Sex…the final taboo in our churches today. No topic is so largely ignored, other than for “Thou shalt not...”, than sex. How has God’s finest gift to married couples come to be so maligned…so taboo? Taboo…yes, TABOO! Is it a “holy-pursuit“, or is it a “guilty-pleasure“?
Several months ago, after a morning worship service, my wife and I were in the fellowship area adjacent to the sanctuary of our church. I leaned over and gave her a quick kiss. As she turned back around, she was met with a glower from an older lady, as if to say that we had done something “wrong” in church…that a kiss wasn’t appropriate…
The excitement grows during a wedding as the bride and groom exchange vows, because everyone is anticipating the grand finale, when the pastor introduces them as husband and wife, and turns to the groom and says “You may kiss your bride!” Their first kiss as a married couple is met with thunderous applause…but they don’t “dare” do that again in church. WHY??? If the first kiss was okay, why are subsequent kisses frowned upon?
When was the last time you heard “Be fruitful and multiply” given as a charge to a newly-married couple? I have been in several weddings, both my own, and with friends, and I have NEVER heard that charge given. WHY?
Everyone loves a new baby, and we wait in eager-anticipation for the birth of a new little-one. Even though that new baby will look like both parents, why do we have this concept that it came through “immaculate conception“? Sure, deep down, we know that the parents “did it” (had sex), because that really is the only way babies are conceived…but “sex“…we “do it“, and we know they “do it“… but…
Pastors are well-known for thundering “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” from the pulpit, but why are they not also proclaiming equally loudly “Be fruitful and multiply.” Both of those commands came from God, but they love to proclaim the first one, but the second command is taboo…
Where am I going with this? I want to show…from the Bible, why I believe that sexual-union between a husband and wife, particularly Christian couples, is a “holy-pursuit“. The church is already doing a very good job of proclaiming that sex outside of marriage is a “guilty-pleasure“, so that topic is off the table here.
In a previous post “Secular…or Sacred?“, I dealt with the basis of my belief that everything a Christian does is sacred, so I will only present the scriptures, but no long explanation. So…sit back, relax, and buckle-up, because we are going to take a brief journey through the Bible, God’s Holy Word.
Our bodies…His temples…
In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, the Apostle Paul wrote: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
Everything is sacred…
Again, the Apostle Paul has written: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17) “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Created in His image…
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:26-27)
Need for a soul-mate…
18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” 19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.
21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
23 And Adam said:
“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:24-25)
Creation mandate…God’s orders…
28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)
“And they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24b) “Become on flesh” is a picture of sexual-union, the most intimate part of a marriage relationship…the husband entering his wife and them becoming one in sexual-union.
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the Lord.” 2 Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. (Genesis 4:1-2a) Note: “knew” means “had sexual-union with“.
13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! 15 And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.” 16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her bosom, and became a nurse to him. 17 Also the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “There is a son born to Naomi.” And they called his name Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David. (Ruth 4:13-17) Note: “went in to her” means “had sexual-union with”. God was actively-involved in blessing this union: “the Lord gave her conception”
Boaz and Ruth were in the line of David, and David’s “greater son” is our Lord Jesus Christ.
These are but a sampling of times when God blessed a couple’s sexual-union with conception. Other notables are: Abraham and Sarah – Isaac (Genesis 21:1-7), Elkanah and Hannah – Samuel (1 Samuel 1:19-20), Zacharias and Elizabeth – John the Baptist (Luke 1:23-25). All three of these couples were old, well-beyond child-bearing age, but each of the sons that were born to them played a significant role in redemption history. God was present in power each time.
15 Drink water from your own cistern,
And running water from your own well.
16 Should your fountains be dispersed abroad,
Streams of water in the streets?
17 Let them be only your own,
And not for strangers with you.
18 Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice with the wife of your youth.
19 As a loving deer and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
And always be enraptured with her love.
As is typical of Hebrew wisdom literature, which Proverbs is, the same theme is often repeated in a slightly different way. We see that in this group. “15 Drink water from your own cistern, And running water from your own well. 16 Should your fountains be dispersed abroad, Streams of water in the streets? 17 Let them be only your own, And not for strangers with you.” These verses speaks of keeping sexual-union for one’s wife only. The remaining verses speak of enjoying sexual-union with your own wife.
“Fountain(s)” means a man’s sex – his penis and his ejaculation. “Streams of water” speaks specifically of a man’s semen…his life-giving seed.
18 “Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice with the wife of your youth.” is proclaiming God’s blessing in conception of children.
The blessings of children…
3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.
Marriage commands in the New Testament…
2 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, 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 the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:2-5)
In this passage, the Apostle Paul was responding to the Ascetic/Gnostic belief that marriage was not something to be desired or pursued. Paul wasn’t content to merely counter their assertion, he went on to endorse marriage, and command couples to engage in sexual-union (verses 3-5). “Render the affection due her/him” means to “have sexual-union“. Thus we see that a couple may not merely marry, but they are to actively have and enjoy sexual-union.
Refusal may bring a curse…
6 Then Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord killed him. 8 And Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife and marry her, and raise up an heir to your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the heir would not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in to his brother’s wife, that he emitted on the ground, lest he should give an heir to his brother. 10 And the thing which he did displeased the Lord; therefore He killed him also. (Genesis 38:6-10)
This passage introduces us to the concept of “kinsman-redeemer“. Because heirs were so important, if a man married, but died before he gave his wife an heir(son), his brother was supposed to marry her and give her an heir for her first husband. Er married Tamar, but he was wicked, so the Lord killed him…childless (verses 6-7). Onan was supposed to be her kinsman-redeemer, but even though he married Tamar, when he had sexual-union with her, he refused to impregnate her, so the Lord killed him also. Onan had the “fun“, but he didn’t “finish the job“.
A foreshadowing of Christ…
We now go back to the book of Ruth. What I didn’t mention was the circumstances surrounding this marvelous story. Naomi had married Elimelech, and they had two sons. Because of a famine in Israel, they moved to Moab. Both sons married Moabite women, one of whom was Ruth, but both died before giving their wife a heir. Once the famine in Israel was over, Naomi decided to go back home, and Ruth went with her. There was still a HUGE problem, because neither Naomi nor Ruth had an heir. Naomi was beyond the age of bearing children, but Ruth wasn’t. Enter Boaz…
Boaz was from the same family as Naomi’s husband, Elimelich, and so he was an eligible “kinsman-redeemer“. Boaz took his kinsman-redeemer responsibility very seriously, and took definitive steps to fulfill that responsibility. I invite you to read and study the book of Ruth, and let the deep meaning of this beautiful story sink deep into your heart and soul. It is one of my very favorite books in the Bible.
I did forget to explain WHY an heir was SO important… Family-land was passed down through the family, and couldn’t be sold. It was also important to preserve the “family-name“, and only an heir(son) could do that. There is one example in the Old Testament where sisters were allowed to inherit the family land, because there was no male heir (son/brother), but this was an exception granted by God, not the rule. Genealogies was always traced through the male line.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the ultimate kinsman-redeemer, because by bringing us into a right relationship with God, He makes us heirs with Him of God’s kingdom. Thus Boaz was a fitting foreshadowing of our kinsman-redeemer. I am not going to develop this theme here, but maybe in a future post.
We ALL “know” that sexual-union is Eros, but is it? My post: “He Raised the Bar…” describes the various “kinds” of love, but for this study, we really need to revisit sexual love.
Eros: We usually see “eros” as “sexual” or “romantic” love, and we get the word “erotic” from “eros“. Something is “erotic” if it incites a sexual response in us.
Agape: “Agape” is self-giving love, and is how we picture God’s love for us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) God loves us so much that He gave…His only begotten Son.
I am sure we have all known a guy that said: “I am going to get a piece…“. What he was really saying was “I am going to USE a woman to get my rocks off, and if she enjoys it, fine, but it is all about ME.” Pornography is the ultimate example of “eros“. It is totally self-centered, and there is no “agape“.
But…what if a couple is talking in their living-room, and the husband invites his wife to sit in his lap, so they are closer and can cuddle and kiss a while? As they become more and more “one“, it ultimately leads them to the bedroom, and sexual-union, with each giving their love and their body to the other. That IS “agape” love…giving for the others’ benefit, and if they desire to conceive a child, they are fully-open to each other. Certainly they will find each others’ bodies to be “erotic“, and their activities will get their respective “motors” running, but it really is their RELATIONAL love which fuels their desire.
If they really are becoming “one flesh”, giving of themselves to the other, they are picturing God’s love for us…AGAPE.
A whole book about sex? Song of Solomon…
How important is our sexuality and our married sexual-union to God? Through the pen of King Solomon, God has given us a whole book…the Song of Solomon…as not only a picture of His love for us, but of married love and sexual-union. The picture isn’t always rosy, but it IS beautiful. I invite you to read that beautiful book and see for yourself.
Sex…Holy pursuit, or Guilty-pleasure…
I hope you have enjoyed this brief journey through the Bible, God’s Holy Word, and that you have come to realize that, within the covenant of Christian marriage, sexual-union…sex…IS a holy pursuit. If you are still “on the fence“, I invite you to do your own study of God’s Word, because truth is the only thing that will set you free. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)