Faith Frontiers

Human Sexuality

The story of mankind is a remarkable story of proliferation, migration, and adaptation.  It is a story only partially known and spans countless generations across tens of thousands of years or more as human beings multiplied and spread across the earth.  Central to this global movement were committed familial relationships and an ability to survive and flourish amid changing landscapes and environments.

The success of mankind may be attributed to family and extended-family groups that formed tribal communities with relational mores, ultimately maturing into civilized cultures.  Primary among these relational mores were boundaries limiting sexual activity to monogamous relations between men and women committed to raising children.  In turn, families supported tribal communities that provided security, support services, food supplies, and assistance in rearing children.

Those cultures that abandoned traditional mores governing sexual relations were not as successful, declined, and died.  The mutual trust necessary for communal living was lost.  In such cultures, committed relationships were replaced with sexual promiscuity, divorce, disoriented and confused children, and other dysfunctional relations that lead to social decline.  Amoral sexual behavior incorporated into pagan worship rituals further profaned the natural purpose of human sexuality with infant sacrifices and the murder of unwanted infants by temple prostitutes. 

By the time of the Hebrew exodus from Egypt in the twelfth century BCE, pagan cultures dominated the Middle East.  It was necessary for the Hebrews to promulgate laws defining and regulating sexual relationships as intended for mankind by the Creator.  These laws are found in the Hebrew Scriptures, Leviticus 18.  With the advent of Christianity, these laws entered into Western cultures and defined traditional morality for social relationships in North America until the sexual revolution of the mid-twentieth century.

Since the 1960s, human sexuality has become an obsession within the American culture.  Serious Christians can no longer ignore the consequences: a major moral decline within society.  Sexual obsession goes beyond the normal biological attraction between the male and female of our species.  As unregulated self-consuming desire, it has become dangerously narcissistic, socially regressive, and relationally irresponsible.

Under relentless pressure to be reconciled with popular amoral secularism in a post-Christian society, biblical moral traditions that previously kept social relationships stable and healthy are being abandoned.  Evidence of social decline can be seen in the public acceptance of recreational sex outside of marriage necessitating the use of artificial contraception, increasing divorces and abortions, and most recently demanding social acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex marriage.  Once unacceptable in American culture, these deviations from traditional sexual morality are being normalized by social institutions.

Mainline Christian churches have been complicit in this movement to normalize deviant sexual behaviors, desiring to make Christianity open and accepting to those with modern sexual appetites.  They suggest, contrary to Scripture, that all sexual activity is pleasing to God.  Those who oppose the church's departure from scriptural prescriptions are suppressed by church leaders as intolerant and lacking of compassion.  To the contrary, these opponents are being faithful to God's word, supportive of traditional family values, and show compassion for the well-being of children.

This process of moral subversion being embraced by mainline churches has been described by Dr. Mary Eberstadt, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.  The process begins with granting "compassionate" and "limited" exceptions to traditional rules in "special circumstances."  With the passage of time, "limited" exceptions cease to be limited and become the new norm.  Thereafter, the new norm is sanctified by the church as acceptable.  In this way, that which was once considered amoral becomes morally acceptable within mainline churches and society.

Designed to normalize deviant sexual behaviors, this process began by having "tolerance" and "compassionate understanding" for unrestricted sex outside of marriage.  "Are not human beings weak and subject to temptation?," church leaders asked.  Once enabled as a tolerable sin that can be forgiven within the social sphere, unrestricted sex began to emerge as a characteristic of a "free" society.  Given promiscuous sex as a new social norm, it became necessary to make it "safe" through various contraceptive techniques.  Sex itself then became recreational and pleasurable outside of marriage without the commitment and responsibilities associated with having children.  Marriage became optional where sex was concerned and divorce emerged as the next acceptable social norm.  In this way, one deviation from traditional mores was accepted and the next deviation was enabled to emerge, leading to the fall of traditional mores as listed below. 

Through this process, progressive theologians and politicians have gradually moved our culture to accept as "normal" the following: (1) unregulated sex outside of marriage among all ages, such that sex education is now part of public school curriculums in order that society as a whole can learn to use artificial contraceptive techniques; (2) casual divorce; and (3) abortions of convenience to correct the inconvenient consequences of irresponsible, self-gratifying sex.  Currently, mainline church leaders are partnering with secularists to normalize (5) homosexuality and (6) same-sex marriage in conformity with the modern age.

What is not mentioned by these progressive church leaders is the coincident disenfranchisement of traditional marriage, parental authority, and heterogeneous family structures which have been the cornerstones of Western civilization.  It is important, therefore, to remind ourselves that the modern human journey began its downward spiral in the West when sexual relations between individuals outside of marriage were accepted as a societal norm, becoming the slippery slope for every deviation that has followed.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century CE, people of almost every age look in a mirror and ask, "Am I sexually attractive or 'sexy'?"  Being "sexy" is provocatively emphasizing and displaying one's sexual attributes for consumption by the general public.   In our markets, "sex sells" everything from cars to fashions to yogurt.  As a self-absorbing obsession, sexuality without self-regulation is threatening not only the present but also the future of the human race.  The first step out of this grave our society is digging for itself is to acknowledge our present situation and regain the original meaning and purpose of human sexuality.

Regaining Perspective

In the first chapter of Genesis, the human race is given a divine commission:

And God made man,
according to the image of God he made him,
male and female he made them;
And God blessed them, saying,
Increase and multiply and fill the earth,
And subdue it and have dominion over fish of the sea,
And over birds of the heavens,
And over all animals creeping on the earth…
Genesis 1:27-28, The Greek Septuagint

The creation theme of Genesis concludes in these verses.  Jehovah God, who by his Word spoke the universe into being, made man according to his image.  This is to say, at the very least, that mankind has a very special relationship with the Creator as stewards of the earth.  The noun "man" (in ancient Greek, "anthropos,") grammatically includes both male and female, as clarified in Line 3 above. 

Therefore, the modern use of the word, "man," to the exclusion of the female is an erroneous fabrication of Western thought and not part of the ancient narrative.  Rather, the race of man was and continues to be "male and female" for the intended purpose of procreation, according to God's instruction to "increase and fill the earth." 

The distinction, "male and female," is in the simplest and most basic sense a reference to human sexuality.  We may assume with certainty that such sexuality was given for the purpose of making mankind participants in the on-going work of creation through the procreation of succeeding generations.  With the increase of generations, mankind would fill and subdue the earth as God intended.  Any use of sexuality other than to fulfill this procreative purpose is outside of God's grand design for the human race and contrary to the way God made sexuality and the world to work.

To further this work of procreation, the Creator provided for a natural biological attraction between the sexes in a context of loving and committed relationships for the sake of the children their union would produce.  It follows that procreation would be enabled by making the act of conception pleasurable, bonding male and female in the joint work of producing and raising children.  Jesus said:

"Have you not read that
the one who made them at the beginning
 'made them male and female,'
and said 'for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother
 and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?
 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 
Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.'
Matthew 19:4-6, NRSV

We may assume, again with certainty, that the Creator intended there be more to sexual coupling than just pleasure.  Sexuality has a clear and meaningful purpose for future generations.  Male and female are joined together in an ordained act of commitment called marriage, which then becomes the crucible of sexual activity.  The conception of children is an expression of their union and oneness.  What is created through marriage is a new family, blessed of God.  For the sake of the children, this union should not be broken. Thus, marriage and the family are the basic structures of human society and the divine context for human sexuality. 

The Judeo-Christian religions and the cultures guided by these religions were very specific about this divine context for human sexuality.  Traditions based on the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) prescribed codes for sexual morality.  These codes are unambiguous and are found in Leviticus 18, Romans 1, and 1 Corinthians 6.  They were given to counter the influences of pagan cultures that were contrary to the divine context for human sexuality.  During the last two thousand years, these Judeo-Christian traditions have defined morality in Western societies.  With the passing of Christendom, however, American society is entering into a post-Christian age in which moral traditions are giving way to antinomianism, unrestricted sexual behavior.  

Increasingly it is apparent that, without the moral anchor formally provided by the influence of traditional Christians and their churches, American society is drifting away from the biblical prescriptions for human sexuality.  In the 1960s, a sexual revolution began in many American universities.  Leading the way was a regressive social experiment, the "Kinsey Report."  This report alleged that all sexual behaviors then considered deviant were instead normal, and heterosexuality was declared to be "an abnormal consequence of cultural conditioning."

Progressive educators seized upon Alfred Kinsey's reckless declarations and began to incorporate them into America's educational systems.  Young adults, eager to escape traditional social restraints, made Kinsey's radical proclamations a platform for a sexual revolution.  The infamous Woodstock concert was a consequence of this rebellion.  Kinsey's work was later discredited and shown to be contrived, but at the time his report reshaped public attitudes about human sexuality.  These attitudes continue today and are being irresponsibly taught in most public school sex-education classes. 

As a consequence, great harm has been done to the social standing of traditional families and to society in general.  Marriage, the union of male and female for the purpose of procreation, is under attack by social progressives in conjunction with the gay and lesbian movement.  Once a staunch supporter and a protective hedge around the traditional family, many mainline Christian churches have prostituted themselves before a secular society that has rejected the Word of God.  These churches have accepted the regressive social experiment spawned in the sexual revolution of the 1960s and are enabling the continued growth of an amoral cancer in the American culture.

The decline in Christian morality that began with tolerance for and finally acceptance of promiscuous sex and artificial contraception has continued with the normalization of casual divorce, abortions of convenience, and now homosexuality and same-sex marriage.  If this decline is to be stopped, Christians and Christian families must recover and reinstate sexual morality as prescribed by our Creator.  They must reverse the influence of the sexual revolution in America before the sacred institution of marriage is destroyed and with it, the family and society as we have known it.

The place to begin is with an emphasis on the necessity of self-discipline, responsible sexual behavior, and the re-sanctification of human sexuality in the context of marriage, rather than its commercialization and recreational use.  When there are limited exceptions, such as justifiable divorces and abortions of necessity, they should not be expanded to include the social acceptance of all divorces and abortions.  What is clear is that we cannot start over.  The box that once held sexuality in reserve for marriage has been opened, and America's youth have pursued unrestrained sexual gratification for two generations.  Any changes in this abuse of sexuality will have to be initiated by today's generation and their families and be pursued faithfully by future generations.

Programs that teach sexual abstinence until marriage are a beginning, but abstinence programs are challenged every day as incompatible with public school curriculums emerging from the sexual revolution.  Real progress cannot be realized until public schools are forced to abandon sex education in grade schools and middle schools as inappropriate to those ages and rewrite these programs for high school students as approved by parents.  

Nevertheless, until sexual activity is again reserved for the context of marriage as a social more, there will be little hope of reversing the consequences of artificial contraception, casual divorces, abortions of convenience, and homosexuality.  Divorce, abortion, and homosexuality have been present in human societies for thousands of years.  These deviant behaviors will not simply go away until human beings can exercise self-control over their sexual impulses and live by the biblical prescriptions in a committed, rightly-related society.