In October 2006, The Focus on the Family Board of Directors approved a new guiding principle on sexuality and gender, titled The Value of Male and Female. Also known as our “6th Pillar, since it joins five long-standing pillars on which this ministry stands, The Value of Male and Female is a bold declaration that gender matters in God’s plan for humanity and that even if we don’t always live up to God’s standards, the grace and love of Christ compels Christians to reach out to those who are lost and hurting with a message of hope and healing.
Below is the text of the “6th Pillar” and a more detailed description of that it means.
The Value of Male and Female
We believe that God created humans in His image, intentionally male and female, each bringing unique and complementary qualities to sexuality and relationships. Sexuality is a glorious gift from God to be offered back to Him either in marriage for procreation, union and mutual delight or in celibacy for undivided devotion to Christ. Christians are called to proclaim the truth and beauty of God’s design and the redemption of sexual brokenness in our lives and culture through Jesus Christ.
6th Pillar defined
We believe that God created humans in His image, intentionally male and female, each bringing unique and complementary qualities to sexuality and relationships.
Humans are made for relationship. Just as God is inherently relational (a community of three), we are created in His image and likeness to live in community with Him and others. Both male and female are essential to God’s earthly plan, for at creation He said it was “not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Our God-given purpose is tied to our unique biological sex; therefore, sexuality, the specific God-ordained physical, mental and behavioral traits that characterize individuals as distinctly male or female, is much more than simply what men and women “do”—it is an integral part of our being throughout our entire lifespan.
The first clause of the pillar emphasizes the fact that God has made us as differentiated beings, equal in worth, to complement one another. While individually every human has inestimable value and shows forth God’s image, our gender complementarities present an even fuller picture of God’s multi-faceted nature. Relationships between men and women demonstrate both unity and diversity, characteristics that derive their ultimate meaning from the Trinity. At a human level, the unity and diversity between the sexes find their deepest expression in marriage, which is intended to model the same sort of holy, exclusive, permanent and life-giving intimacy that will one day characterize the union of Christ with His bride, the redeemed and glorified Church (Ephesians 5).
Sexuality is a glorious gift from God to be offered back to Him either in marriage for procreation, union and mutual delight or in celibacy for undivided devotion to Christ.
The second clause is concerned with clearing out the false notions about sexuality perpetuated by our culture (i.e., that extra-marital sexual activity is “good” and “normal,” etc.). As Christians, we believe in Christ’s lordship over all of life, including our bodies and sexual expression. Our responsibility is to learn about God’s plan for the two sexes, and then, rather than merely avoiding immorality, live out our sexuality in ways that honor both God and our fellow human beings. Whether married or single, biblically appropriate sexual expression requires discipline and a commitment to pursuing a life of virtue. Sex is a gift from God, but not a gift to do with as we please. We must exercise biblical stewardship over the gift of our sexuality. This applies to four major areas:
Mutual delight (Song of Solomon 5:16; Proverbs 5:18-19): It is God’s good plan that sex be generously shared between spouses for their mutual benefit. Husbands and wives must not let their sexual relationship be informed or guided by worldly standards, but by Scripture—always seeking the good of the other and being united in faithfulness to one another. Sex must never be used to oppress, take advantage of or wrong another person.
Celibacy (I Corinthians 7:32-34; Matthew 19:11-12): It is God’s good plan that unmarried individuals (whether seeking marriage or called to lifelong singleness) remain celibate. Like married people, singles are called to steward their sexuality as a gift from God. They do so through faithful devotion to Christ. Foregoing or awaiting the intimacies of marriage as a single person affirms the exclusive and covenantal relationship of marriage and all it symbolizes.
Christians are called to proclaim the truth and beauty of God’s design and the redemption of sexual brokenness in our lives and culture through Jesus Christ.
Living out God’s design for sexuality in our own lives and families builds healthy communities. More than merely denouncing sin, we must be motivated to proclaim God’s divine plan for sexuality while at the same time holding fast to the rules He has clearly spelled out in the Bible for the protection of our well-being and the well-ordering of society. Churches, as communities of believers who hold to abstinence before marriage and to lifelong marital fidelity, must respond with grace and compassion as well as conviction and truth to those who are confused or who have deviated from biblical standards of sexuality. Similarly, we must encourage those who struggle to live according to these shared beliefs.
Christ offers forgiveness to all who have sinned, and this promise of reconciliation is the greatest hope we have in fighting the sexual culture of self and its attendant baggage—abortion, promiscuity, pornography and so on. To excuse sexual lust or brokenness as “acceptable” because it is common is to make the Cross—and Christ’s standards—powerless in the Christian life. When we draw from the model of love lived by Christ (sacrificial, other-centered and self-giving) and seek ongoing sanctification according to Romans 12:1 and 2 Peter 1:3-8, we can be empowered to live out a “healthy sexuality” in increasing measure throughout life.