Marriage, Gender, and Sexuality

Examining the Challenges and Complexities of Upholding the Biblical Stance on Gender and Sexuality


What Does the Bible Say About Marriage and Sexuality?

After examining key biblical passages in both the Old and New Testaments and the Bible’s overarching teaching regarding sexuality, DeYoung responds to popular objections raised by Christians and non-Christians alike regarding these passages. This video provides a broad scope of the biblical data on this issue.

  • Kevin DeYoung: What Does the Bible Teach about Homosexuality?

Reflection Questions

What are the three categories of people that DeYoung is addressing? Which particular group does he aim to convince?

What are the four types of objections to the biblical texts related to marriage, gender, and sexuality?

Does Jesus speak to the issue of homosexuality?

Were the kind of lifelong, committed homosexual relationships we see today completely unknown to the biblical writers?

What is the risk churches run that reject the traditional understanding of the Bible’s teaching on marriage and sexuality?

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Embodying Biblical, Counter-Cultural Marriage

Christians are often known for their hardline stances against the prominent sexual sins of of the modern culture. We often believe ourselves to be counter-cultural warriors, fighting the rampant immorality of the age, when in reality we rarely encompass in our churches holistic biblical teaching regarding marriage. In Matthew 19:3-10, Jesus affirms what marriage should be—a permanent relationship between one man and one woman.

Far too often in evangelical churches, Christians have failed to effectively stand against other sexual sins, such as divorce. When we selectively read and apply God’s Word, we are short-changing ourselves and short-changing the gospel. Before we can share the good news with members of the LGBT community, we must (a) understand what the gospel says, (b) evaluate our failures in standing against divorce, and (c) embody biblical truths in our lives.

  • Russell Moore: Slow-Motion Sexual Revolutionaries

Reflection Questions
  1. What does it look like to completely embody God’s design for marriage?
  2. So often, Christians choose not to speak out about sexual sins for fear of marginalization or rejection. How can we actively fight against this fear?
  3. Why have Christians failed in their effort to speak out against divorce? What can we do differently in responding to the LGBT community?

Recommended Reading
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Preaching Like Jesus to the LGBT Community

Society likes to create a false dichotomy for Christians that says when we’re faced with the issue of homosexuality, we must either alienate or affirm members of the LGBT community; however, Jesus offers a third option. In John 1:14, we understand Christ is filled with grace and truth. His ministry was characterized by these. He was grace-filled in his friendship with tax-collectors and prostitutes, and yet, he also preached truth by emphasizing the sinful nature of man and the wickedness of many of the religious class, such as the Pharisees.

Our third option is exactly this, grace and truth. We must be honest in what the gospel says. We must extend love to the LGBT community because Christ has already extended it to us. Until we realize how to preach like Jesus, we cannot effectively minister to this group of people.

  • J. D. Greear: Preaching like Jesus to the LGBT Community and Its Supporters

Reflection Questions
  1. Which of JD’s nine points is the hardest for you to implement?
  2. Do you consider yourself a friend to the LGBT community? What practical steps can you take to model Jesus in being a friend to sinners?
  3. Are you ready to suffer for confessing the truth of the gospel?

Understanding the Gospel from an LGBT Perspective

The LGBT community is often misunderstood. Try imagining what it would be like to be told you cannot be with someone you love. This is often the only message heard by the people of this movement. Often, Christians fail to realize just how difficult it is for gay and lesbian people to leave their lifestyle and community behind.

Even if they experience authentic salvation, they may be tempted toward sexual sin for the rest of their lives. It is important to realize that as Christians, we are called to empathize with their struggle with sin, just as we would hope somebody would empathize with our own struggles with lust, pride, anger, etc.  We must not stigmatize their sin. Rather, we must lighten the burden that they feel and consistently point them toward Jesus.

  • Rosaria Butterfield: Homosexuality and the Christian Faith

  • Rosaria Butterfield: What Christians Just Don’t Get About LGBT Folks

  • Sam Allberry: How the Message of Jesus on Marriage is Life-giving

  • Sam Allberry: You Are Not Your Sexuality

Reflection Questions
  1. What should we tell those who do not feel that homosexuality is a sin?
  2. How can we de-stigmatize and lighten the load felt by Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction?
  3. How do we respond when our feelings do not align with God’s Word?

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Assessing Gender Identity and Transgenderism through the Gospel

What does the Bible say about gender identity and the gender binary? While many Christians and non-Christians can tell you what the Bible says about homosexuality or adultery, most are fairly unfamiliar with God’s design for gender. In Genesis 1:27, we know God made man in his image, both male and female. Jesus also affirms these same sentiments in Matthew 19:4 (CSB), “‘Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that he who created them in the beginning made them male and female,’” further establishing a biblical view of the gender binary. The Bible is clear. God has created two genders: male and female.

As a result, Christians have the task of now being gender disciples, guiding others toward habits and behaviors that reflect God’s intent for man. We must be counter-cultural, bearing witness to the biological differences God has made.

  • Denny Burk: A Gospel Centered Assessment of Gender Identity, Transgender, and Polygamy

Reflection Questions
  1. Why should we trust our bodily entity over our psychological entity?
  2. How should we love people when they do not regard the truth of our message with love?
  3. What are the effects of the societal norm of traditional gender being removed from our culture? How can Christians reconcile these effects?

Caring for Transgender and Intersex Christians

Questions and challenges related to transgender and intersex individuals are not new to the Church. Even during biblical times, there were individuals whose gender was ambiguous. In Matthew 19:12, Jesus says that some were born eunuchs and others chose to be a eunuch; nevertheless, they can still serve the kingdom of Heaven. Many say this contradicts the Bible’s clear definitions; however, Jesus is merely pointing out that there are exceptions to people whose reproductive organs do not match their biological gender (from birth or self-infliction), as a result of the sinful, fallen nature of the present world.

In response to this truth, our churches need to preach a binary view of gender in accordance with God’s creation and purpose. Meanwhile, we must also understand that exceptions exist. Those exceptions do not disprove the gender binary, either.  Churches should point these individuals back to the chromosomal reality of what their biological sex is. Although they may not be able to completely function under traditional norms of their natural gender due to physical or genetic abnormalities, they can still honor God and bear witness to what Jesus has done by surrendering to and serving him by living in accordance with their biological gender as it is best perceived.

In his ministry on earth, Jesus honored God in many ways by disregarding gender norms of the time. He never married, and he never had sex. Jesus chose this path even though he was tempted in many ways (Hebrews 4:15). We must continually preach that we all have a disconnect between what we feel and what we are due to sin. We are new creations, and we must live in light of this truth. Because of the burden our transgender and intersex brothers and sisters face, we need to empathize with them and long for a day when their burdens and our burdens alike are no longer an issue—the day when Jesus returns.

It is important to note that when Andrew Wilson (in the video below) says transgender and intersex people can be eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom, this is not to say that they should remain in a state that is not in accordance to their biological sex. Rather, it is to say that although their biological organs may be damaged and disfigured, they can still choose to live in the gender of their chromosomes and give glory to God in their lifestyle.

  • Andrew Wilson: Transgender and Intersex: How the Church Should Interact in Love

Reflection Questions
  1. How can the church counteract the social pressures transgender people experience to define themselves by their feelings rather than their biological sex?
  2. Andrew Wilson says that we need to disagree with those who pushback and preach against traditional binary definitions of gender. How can we do this in a grace-filled way?
  3. Transgender and intersex people experience a disconnect between what they feel and what they are. In what ways does sin cause you to feel a disconnect between what you feel and what you are?

Equipping Christians that Deal with Same-Sex Attraction

Churches need to provide the resources necessary to equip believers who deal with same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria. So often, members of the LGBT community feel the temptation to stop fighting their feelings because society encourages them to embrace their feelings. The redemptive power of the cross is great enough to overcome any sin or temptation that we face in this world. Our churches need to be preaching 1 Corinthians 10:13 (CSB) to the LGBT community, “No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide a way out so that you may be able to bear it.” Churches must encourage and disciple holistically our brothers and sisters who deal with same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria.

  • Jackie Hill-Perry: How Does the Gospel Equip Christians Who Struggle With Same-Sex Attraction?

Reflection Questions
  1. What does it look like to disciple someone holistically?
  2. How can we encourage our brothers and sisters who struggle with same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria to not give up in their struggle against it?
  3. How can we know God’s promises apply to us in the midst of temptation?

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