The Scriptures on Sex
We live in a society where sex seems to reign supreme right along with youth, money, and power. Notice any media - sex sells! Nonetheless, as with any culture practice or perspective, Christians must always ask, "what does our God say"? Thankfully the Bible is not silent about human sexuality. A simple reading of the Scripture reveals several basic principles that should frame our view of sex.
Because I am developing a very brief theology of human sexuality I will be exploring sex from God’s viewpoint. Keep in mind that this is not a practical manual for sex in marriage. Those manuals do exist and are helpful. I am limiting my observations to direct Scripture statements and noting a few implications.
Observation One: Sex is limited to marriage. NAU 1 Corinthians 7:1-2 …it is good for a man not to touch a woman 2 Nevertheless to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Sex does have its proper place. It is right in marriage and wrong outside of marriage. Premarital sex and extramarital sex is sin. As is fornication of all kinds: homosexuality, bestiality, incest, and mental fantasizing. Standards of sexual morality are determined by God, not by the community or law or tradition or culture.
Observation Two: Sex in marriage is both obligation and pleasure. NAU 1 Corinthians 7:3-4 The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does On the one hand sexual abstinence is prohibited in marriage. Spouses owe each other the marital privilege. Indeed, sex in marriage can be a valid countermeasure to immorality. On the other hand paying the marital duty will not be an oppressive burden. Couples in healthy marriages will relish robust sexual intimacy.
Observation Three: Sex in marriage is other oriented. NAU 1 Corinthians 7:2-4 2 Nevertheless to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Notice how the phrases are repeated for both husband and wife. The focus of both husband and wife must be primarily on giving rather than getting. Therefore, we must focus on our spouse’s desires. Sex is not a bargaining chip! Self-pleasure (masturbation) is out because it violates the spirit of this notion; as is pornography. This also means that the husband and wife are equal sexual partners in general and specifically regarding issues such as when, how frequent, what practices, and so forth. And yet, all of this does not mean that it is wrong to derive pleasure from sex with your marriage partner or I misread NAU Proverbs 5:19 As a loving hind and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love.
Observation Four: Sexual intimacy is designed to be a regular part of a healthy marriage. NAU 1 Corinthians 7:5 5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control Couples who violate this principle are extraordinarily vulnerable to sexual temptations. This means that any decision to suspend regular intimacy should be a mutual decision, temporary, and for spiritual reasons or exceptional circumstances such as medical considerations. Furthermore, each couple must mutually determine what “regular” is.
Observation Five: Sex is holy and good. We can and should talk about the sanctity of sex. The misuse of sex leads to impurity and is condemned by God; but sex itself is pure. How so?
First, sexuality is a product of God’s direct creation. NAU Genesis 1:27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (not unisex!)
Second, as part of His blessing, God directed Adam and Eve to exercise their sexual powers. NAU Genesis 1:28 God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth,
Third, sex was a human experience before the Fall. It was not the product of sin or as one frustrated wife said, “sex is a curse of the forbidden fruit”. I note Genesis 2: 25 states that the first couple were naked but not ashamed - all before the fall recording in Genesis 3.
Fourth, God himself declared sex to be good.
As a summary of creation: NAU Genesis 1:31 God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. This comes just after Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day as “male and female” with marching orders to propagate the race.
Words for the early church (after the fall): NAU Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. If we can work it in, we may deal with the passage individually. For now, note that “bed” is the word that sounds like our English coitus, the sex act. It must never be “stained” and thus ruined.
The teaching of Jesus: NAU Matthew 19:4 And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, 5 and said, 'FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH '?
Let’s be clear about something: there is no conflict between sexuality and spirituality. Spiritual people enjoy sex! I like Bob Smith’s conclusion, “Any persons who refuse to see sex in marriage as pure, holy, and good and honorable need biblical counseling.” (Biblical Principles of Sex 7)
Observation Six: Even though sex is sacred, it is openly portrayed and discussed in the Bible. As you consider to the following passages remember that “NAU 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. Do you really believe that “all Scripture” includes the following passages?
Sexual intercourse is described: NAU Song of Solomon 2:6 "Let his left hand be under my head And his right hand embrace me."
A vivid love poem: NAU Song of Solomon 4:5 "Your two breasts are like two fawns, Twins of a gazelle Which feed among the lilies
Encouragement of sexual pleasure in marriage: NAU Proverbs 5:18 Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice in the wife of your youth. 19 As a loving hind and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love.
An instance of public spooning: NAU Genesis 26:8 It came about, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out through a window, and saw, and behold, Isaac was caressing his wife Rebekah. 9 Then Abimelech called Isaac and said, "Behold, certainly she is your wife! How then did you say, 'She is my sister '?" And Isaac said to him, "Because I said, 'I might die on account of her.'" This didn’t need to be included in the record of Scripture; the readers could have been informed of Abimelech’s conclusion only. But it is included!
Parents, do you read the Bible with your kids, maybe even Proverbs or Genesis? Are you prepared to instruct them and/or carefully answer their questions?
Observation Seven: Sexual intimacy per se does not constitute marriage. Jesus makes this clear when he encountered the Samaritan woman: NAU John 4:16 He said to her, "Go, call your husband and come here." 17 The woman answered and said, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You have correctly said, 'I have no husband'; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly." Thus, having sex with someone doesn’t mean you run to the courthouse and get a marriage license. “Marriage is not simply legalized sex and sex is not the basis of marriage.” (Smith 10)
Observation Eight: God made humans as sexual creatures so that they can perpetuate the race. This is a chief purpose of sex (albeit not the only purpose). NAU Genesis 1:28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth… Sex is not solely intended for pleasure. Kids are in view by the command to be fruitful. “Fruitful” literally refers to the product of a vine or a tree; thus here it refers to the normal product of marriage which is kids. In Genesis 30:1-2 Rachel’s inability to have children (1) is described as not having “fruit of the womb.” The normal product of a marriage is kids! This is reinforced by the “multiply” and “fill” commands. Be many! Throw yourself into it.
Observation Nine: Human sexuality is intended to be a means for developing unity in marriage. Oneness is both the result and purpose of sexual intimacy in marriage. NAU Genesis 2:24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. The one flesh concept encompasses the whole spectrum of dynamics in marriage that produce unity. And, there can be no doubt that sexual intimacy is one of those powerful dynamics that bond a man and woman together in marriage. Thus sexuality is both physical and non-physical. It is part of the total relationship rather than an end in itself. Sexual problems in marriage are usually symptoms of other problems. Therefore, don’t take baggage to bed with you – unload it first.
These nine teachings lay the foundation for a biblical view of human sexuality. Certainly other observations can be made. And there are other practical applications of these principles that can and should be crafted by every believer who desires to glorify God with his/her body. But, if you get these didactics right you will be ahead of the game!
This notions should be taught to children, especially by parents. They should be addressed by Christ’s church as part of His revealed will for His people. Those who are engaged to be married should be confronted with these teachings. If you are struggling with sex in your marriage, refresh your marriage about what God says about sex in marriage. Don’t be afraid to admit your errors and then make changes.
Bottom line: God does have something to say about sex. And it openly available for all to read!
© Copyright. Joseph Flatt. 2014. All rights reserved. May be used for educational purposes without written permission but with a citation to this source