The Bible’s Viewpoint
“WHEN will I know my sexual preference?” So wrote a 13-year-old girl to a teenage advice column. Her question echoes the attitude of many who feel that people are free to pursue any sexual life-style they choose.
Some people may genuinely struggle with confusion regarding their sexual feelings. Others openly embrace alternative life-styles such as homosexuality. Still others boldly act and dress as one of the opposite sex. Some undergo sex-change operations. There are even individuals who argue that adults should be allowed to have carnal relations with children.
Are sexual practices and gender really a matter of personal choice? What does God’s Word have to say on these issues?
“Male and Female He Created Them”
According to the Bible book of Genesis, God himself created the differences between males and females. The record states: “God proceeded to create the man in his image . . . Male and female he created them. Further, God blessed them and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it.’
God created humans with free will and provided opportunities for them to enjoy their freedom. (Psalm 115:16) Entrusted with the responsibility of caring for all other living things on earth, man was even allowed to choose appropriate names for them. (Genesis 2:19) However, when it came to issues of sexuality, God gave specific guidelines.
Because of Adam’s disobedience, we have all inherited imperfection. We must therefore battle fleshly weaknesses and strong desires that are out of harmony with God’s original purpose. Thus, in the laws given through Moses, God specified sexual practices that were abhorrent to him
The Bible likens man’s position before his Creator to clay in the hands of a potter. It says: “O man, who, then, really are you to be answering back to God? Shall the thing molded say to him that molded it, ‘Why did you make me this way?’” (Romans 9:20) It is obvious from the way God made men and women that it is natural for them to be sexually attracted to one another. Sexual attraction to a member of the same sex, to an animal, or to a child is therefore unnatural.
For this reason, people who pursue such unnatural sexual inclinations find themselves contending with God. The Bible contains this warning: “Woe to the one that has contended with his Former, as an earthenware fragment with the other earthenware fragments of the ground! Should the clay say to its former: ‘What do you make?’” (Isaiah 45:9) Surely it is reasonable for the Maker of humans to give direction on sexual matters. Is it not also reasonable that humans should follow such direction?
Getting Possession of One’s Own Vessel
The Bible writer Paul used a similar illustration when giving guidance to Christians on sexual behavior. He said: “Each one of you should know how to get possession of his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in covetous sexual appetite.” (1 Thessalonians 4:4, 5) Paul compares a person’s body to a vessel. Getting possession of that vessel means bringing one’s thoughts and desires into harmony with God’s moral laws.
Admittedly, this may not be easy. One who has experienced childhood sexual abuse, one who had parents or other caretakers who provided a distorted example of masculinity or femininity, or one who had exposure to pornography at an early age may understandably have difficulties. Genetic, hormonal, and psychological factors may also play a role in distorting sexual feelings. It is comforting to know, however, that our Creator can provide help and support to those who need it.
Allow the Great Potter to Mold You
A piece of clay has to be centered on the potter’s wheel before the potter can begin to mold and shape it. Then, as the wheel rotates, the potter skillfully applies gentle pressure with his fingers to work the clay into a desirable shape. Before we can be molded into a desirable person in God’s eyes, we need to be centered on the timeless principles and laws of God. Once we start making the effort, God lovingly applies gentle pressure through the Bible, his holy spirit, and the Christian brotherhood. A person then begins to feel and experience God’s personal care in his life.
Of course, we must develop confidence in the Creator’s wisdom, trusting that he knows what is best for us. This trust is developed through prayer and an earnest study of the Bible. A person who approaches the issue of improper sexual feelings with that frame of mind becomes moldable in the hands of the Creator. First Peter 5:6, 7 says: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; while you throw all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.”
Regularly reading the Bible acquaints us with a long line of faithful servants of God who contended with fleshly desires but never gave up. How encouraging these examples are! We can sense the frustration the apostle Paul felt with himself at times when he exclaimed: “Miserable man that I am! Who will rescue me from the body undergoing this death?” Yet, he also directed us to the main source of help when he answered his own question: “Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
A Force for Change
We can also avail ourselves of God’s holy spirit. This is a powerful force for change. Holy spirit helps us to “put away the old personality” and “put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.” (Ephesians 4:22-24) Our loving heavenly Father never fails to respond when sincere requests are made for holy spirit to assist with making this change. Jesus assures us that the Father will “give holy spirit to those asking him.” (Luke 11:13) Persistence in prayer is necessary, though, as indicated by his words: “Keep on asking, and it will be given you.” (Matthew 7:7) This would be especially true when bringing powerful sexual desires under control.
God also helps us by means of the true Christian brotherhood, which is made up of people from all backgrounds. Some Christians in the first-century congregation at Corinth were previously in the category of “men kept for unnatural purposes” and “men who lie with men.” Yet, they changed. The blood of Christ cleansed them, and they became acceptable in God’s sight. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) Some today need to make similar changes. And such ones can receive support in their fight against wrong desires from the Christian congregation.
Does this mean that becoming a Christian will automatically cure a person of all deviant desires or confusion over gender? Not necessarily. Persistent application of Bible principles has enabled some to live normal lives. Even so, these Christians often have had to wage a day-to-day struggle against wrong desires. Such ones thus serve God despite having a figurative “thorn in the flesh.” (2 Corinthians 12:7) As long as they continue to battle wrong inclinations and maintain righteous conduct, God views them as faithful servants and as clean in his eyes. They can look forward to the time in the future when all mankind “will be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God.”
In the meantime, all those who wish to please God must adhere to his righteous standards. True Christians choose to serve God
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When it came to issues of sexuality, God gave specific guidelines
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Some Christians in the first-century congregation at Corinth were previously “men kept for unnatural purposes” and “men who lie with men.” Yet, they changed
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Studying the Bible helps one to cultivate high moral standards