Marriage and the Distinction of the Sexes
By John Hunter
John Hunter serves as pastor of Cedar Grove Baptist Church, Millport, Alabama. He is a long-time supporter of the SGBF.
Today, there is a heated debate over the nature of the family and the distinctiveness of the sexes. Trying to arrive at sanity in the discussion of these issues is often difficult. Is there any definitive source we can turn to as a society and individuals to provide an answer to the dilemma of what is morally right or are we doomed to depend on the sliding scale of human opinion influenced as it is by the constant forces of mass media and social planners? To this question the answer is yes, there is a definitive source that has all the information necessary to come to right conclusions in this whole area. The definitive source is the Bible, God's Own holy Word. After all, He is the Creator of the family and the sexes, and therefore, has the right to establish moral absolutes if He pleases.
The Bible keeps using the pattern of the creation of man as the display of God's will in the matter of marriage and the distinction of the sexes. Therefore, we will trace in this article the subject from its roots at creation.
In Genesis 1:27-28, we are told that it was God's purpose from the beginning to have two sexes with the capacities of fellowship and procreation. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
Although, as it has been said, it was God's purpose in creation to have two sexes. They were created in a specific order and fashion. This order and fashion is full of instruction. God formed first the male, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7). God then created the woman demonstrating to man his need of intimate fellowship and help by the way He went about that creation. He also demonstrated the inadequacy of anything else in creation to meet this need. Genesis 2:18-25 says, "And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed."
Remember that Adam was in a state of creature perfection having not yet fallen and so possessed intellectual power not possessed in man since that time. As soon as God declares that man should not be alone but needs a helpmate, God shows man that his need can nowhere be fulfilled in any of the animal life. Then God moves in a special work to provide for man. Out of the man God fashions woman. It is obvious that God did not need previously existing material to work with, yet God chose to make woman out of the man as a special teaching tool to man and woman. A soon as the woman is brought to Adam, he realizes that she is that perfect means of satisfying his need of intimate fellowship and help. He also sees that she is part of himself taken and returned. So intimate is this relationship that she is “...bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh...” (2:23).
Adam then draws in his unfallen state this necessary conclusion for the right development of the human family, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (2:24) All the rest of the Bible works from this foundation as it deals with marriage, family and the distinction of the sexes. To fail to see this only leads to confusion and chaos on the subject. As the old saying goes, “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”.
Could it be that this initial work of the creation of the sexes and their distinctiveness with the later natural development of the family was just an original pattern to be altered to fit the needs of a developing society? No! God calls all tinkering with His original, not improvement or variation, but sin. Let us continue to examine the evidence from Scripture.
In the fifth chapter of Ephesians from verses 22-33, God magnifies the marriage state, building on the foundation in Genesis one and two, and further explains the roles and the purpose of marriage. "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband."
Please be careful to note that marriage is a type of Christ's love for His Church and the Church's loving submission to Christ. This is the reason Satan has attacked and sought to pervert this institution—that by doing so he might lead men away from a proper understanding of Christ's love for the Church and the Church's willing submission to her Savior and Head. Please also note that the distinct sexes, male and female, have their prescribed role to fulfill in this relationship based on the Genesis pattern and Adam's statement concerning the woman being “...now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh...” (2:23). Marriage and the conjugal union of marriage, which is “...honourable in all, and the bed undefiled...” (Hebrews 13:4), is for men and women or to be more correct, is for one man and one woman in a faithful commitment to each other for as long as they live. Reference may be made to Matthew 19:4-6 and Romans 7:2 to verify this statement.
God made clear from the beginning the distinction of the sexes and commanded the vigorous maintenance of those distinctions in the Old Testament and brought down judgment on those destroying that distinction. Let me give several examples.
In Genesis 19, we first come across a society that had blurred the distinction of the sexes. We get our name for the perversion of homosexuality from one of the communities that made up this society. That community was Sodom and the perversion of removing the distinctions of the sexes is called sodomy after the town of Sodom. For this wickedness God destroyed that society in a fiery judgment. You may read about this judgment yourself.
In Deuteronomy 22:5 even the possibility of the blurring of the lines between the sexes was quickly called abomination to God. “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” Deuteronomy 23:17-18 says, “ There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel. Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” God could hardly be clearer about the perverted use of the sexes as He condemns whores and sodomites together and then He uses the term that shows God's utter contempt for sodomites by calling them “dogs”.
Some have claimed that the New Testament does not share the Old Testament attitude toward this sin. Those holding this view are fond of quoting the Lord Jesus' response to a woman caught in the act of adultery, to which the offending man was conspicuously absent. After the Lord had shamed her accusers away because of their apparent guilt, He said to her, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” John 8:11. Thus some say Jesus taught tolerance and forgiveness for sexual sins. The obvious flaw in this argument is that Jesus continued to see the behavior as sin to be repented of and not repeated. Let Jesus speak for Himself on this point. Matthew 19:4-5 “And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? ”
Jesus says God made two sexes to form the union of marriage. In the book of Romans, which is of course New Testament teaching, when God warns us about those who have been given up to a reprobate mind, He categorized the reprobate mind in this way, “ For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.” Romans 1:26-27. Note that the physical and emotional problems caused by homosexuality God calls meet--that is, proper. Sin must eventually meet with judgment. In I Corinthians 6:9-11 God makes His attitude abundantly clear. "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."
The King James Version is rather mild in its translation of the Greek using the word effeminate as among those under God's ban. The New International Version translates this same passage this way, “...nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders...”. Either way you translate the passage let there be no mistake, God does not take removing the sexual distinctions or the perversion of them lightly. He condemns the sin of homosexuality in no uncertain terms.
Does the Bible have more to say on this subject? Yes, it does! Although not of any different nature than that that has been here recorded. Any that claim the Bible is unclear on the subject are just incorrect, willingly ignorant, or liars.
But don't let me close without a word of encouragement. The Christian message is ever a message of hope. The Bible is not primarily a book of judgment, but it is primarily a message of redemption. When God through Paul in the Corinthian epistle condemned the Corinthians' sin, He went on to say, “And such were some of you...” and then He said, “...but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (6:11). This is good news! Some of the Corinthians had been sinners of the vilest nature, but now were washed from their sin; sanctified or set apart for God's use; justified from all their sin, so they stood right in the sight of God. All of this was done for them, “...in the name of the Lord Jesus...”. The Bible teaches that there is such forgiveness today for guilty sinners. Even for those who were once effeminate, if they turn to Christ, repent and believe. In the words of Christ, having received forgiveness “go and sin no more”.
The free and sovereign grace of God is powerful to the salvation of souls. God promises that true seekers shall find it. If you would like to be part of His forgiveness, call upon Him now in repentance and faith.