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A Biblical Understanding of Marriage and Sexuality

Manhood and womanhood are foundational to being created in the image of God.[1]  Our gender is inherently a part of who God created us to be.  Sex was God’s idea, and he planned it for our good.

God created us as sexual beings – to both “fill the earth”[2] and as a means of bonding with our spouse.[3]  Marriage between a man and a woman provides for relational fulfillment and sexual fulfillment, and is the God-ordained environment for raising children.  But the ultimate purpose of marriage is to serve as a portrait of the real marriage of Christ with his bride, the Church.[4] Marriage between a man and a woman is a visual portrayal of the love that Christ has for his people.  This means that marriage is a picture of the Gospel, so that whatever we do in marriage must bring glory to Christ. 


While there are those who never marry, marriage is God’s plan for most people – one man and one woman for life – becoming a family to the glory of God.[5]  The purity of the sexual relationship points to the purity of the love that Christ has for those who are his followers - the church.[6]  Therefore, any expression of sexuality or marriage that is outside of God’s created order makes a mockery of Christ and the Gospel.

Like everything in our lives, our understanding of gender and sexuality has been corrupted by Original Sin, from the fall in the Garden of Eden.[7]  Everything in life is tainted by sin, and we see evidence of this in the unnatural and unbiblical ideas about gender and expressions of sexuality in our world.  We understand the Bible to teach that any sexual expression or marital union outside of God’s divine design – one woman and one man united in marriage – is sin, and must be resisted and repented of by the Christian.  Heterosexual sexual expression outside of the marriage bond[8] is either adultery[9] (unfaithfulness to one’s spouse) or fornication.[10]  Homosexual sexual expression is an act of rebellion against God’s divinely created order.[11] 

Sinful sexual expression also goes beyond just physical expression.  It is also an issue of the mind, evidenced by the prevalence and widespread use of pornography.[12]  For those who struggle with sexual sin – whether homosexual or heterosexual – in actions or in thoughts – the hope of the Gospel is that there is forgiveness and deliverance in Jesus Christ.[13]  The Church must live and teach the truth of Scripture, but also must love the ones who are struggling as Christ would love them, and seek to help them find hope and deliverance and life in Christ.[14]


[1] Genesis 1:27 – “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” / Matthew 19:4 – “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female . . .”

[2] Genesis 1:28 – “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.”

[3] Genesis 2:24-25 – “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”

[4] Ephesians 5:25, 30-32 – “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it . . .  For we are members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones.  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” / Revelation 19:7 – “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready.”

[5] Matthew 19:8-9 – “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.  And I say to you:  whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” / Ephesians 5:22, 25, 30-31 – “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord . . . Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it . . . For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

[6] Tim Challies – This thought is more fully developed in this website article:

[7] Genesis 3:7-8 – “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked . . . and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord among the trees of the garden.”

[8]Hebrews 13:4 – “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”

[9] Exodus 20:14 – “You shall not commit adultery.” / Matthew 5:28 – “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

[10] 1 Corinthians 5:11, Hebrews 12:16, and Hebrews 13:4 in the KJV/NKJV use “fornication” or “fornicator” to translate the Greek word πὀρνος (pornos - the root word for “pornography”) and refers to sex outside of heterosexual marriage, or sexual immorality.

[11] Romans 1:25-26 – “Because they exchanged the truth of God for a lie . . . God gave them up to dishonorable passions.  For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving the due penalty for their error.”

[12] Matthew 5:27-28 – “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

[13] Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” / 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

[14] John 8:10-11 – “When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, he said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours?  Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.”  And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

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