Because our sexuality is at the core of our identity, it’s a part of us that is both uniquely compelling and uniquely vulnerable.

Our sexuality is bound up in our sense of self and identity, and how we connect with others. Our sexuality defines us from the beginning: “It’s a boy!” “It’s a girl!” We grow up with expectations placed on us based on our gender: from how we’ll respond to criticism to what career we may pursue. Young men may be challenged on their masculinity: “You wimp.” Young women may be labeled either a “slut” or a “prude”—two opposite extremes, both unflattering and degrading.

When we think of “sexuality,” we often think of the ends for which it was designed. God designed sexuality to exist within an enduring relationship of a man and a woman. It brings about mutual satisfaction, closeness, and a source of further commitment. On the other hand, sexuality out of those parameters may bring feelings of guilt, disappointment, violation, and the risk of sexually-transmitted diseases. Many have ruined their own lives and the lives of others by adventuring themselves outside of God’s safeguard plan for us.

The Bible tells us that God created man and woman with sexual functions to procreate (Gen. 1:22). It also tells us that sex is not just for procreation but for mutual closeness and enjoyment (Prov. 5:18-19). The apostle Paul reminds Christians that sexual intimacy should occur only between husband and wife, and that they should share their bodies with one another for mutual affection (1 Cor. 7:3-5). The book Song of Solomon celebrates romantic and sexual love, as the couple delight in each other’s company and each other’s bodies, declaring, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine” (Song. 6:3).

As followers of the Bible, we mustn’t allow our view of sex and sexuality to be dictated by cultural norms, for rarely, if ever, is culture in harmony with biblical principles. Scripture allows for no sexual relationships outside of marriage between one man and one woman. That was how it was originally meant to be, and that was how it was always supposed to be. In any other context, sexual activity is sinful, and harmful.

At the same time, we aren’t to pass judgment upon those who have fallen short of this ideal. We have all, to one degree or another, been impacted, damaged and distorted by the consequences of sin. And though sins of a sexual nature are often the most frowned upon in the church, that’s a human attitude that doesn’t necessarily reflect God’s. We must point others, regardless of their sins, sexual or otherwise, to the cross, to the forgiveness and healing offered there, and then seek to help all those who, in their brokenness, ask for that help.