One of the greatest misconceptions that young people are tempted to believe today is that freedom is choosing how you want to define yourself. That freedom is having the capacity to live according to the way you want.

This was the observation made by Sean McDowell, a US-based apologist and author, during a recent sharing organised by Generations of Virtue, a ministry that is committed to teaching sexual wholeness and integrity as well as equipping families to transform culture.

But what if freedom is really about orienting our lives to the design we were created for, he asked. What if only when we embrace that human beings have been made for a certain design and live according to that, can we truly experience freedom?

Image source: Screenshot from Sean McDowell: The Case for Marriage

Delving into the Christian view of sexuality, the apologetics professor at the Talbot School of Theology leads us to the designer himself – God, the Creator.

In doing so, he shows us how there’s a purpose for sex, there’s a purpose for marriage and there’s a purpose for family. 


Taking us to the opening book in the Bible, McDowell talked about how God created man to be male and female, blessed them and told them to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth (Genesis 1:27).

That human beings were made male and female was not accidental, he emphasised. 

He said: “You can perform respiration, digestion, blood circulation… but the one biological function you can’t perform alone is reproduction. This is where it takes a male and a female who come together as one.”

This coming together is much more than just a sexual union but two persons becoming one in marriage, on an emotional and spiritual level, and also in childbirth, on a biological level, explained McDowell. 

The one biological function you can’t perform alone is reproduction.

Jesus, too, referred to the institution of marriage as between a man and a woman by design.

“‘Haven’t you read,’ he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)


The conflict arises, however, when we have competing definitions of marriage today. What more, we can’t even agree on what it means to love.

“The cultural definition of love in our day sounds like this: I’ll affirm any designation or life choice you have for yourself… and if don’t then I’m being hateful,” observed McDowell.

But we can’t go along with the cultural definition of love, he cautioned. “We must be willing to do what is best for people and what scripture says because it reflects our designer.”

Drawing inspiration from how he loves his 3 children, McDowell said: “My job as a parent is not to affirm what my kids feel all the time, but to affirm what is best for them and affirm what is right.” 

He then contrasted the cultural view of love with what is described in John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

We see an example of sacrificial love here, exemplified by Jesus when He laid down his life for those He loved.

McDowell’s point was this: Sacrificial love in our cultural context might mean choosing to speak the truth in love and calling out sin (1 Corinthians 6:9-11), even if it means that others might reject us. Issues of sin are to be taken seriously and not “placed in a category of those we can just agree to disagree on”, he said.

Are we really truly loving our friends if we aren’t truthful about our convictions? May we always bring biblical love into the picture in all our relationships.

And even when we’re discussing issues that matter to God, let us be agents of kindness towards one another, filled with grace because “we understand how much we’ve been forgiven” (Matthew 18:21-35), encouraged McDowell.

  1. Do you struggle with believing that there is a Creator who has designed sex, marriage and family for a certain purpose?
  2. What does experiencing freedom in life mean to you?
  3. How can you reflect and live out biblical love in your relationships today?