Sex and Marriage: A Christian Response
by Providence Crowder
Though sex is not dirty, it can be an unclean thing. I know, I know, everybody’s doing it. A whole lot of somebodies are doing a whole lot of it—there are over seven billion people on this earth! We are black and white, rich and poor, and we speak in different tongues, but where did we come from? Now that’s a question for the ages! The Word of God says this about our origins: God “spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm” (Ps. 33:9). God breathed, and man became a living soul.
We are born and we die, but is there any other purpose to life? Surely we are more than evolving cosmic accidents with no purpose for living other than to exist, survive, and die as some secularists imply. Then for what purpose do we exist? Science cannot tell us. Though it helps us understand how God’s created things function in nature, science gives us no answers on how they ought to perform—it cannot determine right from wrong. For example, science cannot tell us that it is wrong for an adult to have a sexual interest in a three year old child. Pedophilia is an issue of morality.
If we believe that there is a God, a creator of all things great and small, then the starting point to answer life’s complex moral questions do not begin with scientific inquiry, they begin with God. If we believe the words in the Bible are true, then we understand that the Bible explains what science cannot–we were created to reflect God’s glory, for His pleasure, and for fellowship. Without God’s wise counsel, the moral questions will always be assumptions and guesses. But, with God’s guidance through His Word, we can seek the truth and know the true.
No source but God can justly determine good from bad and right from wrong. It is up to every individual to both trust and believe what God says—the alternative is to believe the misguided moral opinions of men and their flawed judgments.
God in His Word has declared that all sexual inclinations are not equal, all are not good, all are not moral but some are in fact, immoral. What exactly has God determined about sex and why?
Most people understand appropriate behaviors from inappropriate ones. Why is this? God in His Word declares that man’s conscience bears witness to God’s laws. Even the heathen can obey the “laws of nature” without ever having “learned” them (Romans 2:14-16). That is why in most every place on earth and in every era, murder, stealing, cheating . . . having sex with children . . . all of these behaviors would be considered immoral or wrong, as if there is some universal rule or understanding among people. That is one of the reasons why God says that we are without excuse. We KNOW but we CHOOSE not to obey. Even not knowing what God has said on these matters, one would literally have to suppress the truth, and be totally consumed by their own perversions and lusts to consider these behaviors righteous or right.
According to God’s Word, sex is a good and moral act when shared between a man and a woman joined in marriage. This is not my opinion, this is God’s proclamation. When God created the man and his wife, he said,“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). God commanded them to “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and rule over it” (Gen. 1:28). God established the marriage institution as an act of love to mankind—for companionship, for procreation, for nurturing children, and to reflect Christ’s love for his Church, to the glory of God.
Marriage must have been pretty important to God. Genesis reports that God instituted marriage at the beginning of human history–before sin entered the world through the fall, before the Mosaic Law, “before the establishment of cities, nations, courts of law, or any human laws.” It comes before any institution in any society, and it is foundational to the establishment of any society.
The Bible says, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Heb. 13:4). Marriage was God’s idea and his design. The whole concept of sex and marriage is from God. His Word says that “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body (1 Cor. 6:13), so all knowledge and understanding as to the purposes of the marriage and sex should be gleamed from God and His Word.
In the Book of Corinthians, we are admonished to “Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself.” We learn that sexual immorality, fornication, is a sin, or transgression against the law of God. Fornication is unlawful sex; sex outside of the marriage covenant. We also learn in the Book of Colossians that fornication is a form of idolatry because when we fornicate, we are putting our own lusts, passions, and desires, above God and His Word. And in another place, believers are instructed in this way “This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.”
If in marriage, we are accountable to God, accountable to our spouse, and called upon to suppress sexual temptation from others outside of marriage, what sinful person would desire such a commitment? What sinful man would conceive in his mind that marriage is desirable or even good?
Most every society throughout time has held marriage in high esteem and as the standard. Something about mankind knows that marriage is right. This is why the world accepts marriage.
The world accepts marriage, BUT they reject the God who designed it. Marriage has been defined and redefined by courts and governments, and the men and women in different cultures over the ages to try to accommodate the various lusts and perversions of the people in that society. Marriage with multiple partners, marriage to children, marriage to same sex couples, marriage to self . . . whatever feels good and fits what we like, we can make a law to call it marriage because we want marriage, we just don’t like God’s design as much as we like our own.
Various marriage arrangements, divorce, adultery, and even fornication are common everywhere, even among the people of God!
Why does God allow all of this folly to take place and not rain fire and brimstone from heaven to end it all? Jesus answered the Pharisees in this way, concerning divorce in the Mosaic Law: “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of your hard hearts, but from the beginning it was not this way” (Matthew 19:8). This is not God’s design, but, God is patient with us and merciful. He is longsuffering, “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Timothy 8:9).
The good news is: God has made a provision to deal with our sins, those such as sexual immorality, and that provision is Jesus Christ—“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (2 Cor. 5:21). Through his atoning blood, we do not have to bear the shame and penalty for our sins, such as adultery and fornication. We were bought with a price—that is why we glorify God with our body and spirit, which belong to God (1 Cor. 6:20), by rejecting those things that God calls wicked.
None of us are perfect. We’ve all made mistakes. Some of us are fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals, or polygamists. Jesus tells us though we may not be living and behaving sexually the way in which God originally intended, empowered by the Holy Spirit, we can. We can and should pray and ask God for the strength and wisdom to live right, resist temptation and cease from sexually immoral acts. This word is for those who desire to please and obey God.
In Scripture we read in one place that the stoning of adulterers was required under the old law. But Jesus—the Word made flesh—prevented the stoning of an adulteress woman. He saved her and told her to go and sin no more.
Go and sin no more? That “sin no more” part is what many Christians struggle with. The Apostle Paul asks, “Should we continue to sin so that grace may abound?” Of course not, we should obey God: “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified.”
But, there are those who would rather reject God and act on their own passions and lusts, do what is right in their own eyes, and erect themselves as an idol. For those who know God but do not worship Him as God, the Bible says this:
“Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;
Who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:24-31).
Sexual temptation is a real problem. It is a problem for the saved and unsaved alike. But us who know God not only know what God says but have seen with our eyes the devastating effects of sexual impurity on society: an abundance of children born out of wedlock, single parents, and broken families; increased poverty; human sex trafficking of women and children; emotionally damaged individuals; the spread of disease; unwanted pregnancies that result in abortion and infanticide; guilt, shame, loss of self-respect; God’s judgment upon our souls.
This is why the Bible warns us who are married to keep the marriage bed undefiled. For the unmarried, the Bible admonishes single men and women to exercise self-control. And if the unmarried cannot control sexual desires, the Apostle Paul advises that it is better to marry than to burn with passion (I Corinthians 7:9).
Again, sexual temptation is real, whether we are married or single. If we stumble, it is important to know that we can be forgiven, but we must go and sin no more. The Word says that “if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins” (Hebrews 10:26). In other words, if we go on deliberately and willfully sinning and stop resisting and striving against sin, our sin will consume us and lead us down the path to destruction.
1. Gary Demar, God and Government: A Biblical, Historical, and Constitutional Perspective (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 2011).
2. Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis: Book 1 (Green Forest, Ar: Master Books, 2006).
3. Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis: Book 2 (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2008).
4. New Bible Commentary, eds., D.A. Carson, R.Y. France, J.A. Motyer, G.J. Wenham (Downers Grove, Il: InterVarsity Press, 2008).
5. Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010).
6. The Apologetics Study Bible, Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith, eds., T. Canbal, C. O. Brand, E. R. Clendenen, P. Copan, J.P. Moreland (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003).