sex marriage genesis

9 Truths about Sex and Marriage from Genesis 1-2

Critics have sometimes claimed that marriage is not that important to God. But interestingly, the Bible both begins and ends with a marriage. In fact, marriage is the defining metaphor God uses to illustrate His love for the Church, His “bride.”

sex marriage genesis

The natural place to begin an investigation into what God thinks about marriage (and sex) is in Genesis 1 and 2, where scripture describes God’s creation of the world and everything in it. Here are nine truths about sex and marriage from the first two chapters in Genesis:

1. Sex and marriage are a creation of God. Sex is not the result of a blind, evolutionary process that lacks meaning and merely exists to propagate the species. Rather, God is the one who created sex with a purpose for how it is to be expressed and experienced. The first explicit attribute we learn about God in the Bible is that He is the Creator (Gen 1:1), which implies there is a purpose for what He creates, including sex.

2. People are created as gendered beings. Gender is not accidental to the creation story. Rather, God intentionally made human beings male and female (1:27-28) so they could populate the earth. The creation story emphasizes distinctions between day and night, land and sea, as well as male and female. Gender is fundamental to what it means to be human.

3. The biblical design for marriage is monogamy. The pattern in Genesis 2:24 is that a man leaves his household, which consists of his father and his mother, and then “clings” to his wife. When God called Adam to name the animals, “there was not found a helper fit for him” (2:20b). The clear implication is that Adam was looking for one partner. Populating the earth only requires one man and one woman. Although many biblical leaders embraced polygamy, the clear design for marriage is monogamy.

4. The two sexes are equal in value. Even though there is contrast between Adam and Eve (male and female), there is no hint of ontological superiority for the male. Both are equal image bearers of the divine (1:27). While egalitarians and complementarians differ over the roles of men and women in the family and church, both agree that men and women have equal value.

5. Marriage is an exclusive relationship. Genesis 2:24 says a man shall leave his father and mother. The Hebrew term for “leave” is a strong term that is often translated as “abandon” or “forsake,” and is sometimes used to indicate that Israel has forsaken the God of Israel for false gods (e.g. Deut 28:20). Richard Davidson explains: “This leaving also implies the exclusiveness of the relationship: husband and wife, and no other interfering party, are bone of each other’s bones, flesh of each other’s flesh.”[1]

6. Marriage is meant to be permanent. According to Genesis 2:24, man will “hold fast” to his wife. The language of this same verse, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh,” expresses a marriage covenant vow. Holding fast and the one-flesh union indicate permanence in the relationship. Jesus affirmed the intended permanence for marriage (See Matt. 19:3-4).

7. Marriage is heterosexual. Both Genesis 1 and 2 indicate that marriage is gendered. The man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife. While marriage entails much more than gender differences, it entails no less. Paul affirms that marriage is gendered (See Eph. 5:22-33).

8. One of the primary purposes of sex and marriage is procreation. After indicating that males and females are made in God’s image, Genesis indicates that they are to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” Thus, one of the primary purposes of marriage is procreation. Not all couples can have children, for a variety of reasons, but part of the divine design for sex and marriage is procreation.

9. Sex is good and beautiful. Over and over again the author of Genesis 1 makes it clear that creation is good: “And God saw everything he had made, and behold, it was very good” (1:31). Sex is part of God’s original good creation. Sex is only bad when we abuse God’s intended design. But in the marriage relationship of one man and one woman, sex is meant to be experienced without fear, shame, or regret and is both good and beautiful.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 18 books, an internationally recognized speaker, and a part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.

 


[1] Richard M. Davidson, Flame of Yahweh: Sexuality in the Old Testament (Peabody, MA Hendricksen, 2007), 44.

 


 

Free CrossExamined.org Resource

Get the first chapter of "Stealing From God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case" in PDF.

Powered by ConvertKit
16 replies
  1. David says:

    The natural place to begin an investigation into what God thinks about disobedient children is Deut. 21:18-21
    The natural place to begin an investigation into what God thinks about honor killings is Deut. 22:13-21
    The natural place to begin an investigation into what God thinks about owning slaves is Lev. 25:44-46
    The natural place to begin an investigation into what God thinks about beating slaves to death is Exod. 21:20
    The natural place to begin an investigation into God’s condemnation of slavery in the NT is…. (sorry, no reference available)
    The natural place to begin an investigation into what God thinks about the treatment of homosexual men is Lev. 20:13
    The natural place to begin an investigation into what God thinks about punishing children for the sins of their parents is Exod. 11:1-10
    The natural place to begin an investigation into what God thinks about killing men, women and children and keeping alive virgins to be used as sex slaves is Numbers 31
    The natural place to begin an investigation into what God thinks about human sacrifice is Judges 11:30-39
    The natural place to begin an investigation into what God thinks about a “righteous” father offering up his virgin daughters to be raped is Gen. 19
    The natural place to begin an investigation into what God thinks about why Shaquille O’Neal is so tall is Gen. 6:1-6
    The natural place to begin an investigation into what God thinks about the origin of languages is Gen. 11:1-9
    The natural place to begin an investigation into what God thinks about raping women is Judge 21:10-24
    The natural place to begin an investigation into why God sends bears to maul children for making fun of one of his prophets is 2 Kings 2:23-24
    The natural place to begin an investigation into what God thinks about murdering your family members for worshiping gods other than him is Deut. 13:6-10
    The natural place to begin an investigation into what God thinks about killing other men and kidnapping their wives for your pals is Judges 21
    The natural place to begin an investigation into what God thinks about slaughtering men, women, children, infants and cattle to avenge a 400 year old grudge is 1 Sam 15:1-9
    The natural place to begin an investigation into what God thinks about the best way to wipe out the descendants of a predecessor and end a famine is 2 Sam. 21
    This is so fun. I could go on for hours.

    Reply
        • JMW says:

          Whose society? Some societies believe that homosexuals should be put to death. Some in society believe that having sex with a child is okay. Some in society believe lying is okay. Some in society believe having an affair with a person other than your spouse is okay. What if my moral compass believes its okay for me to kill someone or to steal what is not mine? What if my moral compass says integrity has no value? What if my moral compass says it’s okay to cheat? Each individual person has their own standard of morality as does each countries’ societies have their own moral standard. That is why you cannot let morality be dictated by a man or woman or by government — morality fluctuates between person to person and country to country, society to society.

          Reply
          • Ed Vaessen says:

            Indeed, it has always done. But there is no other source for morality that we know of. Those who claim that there exists an objective morality that can be derived from their holy books do not convince us that they are doing anything else than drawing from the subjective morality that people of old wrote down in these books.

          • Kyle says:

            As Ed pointed out, drawing your morality from an ancient book is no different than drawing it from the society around you. No one said that everyone’s idea of morality had to agree with each other. This is a large reason for conflict. Christians thought they had the backing of a god during the Crusades so they went around killing people that didn’t believe like them. Hitler convinced a nation that Jews were enemies of the state and horrible atrocities were then committed. If you were able to ask someone within those societies at the time, they would absolutely claim the moral high ground. That doesn’t mean they are right, it just means they are different. We still face this issue today with the hatred and bigotry of religious zealots. The only reason modern Christians today don’t go to the extreme of calling for the death penalty for homosexuals, is because as a society we have moved beyond the death penalty to some degree (at least for less egregious crimes like some can feel homosexual behavior is). Within that society that won’t call for the death penalty for small crimes exists a subset who find homosexual behavior to be morally wrong. Hence you have the vehement opposition to LGBT rights, demonization of the group, and attempts to criminalize certain activities. They feel they have the moral high ground. I would also claim the moral high ground when advocating for LGBT rights and promoting there acceptance.

          • toby says:

            Five different christians read one verse and you’ll get five different interpretations of that verse. Three might roughly agree, two will be wildly different. They’ll split into four sects and someone will condemn/kill the remaining one for being a heretic.

    • esbee says:

      to David—Just because something is recorded in the bible does not mean God endorses it. Have you ever read any historical books about Hitler and all the evil things he did? Did you after reading the book, then choose to blame the author of that book for all the evil Hitler did and say the author endorses what Hitler did? What you do not understand is that the bible is a book of history about God, his people and the events surrounding the promise of Jesus as payment for sin. It is a record that tells the good, bad and ugly and is also shows the culture of the time, the mindset of the people and what and how they thought about life. There is so much you do not understand about God, his plan, the bible. etc. The New Testament shows that the old has passed away (the law) and the new (grace) is to take its place.

      Reply
      • Ed Vaessen says:

        “What you do not understand is that the bible is a book of history about God, his people and the events surrounding the promise of Jesus as payment for sin. It is a record that tells the good, bad and ugly and is also shows the culture of the time, ”

        Indeed. The God of the OT is an image of the culture of the people of that time.

        Reply
      • David says:

        esbee,
        I do in fact know a lot about the bible. I’ve been studying it for over 50 years. I think it would be more appropriate to say that I refuse to apologize for or gloss over the many horrible things found in the bible like you do. I think if you will look up every verse I referenced above you will find that they reflect something found in the law of Moses, something god commanded, directed his people to do or did himself. In all the verses I referenced I did not turn a single “is” into an “ought”. None of them were things that evil men just did. They were things god commanded. Look them up.

        Reply
      • David says:

        Why do y’all always go silent? Esbee, why am I wrong in my understanding of the verses I cited? Help me out. Or is this one of those “pearls before swine situation”?

        Reply
  2. Joel says:

    Marriage is not “permanent” but rather for all of life on this earth. In heaven there is no marriage. Marriage is a symbol of the relationship between Jesus Christ and the church, so when we are with Christ in heaven there will be no need for the symbol.

    Reply
  3. Ed Vaessen says:

    “3. The biblical design for marriage is monogamy. ”

    Abraham, Jacob, David and most certainly Solomon must have missed that divine message completely.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *