Beyond Binary:

The Biblical Truth About Biological Sex, Gender and Creation

Biological sex is one of the most fundamental aspects of God’s created order. From the very beginning, as recorded in the book of Genesis, God intentionally designed and created human beings as male and female. This purposeful distinction, instituted by God Himself, is essential to our human identity, the fulfillment of God’s command to be fruitful and multiply, and our ability to accurately reflect His divine image. Biological sex, as originally designed, is much more than a binary distinction and forms part of the foundation upon which God’s plan for humanity is built.

Sadly, in recent times, there has been a move to separate the concepts of gender and biological sex. Some modern scholarship and cultural trends promote the idea that gender is a malleable social construct, distinct from one’s physical and chromosomal reality as male or female. But as we will see, this decoupling of gender from God’s creation design has profound theological implications. It undermines the God-ordained complementarity between man and woman and deprives human sexuality of its transcendent meaning and purpose. This article will explore the Bible’s clear and consistent teaching on sex and gender and why it must remain firmly rooted in God’s original creative intent for human flourishing.

Gender as God’s Design

In Genesis 1:27, we read: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” From the start, God’s creation of humankind as male and female is front and center. The text emphasizes that both man and woman were made in the image of God— equal in dignity, yet distinct in form and function. Biological sexs not an accident or afterthought, but a core part of how God designed us.

In Genesis 2, God provides further insight into His purposeful creation of the two biological sexes . After creating Adam, God declares, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18). God then creates Eve from Adam’s rib as the solution to the problem of man’s aloneness. Male and female are designed to complement and complete each other. Eve is a “helper” to Adam, but not in the sense of a subordinate. The Hebrew word used here, ezer, is also used to describe God’s relationship to Israel (e.g. Deuteronomy 33:29). It denotes an essential ally and partner. God could have created another male as a companion for Adam, but He specifically made a female to demonstrate that it is the uniting of the two that creates the full expression of God’s image in humanity. The strengths of each biological sex balance the other in a harmonious interdependence.

holding hands

The Command to Be Fruitful and Multiply

Immediately after creating male and female, God blesses them and commands them: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28a) This instruction is given within the context that God had just established. Procreation, the creation of new life, is a central part of God’s mandate for the human race. But this can only happen through the coming together of male and female. The command to “be fruitful and multiply” is not just about populating the earth, but about creating families – the environment where children are to be born and nurtured. This fruitful multiplication of the human race is meant to happen within the lifelong commitment of a man and woman. Biological sex and procreation cannot be separated in God’s design.

Throughout the Bible, the lifelong covenantal union between a man and a woman is upheld as the God-ordained context for sexuality to be properly expressed. After creating Eve, God brings her to Adam, and the text declares: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24). This foundational “leaving and cleaving” establishes the pattern for marriage. In the New Testament, Paul builds on this, comparing the relationship between husband and wife to that between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:22-33). Marriage, rightly understood, is a covenant – a solemn, binding commitment between a man and a woman that reflects God’s unbreakable covenant love for His people. It creates the secure, stable context where children can be born, and our sexuality can be properly lived out. Attempts to redefine marriage and contextualize it are a rejection of God’s ordained pattern.

The Distortion of God’s Design

Throughout the Scriptures, one’s biological sex is essential to who we are as human beings. From the initial creation account to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, our being male and female is seen as inseparable and fundamental to our human identity.

Beyond Genesis 1:27, this important distinction continues throughout the Old Testament. In the genealogies and stories of the patriarchs, men and women are identified by their biological sex, which also determines their familial and social roles as men and women. The law given to Moses assumes this male-female binary and prescribes different religious and social responsibilities accordingly (e.g. Leviticus 12, 15, 18, Numbers 30).

In the New Testament, Jesus himself affirms the creation order of “male and female” (Matthew 19:4, Mark 10:6) and assumes the inseparability and distinction of biological sex. When he discusses marriage, he speaks in terms of the union of male and female (e.g. Matthew 19:5-6). The apostle Paul similarly builds his teachings about the family and the church (e.g. Ephesians 5:22-33, 1 Timothy 2:11-15) on the foundation of created sex differences.

Throughout the Bible, there is a consistent witness to the goodness and fixity of the created categories of male and female. Biological sex is always the basis for who we are as human beings. There is no concept of gender as a self-selected identity distinct from one’s bodily reality. Maleness and femaleness are seen as beautiful, God-given, and immutable.

This is even more striking when we consider the historical and cultural context in which the Bible was written. The ancient world was not unfamiliar with alternative relationships as for instance in homosexual practice. In fact, many of the cultures surrounding ancient Israel practiced cult prostitution involving homosexual acts (Deuteronomy 23:17-18). Greco-Roman society celebrated pederasty and same-sex relations, especially among men.

Some might argue that the Bible maintains this binary view of sex simply because its authors were unaware of any alternative—that our modern understanding of the distinction between sex and gender is a more enlightened development. But this claim does not hold up under scrutiny. The Bible is not a simplistic or primitive document, but a collection of divinely inspired writings spanning centuries and cultures. Its countercultural stance on human sexuality is not a mark of ignorance but of transcendent truth. The fact that the biblical authors maintained this witness even in a cultural milieu of sexual fluidity is a testament to the divine origin of their message. While our cultural understanding of gender may shift and change, God’s word remains eternal and unshakeable.

Modern Social Constructs

The modern notion of gender as a social construct that can be separated from biological sex is foreign to the biblical worldview. It has no basis in Scripture. While cultural expressions of masculinity and femininity can vary, the Bible knows nothing of a fluid or subjectively determined gender identity. The Bible’s clear and consistent view of the male and female sex has major implications. It means that our identity as men and women is not self-selected, but God-given. It is not a social imposition but traces its way back to Creation itself. And it cannot be changed by human will or desire. To separate gender from biological sex is to divide what God has joined together from the beginning.

As Christians, we must resist the temptation to uncritically adopt modern, secular understandings of gender that contradict Scripture. We must anchor our understanding of what it means to be male and female in the unified witness of God’s inspired word. Only then will we be able to celebrate and live out our sexual identities in a way that honors our Creator.

Deviating from God’s design for gender and sexuality is not without consequence. When a society abandons the biblical understanding of sexuality and sexual ethics, it begins to unravel at its most basic level. The family unit, which is the building block of any healthy society, becomes fractured and destabilized. Children suffer from being deprived of either a mother or father. Sexual chaos and brokenness proliferate. And at a deeper spiritual level, people increasingly lose sight of what it means to be made in God’s image. We become more and more alienated from our Creator and His intentions for us.

The Bible warns us that God will judge sexual immorality (Hebrews 13:4; 1 Corinthians 6:9–-10). And history shows that civilizations that normalize sexual deviance eventually collapse. Sodom and Gomorrah, the Canaanites, and even the mighty Roman Empire provide warnings from the past of what happens when a culture rejects God’s standards for human sexuality.

Biological sex, as designed by God from the beginning, is essential to human identity, relationships, and our role in the world. It is the framework that helps us to engage in the lifelong covenant of marriage, and participate in the pro-creation and upbringing of new life. Male and female are not interchangeable or malleable categories but divinely established callings. Attempts to redefine or dissociate gender and sexuality from God’s created intent will only lead to brokenness and confusion. To experience wholeness, flourishing, and faithful obedience, we must embrace and submit to God’s good design. In a world of gender chaos, may we have the conviction to uphold the beauty, complementarity, and sanctity of God’s original plan for man and woman.

man holding bible

A Word of Hope for Those Who Struggle

What about those who feel a disconnect between their biological sex and their internal sense of gender? Those for whom the biblical template of male and female feels confining or even impossible to conform to? Is there any hope or place for them in God’s design?

To those struggling with sexual issues, I offer the following thoughts.

First and foremost, know that God loves you unconditionally. His love and acceptance are not based on your ability to perfectly fit into the roles and identities He ordained. He knows the struggles and confusion you face. As the Psalmist reassures us, “The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” (Psalm 145:8)

In His compassion, God fully understands the fallen world we live in and the brokenness we all experience in different ways. We are all marred by sin and wrestling with various thorns in the flesh (2 Cor 12). For some, gender and sexuality are the area where this battle rages most intensely. But God is not surprised or repulsed by this. He longs to meet you in the midst of your pain.

The apostle Paul testified to God’s sufficient grace in the face of his own persistent “thorn” (2 Cor 12:7-9). God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. God’s strength and mercy shine through when we feel most broken and helpless. Bring your struggles to Him in honest, persistent prayer. Cling to His promises that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom 10:13) and that He will never cast out anyone who comes to Him (John 6:37).

Experiencing feelings or desires contrary to God’s design does not mean we have no choice but to act on them. With God’s power, we can choose to submit our experiences and identity to His Lordship. As Paul urges in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

This submission and renewal is a lifelong process enabled by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Even if your feelings about your gender or behavior never fully align with your biological sex, you can still choose to live in obedience to God’s created order by faith. Pray daily for the Holy Spirit to fill you and to shape your identity more and more into the image of Christ. Surround yourself with fellow believers who will love, support, and pray for you. Wait upon the Lord, trusting that one day He will bring your resurrected self into perfect harmony for eternity.

In all of this, fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). He who called you is faithful, and He will surely do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24). You are not walking this road alone but with a Savior who will never leave you nor forsake you. Rest in His love, lean on His strength, and trust that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).

As a final word of hope, remember that your identity is ultimately not found in your gender but in your union with Christ. “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:27-28) In Him, you are a new creation, cherished and complete.

—By Sam Neves, Associate Director, Communication Department, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

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