The elders at Forest Home (and I) find most helpful a statement used by L’Abri Fellowship outlining the place of sexuality in the Christian walk. We have considered many statements over the years, and believe that this one covers the most ground with the fewest words while being faithful to the Scriptures. I have added numbering and highlights in bold to aid in reading. It offers basics on topics often overlooked, such as singleness. Which number strikes you as challenging? Many have confessed number 4—which is in direct conflict with the media-conditioning of our televisioned brains. Would you please read carefully and reflectively, and several times. The nuances are important and helpful. LH
1) Male and female were created equally in the image of God. They are the same in value, dignity and responsibility before God, and are equally accountable to exercise caring rule over creation (Gen. 1:27-8; 2:15).
2) Within the basic unity of the human race, God has established the sex difference of male and female, which is good. We must neither deny the sex difference (the tendency of liberal feminists) nor make more of it than the Bible does (the tendency of both radical feminists and some traditionalists).
3) Men and women need and complement each other and are called to live in unity and peace in all areas of life and work. Whether single or married, Scripture teaches that it is not good for man or woman to be alone. Neither the division of labor nor leadership responsibilities (e.g. those normally associated with the ‘traditional view’ of marriage) need be exploitive if established by mutual consent and practiced in a wise and godly manner.
4) However, while men and women do need and complement one another, sexual experience should never be considered central to human experience. Human fulfillment whether in marriage or in singleness is not chiefly related to sexual fulfillment, but rather, to a proper relationship with God and a conformity to his word.
5) Therefore singleness need not necessarily be viewed negatively even when it arises, as is often the case, not by choice (as with celibacy) but by default (when those who desire marriage remain unmarried). Those who are unmarried have particular struggles and deserve the sensitive support of the church; but those who are married also have particular struggles.
6) In both cases human fulfillment arises from ‘true spirituality’ not from the presence or absence of sexual experience. Single men and women have a unique vocational freedom to serve Christ unhindered by responsibilities to husband, wife or children — and Scripture makes it clear that for some, celibacy is a calling and gift of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 7:17-40).
7) At the same time, however, marriage is a creational norm for the whole human race. It is a gift of God in which a man and a woman can experience a profound unity in diversity as a reflection of the glory of Christ’s union with the Church. For this reason, although divorce is sometimes permissible, it is always a tragic falling short of God’s intention. Marriage is a lifelong, covenantal relationship of mutual submission where the two become one, sharing a joint life before God. Within this, the wife is to submit to the husband and the husband is to follow Christ’s example of loving, self-sacrificing headship toward the goal of the wife’s growth toward glory or “radiance, without spot or wrinkle” (Eph. 5:27). Sex is a good and pleasurable gift from God. It gives physical expression to the union of a husband and wife, and brings forth the gift of children. Faithful, monogamous, heterosexual marriage is the only legitimate context for sexual intercourse.