Holy Sex

It may seem unusual to pair the words “holy” and “sex” together. Traditionally in church, we would hear the words “unholy” and “sex” paired together more frequently. That is because almost anytime sex is brought up in church, the misuses are highlighted. For example, we talk about sexual immorality, and we are told to flee (1 Corinthians 6:18). If adultery is mentioned, we are told its a work of the flesh (Galatians 5:19). Then, if homosexuality is mentioned, it is said it is not in accord with sound doctrine (1 Timothy 1:10-11). It is easy for lots of church attendees listening to infer then that all sex, even sex in a marriage between a man and a woman, is condemned. Further, if someone does get married, very little is said to them about the positives of sex from Scripture. Young married virgins who grew up in churches emphasising holiness may struggle mentally once they get married. Now they are free to have sex with their spouse as often as they want but can’t seem to get past the mental barrier that “sex is bad”. So the question is, is sex holy or unholy in a marriage between a man and a woman? 

God Created Sex 

Consider first that God created sex in Genesis 1:28 whenever he told Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” God’s creation of sex was something he said was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). God did not create some good and some bad things in creation, but all of them were good. Sex inside the context of marriage between a man and a woman is a good and holy thing because it was established even before sin entered into creation (Genesis 3:6-7).

All within the Trinity endorse sex within a marriage. God the Father approves it in Genesis 1:28, commanding Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” Then Jesus echoes the same in Matthew 19:5, saying that a married man and woman should become “one flesh.” Then, of course, the Holy Spirit, who is deeply involved in the writing of Scripture (2 Peter 1:20-21, 1 Timothy 3:16-17), led biblical writers to say that sex in the context of marriage is a good thing. An example of such a Holy Spirit-inspired writing is Hebrews 13:4, which says, “Let marriage be held in honour among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled…” The writer of Hebrews 13:4 could have just said, “Let marriage be honoured among all”…but he doesn’t leave it at that. Instead, he specifically mentions the sexual act of marriage as something that should be considered pure and sacred. 

The Greek word for “bed” that is used in the passage above is the word “koite”, meaning “sex by implanting the male sperm.” Hebrews 13:4 then says that this type of sex in marriage is “undefiled”, meaning it remains pure or holy. So, in other words, sex is a pure and holy thing in marriage. It is not a nasty thing that God does not want a married couple to be involved in. The sexual act of marriage is a holy union to be held in honour by all of us in the church. 

Sex Not Just for Procreation

Sex is not something that is to be simply for procreation or having children, but Scripture encourages us to find pleasure and enjoy one another. Consider verses like Proverbs 5:18-19, which say to “rejoice in the wife of your youth” (Proverbs 5:18) and “let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love” (Proverbs 5:19). So how do you “rejoice” (Proverbs 5:18) in your wife? The answer is “letting her breast fill you at all times with delight” and being “intoxicated always in her love.” Further, whenever you read Song of Solomon 4:1-15, the writer talks about his wife’s beauty from head to toe and then asks her to have sex with him. The writer describes it as a beautiful and enjoyable experience that increases their love for one another. It seems hard to suggest that the act of marriage is simply for having children with such verses.

The entire book of Proverbs is based on wisdom. Chapters 1-9 of the book of Proverbs are written to Solomon’s son, whom Solomon desired to live a life of wisdom. So Proverbs 5:18-19 means it is wise for a man to release his sexual drive in a marriage relationship. Wise living is to have enjoyable and mutually satisfying sex with your spouse. Proverbs 5:20 suggests that sex outside marriage is adultery- forbidden and unwise. It ensnares, leads astray, leads to death and will be judged by God (Proverbs 5:21-23). So why go outside the confines of God’s plan for sex whenever he has provided an enjoyable and satisfying place to have sex that is holy and celebrated (1 Corinthians 7:2-5, Hebrews 13:4-5)?

You may not have learned this in biology class, but God created nerve endings in the genitals of a man and woman, allowing them to enjoy sex. You have built-in sexual urges that are fearfully and wonderfully made. It is not an evil thing to have genitals or sexual desires. God understands how we were made, which is why he says in 1 Corinthians 7:9 that it is “better to marry than burn with passion.” Why would God create us with a sex drive and genitals that fit together if we were not to enjoy sex within marriage? Marriage is God’s primary method for releasing our sex drive, and he intends for a husband and a wife to enjoy each other and strengthen their love for one another that way. 

Wrong Teaching on Sex in Marriage

I do want to caution that some Christian leaders have taught distorted views of sex within marriage. For example, some Christian teachers will communicate to unmarried virgins that their future husbands must be cared for in the bedroom, or they could easily commit adultery. This kind of thinking lays the burden of guilt for the man’s adultery at the feet of the innocent wife. It also makes men look like they have no self-control and that sex is something only men and not women desire. However, Song of Solomon 7:11-8:3 clearly shows that Solomon’s wife deeply desired sex from her husband. She didn’t consider it as something that was used to control her husband, but it was based in sincere love for him. The word for sex that is used frequently in the Old Testament is the word “know” or “knew” (Genesis 4:1, 17, 25, 24:16). It is a word that communicates true intimacy and deep understanding of one another. A husband and wife should seek to please each other for the sake of intimacy and to show their love for each other. Viewing sex in any other way can lead to fear or bitterness in the bedroom. 

And finally, not everyone will get married and have sex. Consider that Jesus and the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 7:8) were never married but were fulfilled and joyful (John 15:11, Philippians 3:8). Sex is something to be celebrated in marriage (Hebrews 13:4), but it is not something that is required for Christians to experience a joyful and fulfilling life. 

Sex is holy in the context of marriage between a man and a woman. Therefore, praise God for what he has created, and do not think of something as unholy if God has pronounced it holy (Acts 11:9).

References 

  1. The Act of Marriage by Tim & Beverly LaHaye
  2. “Sex” – Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible

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