Jesus and Sexuality, Part V

This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.  Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame. (Genesis 2:24-25, NLT)

We have been discussing the issue of sexuality from a uniquely Christian perspective, attempting to weed out the authentic principles found in Hebrew and Greek scriptures (Old and New Testament) from the cultural views that often seek to masquerade as Christianity.  Typically, authority in Christianity  is first found in Scripture, then in tradition (what did Christian communities before us think and practice), reason (is this logical and consistent with other principles found in scriptures), and experience (does this line up with my experience).  I previously shared (see previous blog entries on Jesus and Sexuality) that culture also plays a huge part in how we interpret scripture, understand tradition, apply reason, and experience life.  For better or worse, our understanding of truth is bathed in our own cultural experiences.  It filters our understanding and our application of truth. 

Additionally, we must also understand that the Bible was written across thousands of years and expressed through distinct socio-historical-cultural settings.  The original readers of the Bible would have had different assumptions, different languages, different slang, different jokes, and different interpretations of what is being said than we often do, living nearly two millenia later. Part of the goal of this discussion is attempt to discern between what is Biblical (this is what the Bible is saying, understood in context) and this is what we have understood it to mean.

The Bible speaks of sexuality early in its course.  In Genesis, we find Adam (which is the Hebrew word for mankind as well) alone with all of creation.  He is male and alone.  His aloneness is the first thing in all of creation that God states is not good (Gen 2:18).  God then creates woman (literally, out of man) from man.  Creating a unique interdependence where women came from a man, but all men will come from women.  Interestingly, the goal according to Genesis 2:24, is that men and women will become one.  Unified, but not uniform.  Nothing indicates that men become women or women become men, but together they become unified.  It is this unity that combats the first "bad" thing of being alone.

There are a couple of points regarding healthy sexuality that can be discerned from this brief description of humanity within creation.

1. Humanity was created in the image of God, and God is in community by His essence.  The word used for "God" in Genesis is often the world "Elohim" which is a plural.  Christian theologians have described the 3 in 1 community of God as the trinity for over a thousand years.  If God is in community, and we are made in His image, then it makes sense that we are relational creatures by design.  We are created to interact with one another.  The African Bantu word "ubuntu" means that we have our identity and being because of our relationships.  Biblically speaking, we were created to connect.

2. There is a unique role of cross gender relationships.  There is nothing that could have kept God from simply creating another male. God does not tell us explicitly why He did not create another male for Adam's friend.  The creation of woman tends to suggest a couple of things:

           a. There was a unique type of unity that was to be created between a
               man and a woman.
           b. Within that cross gender relationship, that unity is the foundation
               for further creation.  As God is perfectly united in the trinity and
               creates, so humanity would be united (mind, body, and spirit) and
               also create.  This further extended humanity as the image of God.

3. The unity that God sought between man and woman was to be intimate.  In Genesis 4:1, Adam has sex with Eve.  The Hebrew word for sex used here literally meant "to know".  This is the concept behind marriage, and this was indeed the first marriage. The deepest intimacy on a relational basis is to stand before another, completely accepted, completely transparent and experience one another.  This was the original design.  This does not mean that all men and women are to be intimate or that we were designed for sex exclusively.  It does however, provide insight into the Biblical understanding of unity and God's original revelation about the intimacy between a man and woman.

4. In regard to same sex intimate relationships, the Genesis narrative is silent while humanity was in the garden.  Procreation did not begin until after humanity left the garden and was separated from God.  This does not mean that procreation is sinful, but that prior to the introduction of sin, there may have been sex between Adam and Eve but the Bible is silent about it.  The first same sex sexual relationships are not mentioned until hundreds of years later, and that was described in a negative context (Genesis 19:5, in this context it was same sex coerced sex).  We will discuss that in a future blog in this series (hint, the debate is whether the act of same gender sex is wrong or whether any sexuality that is coerced is wrong).

Revelation (God revealing himself and his precepts) is progressive in scripture.  As time goes, further revelation comes to crystallize previous writings.  We will take time in the next blog in this series to search the Hebrews scriptures regarding sexuality and I think we will find that there are volumes there.  Ultimately, from a Christian perspective, it is most defined by the teachings of Jesus.
What Genesis 2 informs us about is the desire for God to make humanity that reflects himself.  He desires men and women to be in relationship and requires intimacy as the foundation for creation.  What Genesis 2 does not do is simultaneously prohibit same sex unions nor does it mandate that a man needs a women, or a women needs a man to be complete.  It will take further scripture review to show how God addresses each of the conditions, not defined by God originally in the early Genesis narrative.

In the next part of the this blog:  What did God's law for the Israelites illuminate God's thoughts regarding sexuality and how is that related to Jesus' understanding of sexuality.

I look forward to your comments,

Pastor M Traylor