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Abstract

This research paper is dedicated to the review of Christian stance on sex and sexuality. It is aimed at providing the readers with the notion of healthy sexuality based on the texts from both the Old and New Testaments. Apart from using the Bible as the main source of information, it is reasonable to utilize the analytical works of different experts in the area. The range of different aspects of theology of sex and sexuality are covered in this paper. These include body as a primary mystery of creation, gender segregation and equality of sexes, sexuality and holiness and role of sexuality in a Christian marriage. All these aspects of sexuality determine one’s personal theology of sexuality and sex. The expected audience of this research paper is the students of theology and counselors who provide help according to their religious beliefs and implement the Bible teachings into their practice.

Keywords: sex, sexuality, gender segregation, holiness, healthy sexuality

Theology of Sexuality and Sex

The Christian worldview has a profound impact on what opinions one holds on different matters. Whether it comes to the matter of personal freedom or morality, a true Christian always knows what to do based on what the Bible says. Nevertheless, there is a fundamental difference between Christian and secular worldviews. It is especially true when speaking about the matter of sex and sexuality. Apparently, modern world nurtures the idea of immediate gratification. From this point of view, sex serves the only purpose, namely physical pleasure. Furthermore, with the spread of contraception, people choose not to have children. As Thatcher (2011) says, “for most people most of the time, having children is the last thing on their minds when they are having sex.” However, Biblical concept of sex and sexuality is different. God meant sexuality as a great gift for humans, but the Fall changed the understanding of sex and sexuality into unhealthy one. Therefore, it is crucial to review the idea of healthy sexuality in light of the Bible teachings.

Body as a Primary Mystery of Creation

Human body has a special meaning in the Christian theology. God created a human body from the dust and breathed the breath of life into the man; thus, a man became alive (Genesis 2:7). Owing to this divine breath, each human being carries this “grain of eternity” (Wood, n.d.) and therefore cannot be reduced or limited to the inanimate matter. In a special way, the body is the primary mystery of creation because it becomes a visible sign of divine economy of truth and love (Davidson, 2007). However, this view may contradict the secular view of the body stating that one is using body for getting as much pleasure as possible. As Lang (2009) puts it, “The Bible views the body as something important – something to be taken care of and used in God’s service, not used as a sexual toy.” Since God is holy, a human being as a carrier of the image of God’s holiness is an object of holiness with their body. At the same time, a human being is a mystery of creation and a sign of God in the world. Thus, all creations should achieve their wholeness through this mystery according to God’s plan. The New Testament adds one more dimension to the human body. The sanctification of the whole world occurs through the human body the same as Christ’s incarnation, the ideal God’s image that insures the salvation of the world. Therefore, human body participates in the supernatural mystery of Christ’s incarnation and the Atonement of the world.

Gender Segregation and Equality of Sexes

Human body always carries particular gender differences according to its nature. Humankind comprises the two elements, namely a masculine and a feminine one. The Bible says that God created first people as a man and a woman, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Apparently, this verse states that God created gender segregation and intended bipolarity of sexes from the beginning. Despite the popular opinion, this segregation does not imply subordination of one gender to another. On the contrary, “a man finds his identity and meaning in being male, just as a woman finds identity and meaning in being female through their differentiation. Differentiation connotes “unique quality” rather than inequality!” (Balswick & Balswick, 2008). Owing to this gender segregation, Adam could notice that he was different from the rest of the creatures and could be glad about the creation of Eve. Thus, human body, which is a gift from God the Creator, possesses the marital characteristic from the beginning. In fact, gender separation between a man and a woman has a profound meaning for the notion of being a human. Thus, being a human means living as a sexual individual. According to the divine model established for the first couple in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2: 18-23), sexual relationships should be characterized by heterosexual duality between “a husband and a wife.” Moreover, the use of singular nouns implies that sexual relationships should be monogamous and their existence is reserved to only two partners in the marriage. Though biblical characters often violated this God’s regulation, such practice is never mentioned with approval; rather it is condemned throughout the entire Scripture. The Song of Songs also provides the readers with the same high doctrine of creation as the Book of Genesis. Sexual love is considered a command for the creation that God gave people for pleasure. Davidson (2007) fairly points to the fact that sexual love is “the very flame of the Lord” (Song 8:6). In this book, the lovers praise the creation of sexuality described in the first chapters of the Book of Genesis.

Sexuality and Holiness

According to the divine plan, the human body is as unique as the human soul. Another element of God’s plan is human sexuality that is an integral part of love ability that God gave a man and a woman. In fact, this love ability as a gift of self is embodied in the marital meaning of a body that has an imprint of human masculinity or femininity. According to Pope John Paul II, body is not only a source of fertility but also a source of love through which one person becomes a gift to another person (Scott & Horell, 2007). A man and a woman as two beings with different genders are called to make the unity. God the Creator established the first marriage. Thus, even if human beings are different from each other, they are still equal in their dignity. The reason is that gender separation was a part of God’s plan. Thus, the creation of a man and a woman has a deep meaning. Human beings are called to recognize the meaning of sexuality, accept it and use this sphere according to its purpose.

According to the New Testament, a man and a woman should represent the unity of the Holy Trinity. God is a unity of three persons, and likewise a man and a woman should try to imitate that unity. Thus, those who create the community of love are called to give life by cooperation with God. In fact, this truth relates not only to passing life as a gift of love in a biological dimension, but it implies a spiritual dimension as well. Since God is love (1 John 4:8), he gives a special vocation in the human nature of men and women. The vocation is based on love and responsibility for love and community based on that love. Thus, love is the main innate vocation of each human being. The entire human being is the image of God’s love, and all areas of one’s life should be in line with the divine plan. Human physicality and sexuality are also the part of the divine plan and God’s image, even though the human sexuality is often considered to be an object of erotic and private manipulations. Apparently, God is the source of all the principles of Christian sexual ethics. Human being is the unity of physical body and spiritual soul and is called to love. The feeling penetrates the human body and participates in spiritual love.

Role of Sexuality in a Christian Marriage

The Fall has impacted sexuality so that people started using their sex and sexuality in the wrong way. Before the Great Flood, “every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5). Another example of the corrupted understanding of sexuality is a famous city of Sodom where people “were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord” (Genesis 13:13). It is not a secret that homosexuality was spread among people of Sodom. God even intended to destroy the entire city because of this sin. In fact, homosexuality is a violation of God’s plan of fertility and communication between the two sexes. It is rooted in the idea that sex should only bring pleasure.

While the world views sex as the means of pleasure, “the Christian perspective is that the purpose of sex is relational, with pleasure as the by-product. […Sex] is so powerful that it is only safe within a committed, covenant marriage relationship” (Bohlin, 2007). As one may notice from the Genesis 1:28, one of the main aims of sexuality is procreation that can be deduced from the words “be fruitful and increase in number.” However, some people misinterpret this command to engage in sexual relations to produce children. As Deem (2012) writes, people understand it as a requirement not to prevent conception or that the only purpose of sexual relations is to produce children.

Nevertheless, these words are a blessing from God. Thus, human procreation is a part of God’s plan concerning human sexuality. At the same time, it is a special blessing which people should seriously and responsibly treat. However, the text makes it clear that sexuality cannot solely aim to give birth to children. Apparently, gender differentiation has its sense not only in procreation. Birds and fish also received the blessing to be fruitful and increase in number on the fifth day (Genesis 1:22). Unlike birds and fish, humans are created in God’s image that is why the purpose of their sexuality is different. In particular, God intended gender differentiation for the communication and maintaining relationships between a man and a woman. Thus, the task of giving one clear theology may be tricky. Balswicks (2008) argue that “the scriptural view certainly presents sexuality as basic to our human existence and the very thing that informs our way of being in the world as embodied persons.”

Modern understanding of marriage implies that the unity of a man and a woman is a true sign of the salvation affair. After all, “many Christian traditions formally articulate that marriage – and, by extension, sex – is essentially a portrait or reflection of God’s relationship with his people” (Regnerus, 2007). A husband and a wife as married people should represent what has happened on the cross. Thus, they become the witnesses of salvation for each other and their children. According to Pope John Paul II, marriage is a sacrament that gives people grace and the task to comprehend great God’s deeds and communicate them to their children (Scott & Horell, 2007). In Christian marriage, it is believed that a beloved person is the God’s creature whom Christ redeemed with his blood and whom Jesus loves with the infinite love. Thus, love helps one to uncover the spiritual beauty of the person and their value. Marriage strengthens such feelings as love and respect and gives the motives for forgiveness.

In Christian marriage, love to oneself is also a love to Jesus Christ. Hence, it is the source of purity and disinterestedness of the marital love. Each true love wants to make the beloved one happy. Moreover, it searches for happiness for another person and not for personal pleasure. Love that is altered in a supernatural way makes this intention grow to the desire of eternal good for the beloved one. Thus, one’s eternal welfare becomes as much desired as the salvation of one’s neighbor together with the comprehension of the mutual responsibility for that. Natural love has a danger of making the beloved one a center of the universe. On the contrary, supernatural love does not have such a danger because it is God-centered. Furthermore, love does not loose passion for another person. Such relations enable a wife and a husband to grow spiritually, while love encourages one to perfect their partner.

To conclude, human sexuality is a part of perfect divine providence from the beginning of the creation. It is reflected in each area of human life, as it is one of the key elements of human existence. Many different ideas about sexuality are written on the pages of the Holy Scripture. According to the modern understanding of the term, sexuality in its deepest meaning is not only a “place” of the deep interpersonal experience, but it is also a “place” where one can meet God. The above-mentioned worldview may contradict the secular one, but it directly influences Christian theology of sexuality and sex.

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