White Paper #15: How the Fall influences our Understanding of our Sexuality

In this final post about understanding our sexuality from the vantage point of the Fall, we will look at the teaching of Scripture and the implications of it in the current debates on human sexuality. Note: in this longer post, we will NOT deal with how Christ provides the freedom from both wrong thinking and immoral action–stay tuned for that very important series of posts!

First, what do the Scriptures teach about our sexuality? It has positive and negative principles to teach us.

Positive: the Bible explains man and woman have complementary design for procreative fruitfulness. Genesis 1:28

… “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

God created male and female so that together they might procreate and fill the earth. This is restated at Genesis 9:1, 7—for us to fulfill our created purpose means sex between males and females. Genesis 2:18:

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” … So the LordGod caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.

She was made like him (human) but unlike him (female) so that he would receive the help he needs to fulfill his mandate from God. The marital union is design to replicate this intimacy. Genesis 2:23-24: bone of bone; one flesh

Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

A man—seeing a woman and his destiny—would leave his family. The two would become one physical flesh in sex resulting in procreation. Matthew 19:4: Jesus confirms this:

He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Negative: post-Fall distortions of the complementary design. This first appears in Genesis 19:4-5 // Jude 7

1The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. 

4But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. 

8Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.”

“Know them” means to have sex with them—men with men; they wanted to ravage the angels. Jude 7 confirms this is what was happening at Sodom:

…just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

In order to address this post-Fall tendency towards sexual perversion, that which is known by nature (but ignored) was written into the law. Leviticus 18:22, 20:13:


You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.


If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.

These verses capture moral law teaching.  While they fall into the law of Israel’s life, they are part of the holiness code that was supposed to define the people of God vs. the people of the world.  Mark 7:20-23

And [Jesus] said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality [porneia], theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality [aselgeia—licentiousness], envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Here is where we get to see sexual immorality isn’t simply what is done but also what is desired. Indeed, what is done is first desired (cf. James 1). Romans 1:26-27

Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. … For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

The foundation of homosexual desire and behavior is the departure from true worship—from a Godward life. “Shameless acts” here is literally translated, “men in men.” What is tragic about this passage is that God gave people up to what they desired: unnatural relations: men with men, women with women. Only repentance from sin and faith towards God will begin the end of a life given over to degrading passions and despicable acts.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NASB

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.

“Effeminate” were the passive recipients of homosexual sex. “Homosexuals” or literally, “those who take men to bed” were the active partners; this word is a compound work unique to Paul; it comes from two words found in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. 1 Timothy 1:8-10 uses the “men who bed men” word:

But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,

  • Under no circumstances does the Bible describe same-sex desire or actions in a positive light—it is always negative all the time.

Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.

The teaching of the Bible is very clear. While some try to address what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah as hospitality violations, the balance of Scripture (e.g., Leviticus, Romans, 1 Corinthians 6 and Jude) do not allow such an approach. How, then, does perverted sexuality show itself?

We have already considered our new mission field to be sexual.  And those in that field are both sufferers and sinners. These are the two ways fallenness expresses itself.  It is important that we don’t ignore these two categories—they are related but should be treated differently.

Suffering patterns.

Suffering can lead to sin and it often does.  We rage against it; we seek to illicitly overcome it; we follow it into actual sin. Desires, the soul and temptations.  The Fall has affected the nature of our desires and temptations.  Remember the secret agent in our soul?

Desires.  In every fallen soul—redeemed and unredeemed—there are secret sin agents present that would not be present had it not been for the Fall.  Before the Fall, these were not present in Adam and Eve—though they could be.  These are not present in Christ and will not be present when we are with Him in paradise. But, the fact that they are present—despite what we would hope—means that we are sufferers.  We are suffering the effect of the Fall even before we prove that we are fallen.

Also because of the Fall, our souls are like “colanders:” they only offer mild resistance to sin’s entrance and usually let sin right in. The porous soul is the tool of the secret agent of sin in us.  So, when an external temptation comes, James 1 explains what happens:

… each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 

“His own desire” is the secret agent within—it works with the temptation; it partners with it.  

Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

The agent draws us to the temptation where it gives birth to sin and then, if unchecked, death. Temptations are the mechanism for this. It is best to understand temptations are either coming from outside the person or from within. The AIC statement #6:

We affirm that Scripture speaks of temptation in different ways. There are some temptations God gives us in the form of morally neutral trials, and other temptations God never gives us because they arise from within as morally illicit desires (James 1:2, 13-14). When temptations come from without, the temptation itself is not sin, unless we enter into the temptation. But when the temptation arises from within, it is our own act and is rightly called sin. 

External temptation. So, let’s say you are on Instagram and a woman in a very small bikini scrolls into view.  She would be a temptation and, since she is just a picture, to us, morally neutral. What happens next determines whether she remains an external temptation or not.  The AIC statement said, “When temptations come from without, the temptation itself is not sin, unless we enter into the temptation.” The fact that this can even be a sinful temptation is because of the Fall.  Adam and Eve were naked and not in sin but as soon as they sinned, they made loin coverings.

Internal temptation. Same scenario.  Only this time you desire to see  a woman in a bikini so you get on Instagram and you find one.  From the moment of desire to go and seek her, the desire was sinful.  Even before you found the picture, it was sin. Again, we would not have this issue were it not for the Fall.

There are some effects of fallenness categorized by the American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostics and Statistical Manual that are pertinent to our topic to briefly consider.

“Body Dysmorphic Disorder.”

This is defined as a distressed preoccupation with a perceived defect in appearance or a slight physical anomaly (DSM-IV-TR, 508). Often, these people spend hours preoccupied with their “defect.” Our fallen society (especially on social media) highlights the perfect, the beautiful, the accomplished.  If a person (esp. young) has a slight physical anomaly (flared ears, shapen nose) it is easy to see how this can trigger (and sustain) hatred of a body part or appearance in someone. And, in some cases, support a view that the best way to deal with it isn’t just cosmetic surgery, but gender reassignment surgery.

“Gender Dysphoria.” DSM-IV (2000) didn’t contain this description.  There, it was called “Gender Identity Disorder.” It is thought to be a strong inner feeling persistent over time, an uncomfortable “feeling trapped in the wrong body.”  An “incongruence” or an internal confusion: “I’m a male but inside I feel like a female.” However—what appears to be a capitulation to the LGBTQ+ movement—in the DSM V (2013) “Gender Identity Disorder” disappeared and “Gender Dysphoria” took its place.

“Disorder” implies brokenness; in DSM-V it was changed to “dysphoria,” which Webster defines as, “a state of feeling unwell or unhappy.”[1]. “Dysphoria” implies not an internal disorder but the result of external pressures: a lack of acceptance or understanding. Gender dysphoria, “…refers to the distress that may accompany the incongruence between one’s experienced or expressed gender and one’s assigned gender.”  (DSM, 51.)

In 2018, the WHO classified this under “sexual health” rather than “mental disorder.” The etymology of “gender dysphoria” began with G.I.D.  That disorder was described as “feeling trapped in the wrong body.”  Given the extent of fallenness in us, there is no reason to believe some people don’t experience this.

  • In other words, it is likely some people do experience a sense of incongruence psychologically.

“Same sex attraction.” It is often the testimony of those with SSA, that the thoughts and feelings come “unbidden” as if they issue forth from some deep, unconscious place or they come as a result of some type of trauma. From the AIC, 27

“Some experiences of sexual desire may come unbidden as a result of sins committed against a person, and while sinful, should be treated with great pastoral care for the person who has been victimized….The origins and development of sexual desire remain complex and, in many way, mysterious.  It is possible to conceive of the experience of SSA as simultaneously a part of the remaining corruption of original sin as well as the misery of living in a fallen world, one of the way our bodies themselves groan for redemption.”

Without agreeing SSA is good or godly, it is important to agree that SSA can come unbidden and, while not determined by genetics, etc. secular (and some Christian advocates) want to suggest this means some people are “born that way” but this is both unproven and biblically incorrect. Still, for some, it is a form of suffering such a person must endure.

Desires, our souls, temptations, B.D.D, G.D and SSA issue from the fallenness of the world.  Some people suffer from some of these types of fallenness simply because they are fallen. Not every person experiences these types of affliction; but all people suffer from some type of affliction. These are simply part of what it means to be alive after the Fall.

Therefore, a Christian approach to one who makes claims to these kinds of experiences cannot omit an understanding that for some, fallenness issues forth in these ways even before someone acts on the impulses. There is no room to excuse these things as they are part of original sin, but there is a call for a compassionate approach.

Sin patterns

Original sin leads to actual sin, especially sexual sin.  Some commentary on Romans 1:22-27 will unpack this.

1:22-23: “In Scripture, same-sex activity [All LGBTQ+] is one outcome, among many others, of humanity’s decision to exchange the glory of the immortal God for images of created things.”

1:24-31: “As a result, God gave us over to the lusts of our hearts (1:24), to dishonoring our bodies (1:24), to exchanging natural relations (1:26-27) and to debased minds that lead to all manner of sin and unrighteousness (1:28-31).”

“It is essential to note that ‘natural relations’ were exchanged for those that betray nature because we ‘exchanged the truth about God for a lie’(1:24-27).”

The root of illicit sexual desire and activity is disordered worship; cf. the woman at the well. To address sexual sin = to address unbelief in God; it is a missionary endeavor not an ethical one (at first). “In other words, disordered sexualities followed the disordering of our relationship with God.”[2]. Let’s further consider some definitions.

“Sex or gender.” Some use them interchangeably to describe male and female. However, it is more helpful to see “Sex” is your biological marker of male or female; it binary and it is biological. “Gender” (from the Latin, “set” or “kind”) has been borrowed from linguistics and has been coopted to describe a person’s sexual self-perception.

“Sexual orientation.”[3]

“Sexual orientation refers to an enduring pattern of emotion, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women or both sexes.  Sexual orientation also refers to a person’s sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors and a membership in a community of others who share those attractions.”

What’s the problem with this definition? Note the definition depends on “a person’s sense of identity based on” emotional, romantic or sexual attractions. That is, a person gets to decide his or her identity. Basing identity on attractions—here’s where the Gender Unicorn comes in:

  • Emotional attraction
  • Physical attraction
  • Gender identity
  • Gender expression

“SSA”: sexual attraction to the same sex.  Earlier we had placed SSA in the “suffering” category and that is correct.  To the degree it is an unwanted, unbidden desire, it is fruit of the old man, original sin and fallenness (cf. anger, panic). We might think, since each person who has these desires has them because of the Fall and we suffer as a result, that the SSA desires themselves are neutral.  But the Bible teaches desires for sinful ends are themselves sinful.  AIC Statement 4 on desire:

We affirm not only that our inclination toward sin is a result of the Fall, but that our fallen desires are in themselves sinful (Rom 6:11-12; 1 Peter 1:14; 2:11). The desire for an illicit end—whether in sexual desire for a person of the same sex or in sexual desire disconnected from the context of Biblical marriage—is itself an illicit desire. Therefore, the experience of same-sex attraction is not morally neutral; the attraction is an expression of original or indwelling sin that must be repented of and put to death (Rom. 8:13).

The Bible does not support the view that a desire is neutral—that only when we follow that desire into sin, does it become sinful. “Concupisense” is the term for this.  It is what Roman Catholics believe and it is what many in the Christian community believe about SSA. However, SSA is a “disordered” desire meaning the desire itself is sin whether it is acted on or not.  

  • In its unbidden, spontaneous form, it is fruit of original sin—and sin.  In its intentional form, it is actual sin.

This is important: in order to address the “born this way” argument, speaking theologically, “born this way” applies to fallen and subject to original sin, therefore sinful. For some, that fallenness takes the shape of disordered desires for the same sex—those, while unchosen, are inherently sinful. One writer says, “The Bible’s sober anthropology rejects the apparently common sense assumption that only freely chosen acts are morally culpable.”[4]  

Diagnostic question: is there any case when this attraction arises, that to submit to it and follow it to its natural conclusion it would be godly?  

  • Opposite Sex Attraction: Yes
  • Same Sex Attraction: No

To experience SSA is to experience disordered, inherently sinful desires that can never be allowed to rest but must immediately be repented of.

“Lesbian” / “gay” describe the lifestyles of those who seek to act on SSA. “Bisexual” this describes a person who seeks sexual gratification from either a member of the same sex or opposite sex.

“Transgender.” Chaz Bono,

“There’s a gender in your brain and gender in your body.  For 99% of people, those things are in alignment.  For transgender people, they’re mismatched. That’s all it is,  I’s not complicated, it’s not a neurosis.  It’s a mix-up.  It’s a birth defect, like a cleft palate.”

Transgender Remembrance Day poster, “34% of trans people attempt suicide.  64% are bullied.  73% of trans people are harassed in public.  21% of trans people avoid going out in public due to fear.” Transgender slogan, “Some men are born in their bodies, others have to fight for it.” Andreja Pejic, “We’re human beings, and this is a human life.  This is reality for us, and all we ask for is acceptance and validation for what we say that we are.  It’s a basic human right.”

This is the hot topic these days. “Transgender” is an umbrella term that is used to describe people who feel “any dissatisfaction with their biological sex” as well as those who cross-dress.[5]. Why might they be dissatisfied with their biological sex?

  • Gender Dysphoria, sexual abuse or trauma, being unpopular, bullied or unsuccessful (Lia Thomas?)—and many more.

The reasons for dissatisfaction cannot be ignored or minimized—especially with youth in-and-around puberty.   Social media bullying or guilting is real.  I am not on Instagram or TikTok anymore but recently I took about 3 minutes and I scrolled through whatever came on my TikTok feed.  I wrote down descriptors for what I saw on display:

Exposure, flaunting, excitement, individuality, shocking, creative, independent, boastful, alluring, trivial, powerful, thrill-seeking, minimizing serious matters, self-expressive, selfie-obsessed, image-obsessed, pose-obsessed, objectifying, women-power, lingering sex-saturated

Social media like TikTok, Instagram and the others promotepush and attempt to algorithmically persuade the user to imitate these very things. And, if they cannot—what happens?  Dissatisfaction with their sex.  A sense of unhappiness about their sex with culturally open doorways into the transgender world.  

  • Trans- however is fake.  It is made up; it is a fiction created by the devil to attack our identity.

Men and women who believe in this are like people wearing VR googles walking around and narrating to us what they see and then demanding that we call the pretend world they are in the real world that we are in. But it isn’t real.  The sense of dissatisfaction or unhappiness about the body might be real—and there are ways to handle or counsel that. But to claim to be transgender is to make a false, unsupportable claim. A claim whose only foundation is the mind of the one making the claim.

The transgender world demands people make their bodies match their unhappiness; their bodies must be the means by which they deal with their unhappiness.  They don’t work to get their minds in concert with their bodies. “Transgenderism” implies gender can be transcended—that it has no fixed walls that cannot be breached—the effort to transcend the body starts in the mind and, if enough energy, drugs, surgery, counseling and money is put to it, the body is can be overcome.

Transgenderism is a fabrication in the mind of one who has looked at her internal struggle and swallowed the cultural dogma that to be who God made you is insufficient, unsatisfying, unhappy. But this is the lie as old as time:

Has God really said it is OK for you to be a man?  Isn’t He just denying you and holding out on you?  He knows that you’d be happier as a woman.

So this world now includes:

  • Transsexual: those who are “born in the wrong body”
  • Transvestites: those who cross-dress usually with no desire to transition
  • Genderqueer, gender fluid or gender expansive: Genderqueer is a term that some people use who identify their gender as falling outside the binary constructs of “male and “female.” 

Gender fluid or nonbinary is a rejection of male and female; a way to stay agnostic. But each of these further detailed descriptions do nothing to change the fact that they are describing a world that doesn’t really exist anywhere except in their minds and the minds of those like them.

Sam Allberry says, “Our culture says: Your psychology is your sexual identity—let your body be conformed to it.  The Bible says: Your body is your sexual identity—let your mind be conformed to it.”

[1] Websters, 391.

[2] Bullets 1-4 come from the “Same-Sex Attraction Study Committee Report” from North Florida Presbytery, 1.

[3] “Answers to Your Questions: For a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality,” APA, 2008, www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/orientation.pdf

[4] Denny Burk, Heath Lambert, Transforming Homosexuality (P&R, 2015), 30.

[5] Sharon James, Gender Ideology: What do Christians Need to Know?  (Christian Focus, 2019), 25.

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