A Relational Argument for Human Sexuality

In recent years, human sexuality has become a confusing topic in the culture and church. There has been a good focus on understanding not just the soul but also the body as part of being created in the image of God (e.g., Nancy Pearcey’s Love Thy Body, Gregg Allison’s Embodied, Sam Allberry’s What God Has to Say about Our Bodies).

Human sexuality is a biblical issue. The Bible is clear that God created male and female in His image (Gen 1:27) and that God’s will is for males and females to be holy, regardless of the specific nature of sexual immorality. As Christians, how do we thoughtfully present a “Christian” perspective on sexuality that promotes the gospel? In this paper, I will argue how a relational view on the image of God furthers a gospel-centered focus on human sexuality. This relational view prevents us from reducing sexuality to be mostly about masculinity and femininity. A relational view also guards against “self-love” as Anthony Hoekema describes in his book, Created in God’s Image. Above all, a relational view is helpful when sexuality is based on personal emotions or decisions.

After describing a relational view, I will discuss various perspectives from influential Christian voices. From a theological perspective, I will primarily discuss John Kilner’s clarification on dependence on God to understand God’s image, as explained in Dignity and Destiny. From an apologetics perspective, I will discuss Nancy Pearcey’s two-story dualism of values and facts based on her book, Love Thy Body. From a Christian psychology perspective, I will focus on Mark Yarhouse, who has researched and written extensively on human sexuality (e.g., Emerging Gender Identities, Understanding Gender Dysphoria).

This paper is part of a chapter on sexuality that discusses theological anthropology and its implications for the church and ministry. Hopefully, this discussion will encourage Christians who struggle with gender identity issues with gospel hope and challenge the church in ways that the gospel could be presented and lived out. This topic is complex and thankfully new Christian resources continue to be published.

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