Our theology determines our sexuality. According to the Bible, we as human beings are unique from the animals in that we have been created in the image of God. Precisely what is involved in serving as imagers of God has been greatly debated by theologians throughout the centuries, but one thing that has not been debated is the fact that mankind is created in God’s image. This is the clear teaching of Genesis 1:26–28:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So 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 and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
The Hebrew word translated as “man” is adam and means “human being” or “mankind.” Thus, Genesis 1:27 reveals that God made mankind in His own image, and mankind was created as consisting of male and female genders. Somehow, our sexuality—the fact that we are gender-based creatures—is an integral part of our being created in God’s image.
Clearly our sexuality is not the only aspect of being imagers of God because most animals are also created as sexual creatures, being male and female, but they are not created in the image of God. It is precisely because of the similarities between human and animal that so many understandings exist regarding God’s image. Some have argued that just as God consists of three distinct Persons, so also, we are comprised of three—being body, soul, and spirit—and yet we are one. There are many other interpretations, but all of them are based upon deductive reasoning.
The one and only aspect of being created in God’s image that can be absolutely derived from the Genesis creation account is the fact that mankind has been created as sexual beings. In other words God’s only explanation of what being created in His image constitutes is that He created mankind as male and female. Interestingly enough, because God Himself is neither male nor female, and because male and female are quite different from one another both physically and emotionally, the image of God must be most complete in the combination of the two. In this sense, the image of God is greatest when male and female complement one another in unity. This unity is described in Genesis 2:23–24, “Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” This union is known as “marriage.” Regardless of whether we fully understand how this can all be true, we are compelled to accept that our being created in God’s image includes our sexuality because it is the clear teaching of God’s Word.
The implications of this are significant. If the sexual design of our bodies is created by God as at least a partial reflection of Himself, then our sexuality is sacred. This too is evidenced within the text in Genesis 2:21–22, “So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.” The sacred design of man in this text is obscured by the translation. The Hebrew word translated as “rib” is tsela which, in the 40 other occurrences of this word in the Old Testament, always refers to the side of something. In nearly every instance, it refers to the side of sacral architecture, such as the Ark of the Covenant or the temple. Thus, Genesis 2:21–22 references Adam’s body as sacral architecture in its account of how gender was established.
Until this point, the Genesis account has referred to the character named Adam as an adam, which means a “human being.” The very word adam is a genderless term. However, God declares in Genesis 2:18 that it is not good for the human being to be alone, and He determines to create a counterpart for Adam. This word neged is usually translated as “fit,” “meet,” or “suitable,” but it means “counterpart” or “one who corresponds to but is opposite from.” In other words God determined to make a helper for Adam who corresponded with Adam—one who was a human being—but who was also opposite from Adam—one who did not have the same tendencies, strengths, or physical features as Adam. To accomplish this God removed a piece of Adam’s sacred architecture—part of his side, or rib—and from this sacred piece, God created Adam’s counterpart. It is only after this act that the Genesis account begins to refer to Adam in terms of gender.
In Genesis 2:23–25 Adam declares himself to be an iysh—a man—and his counterpart to be “woman,” “Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” At this point, gender is established, and because gender is established, marriage is also established. Adam declares that because God created woman out of man, the two can be united together to become one flesh.
The union of man and woman is natural because they are of the same flesh. It is possible for the two to become one flesh because they originally emerged out of the same flesh. They began as one, but God separated the two. It took a divine act to separate the two, and according to Matthew 19:4–6, it requires a divine act to once again unite the two. God separated the two when God took the rib from Adam and transformed it into a separate entity, and God united the two in Genesis 2:24 in the act of marriage. This is affirmed in Matthew 19:4–6 where Jesus answered a question regarding marriage and divorce by referring back to Genesis 2:24, saying, “‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? ‘So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.’” According to Jesus, marriage exists because God chose to make separate genders—male and female—and it is an act that is made possible only through divine intervention.
Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 19 regarding marriage is important because this is the Creator God Himself expressing His original intent for marriage. According to Jesus, the creation account reveals that marriage is not merely a social contract; it is a sacred act in which the two—man and woman—are made one flesh in a lifelong union.
In addition to providing the purpose and nature of marriage, the Genesis account also provides definitions for the terms “husband” and “wife.” Genesis 2:23–25 defines “wife” as being a woman united to a man through a marriage relationship, “‘She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Likewise, Genesis 3:6 defines “husband” as being a man united to a woman through a marriage relationship, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”
Throughout all of Scripture, there is never an exception to these definitions. Instead, these definitions are affirmed by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:2, “But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.” They are further affirmed by the gender-specific language associated with the terms “husband” and “wife” in 1 Corinthians 7:2–3 and 10–17.
Thus, every instance of the terms “husband” and “wife” in Scripture refers to a man or a woman in a heterosexual marriage relationship. There is never an exception. Moreover, the very definition of marriage is established in the creation account as being exclusively heterosexual based upon God’s decision to create mankind as consisting of male and female genders designed to satisfy each other’s needs. This is testified to by both the Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul.
Because of these clearly defined definitions, there can be no such thing as homosexual marriages. It is a self-contradicting title. Also, Scripture is clear in passages such as 1 Corinthians 7:2 and Galatians 5:19–21 that sexual intercourse is only acceptable within the confines of marriage. Therefore, if all Biblical marriages are heterosexual unions, and if all acceptable sexual intercourse must be performed within the confines of marriage, then homosexual intercourse is necessarily prohibited without exception. It can never occur within the acceptable parameters established by God, thus making it sexual immorality. As such, one can firmly declare all homosexual intercourse to be a sin before God. Indeed, God has already done this on our behalf.
Throughout the Bible, God declares the practice of homosexuality to be sin. As such, it should be no surprise to learn that every reference to homosexuality in Scripture is negative:
- Leviticus 18:22, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”
- Leviticus 20:13, “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”
- Romans 1:24–27, “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason 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 in themselves the due penalty for their error.”
- 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
- 1 Timothy 1:9–10, “Understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.”
- Jude 1:7, “Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.”
Because of the clear teaching of these passages, they have come under assault by those who support homosexuality. They find themselves determining their theology according to their preferred application. But as Christians, it is our theology that determines our practice—in this case, our sexuality. Whether we like it or not, Scripture is clear: the practice of homosexuality and same-sex marriages is sinful.
Be sure to read Timothy Zebell’s book Laid Bare: Uncovering the Relationship Between Homosexuality & the Gospel.
1. The Hebrew word “tsela” (Strong’s, #H6763), occurs 41 times in 33 verses: Genesis 2:21-22; Exodus 25:12 and 14; Exodus 26:20, 26–27 and 35; Exodus 27:7; Exodus 30:4; Exodus 36:25 and 31–32; Exodus 37:3, 5 and 27; Exodus 38:7; 2 Samuel 16:13; 1 Kings 6:5, 8, 15-16 and 34; 1 Kings 7:3; Job 18:12; Jeremiah 20:10; Ezekiel 41:5–9, 11 and 26.
2. Strong, James. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, #H120, 9. World Bible Publishers, 1989.
3. Strong, #H5048, #H5049.
4. Jim Garlow. “Robert Gagnon: The Bible & Homosexual Practice – The Old Testament – Genesis 1 & 2.” Vimeo video, https://vimeo.com/68624959 (accessed June 12, 2014).
5. Jim Garlow.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.