God and Human Sexuality
Does God exist? Sufficient evidence exists to warrant the conclusion: “Yes, I know that God exists.” Has He spoken to us? Again, sufficient evidence exists to prove that the book we call the Bible is the inspired, infallible, inerrant, authoritative Word of God. Since God exists, and since He has given to us His divine will in written form, moral choices and human behavior are to be governed by that revealed will.
What is God’s will concerning human sexuality? That will was demonstrated originally in the creation of the first human beings: “Male and female created He them” (Genesis 1:27). God’s decision to create a female counterpart to the male was not coincidental. The female uniquely met three essential criteria: (1) “It’s not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18); (2) a helper suitable to him was needed (Genesis 2:18,20); and (3) the human race was to be perpetuated through sexual union (Genesis 1:28). Both Jesus and Paul reiterated this same understanding (Matthew 19:4-6; 1 Corinthians 7:2). So the woman was: (a) the divine antidote to Adam’s loneliness; (b) a helper fit for him; and (c) the means of the propagation of the human race. Here we see the divine arrangement for the human species.
Not long after God set into motion the created order—which He had pronounced as “very good” (Genesis 1:31)—man began to tamper with the divine will, and altered God’s original intentions concerning human sexuality. Polygamy was introduced into the world by Lamech (Genesis 4:19). God could have created two women for Adam. But He did not. Rather, He made one man for one woman for life. That is the divine will.
The next recorded departure from the divine will regarding human sexuality was Abraham’s foolish scheme to allow his wife Sarah to be taken by Pharoah (Genesis 12:10-12). That incident was followed by the determination by Sarah to offer Hagar as the means by which an heir might be secured (Genesis 16:1-16). Both of these actions obviously were contrary to God’s ideal of healthy, normal sexual behavior.
Genesis 19 now comes into view:
Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. And he said, “Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way,” And they said, “No, but we will spend the night in the open square.” But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.” So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, and said, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.” And they said, “Stand back!” Then they said, “This one came in to sojourn, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them.” So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door. But the men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door (Genesis 19:1-11, NKJV).
Moses already had described the spiritual condition of Sodom’s inhabitants as being “wicked and sinners against Jehovah exceedingly” (Genesis 13:13). God Himself stated that their sin was “great” and “grievous” (Genesis 18:20). The specific activity described in Genesis 19 involved the desire on the part of the males of Sodom to “know” Lot’s two visitors. The Hebrew term yada is used euphemistically to denote sexual intercourse (cf. Genesis 4:1; 19:8; Numbers 31:17, 35; Judges 11:39; 21:11).
Notice that the crime that was condemned in this passage was not the fact that the Sodomites were being violent and forcing someone to do something against his will (see Miller, 2002). Jude made that clear when he identified their sin as “giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh” (vs. 7). Peter echoed the same thought:
[A]nd turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemning them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed with the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)—then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed; they are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries (2 Peter 2:6-10, NKJV; cf. Jeremiah 23:14).
The term “sodomy” has come into the English language because of the sexual activity practiced in Sodom. A standard English dictionary defines “sodomy” as “[a]ny of various forms of sexual intercourse held to be unnatural or abnormal, especially anal intercourse or bestiality” (American Heritage Dictionary, 2000, p. 1651). It surely is reminiscent of our day to observe that when Lot urged the sodomites not to do “so wickedly,” the men accused Lot of being judgmental (Genesis 19:9; cf. Deuteronomy 23:17-18).
In addition to the pre-Mosaic period of history, God made clear His will on this matter when He handed down the Law of Moses. In a chapter dealing almost exclusively with sexual regulations, His words are explicit and unmistakable.
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. Nor shall you mate with any beast, to defile yourself with it. Nor shall any woman stand before a beast to mate with it. It is perversion. Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants. You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who sojourns among you (for all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled), lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you. For whoever commits any of these abominations, the persons who commit them shall be cut off from among their people. Therefore you shall keep My ordinance, so that you do not commit any of these abominable customs which were committed before you, and that you do not defile yourselves by them: I am the Lord your God (Leviticus 18:22-30, NKJV)…. If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them (Leviticus 20:13, NKJV).
A person would need help to misunderstand these injunctions.
Another graphic account is given in Judges 19, during the period of the judges, which was a time of spiritual and moral depravity and decay—the “Dark Ages” of Jewish history. “Sons of Belial” (i.e., wicked scoundrels) surrounded a house where travelers had taken refuge for the night. As in Sodom, they desired to “know” the male guest (Judges 19:22). The host, like Lot, knew exactly what they meant, as is evident from the fact that, like Lot, he offered them a sexual alternative (which, of course, God did not approve). Their sexual desire was labeled as “wickedness,” “outrage,” “vileness,” “lewdness,” and “evil” (Judges 19:23,24; 20:3,6,10,12,13, NKJV).
During the period of the kings, Josiah instituted sweeping moral and religious reforms. These included tearing down the homes of the Sodomites (2 Kings 23:7).
The New Testament is equally definitive in its uncompromising and unquestioned condemnation of illicit sexual activity. Paul summarized the “unrighteous” and “ungodly” behavior of the Gentile nations and declared:
For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them (Romans 1:26-32, NKJV).
This passage uses Greek terms that linguistic scholars define as “forbidden desire,” “impurity,” “unnatural vice,” “shameful passions,” “not in accordance with nature,” and “individuals of the same sex being inflamed with sensual, sexual desire for each other” (Arndt and Gingrich, 1957, pp. 28,118,119,240,583,877). Not only is God displeased with those who participate in such behavior, but verse 32 indicates that He is equally displeased with those who are merely supportive of such conduct—though they themselves do not engage in the activity. To the Corinthian church, Paul asked:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, NKJV).
The Greek word translated “homosexual” is a metaphorical use of a term that literally means “soft” and, when referring to people, refers to males allowing themselves to be used sexually by other males. Again, lexicographers apply the term to the person who is a “catamite,” i.e., a male who submits his body to another male for unnatural lewdness, i.e., homosexually (Thayer, 1977, p. 387; Arndt and Gingrich, p. 489).
The term “sodomites,” (“abusers of themselves with mankind” in the KJV) is a translation of the term arsenokoitai. It comes from two words: arsein (a male) and koitei (a bed), and refers to one who engages in sex with a male as with a female (Thayer, p. 75). Paul used the same term when he wrote to Timothy, and identified some behaviors that are both “contrary to sound doctrine” and characteristic of the one who is not “a righteous man” (1 Timothy 1:9-10).
When Paul said, “such were some of you,” he proved not only that those involved may be forgiven, but that they can cease such activity. We are forced to conclude that sexual activity between persons of the same sex is not a matter of genetics; it is a behavioral phenomenon associated largely with environmental factors.
Illicit sex is just one more departure from God’s will that American civilization is facing. God identified all departures from His will pertaining to sexual intercourse as “fornication.” The underlying Greek term, porneia, is a broad term that covers every form of illicit sexual intercourse, including adultery, incest, bestiality, bigamy, polygamy, bisexuality, necrophilia, and more. Our sex-crazed society is so promiscuous, and so estranged from God’s view of human sexuality, that our public schools consider it appropriate to teach children to simply “take precautions” when they engage in sexual escapades outside of marriage. But God never encouraged people to practice “safe sex.” Rather, He instructed people to exercise self-control, self-discipline, and moral responsibility. The Bible teaches that we are not to be self-indulgent. We are to put restraints on ourselves, and control our sexual urges and desires according to God’s will.
Encouraging young people simply to “take precautions” only encourages additional illicit behavior. It encourages more promiscuity. It contributes to an increase—not a decrease—in the number of pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases. Despite several decades of inundating our schools with sex education, and the promotion of so-called “safe sex,” the statisticians inform us that in the next thirty days, 83,850 unwed girls will become pregnant in this country (“Teens in Crisis,” 2001, p. 1). The handling of the issue by the social liberal has not worked. In fact, the problem has greatly worsened.
The Bible definition of “safe sex” is sex that is confined to a divinely authorized, scriptural marriage. The depths to which our country has slumped morally is seen in the fact that it is legal for public school officials to distribute condoms to students, but it is illegal to distribute Bibles or to teach Bible principles. The time has come for our nation to wake up. The time has come to face the fact that freedom requires restraint. Rights require personal responsibility. People must take responsibility for their choices, and accept the consequences of their own actions. Paul declared, “flee fornication” (1 Corinthians 6:18). He did not say, “engage in ‘safe’ fornication!” There is no such thing as “safe” sin or “safe” immorality. God said a person must run away from it, resist it, and reject it. To a youth, Paul said, “Keep yourself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22). The writer of Hebrews insisted that the marriage bed is to be kept “undefiled.” “[F]ornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). Paul said there should not be so much as a hint of sexual immorality among Christians (Ephesians 5:3).
Please understand: God loves all sinners—regardless of the specific sins they have committed. The faithful Christian will do the same. But it is imperative that we be about the business of alerting those who are engaged in sexual sin regarding God’s will, in an effort to “snatch them out of the fire” (Jude 23), and to “save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).
Sexual sin undoubtedly will go down in history as one of the major contributors to the moral and spiritual deterioration, decline, and downfall of American society. One wonders how much longer such widespread unchastity can go on in our land before God will “visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants” (Leviticus 18:25). Every society in human history that has followed this course toward moral and spiritual depravity has eventually been destroyed by God. Indeed, in light of such moral confusion, our society cannot continue to survive indefinitely into the future—unless, of course, God is prepared to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.
American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000), (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin), fourth edition.
Arndt, William and F.W. Gingrich (1957), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
Miller, Dave (2002), “Sodom—Inhospitality or Homosexuality?,” Reason & Revelation, 22:41-42, November.
Thayer, J.H. (1962 reprint), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
“Teens in Crisis” (2001), Teen Help (Las Vegas, NV: World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools).