There is a very distinct memory I have from my childhood.
Every night after the hugs were given, the prayers were prayed and the nightlight established its watch, before I could drift off to whatever faraway place my dreams would take me, I waited to hear one sound.
Before going to bed himself, my father would walk to every outside door and check to make sure the locks were secure. It may seem a strange thing to remember – just footsteps and a few brief clicks. But to me, it was security. It meant I was safe. It meant my father was watching over his house and protecting it. It meant I was home.
In some strange way, that’s how I feel when I read the first two chapters of Genesis. The Bible opens with an introduction: “In the beginning, God.” And the first things we are told about this God are that He is a God of power, order and goodness.
God calls out and brings what is from what is not.
God separates and orders His creation with boundaries and definitions.
God’s creation was good.
With each of these statements in the opening chapter of Genesis, in the depths of my soul what I hear are the echoes of footsteps and clicking locks. God is sovereign, and He is good. In His sovereignty and goodness, He has established order. He has established a home. He has separated light from dark.
Nowhere is this more apparent to me than in the closing narrative of Genesis 2 – particularly verse 24: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” God establishes a home. God creates a covenant. And the two become one flesh within that covenant.
This is the sexual ethic. It is not just God’s version of sex or the pre-modern ethic of under-informed days gone by. This is how sex is designed. This is how the marriage union works. It is how the building block of society is founded and flourishes. It is our God giving us a home.
We live in a world where we like God’s power and His goodness, but we are not so crazy about His boundaries. We don’t like definitions. We kick against imposed order. Unless they are our order, our definitions, our boundaries, we reject the idea of goodness and cry “oppression!” at the weight of power.
This is society’s modern approach to marriage and sexual ethics. The voices champion freedom of sexuality as a crown of individuality. When it comes to sex, the who, what, when and why has no boundary. It has no order.
It is commonly stated that Jesus never said anything about defined areas of sexual immorality. He never condemned practicing homosexuality, “throuples” or gave an acceptable age for sex.
That is true.
What Jesus did do, however, in an age of promiscuity and vast sexual brokenness was not point to an infinite list of wrongs, but, again, hold up what was right. When asked questions about the abuse of the marriage covenant, Jesus pointed back to Genesis 2:24. “Have you not read…?”
When Paul reasoned for the worshipful and right relationship between a husband and wife, he was not deterred by tangential arguments or proposed re-definitions. Rather he again upheld the unchanged design and standard.
It was not a debate over validity and definition of what was outside the sexual boundaries God created. It was a reaffirmation of the order and definition God gave from the beginning and a reminder that it was good.
In the same way, my father never lectured me on each and every danger or possibility awaiting me in the night away from the security of my home. He simply secured the home.
When the Bible speaks about sexual immorality, it is, in essence, using a broad brush to describe a world outside the safety, security and goodness of what is right – what is true.
As a boy, were there temptations to escape the confines of my home? Did the rebellious heart within me want to open those locks, slip quietly into the night and explore the world outside? Of course. It might even have been fun…for a while.
But did I? No. Why? Not because I thought my father was a burdensome legalist, but because I loved the home within those doors, and I trusted my father. I loved the safety and security that each of those locks represented. I knew what was home and what was not. There I could rest. There my father was presiding for my good.
God’s plan, design and goodness for sex within the covenant marital relationship of one man and one woman for life have not changed. The haven of the home is still defined by boundaries and order. God still intends for us to find the joy, security and fullness of His design within the definition of that home. For every clicked lock of a no, there are a thousand yeses within God’s good design.
As we hear the clicking locks that sound like cannon fire in a culture war, let us remember – God has not given us over to slavery in setting up walls, rather He has confirmed our adoption as sons and daughters by giving us a home with boundaries.
We can trust God and the boundaries of the home He has established.
God is still powerful.
God is still a God of order.
God’s design for sex is still good.