The Creation of Sexuality: The Ontological Purpose

The truth is that I have no clue how to start this article. Part of it is because every time I go to write specifically about sexuality I just end up talking about sex. The two aren’t the same, you know. I mean they’re obviously related (closely), but they’re not synonyms. We always think they are, and part of that is because the church spends so much energy on trying to fence hormonally blossoming teens that we don’t give much thought to the other aspect. This paucity of focus has led to a common belief among Christians that sexuality is really unimportant to who we are. Sexuality is kind of like icing on the cake, you can take it or leave it but it doesn’t really effect the cake. Have you ever tried cake without icing though? It’s awful! No, no, sexuality is not icing on the cake, if by that we mean it can be left off. Sexuality is essential to who we are, and such a view is rooted in the very foundations of creation.

When I speak of the “ontological purpose” of sexuality I am talking about that aspect of sexuality that is related to our “being” or our “existence.” Sexuality has a foundational purpose in our individual “personhood.” Who we are is not simply composed of body, spirit, and mind. It also encompasses this aspect of our sexuality. Even from a purely development point of view sexuality is present in all of us from the beginning. So Stan Grenz states plainly, “Children do not suddenly become sexual beings with the development of their reproductive capacities. On the contrary, sexuality is both present in the child and finds expression prior to the onset of puberty” (Sexual Ethics, 16). Likewise, the very first thing we note in adults that we meet is their sexuality. We don’t then turn around and ignore this as we have conversations with them, we note that their sexuality plays a part in making them who they are. And this is by design.

The Bible does not teach that God made one androgynous species of humanity and it divided into male and female. The Bible teaches that God created human beings with unique sexual make-up. In fact Genesis 1:27 says that God created them male and female. Both sexes present, individual and distinct sexuality existing from the beginning. In fact we might go so far as to say that there is no such thing as humanity without the acknowledgement of a duality of sexes. Karl Barth said it this way, “We cannot say man without having to say male or female and also male and female. Man exists in this differentiation, in this duality” (Church Dogmatics 3.2, 286). The Scriptures go even further than this.

The Bible doesn’t simply state that God made man male and female. Rather it states that they are made, both male and female,” in His image’. That is that something about the unique, distinct, sexuality represents who God is. In fact, better than male alone or female alone God is best represented by both man and woman. Do you see how fundamentally essential our sexuality is to our being. We are created to represent God and that requires unique sexuality.

I am not sure I am ready to unpack what all the implications of this are (I doubt I ever could), but I recognize immediately the importance of these statements. Our sexuality is a huge part of who we are, as designed by God. Whether we are male or female we are made in His image. And you can deny sexual activity (in fact I will argue later in some cases you should), but the church must embrace the reality of sexuality. We need to better educate our young women and young men on this important essential feature of who they are. It’s not icing on the cake…unless we’re talking about that part of the cake which makes a big difference!

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