The Bible is believed to be the most complicated puzzle of all times. The fact that the book is full of symbols, metaphors, and omissions partially explains why it is interpreted in different ways by different confessions. Although the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments express God’s will and covenants, they contain ramifications and contradictions. The theme of sexuality is not an exception.
The main principles of human sexuality and relationship between man, woman, and God in the first several chapters of Genesis. However, further chapters of the first book of the Bible contain the facts that evidence a dualistic system of sexuality accepted by God.
The dualism of sexuality will be further disclosed through the prism of subject of sexuality in Genesis, its ramifications and the way human sexuality shapes influence the relationship between man, woman, and God.
The Definition and the Main Principles of Human Sexuality
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The first Chapter of Genesis presents a story of world creation that ends in the creation of the first people, Adam and Eve. It is important to admit that creation of the Earth, water, sun, moon, plants and animals is presented in more descriptive manner while creation of human gender is declared a highpoint of all God’s work.
Gen 1:26-28 reveals that human beings were created “in our image, after our likeness” with a purpose to “have dominion” over all plants, animals and seas. It means that the first people were literal reflection of God on the Earth. Moreover, they were the only creatures with souls (Gen 2:7). Soul is believed to be an attribute of divinity; probably this fact explains why God prohibited eating creatures that have a soul. At the mean time, there is no evidence that animals have a soul.
Further in the chapters God said that a man should have a helper, created a woman from man’s rib, and blessed them “to be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28). At the first sight, the roles of the first people are to dominate over the planet where a man is a dominant and a woman is his helper. In spite of the fact that a woman is an integral part of a man and reproduction is impossible if they live alone, the hierarchy of genders can be observed here.
On the other hand, a woman was created after a man, which means woman was a crowning of God’s work. In addition, a man was created from dust, while a woman has been taken from a flesh that already had a soul. This interesting fact explains a theory that in the beginning God appreciated a woman more than a man.
Human sexuality has been here determined as a physical ability to reproduce human beings for multiplying further generations. Thus, human sexuality is created by God who approves a sex as a method to multiply people. At the mean time sexuality is believed to be a divine attribute as God created a man and a woman in a way they cannot multiply alone. A man and a woman are bipolar creatures.
However, despite the sexual differences between a man and a woman, they both being together can fulfill God’s plan. This idea has been clearly traced in Gen 2:24 which say that a man should leave his parents and cleave unto his wife; and they will be one flesh. It means that God has features of both a man and a woman who are spiritually one creation. One can assume that spiritually God is a typical androgen whereas a man and a woman are not.
It is easy to understand that a man and a woman can be one flesh while sex intercourse or when a woman conceives. For this reason, one can assume that the concept of marriage, as the only right pattern of relationship between a man and a woman has been firstly introduced in this book. Moreover, marriage as an institution of acceptable human sexuality represents God in the world.
Thus, the first two chapters of Genesis present the following ideas of God’s plan of human beings and their sexuality:
- A man, created after God’s likeness, is to dominate over the world; a man stands higher than a woman.
- Every man should have a wife and be ‘one flesh’ with her via marriage.
- Sex for the sake of being fruitful and multiplying is approved by God. Nothing has been said about sex for pleasure.
It is worth saying that these principles of sexuality work only under particular conditions, namely if people obey God. Until Adam and Eve behaved as God told them, they lived in Eden, were treated as almost divine creatures, and their deeds were accepted and approved by Creator, who tried to improve their life.
The first disobedience led to ramifications of these principles and changes to the relationship between man, woman, and God. The further chapters of Genesis have bright examples that illustrate this theory.
The Ramifications of the Main Principles of Human Sexuality
The ramifications of the main principles of human sexuality and the relationship between man, woman, and God first occurred when Adam and Eve have experienced the first disobedience to God. Their wrongdoing related to eating a fruit of ‘good and evil’ was the greatest sin that had a great impact on their further life and relationship with God.
First of all, God has exiled them from Eden, a place for righteous or divine creatures. Thus, one can assume, Adam and Eve were not treated as people created in God’s image, or at least God’s attitude to them has changed considerably.
Gen 3:16-19 discloses a falling-off of God’s and people’s relationship: God’s punishes human sexuality by multiplying woman’s pain during pregnancy and confinement and increasing man’s dominance over the woman through her desire to his husband. The fact that God makes a man work harder to have bread, allows assuming hardworking is a kind of punishments for sins.
Hierarchy between a man and a woman increases considerably as well. If before a man was a dominant and a woman was his helper, now their roles were defined by a pattern “dominant-submissive”: Eve was a submissive of Adam (Gen 4:25), Sarai was a submissive of Abram (Gen 12:12-16), daughters of Lot were his submissive (Gen 19:8).
Dualism of Sexuality in Genesis
Dualism of sexuality in Genesis and dualism of relationship between man, woman and God have been disclosed in different chapters of Genesis. Man exists in duality, i.e. a man and a woman are two sides of one creation. To be human is to live sexual life according to the pattern “one man and one woman”. Differentiation between man and woman is a fundamental principle of human race multiplying. Probably because of this fact, homosexual relationships are prohibited by God.
In spite of the fact that today preachers of all confessions stress upon the fact that all people are equal for God, the first several chapters of Genesis evidence the opposite. God began divide people on righteous and non-righteous ones. He accepted the crop of Abel and rejected the crop of Cain (Gen 4:4-5).
The dualism is also can be observed in relationship between man and woman. In the second chapter of Genesis the God says: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh” (2:24). It means that one man should be married to one woman only, and one woman should be married to one man only.
However, the fourth chapter states: “And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other, Zillah” (Gen 4:19). These verses destroy the initial biblical standard of monogamy family. Lamech has two wives who give birth to sons, and God accepts this family and does not punish them although polygamy contradicts to God’s law.
Scriptures present evidence that God accepted and approved sexual intimacy in marriage. For this purpose he created a woman for a man and blessed them “to be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28). In addition, he accepted sexual intimacy in a polygamy family (Gen 4:19-22). He saved Hagar, a pregnant slave of Abram (Gen 16:10-16), even though Abram was unfaithful to his only wife. Moreover, he did not punish an incest (Gen 19:32-38), although he made Canaan, a slave for his deeds to his drunk and naked father (Gen 9:24). Scriptures do not reveal what Canaan did to his father. Some theologists assume that he did homosexual rape. If this theory is true, it fully explains why God applied such severe punishment to Canaan. In addition, further texts reveal that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for widespread homosexualism as well.
All these facts are contradictious. However, they prove that the principles of sexual intimacy proclaimed by God at the beginning of world creation, have altered later and depended on personal attitude of God to particular people. Sexual misbehavior that is not accepted in a modern society was easily forgiven those whom God considered ‘righteous people’. This dualism is considered strange, although facts are facts and they cannot be erased.
The dualism in relationship between God and people is evident. God punishes ones for misbehaves and forgave the same misbehaves to others. For instance, he punished a pharaoh for he took Sarai in harem, but did not punish Abram for his cheating (he said Sarai was his sister) (Gen 12:17-20). He cursed Canaan and made him a slave for some wrongdoings to his father Noah, at the mean time he did not punish Noah for being drunk and naked (Gen 9:21) as Noah was believed to be the only ‘righteous’ person among all people at those times.
In spite of the fact that dualism in human sexuality and relationship between man, woman, and God is strange and unreasonable, it has explanations. God has created the world and anything in it. God has created first people and a pattern of human sexuality. He accepted and approved human deeds and behaviors when they followed God’s will.
“When men and women rebel against his will, they remove themselves from his covenantal blessing” (Burgess, n.d.). The bigger is their rebel, the severer is God’s punishment. Misbehavior is less punishable than a sin.
To resume the research about the dualism of sexuality on Genesis, it is important to admit that human sexuality is a fundamental theme of the first several chapters of the Bible. It provides a pattern of human life and behavior and explains the main principles of God’s plan over the world created.
God has created a man to dominate over the world, and a woman to be man’s helper. The duality of man and woman was created deliberately to make them live together. Male and female distinctions put together make ‘one flesh’, i.e. an ideal creature, made after image of God.
Any other form of human existence is not accepted by God. Living alone is not advisable. Singleness of life is the main principle of God’s plan of human sexuality. That is the reason he created a woman from a man’s rib and not from dust.
God bequeathed the first people to be fruitful and multiply, being a husband and wife. He accepted and approved sexual relationship of married people and assisted those ones who were too old to give a birth to a child (the story of Sarah and Abraham).
The dualism of sexuality observed in Genesis in many cases depended on the human righteousness and God’s attitude to them. God protected righteous people and forgave them a polygamy, an incest, a concubine, and unfaithfulness. Homosexualism was the only type of human sexuality strictly prohibited and severely punished by God.
- Burgess P. (n.d.) Human sexuality in the Genesis creation narrative. London: Marshall, Morgan, and Scott.
- The Holy Bible. (2001). The King James version. New York: Routlege.