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TPC Blog

Twenty Questions

Posted by Jeremy McKeen on

What is God’s design for marriage and sexuality? In order to answer that question, let's play a little game. Let’s play twenty questions. Remember how this game works? You don’t know what someone is thinking, and so you’re given twenty questions to narrow it down in order to arrive at the answer. Well, what does God think about marriage and sexuality? Let’s ask some questions; let’s ask twenty questions; let’s consider the first marriage in Genesis 2 and see if we can narrow it down and arrive at the answer together.  

1) Who is the author of marriage & sexuality? Who came up with the idea? In Genesis 2:21-22, we see that it was God who put the man to sleep. It was God who created the woman out of the man, and God who brought the woman to the man. So, the first marriage wasn’t the result of what Adam and Eve came up with; it was direct result of what God came up with. And in creating two different genders (male and female), it was God who established the nature of sexuality. Marriage and sexuality is something that God designed. And the word marriage simply means a union, the uniting of two things together. And the reason that understanding that God designed marriage is so important is that the person who designed something knows how it should function best. For example, phones are great tools for communicating but terrible tools for hammering nails, why? Because that’s not what they were designed for. And so the reason that we should want to find out what God thinks about marriage and sexuality is because he designed it and he knows what it is, who it’s for and how it should work. Alright so if God designed this idea of a marriage union between two things … The second obvious question is …

2) What two things is a biblical marriage uniting? It’s a union between what two things? Well, think of it like this - when God was bringing the animals to Adam, Adam wasn’t just naming the animals as they came by, what was he seeing? “That’s not like me, that’s not like me, that’s not like me." That’s why it says, end of vs. 20 - "Adam didn’t find a helper fit or suitable for him." And so what did God do? He created Adam a robot. No. He created a very unique animal. No, God created another human being for Adam, which teaches us that a biblical marriage is between two human beings. Marriage is uniting two people together. Marriage is not between a man and his donkey or a man and his dog. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t love Todo; you just can’t marry Todo. You can love your pets, but you shouldn’t be in love with your pets. Marriage is designed by God to be a union of two people. Alright so, the next question is

3) What is the design and purpose for marriage? What’s the goal of these two people coming together? Well, we see in Genesis 2 that God created marriage and sexuality and we learn elsewhere in the Scriptures that all of his creation should glorify him. So, Marriage should glorify God. It should display God’s beauty and holiness to the world. We also learn from Genesis 1 that God was creating and bringing complementary things together, to work together – heaven and earth, light and darkness, sea and land, God and man, and at the end of Chapter 2 is the culmination of God’s complementary work: Man and woman. The word for man in the Hebrew is Ish, and for the woman it’s Isha. So notice -they’re similar and yet distinct, and we learn in Ephesians 5 that these differences are meant to compliment one another and also help change one another to become more like Christ. So marriage is for the glory of God and to compliment one another, and finally in Malachi 2 it says that one of God’s purposes in marriage is for godly offspring. And that’s actually inferred in Genesis 2:24  "A man shall leave his Father and his mother ...". Wait a minute, Adam and Eve haven’t had kids yet. Where did this concept of parenting come in? You see when a husband and wife is first introduced it already comes in the context of having children, of being a father and mother (now we all know that there are exceptions to that), but we can see that the purpose is to glorify God, compliment and sanctify one another, and to produce godly offspring, to create the foundation for a family & society to exist. Which leads to the fourth question …

4) Can a biblical marriage be between any two people? And now this question clearly involves matters of race, gender, family, and age. I’m not going to get into incest or marrying minors here (From Leviticus on the bible is clearly against that), but we need to see that this whole question of participants is always secondary to the question of purpose. In other words, the participants in marriage cannot be separated from the purposes for marriage. For example – We have no problem with Harvard Medical School telling people, I’m sorry but based on the purposes of our institution, you don’t qualify to participate, but for some reason we think everyone should qualify for the institution of marriage. Why? Because we’re forgetting the purpose. Many people just think the purpose for marriage is to be happy and to celebrate the relationship. And if that's the case, then why shouldn’t any two people be able marry? But that’s to forget that the purpose is to glorify God, to compliment each other, and to produce godly offspring. And God designed marriage in a way that our personal happiness in marriage is the byproduct of fulfilling the purposes of marriage.

Think of it like a pair of scissors. Both sides are very similar right? But they are both unique, and scissors only function the way that they’re supposed to when the two sides are both unique and united. If they’re exactly the same, they can be joined together but the scissors are not going to work. And if the glory of God is best seen through the gospel and the bible teaches that marriage is a picture of the gospel, of Christ and his bride (the church), then two men or two women can’t glorify God in a marriage. Moreover, because they’re the same gender, they cant compliment each other in the way that they’re designed to, and without the help of artificial means, two women or two men physically cannot produce children together. That’s a scientific fact. If the sides are exactly the same, the scissors won’t work. The biblical purposes for marriage cannot be accomplished. Two people of different races can fulfill the purposes for marriage but not two people of the same gender. But still someone might ask …

5) Why can’t two people of the same gender who really love each other constitute a biblical marriage? It’s not hurting anybody! In a talk that Ravi Zacharias, a Christian apologist and author once gave, he pointed out that love is given one word in English, but there are four words for love in Greek: Agape, Phileo, Storge, and Eros. Agape is God’s love, Phileo is friendship love, Storge is parental or protective love, and Eros is romantic love. And if you take God’s love out of the equation, that’s expressed in directing our lives, then the Eros love can be used anyway a person wants. If marriage is just a celebration of a person's romantic affections then why not erotic love for animals or minors or siblings? Why can’t that be a marriage? Remember, God brought a woman to the man, not a girl, not a sibling, not another man, and not an animal. So Pedophilia, Incest, Homosexuality, and Bestiality are all unnatural ways of expressing eros love. Moreover, who’s determining what harms? Often harm doesn’t show itself until many years into the future. And in Romans 1, Paul clearly explains that homosexuality is committing unnatural relations that causes harm. And the bible doesn’t need to describe all the different forms of homosexuality to teach that all of it is wrong, just like it doesn’t need to describe all the types of sexual immorality. There’s no mention of computer screens or magazines in the bible, because the form a sin may take is not the point; it’s the act. So remember it’s man (ish) and woman (isha). It’s ish and Isha, not ish and ish, capesh? But someone might ask, if this union is between two consenting adults of the opposite sex, can it be three or more? The next question we have to answer is.

6) Can a biblical marriage be between more than two people? Someone might ask, well what about all the wives that the patriarchs had in the bible? Well, even though the bible describes the multiple wives these guys had, it never condones it. That was a sin as well. It doesn't say that Adam held fast to his wives, he held fast to his wife. That is the design. And actually if you read the OT narratives closely, it’s the practice of polygamy that hinders the spiritual and social dynamics not helps it. And so when two people make vows at a wedding and each person says, "I do and I will," they are also saying I don’t and I won’t to every other person. Once you open marriage up for the same gender, why not multiple spouses? If you’re going to ordain a homosexual pastor, why not a polygamist pastor? Alright …

7) Who are the eligible participants for a biblical marriage? The participants for marriage are two consenting adults of the opposite sex who are not unequally yoked. So that means, if you’re a Christian, 1 Corinthians 7 explains that you’re called to marry someone “in the Lord.” But if you have married an unbeliever, the command is to stay with them. You can also have two non-believers marry each other, and that’s still a biblical marriage. It’s not a Christian marriage, but it is a biblical marriage, because marriage is a creational ordinance, meaning it’s a foundational act before the fall that is good for all of humanity and society. Alright but ... 

8) How is a marriage formed? How does a marriage come to be? A marriage is formed by three things: leaving, cleaving, and uniting - leaving home, holding fast and becoming one. In Genesis 2:24, a marriage starts to form by leaving. A man shall leave his father and his mother (and now there may be a season or a time when you have to still live as a married couple under the parent’s roof). It's not talking so much about living situations as it is about priorities. What this is teaching is the priority that the marriage relationship takes. The first priority is no longer the parent-child relationship but the husband and wife, and then what? He hold’s fast to his wife. So there’s a public covenant union that takes place through mutual promises, and then it says, "They shall becoming one flesh." Notice the emphasis on flesh. So it’s not just that they’re becoming one in their finances, like they’ve got joining bank accounts or something. It’s talking about the sexual union that consummates the marriage. So a marriage forms by cutting ties, exchanging covenant promises, and sexually consummating the union. Which raises another question … 

9) Is sex inside of marriage all that important? Well, I for one would vote that it’s really important! I’m for it. And so is God. Genesis 2 ends by saying that "the man and the woman were both naked and unashamed." Why? Because they’re married. Because the fire is in the fireplace. The bible teaches that sex consummates the marriage, should be enjoyed in marriage, it protects the couple from temptation and is the biblical means for procreation. I’ve got to share this – Recently, our 4 year hold daughter Hannah, out of the blue asked my wife Lindsay and I at the dinner table, "How do you make a baby?" Well, I said, "Sweetie, mommy and daddy just love each other and hug each other and get as close as we can and just don’t let go, and sometimes a baby forms in mommys tummy." Now, she said, Oh, okay." So, I thought I did pretty well. Two days go by, we’re finishing dinner and Hannah jumps up in my lap and gives me a great big hug and says, “Don’t let go daddy I’m trying to make a baby.” Lindsay looks at me and says, "Nice going." See I left out the part that it’s only for a husband and a wife. Which leads to the next question …

10) Is sex outside of marriage forbidden, and if so why? The answer is yes and here’s why - Marriage is meant to be for life and sex is meant to be for marriage, and this isn’t because God is against sex. He’s against the abuse of sex. We have to realize that when God forbids something, that just like a good father, it’s for our good, He knows something that we might not. Like for example, in Genesis 4 in describing their sexual union it says, "Adam knew his wife." It doesn’t say that he knew her body, it says that he knew her. Sex is not just the union of two bodies; it’s the union of two people. There’s more going on than just the physical, there is emotional and relational attachment and vulnerability that is all mixed in. And so if sex is the fire, marriage is the fireplace. So keep the fire lit, keep it burning burning burning, but keep the fire where it belongs. 

11) Are there any biblical reasons for a marriage to end or to get a divorce? Yes, besides physical death, there are two: Adultery (Matthew 5) and Desertion (1 Corinthians 7). And these are never meant to be excuses for divorce, meaning adultery and desertion doesn’t necessarily have to end marriage, but they are grounds. And if you’re married to an unbeliever, you shouldn’t divorce them, unless they’re the one who decides to up and leave, then there are grounds. And I should point out that there’s a difference between grounds for divorce and grounds for separation. So different types of abuse are grounds for separation, but not biblical divorce, but that raises more questions about the church's involvement and discipline that I can't get into here. Alright, another question is this … 

12) Do you need to get married in order to be happy and holy? That is really an easier one to answer. The answer is no. Paul wasn’t married and he was one of the most joyful and godly men that we know of. So, if you’re single, you’re not a second-class citizen in the kingdom of God, you’re called to use your singleness for the glory of God. Now, if you’re engaged and you can’t keep your hands off each other, that’s a different story, Paul would say, "Forget the big ceremony and just get married, like yesterday."  

13) Can any person or government change what a biblical marriage is? No, the Supreme Court can define marriage any way that they want, but that doesn’t change what marriage is. I don’t want to sound too simplistic, the recent decision has huge ramifications, and so the church should pray and peaceably advocate for a change in a policy that reflect the true meaning of marriage. Homosexual marriage is not a marriage.  

14) Is homosexuality a choice or is someone born that way? I believe that the original Fall has distorted all types of orientation. So, a person may be born with a disposition or proclivity to homosexuality and oriented towards same sex attractions, but a heterosexual person can be born oriented towards promiscuity or greed. Just because a man may be attracted to other women than his wife doesn’t justify acting on those attractions and committing adultery. But …

15) If God made me this way, why shouldn’t I act upon it? Because proclivities or dispositions to sin are not part of God’s original design; they're  part of Man’s original Fall. They’re not the result of Genesis 2; they’re the result of Genesis 3, and in 1 Cor. 6, Paul speaks of all kinds of sinful behaviors including homosexuality, but says, “And such were some of you.” Which shows that proclivities to sin can be overcome.

16) So what then is the hope for marriage and sexuality? The hope for complete pardon for sin and for the power to change is Jesus Christ. We see in Genesis 2 that before Adam could receive his bride, he fell under a deep sleep, which is emblematic of death, and only after his body was broken open and blood poured out, did God create his bride, raise Adam up, and bring the woman to him. And you see the reason that Jesus instituted communion with the broken bread and the poured out wine is because he’s the greater Adam, the last Adam who was pierced in his side and died on the cross for our sins so that we could die to sin, and rose again so that could walk in newness of life. And when Jesus rose from the dead, who was there in the garden to greet him? Mary, the sinful woman, the woman with a sexually broken past. She wasn’t literally his bride, but was a picture of his bride, the entire redeemed and forgiven church of God that is joined to Jesus forever. You see, people who argue for homosexuality from the bible don’t just misinterpret a handful of verses, they miss the grand story of Scripture that starts with a marriage between a groom and his bride and ends in Revelation with a marriage between a groom and his bride, the union between Christ and his church forever. Which raises just a few more questions, and then we’ll be done …

17) Can someone be a Christian and practicing homosexuality? The answer is yes and no, because you need to define what you mean by practicing. Someone may be a Christian and struggling with same sex attractions or even acting upon them, but if there is an acknowledgement of wrong, true faith in Christ, and a genuine repentance then I would not doubt their profession, but if someone doesn’t care what the bible teaches and is going to live a homosexual lifestyle no matter what, then I think the bible calls us to doubt their profession.

18) So how should we treat people who are professing Christians but living in unrepentant sexual sin? This is a very difficult question because it’s always case-by-case; and can involve different measures of church discipline, but the bible calls us to love them like crazy. We are to pursue them in great love and know that love covers a multitude of sins. Now, there is a level of fellowship that will inevitably be hindered because of their sin, but our job is try and speak the truth and restore them with an attitude of humility and gentleness, never pride and judgmentalism. 

19) How should I treat people who are not professing Christians and living a homosexual or transgender lifestyle? Well, in a short answer, we should have courage and love. William Barclay once said, "Jesus spoke the truth when popularity required a lie." His followers are called to do the same. We should have the courage to stand for the truth, even if that means losing our friends, our job, or our 501c-3 status. We need courage to stand, but love in the way that we do it. We should be faithful but never hateful. Christians are called to be faithful to the word, but never hateful to the world. Because every single person in this world is made in the image of God, each person, no matter how they choose to identify themselves, has great dignity and should be treated with love, respect and good will. If we’re not doing that, we’re getting it wrong.

 20) How should we live with a sexually broken past or treat people who have a sexually broken past? We should remember that whether it’s us or others who are Christians, we are not defined by what we’ve done in the past; we are defined by what Jesus has done in the past for us. So, we remember the gospel and apply the gospel. We forget what lies behind and press forward to what lies ahead.

Alright, so we have asked 20 really basic but very important questions. So ... what does God think about marriage and sexuality? God highly esteems it. God thinks that marriage and sexuality is a holy sacred gift never to be trifled with. It's meant to be honored by all but only shared and enjoyed among some. It's meant to be between one man and one woman till death do you part to the glory of God.

Tags: homosexuality, marriage, sex

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