What The Bible Says About Sex
Written by Joe Beam
As God made every animal He created a partner of the opposite gender. The partner provided companionship and assistance. The two of them also made the perfect team for raising offspring. God blessed the human animal above the other animals by placing within them a different sexual need and a different sexual fulfillment.
Most other creatures participate in sex simply for procreation. When the female enters a period of fertility she accepts the sexual advances of a chosen male.
In the human animal, sexual desire and activity continually exist-not just in periods of female fertility. For us He made sex to be more than just the joining of two bodies for procreation. He made it so that when we join another person in sexual union, a spiritual union of sorts takes place at the same time.
The apostle Paul used that argument to dissuade Christians in the city of Corinth from hiring prostitutes from heathen temples to satisfy their sexual needs. He argues that joining oneself sexually with a prostitute makes a person one body or one flesh with her. He then says that the person shouldn’t do that because he is already one with God-the Spirit lives in him. The implication is that the union of a Spirit-filled body with another human somehow carries spiritual dimensions. Therefore, the body bought by Christ should not participate in such behavior.
1 Corinthians 6:15-20, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
For human beings sex, isn’t just to make babies. It is to join two humans in the most intimate union possible. I believe that sexual love freely shared in marriage is the most beautiful way God gave us to say, “I love you.”
Strong sexual needs exist in BOTH husband and wife
Sex in marriage is wonderful! But like all blessings, there can be an accompanying curse. Unfulfilled sexual needs sometimes lead to illicit relationships.
God addressed this strong sexual desire and need in humans through the writings of Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:2-5:
“But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
What does God teach about sex?
If you wish a wonderful picture of the positives about sex, read carefully the Bible book sometimes called the Song of Songs or the Song of Solomon. The love story there is extremely sexual and very graphic. You may not see that with a casual reading since so much of it is written in the idiom of their day. From time to time in our question/answer section, we will refer to that book and, hopefully, make clear some of the explicit sexual references. In this section, we take a slightly different approach to learning God’s view of sex.
A great deal of what the Bible teaches about sex comes in the form of prohibitions. Don’t let that make you think God is against sex. He made it! But He made it to be enjoyed in His design-not in any human aberration of that design. Let’s examine some of those prohibitions. By knowing what God prohibits, we can deduce what God designed to be fulfilling in sexual union.
The Ten Prohibitions
God strongly condemned sexual relations with a “close relative.” Relatives listed include: Mother (Leviticus 18:7) Father’s wife-stepmother (Lev. 18:8-under penalty of death, Lev. 20:11)Sister, half-sister, or stepsister (Lev. 18:9, 11-penalized by being cut off from the people, Lev. 20:17) Grandchild (Lev. 18:10) Aunt (Lev. 18:12, 13, 14-penalized by dying childless, Lev. 20:19) Daughter-in-law (Lev. 18:15) Sister-in-law (Lev. 18:16) Daughter or granddaughter of woman one had sex with (Lev. 18:17-penalized by death, Lev. 20:14)
God strongly condemns sexual relations with a person of the same gender in the Old Testament (Lev. 18:22-penalized by death, Lev. 20:13). He condemns it just as strongly in the New Testament (Romans 1:24-28-penalized by spiritual death, Rom. 1:27, 6:23)
The Old Testament law definitely favored the male. If a man raped a married or engaged woman, he was to be executed while the woman was held to be innocent and worthy of no punishment. If the woman could have summoned help but didn’t, she was also to be executed. (Deuteronomy. 22:23-27)
If a man raped a single, unengaged woman, he was not put to death. The penalty was to marry her with no possibility of divorce, ever. (Deuteronomy. 22:28-29)
4) Consensual sex with one other than your mate
If a man slept with a woman who consensually engaged in sex with him, his penalty was to marry her (if her father wished) with no possibility of divorce. (Exodus 22:16-17)
The New Testament made it clear that God expected marriage to take place only in the boundaries of marriage. (1 Corinthians 7:2-5) Anyone guilty of sexual sin-called fornication in some versions and sexual immorality in others-would suffer spiritual death unless he or she finds God’s forgiveness. (Galatians 5:19-21)
In the Old Testament adultery only occurred if a married woman was involved. A man who slept with a single woman (see above) didn’t commit adultery since men could, by law, have more than one wife. Since women couldn’t, by law, have more than one husband, any sexual encounter with another man-married or single-was adultery. God vehemently condemns it (Lev. 20:10) and listed the punishment as death. (Deut. 22:22)
In the New Testament anyone married to one person but sleeping with another committed adultery. “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. (Hebrews 13:4)
In the Old Testament God phrased it this way, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.” (Exodus 20:17) In the New Testament Jesus said it like this, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)
God stated He detests prostitution. (Deut. 23:17-18) In the New Testament He said through Paul, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!” (1 Corinthians 6:15)
Any person, male or female, who participated in sexual activity with any animal was to be put to death under the Old Testament law. (Lev. 20:15, 16)
9) Sex during menstrual period
A basic principle of Scripture is “the life of a creature is in the blood.” (Lev. 17:11) Therefore, blood is always treated as holy-even in the New Testament. (Acts 15:29)
Understanding that principle helps us understand God’s law listed in the Old Testament about sexual relations during the wife’s menstrual period. He said that it shouldn’t happen (Lev. 15:24, 18:19) and listed the penalty as being “cut off” from the people. (Lev. 20:18) Many today believe that particular part of the “blood” law was given primarily for health reasons-the people of the Old Testament not having access to our modern hygiene or medicines-and that particular law has no application to Christians. Others feel that it lists God view of the sanctity of blood and should still be observed by Christians who respect God’s feelings.
10) Harm the body
While this isn’t specifically mentioned as I will describe it, the principle applies to anything that affects a person’s body. Remember, the context in which this passage is found is one that discusses sexual activity. In 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 Paul wrote for us, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.” While our spirits belong to God, so does our body. We are not to do anything that desecrates that temple of God that our body is. Sexual activity that harms the body should not occur.
What are the basic principles?
Based on all we’ve studied in this section, it seems to me that we may infer these basic principles about God’s view of sex.
- God intends for sex to be enjoyed by people married to each other-sex isn’t just for procreation as with the other animals.
- God endorses our enjoyment of every part of our spouse’s body.
- God wants each person in the marriage to conscientiously fulfill his or her mates sexual needs and desires.
Based on our study, I believe that the following limitations must exist for sex to be everything that God intended.
- Sex must only take place in the confines of marriage.
- Sex may never involve:
- Another person besides your mate.
- Any animal.
- Anything that causes harm to either person’s body.
That means that anything not prohibited by these principles is acceptable to God! So many things that some avoid for fear of offending God shouldn’t be avoided at all. At least not avoided for religious reasons. They are just as valid and good as kissing, hugging, or any other expression of love between two who have committed themselves to each other.
What does this mean to your marriage?
First, pay attention to your sexual life. While it is true that every part of your life affects every other part, you must make every effort to keep your sexual life healthy. Never forget God’s warning about Satan’s attack that He gave you in 1 Corinthians 7. Sexually unfulfilled people can be tempted through their lack of self-control. Remove that avenue of attack from Satan’s forces by keeping your mate thoroughly sexually satisfied!
Second, keep the bedroom special. Never argue in that room. Never discipline the children there. Never, ever, pay bills in that room. The bedroom should be for sleeping and love-making-nothing else! Don’t let that room be associated with any negative thing in your mind or emotions. Make it the most special room in your house.
Teach your children to respect the privacy of that room. Train them from infancy that when that door is shut, parents are spending special time with each other that is not to be violated. If you fear that they may figure out what you’re doing in there, what better way to teach them healthy attitudes about sex? They learn to associate sex–although, of course, they shouldn’t see or hear anything inappropriate–with love and marriage.
Third, if either of you wants sexual activity that the other finds uncomfortable-or perhaps even repulsive-each should submit to the other. That means that the initiator must not manipulate, cajole, pressure, or punish the reticent mate. But it also means that the reticent mate should prayerfully and purposefully work toward doing what the initiator requests-as long as it fits the principles outlined in this chapter.
For example, the reticent one should not allow another person to be involved in the couples sexual life if the initiator was to request such a thing. But if the initiator requests something outside the current comfort zone of the reticent mate that isn’t wrong in the eyes of God, the reticent person should start making progress toward fulfilling that request.
With time and patience, each mate will get what he or she desires-a loving relationship that doesn’t get stale, doesn’t frustrate, and does fulfill each with great satisfaction.