What does the Bible really say about sex? Given the controversies over same-sex marriage, homosexuality, and gender-bending now raging in our culture, what is the biblical pattern for human sexuality?

The Bible addresses human sexuality from a holistic perspective of God’s intention and design. In contrast to both pagan sex rituals and our modern obsession with sex, the Bible places sex within the total context of human nature, happiness, and holiness. Taken out of this context, sexual anarchy reigns as sex is set loose to be an end in itself.

God created human beings as male and female, both in GOD´s own image [Gen. 1:27]. Thus, gender is not a mere biological accident or social construction. The contrast and complementarity between the man and the woman reveal that gender is part of the goodness of God’s creation. Modern efforts to redefine or redesign gender are directly contrary to the Bible’s affirmation of maleness and femaleness as proper distinctions. God’s glory is seen in the maleness of the man and the femaleness of the woman. This pattern of distinction is affirmed and enforced by liturgical orders and restrictions on dress, hair length, etc. Any effort to confuse or deny gender differences is expressly forbidden and opposed by Scripture, especially as seen in Old Testament legal codes.

Throughout the Bible, a complementary pattern of relation between man and woman, particularly within the institution of marriage, is presented as the divine intention. Both are equal in dignity and status, but a pattern of male leadership in the home and in the church is enforced by both descriptive and prescriptive passages. This runs counter to the egalitarian wisdom of the modern age, but offers the only means of establishing a true order and pattern for marriage and the family.

The Bible places sex and sexual activity within the larger context of holiness and faithfulness. In this regard, the Bible presents an honest and often detailed explanation of God’s design for sex and its place in human life and happiness.

First, the biblical writers affirm the goodness of sexuality as God’s gift. The Song of Solomon is an extended love poem with explicit erotic imagery and language. Sex is affirmed as a source of pleasure and shared intimacy between husband and wife. Sexual pleasure is not an accident of human biology–it is one of the Creator’s sweetest gifts to human beings. The promise of sexual pleasure and satisfaction is to draw us into the marital covenant, and then shared joy of physical union is a vital part of the marital bond.

Second, the gift of sexual activity–as presented in the Bible–is consistently located only within the context of the marital covenant. Joined to each other within this monogamous covenant, the man and the woman may be naked, and not ashamed [Gen. 2:25]. The consistent witness of the biblical writers is that sexual relations are limited to this covenant relationship. All forms of extra-marital sexual activity are condemned, including premarital sex (fornication). Adultery is expressly forbidden as a particularly dangerous and damaging insult to the marriage and to the glory of God. [Ex. 20:14, Deut. 22:22, 1 Cor. 6:9-10]. At the same time, the husband and wife are ordered to fulfill their marital duties to each other, and not to refrain from sexual union [1 Cor. 7:2-5].