The first half of the twentieth century was characterized by unprecedented political upheaval; the latter half by tremendous social upheaval. Cultural revolutions in China, Europe, and the United States forced a re-imagining of gender, politics, art, music, sexuality, and faith in public and private life.
The Christian Church was not immune to these changes. Internal revolutions, often over the issue of sexuality, captured a number of major denominations, splitting them along conservative and liberal lines. The dawn of the twenty-first century threatens further schisms as churches debate the nature of homosexuality and its place in the pulpit and the pew.
Many of these debates hinge on what some believe is a dearth of biblical writings on the subject. Homosexuality, they claim, is only mentioned a handful of times. And therefore, as the argument goes, it isn’t important to God. But to argue that God declares an issue unimportant because it is rarely mentioned in the Bible is to deny His sovereignty and His interest in every aspect of our lives. Does He not even know the number of hairs on our head?
If Christians can disagree so vehemently on these issues, can we ever know the truth about God’s design and intention for sexuality?
It is no coincidence that the human story begins and ends with a wedding. In Genesis, God made us male and female and bid us to be fruitful and multiply; the book of Revelation describes the wedding feast of Christ and His Church. The love and intimacy we are to experience at the end of time was written into us in the beginning through our being embodied in the image and likeness of God.
Although the Bible employs other analogies for God’s relationship to His people, the most common is that of bridegroom and bride. If we are created in God’s image, does this heavenly relationship have any bearing on our earthly relationships?
It holds more meaning than most of us have ever imagined.
The distinction between the sexes and the complementarity of our bodies indicate God’s design for human relationship, communion, and unity, realized most profoundly in the marital embrace. This one-flesh union bespeaks the greater intimacy that exists among the persons of the Trinity. The Triune God loves completely, faithfully, freely, and fruitfully—as seen in the creation of the universe, and, more specifically, in the creation of humankind.
In too many ways, the church over the past two-thousand years has been like Moses leading the people through the desert. In Christ, we were given the keys to a transformed life, including a transformed understanding of sexuality. Like the Israelites, however, we balked at the land of milk and honey. Our refusal to take what God has given us has led to a long and arduous journey in the parched land of sexual boundaries and regulations.
In God’s mercy, He gave us boundaries to save us from further harm and destruction, but we have not learned the lessons He intended to teach through them. The sexual disorder in churches today is not unlike the grumbling of the Israelites: we resist God’s design when we do not understand it.
In 2003, Gene Robinson heralded his installation as the first openly homosexual Anglican bishop with this message: “I think God is doing a new thing in the world.”1 Robinson was right, but not the way he imagines it. God’s “new thing” is as old as creation and as timeless as truth.
The work God began in us through creation has been marred and twisted by our sin and by Satan’s targeted attacks. If our sexuality, properly expressed in the marital embrace, was designed to point us back to our Creator and His love, then this is where Satan would logically direct his cruelest assaults. To know what is most holy in this life, look to what has been most profaned. The new thing God is doing in our lifetime is restoring His people’s understanding of His original design for sexuality and life. The redemption provided through Jesus Christ is untwisting what Satan has warped, and loosing the chains of sexual enslavement that have stifled true freedom. God is gathering His children and opening their eyes to the beauty and wonder He has always desired for us.
This section of Pure Intimacy is populated with the writings of Christians who have captured and understood God’s vision for sexuality. Like Joshua, they see past today’s parched and dying sexual landscape to a land rich with blessing and ready for conquer. These articles are but a few opening salvos fired in the battle to reclaim God’s wonderful, glorious, inspiring design for sexuality that has been held captive by our enemy for far too long.
May the Lord of Life illuminate you as you seek His wisdom and truth.