Ratio Christi Statement on Human Sexuality
Statement approved by Ratio Christi Board of Directors
Ratio Christi is committed to a biblical Christian worldview that seeks to glorify God, recognizing and affirming Christ as King in every aspect of the created order and in every sphere of human endeavor. There is nothing over which He is not preeminent and to which He is irrelevant. As such, we strive to equip students in mind and character, to help them connect the rigorous work of the mind to the Spirit’s renovating work in the heart—thus facilitating an intellectual and spiritual transformation. The desired outcome is an inherently consistent inner life manifested in a lived-out spirituality that we call character.
In order to facilitate this process of Christ-like character development we knowingly and voluntarily embrace and commit to community standards of conduct that we believe are congruent with biblical standards and conducive to a life of spiritual and intellectual integrity. We aspire to be a community where thoughtful and caring engagement with the deepest questions of life and personal identity can be examined in light of the realities of our common human sinfulness and brokenness. We are committed to help the members of our community to live “in Christ,” to develop a Christ-like maturity in their daily practices, and to encourage a healthy, vibrant Christian community.
In keeping with our mission and our commitment to biblical fidelity, all Ratio Christi leaders, including student leaders, volunteers, and paid personnel, hereafter referred to as “Ratio Christi leaders,” are expected to follow the teachings of Scripture. The Bible is inerrant in the original manuscripts and is therefore ultimately authoritative and trustworthy, which includes (but is not limited to) codifying norms for proper moral judgments. Therefore, we affirm that sexual intimacy is designed by God to be expressed solely within a marriage between one adult biologically born male and one adult biologically born female. This view of sexuality and marriage is rooted in the created order described in Genesis, reflected in the teachings of Jesus Christ himself, and is maintained consistently throughout Scripture. It is a view articulated in the biblical teaching of monogamy—that God designed sexual union for the purpose of uniting one man and one woman into a permanent, lifelong, one flesh union in the context of marriage. God created two complementary forms of humans, male and female, to bear His image together (Gen 1:27-28), and ordained that the first human pair were to become one flesh (Gen 2:23-24). These and other similar passages show that God views sex, procreation, and marriage as good, and that male and female are necessary counterparts—differentiated partners—in a sexual complementarity. Sexual intimacy and the sexual union of intercourse between a man and a woman are intended for a purpose—to join one husband and one wife together into one flesh in the context of marriage (I Cor 6:16).
Our marriages on earth model the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church (Eph 5:31-33), a melding that the Apostle Paul calls “a profound mystery.” This God-initiated oneness, as detailed in Genesis, is clearly recognized and affirmed by Jesus in terms of the marital union of husband and wife (Matt 19:4-6). Any sexual intimacy outside of marriage violates God’s design for marriage, and is thus to be understood as one of the disruptive consequences of the fall (Rom 1:18-32).
Thus, God’s design for marriage and sexuality is the foundational reason for viewing acts of sexual intimacy between a man and a woman outside of marriage, and any act of sexual intimacy between two persons of the same sex, as illegitimate moral options for the confessing Christian. Sexual relations of any kind outside the confines of marriage between one man and one woman are inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture, as understood by Christian churches throughout history. On the other hand, chastity in the form of sexual purity for the unmarried person and chastity in the form of sexual faithfulness in marriage are blessed and affirmed. Therefore, as part of living out a consistent, biblical spirituality, one dedicated to the pursuit of Christ-likeness, all Ratio Christi leaders are expected to avoid sexual intimacy outside of marriage and to encourage others to follow this biblical pattern of purity. Indeed, whatever one’s personal tendencies and desires, the call of Christ on our lives is the same: sexual purity manifest among the married as complete faithfulness and by those who are unmarried by living a chaste life (1 Thess 4:3-8).
Sexual purity honors God. For those in our community who are attracted to persons of the opposite sex and struggle to maintain sexual purity, as well as for those in our community who struggle with same-sex behavior, same-sex attraction, gender identity and/or sexual orientation issues, we aspire to be a gracious community that promotes openness and honesty. We pledge to extend compassion and care, providing accountability and assistance as we support all members of our community in their desire to live consistently with Christian teaching. We are committed to engaging difficult conversations with humility and love, as well as prayerfulness and care. All Ratio Christi leaders are expected to treat everyone with respect and Christ-like compassion.
We believe, in accordance with Scripture, that we are all sinful and that we sin in different ways. The God who knows us intimately, all of our thoughts and deeds, provides not only redemption through Christ, but also promises forgiveness for all of our sins and freedom from the power of sin. Therefore, a primary goal is to help each member of our community to grow in Christ in the midst of his or her unique history and struggles and discern how to walk righteously with Him and others along the way.
Because God originally created humans to bear his image in the distinct male and distinct female complementary manner, any attempt to blur or reverse such distinct complementary sexuality is contrary to God’s purposes and contrary to humanity’s good. This original biological complementarity of male and female human sexuality is still clearly discernible in human anatomy and genetics today in the vast majority of cases. Certain rare genetic mutations and other unusual causes can trigger various degrees of indistinct sexuality known as intersex or “disorder of sex development” (DSD). The official medical DSD term was launched in 2005 with the support of some influential intersex individuals(1) in the hope that it would improve medical care for DSD-related health problems (e.g., certain kinds of cancer).(2) DSDs are rare and usually result in infertility.(3) The term intersex is still used in popular literature, sometimes in a very broad and imprecise manner, so as to include even some non-DSD humans who possess a mostly typical set of male or female biological traits. Such terminological confusion does not well serve medical research and the needs of patients. Often this linguistic confusion supports a postmodern sexuality agenda that asserts the mere social construction of maleness and femaleness. However, scientific integrity and compassion for all humans requires terminological precision.
Let us consider one precisely defined DSD to better appreciate and honor people born with such a condition. A chromosomally male (XY) person born with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome (CAIS) has testes (hidden inside the body) that usually produce typical male amounts of androgens (hormones such as testosterone). However, due to mutations in the androgen receptor gene, such a person lacks functioning androgen receptors that would otherwise enable cells to respond to androgens. Consequently, CAIS infants are born with female external genitals (vagina, clitoris, etc.), but lack internal female reproductive organs such as ovaries and uterus. So a person with CAIS is mostly male chromosomally (XY), but due to one mutated (non-functional) gene, is mostly female anatomically (as expressed externally). In sum, such a person may be largely equipped biologically to function as a female (though infertile) in a complementary relationship with a male. Partial AIS (PAIS) can produce external genitals that exist anywhere along a male-female range of ambiguity.(4) PAIS and the few other DSDs that can produce ambiguous genitalia, often make determining an infant’s gender more complicated than DSDs such as CAIS. Being born with a DSD (which typically includes infertility and other associated health problems) is not a variation like brown or blue eyes, but is a biological defect. Such biological dysfunction was not part of God’s original creation but originated after Adam and Eve sinned. All persons have intrinsic dignity, and are thus to be fully valued and loved, regardless of the degree of biological dysfunction (sexual or otherwise) with which they are born. Persons born with DSDs are dishonored when their biological condition is used as a pretext for furthering LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) agendas. In the light of scientific and theological knowledge, these two issues are distinct and so should not be conflated.
The basis for moral reasoning is worth highlighting as we conclude this statement on human sexuality. The Bible explains that God created humans as morally responsible creatures with the basic moral law “written on their hearts” (Rom 2:14-15). This makes sense of the broad moral consensus found in human societies (e.g., in matters such as murder and rape), even among those who reject the Bible or are unfamiliar with it. The Bible also explains why many people endorse various behaviors (sexual and otherwise) that violate biblical principles: humans have rebelled against God and have suppressed the truth (Rom 1:18-32).
In summary, what is reasonable to conclude about sex and love? It is clear from the original design of the two human sexes that a man and a woman are intended to unite in the procreative act which, aside from any defect, naturally leads to the conception of and nurturing of children in a life-long relationship of love. As the author of humanity, God loves us and wants what is good for us. Love is our highest command but it never means acceptance or endorsement of actions opposed to human flourishing. Rather, love is about seeking the good of other persons. Thus, we will love all people, gently warning them of the harm to themselves and others in defying God’s good created order (which includes the original biological complementarity of male and female human sexuality). We encourage everyone, regardless of any biological defects that may be resident in their bodies, to come to Jesus as the only means of redemption from sin and its just consequences.
(1) Georgiann Davis, Contesting Intersex: The Dubious Diagnosis (New York: New York University Press, 2015), p. 2. Davis opposes the DSD term because she thinks it is disaffirming of intersex people, while acknowledging that that the community of affected people (which includes herself and Cheryl Chase) is divided over this issue. Cheryl Chase, founder of the Intersex Society of North America http://www.isna.org, led the movement that introduced the DSD term in 2005. See the 2006 international DSD field-defining study summarized by Hughes I.A., Houk C., Ahmed S.F., Lee P.A. Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endo¬crine Society (LWPES) / European Society for Paediatric Endrocrinology (ESPE) Consensus Group. “Consensus statement on management of intersex disorders.” Journal of Pediatric Urology 2006; 2: 148–162. These medical research scientists introduced realistic scientific terms such as “defect in androgen action (e.g., CAIS, PAIS)” and “disorders” of various other kinds to refer to specific DSDs. The vast majority of medical professionals treat all patients with the respect due any human being despite any biological defects (disorders, diseases, etc.) that patients might have.
(2) For correlations between certain DSDs and higher risks of cancer see http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ije/2012/671209/ and http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-HD-16-021.html and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3126091/ and http://www.europeanurology.com/article/S0302-2838(14)00651-4/fulltext/gonadal-maldevelopment-as-risk-factor-for-germ-cell-cancer-towards-a-clinical-decision-model
(3) A major NIH-funded DSD conference in 2014 published a summary document (https://www.nichd.nih.gov/about/meetings/2014/Documents/DSD_editorial.pdf) that estimated the DSD rate to be “one in 4500–5000 in the general population or even higher, if one includes subtle hormonal changes that affect gonadal function.” Most popularly circulated DSD frequency estimates average out to be about one in 2000 births. A precise figure is not consequential for the RC statement on sexuality.
(4) AIS treatment is outlined at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/924996-treatment. For more detail on the over 1000 genetic mutations that cause AIS see http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/924996-overview#a5.