partner who is with her. He eats it. The two of them have declared their rebellion against God, in that moment. By the way, every one of us, ever since then, has followed that pattern. We have all declared our own independence against God. Their act of rebellion is complete; and what is the next thing that happens, after Adam eats it, in verse 7? “Then the eyes of both were opened and they knew that they were naked. They sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.”
What God had brought together in Genesis 2—the pinnacle of His creative work—joining the man and the woman together in marriage and uniting them in one flesh—now starts to unravel. Suddenly, what had been without shame before—all of a sudden, there is a sense of shame. This is directly related to their sexuality in their marital union. The first point of attack, for the enemy, is the point of attack of marriage—dividing the man and the woman. The first thing they realize, after their rebellion, is that what God had made perfect has now become imperfect.
Here is, maybe, the most significant thing I’m going to say to you all morning; okay? So, if you’ve been kind of glazing over or uncomfortable with any of this, now is the time to lock-in. In the midst of all of the cultural noise and confusion about sexuality, here’s what the Bible says is the condition of our sexuality—we are all fallen, broken people. In our fallenness and in our brokenness, we are all sexually-broken. In the area of human sexuality, every one of us has disordered and ungodly sexual desire. It’s because of our rebellion against God.
We’re all in the same room—in the same boat together. Your disordered sexual desire and my disordered sexual desire may be two different expressions of it, but everybody in the room has got it. Anytime we engage in any kind of passion-stirring sexual behavior, outside of marriage, we are declaring to God that we know better about what’s good for us than He knows. That’s why sexual behavior, outside of marriage, is called “sinful” in the Bible because it is, essentially, saying to God, “I’m going to do what I think is best regardless of what you have said.”
So, when God says: “Look, I’ve got a gift for you. Here’s the gift—only, use it this way; and it’ll be a great blessing for you.” You say: “Yeah, yeah. I want to use it over here!” What you’re saying to God, when you do that—is you are saying, “I know better than you, God.” That’s the sinfulness of sexual expression. Do you understand that? When we talk about sexual sin, what we’re really saying is that your choice to engage in sexual behavior—sexual activity—outside of the bounds God has created for it, is really a statement to God that you’re going to do it your way.
Bob: Well, you can tell I was kind of talking fast there. There’s a lot to say on this subject. We’ll have a chance to hear the rest of this message this week.
Dennis: I thought you did a great job covering a really tough subject today. You know, as you were talking, I couldn’t help but think about John, Chapter 8, and the woman who was caught in adultery. How the Pharisees—the religious community—all had stones, where they were about to stone her. Jesus walked up and asked the question, “Who among you is without sin?”
Dennis: Of course, it says: “One by one, they dropped their stones and left. Jesus said to the woman, ‘Neither do I condemn you either. Go and sin no more.’” It wasn’t just a lavish grace that said, “Keep on keeping on!”
Dennis: It was a lavish grace that invited her into real life. That’s what we’re to do, as His ambassadors—is to so represent Christ that people who are caught in all kinds of sin can be invited out by someone who is winsome, loving, gracious, humble—and admits their own brokenness in a generation of broken people and says: “You know what? Let me tell you where I found life! Let me tell you Who has brought adventure to my soul and Who has given me a perspective of life that really is worth me surrendering my life to Him,”—which is what you talked about at the end, Bob. You talked about people needing to do what Jesus Christ called them to do.
Bob: Yes, and if folks will go to our website, at FamilyLifeToday.com, over on the left side of the screen, where it says, “Resource Center”, under that heading, there’s a tab that says, “Two Ways to Live”. It really does spell out that there are two ways for us to live—one is under our own authority and the other is under someone else’s authority—in this case, under the authority of the One Who created us—the Creator of the universe.
I want to encourage listeners—especially, those who would say: “I’ve been living based on my own desires and passions. I’ve not been living according to God’s design and pattern for my life.” Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and read that article, “Two Ways to Live”. Again, you’ll find it on the left side of the screen, under the tab that says: “Resource Center”.
While you’re on the website, there are some other resources we have available to help you with this issue of human sexuality. There’s a book called Sexual Sanity for Men and another book called Sexual Sanity for Women. Both of those books are available. You can order them from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”. We’ll send those books along to you.
If you are interested in downloading this complete message that we’ve featured today—we’ve had to edit it for our broadcast purposes—if you’d like to hear the entire message, go to FamilyLifeToday.com; and you can download the mp3 file of this message.
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We hope you can join us back again tomorrow when we’re going to continue to address the question, “Do Christians Have It Right or Wrong When It Comes to Human Sexuality?” I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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