This is the third in a series of columns about same-sex attraction, adapted from the new MBC resource, “What Every Christian Should Know About Same-Sex Attraction,” available in print at mobaptist.org/apologetics and in Kindle format at Amazon.com.
The best place to begin a Biblical analysis of same-sex attraction is, well, in the beginning. The first three chapters of Genesis introduce us to God, reveal His eternality, instruct us in His sovereignty, suggest His triune nature, and demonstrate His power and purpose in creation.
He created man and woman as the crown of His handiwork (Gen. 1:26). He created us for exclusive intimacy with Him; that is, He shares His glory with no other god and is jealous for our full devotion to Him.
He also made us for exclusive intimacy with our spouses, and gave us an expression of His creative power through procreation in the context of monogamous, life-long, heterosexual marriage.
Note that God allows Adam to discover he is alone and in need of a helper. The animals are not suitable helpers for the man – not because they lack utilitarian value, but because they are unable to help Adam carry out God’s command to “fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28).
Eve, however, satisfies this role. Together, the first two human beings procreate, engaging in sexual intimacy that results in other humans who bear the image of God.
A tragic turn
But our story takes a tragic turn in Genesis 3. Satan tempts Eve with a half-truth, making it seem to the first couple that God is holding out on them. They disobey God, partaking of the one tree in the Garden that’s off limits to them.
Immediately, they experience shame. They hide from the presence of God. And they experience the curse, which includes banishment from the Garden, difficulty in childbirth, a lifetime of laboring in a hostile environment and, ultimately, death.
We don’t have to read far in Scripture to see how the Fall poisons everything, including sexual intimacy, marriage, and family.
Yet God does not wash His hands of the human race. For Adam and Eve, He provides animal skins for their naked bodies, and in the process evidently teaches them about atonement – the temporary covering of sins through the substitutionary death of innocent and spotless animals.
More important, He promises them redemption through Eve’s “seed,” who will crush the head of Satan, though the evil one will strike His heel (Gen. 3:15).
Why Genesis matters
The first three chapters of Genesis matter because they capture the essence of creation, rebellion, and redemption – the great story of the Bible. What does all of this have to do with human sexuality and marriage? Plenty.
Pastor and author Kevin DeYoung remarks that if God wanted to establish a world in which the normative marital and sexual relationship is that between persons of the opposite sex, Genesis 1-2 fits perfectly. The narrative strongly suggests what the church has almost uniformly believed and taught: that marriage is to be between one man and one woman.
A different marital arrangement requires an entirely different creation account, he argues in What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? “It’s hard not to conclude from a straightforward reading of Genesis 1-2 that the divine design for sexual intimacy is not any combination of persons, or even any type of two persons coming together, but one man becoming one flesh with one woman,” he writes.
DeYoung cites five reasons we are right to think that Genesis 1-2 establishes God’s design for marriage and that this design requires one man and one woman:
- The way in which the woman was created indicates that she is the man’s divinely designed complement.
- The nature of the one-flesh union presupposes two persons of the opposite sex.
- Only two persons of the opposite sex can fulfill the procreative purposes of marriage.
- Jesus reinforces the normativity of the Genesis account (see Matt. 19:1-12).
- The redemptive-historical significance of marriage as a divine symbol in the Bible only works if the marital couple is a complementary pair.
As we explore the Bible’s treatment of same-sex conduct, it helps to keep in mind the creation-rebellion-redemption story of Genesis 1-3, repeated and expanded throughout the rest of Scripture.
What we believe and how we live matters – not only to us, but to our friends struggling with same-sex attraction. We should embrace and proclaim God’s creative intent for sexuality and marriage – but humbly, graciously, and lovingly, lest we be tempted as well (Gal. 6:1).
Next: A look at Sodom and Gomorrah