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What Is God’s Design and Purpose for Human Sexuality?

According to Genesis 1:26-38, mankind was created in the likeness and image of God. This likeness and image is reflected in numerous ways. Among them are... 

  • Tripartite nature
  • Capacity to reflect His glory
  • Free will
  • Rule over the earth
  • Creative capacities

The text further describes “in His own Image” as being “male and female.” There is a complementary relationship in the marital union between male and female that in some glorious way reflects God’s image.

In nature, when you divide something into two parts, there is a natural force within those parts that compels them to reunite. The same can be said with the natural inclination in a woman to reunite with her original source - to become one flesh with him again. Because Eve was taken out of Adam, “For this reason, a man will . . . be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (v. 24). Thus, God’s creative intention is heterosexual monogamy. Jesus reiterates the importance of this design in Matthew 19:4-6.

The Marital Union of Christ and the Church

This picture of faithful, monogamous marriage between a man and a woman is one of the most important in all of God’s design in creation. That is why Jesus and the apostle Paul made it clear that divorce is forbidden except in cases where this “one flesh” bond has been broken through adultery (Matthew 5:32), desertion by a nonbelieving spouse (1 Corinthians 7:15), or death (1 Corinthians 7: 39-40).

This bond is as much a spiritual union as it is a physical one. It is a glorious prefigurement of the ultimate union between Christ, the Bridegroom, and His Church, the Bride. It has been designed to reveal the selflessly self-giving love that is to be exchanged between Christ and the believer (Ephesians 5:32).

In Scripture, Christ is referred to as the second or last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45,47). And just as the first Adam’s bride came from his side rather than being formed from the dust of the ground, so the second Adam’s bride (the Church) came forth from Jesus’ side at Calvary (John 19:34) when His blood was shed for the redemption of all who would believe in Him. And what God hath joined together, no man will put asunder!

This is why such behaviors as heterosexual promiscuity, adultery, polygamy, homosexuality, and gay marriage make no sense. They are a mockery of everything that human sexuality and marriage were meant to declare about the redemption and ultimate destiny of man. They are a distortion of the image of God in man. They are lies designed to keep people from giving glory to God and from finding intimacy with Him both now and in the age to come.

Every perversion of God's design is thoroughly and repeatedly condemned in both the Old and New Testaments. Ultimately, unrepentant sinful lifestyles prevent spiritual union with God and result in eternal separation from Him (Psalm 51:4; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

Satan is fighting tooth and nail to destroy human sexuality and marriage. He attempts to pervert our sexual identities and to ruin faithful marriages in order to desecrate the image of God in mankind and thwart God’s greatest desire - to live in a covenant of love with every human being.

The Damage to Body, Soul, and Spirit

Just as God is a unity of three (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), so are we (body, soul, and spirit). When we commit sexual sin, we not only sin against our own body (Romans 8:10; 1 Corinthians 6:18), we bring negative consequences upon our soul and spirit as well.

In 1 Corinthians 6:16, Paul points out that “he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body.” Since believers are a part of Christ’s body, it is tantamount to uniting Christ with that prostitute.

The apostle Peter wrote: “sinful desires … war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:1). Such damage to the mind, will, and emotions often manifests itself in:

  • Memories that plague us from commission to the grave
  • A weakened character and will
  • Emotional damage
  • Inroads from the demonic realm
  • Unhealthy "soul ties" between parties

"Soul ties cause” an internal pull toward those with whom the person has had intimate relations in the past. Sometimes it’s an emotional pull, a dwelling on their memory, and other times it feels like they just have to see them again. It’s as if you still possess a part of them, and they, a part of you - a fact that has been proven by science. Fortunately, these unholy soul ties can be broken through prayer.

Thus, we see that sinful sex acts adversely impact the entire person—body, soul, and spirit.

Despoiling the Divine Marriage Bed

Sexual sin creates a dividing wall between your spirit and God’s. God doesn’t create the dividing wall. Your sinful behavior and the evil intent behind it do.

The spiritual union of Jesus Christ (the Son of God) with His Church (the people who follow Him) is likened in Scripture to the marriage bed (Ephesians 5:31-32). He wants a virgin (undefiled) bride. When we accept Him as Lord and Savior, He comes in to us and, by the Holy Spirit, plants the seeds of spiritual life within us and we are born again into a pure state of righteousness. He cloaks us, as it were, with His own righteousness. He becomes our covering—a covering that begins to transform us into His likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18).

When He returns as the Bridegroom for His bride (the Church), Jesus will spiritually consummate the marriage. And what God has joined together, no man shall ever put asunder!

The Physical-Spiritual Connection

Human sexuality was created good, holy, and pure. It is a sacred aspect of life, no matter how perverted we choose to make it.

Sex is just as much a spiritual act as it is a physical and emotional one, and it is only when married couples discover this that their sex life achieves its intended purpose. Sexual passion has been designed by God to symbolize in the physical the thoughts, feelings, and actions that accompany the spiritual passion He has for His Bride. Sadly, most don't realize this because the only thing they have seen is “fallen” sexuality.

Bearing Witness to God's Glory in Our Sexual Behavior

Our earthly relationships set the pattern and ingrain the behavior for our relationship with God. The fruit of adultery in earthly relationships bears the fruit of adultery with God in our spiritual relationship. But the faithful and habitual acting out of “one flesh” communion in the marital relationship ingrains in us the pattern that God intends (one of intimate faithfulness with Him), and sets that example for the rest of the world to admire and follow. Having been drawn to the earthly picture of faithful, heterosexual monogamy, people are thereby drawn to the heavenly one - the spiritual union of Christ and the Church.

God has devised a way to weave the very fabric of His life into the fabric of our being, as golden threads are woven into a plain cloth. Sexuality becomes the very picture of the creation and redemption of man, demonstrating how we can receive into ourselves the very life and image of God and thereby participate in His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).

Return to Him now and allow His grace to begin to teach you to say “No” to ungodliness (Titus 2:11-12) - "eager to do what is good."

This article adapted from Dr. David Kyle Foster's book The Sexual Healing Reference Edition

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/dragana991 


Dr. David Kyle Foster is the host of the Pure Passion Podcast and author of Transformed Into His Image and Love Hunger. He is also the founder and director of Mastering Life Ministries. Read more of his take on sin and brokenness in his newest book, The Sexual Healing Reference Edition.

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