10 Challenging Truths About Sex and the Bible

By Sean McDowell Published on December 15, 2018

The Bible defies many of the assumptions of modern culture about sex, love and marriage. Sadly, the church has even absorbed some beliefs from culture rather than Scripture. For the sake of clarity, here are 10 challenging truths the Bible teaches about sex and the Bible.

1. Sex is not essential for a flourishing life. The narrative of our culture is that a sexless life is deficient. A person who has never had sex is deeply missing out. And yet Scripture resists this strongly. Jesus Christ was the most fulfilled human ever and he never had sex. A truly fulfilled life requires loving God and loving people regardless of sexual activity (Mark 12:28-34).

2. God hates divorce. Jesus taught that marriage is meant for a lifetime and that divorce is permissible for sexual unfaithfulness (Matthew 19). God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). And yet both the wider culture and the church have largely come to terms with it.

3. God cares about our actions and our thoughts. Jesus expanded the law to include not only adultery but also lusts of the heart. God cares not only about our actions, but what we think about (Matthew 5:27-30).

4. God is the creator of sex and we are to receive it as a gift. The first truth we learn about God in the Bible is that He is the creator. He designed the world to operate a certain way and gave sex as a gift for mankind to enjoy (Genesis 1:28)

5. All sexual activity outside of male-female marriage is condemned by Scripture. Adultery. Polygamy. Homosexual behavior. Incest. Pornography. Sex is only rightly experienced between a husband and wife in a marital covenant (Mark 7:21; Galatians 5:19-21)

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6. Singleness is a beautiful gift the church ought to embrace and celebrate. Celibates are often viewed as second-class citizens in the church. Yet Scripture teaches that singleness and marriage are both equally honorable callings (1 Corinthians 7; Matthew 19:10-12)

7. Sexual sin is not the worst sin, but it is serious because our bodies are the temple. There are two mistakes about the seriousness of sexual sin. One is to say that it is the worst sin. This is false. Idolatry is the worst sin. The other is to say that all sins are the same. This is false, as Scripture teaches that sexual immorality violates the body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:12-19)

8. Sexual freedom comes from living according to God’s design, not our feelings. True freedom is living the way God wants us to live. Freedom is not based on a feeling, but living a life that is in alignment with God’s creation (John 8:32).

9. Sex differences exist. Male-female differences are not entirely social construction. Men and women have much in common, but they also have biological, relational and emotional differences. And we all know this. It’s common sense (Genesis 2:18-25)

10. Sex is a procreative act. Part of the sexual revolution is to deny the procreative element of sex — to claim that sex is merely a physical act without deeper meaning. But the sexual act itself, even if a child does not result, is a child-bearing kind of act (Genesis 1:28; 2:24)

 

Sean McDowell, Ph.D., is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, the National Spokesman for Summit Ministries, a best-selling author, popular speaker, and part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org. This article used by permission.

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  • Trilemma

    True, sex is not essential for a flourishing life. But to say that Jesus never had sex is pure speculation. Prior to reaching the age of 30, Jesus could have been married. His wife could have died in childbirth. Or he could have been married to Mary Magdalene. For all we know, the disciple whom Jesus loved could have been his son.

    The Bible doesn’t condemn all sex outside of marriage. The Old Testament does not condemn a man for having sex with a woman other than his wife. The Bible clearly condones polygamy. The Bible clearly does not condemn concubinism which his cohabitation. The Bible does condemn many forms of incest but, strangely, does not condemn a man for having sex with his own daughter.

    • Studentenviro

      Poor atheists, obsessed with the religion they hate.
      You’ll never be free of it.

      • Trilemma

        I’m not an atheist.

      • Stuart

        Probably not wise to make assumptions about someone’s beliefs.

    • Stuart

      Isn’t the statement, “Jesus could have been married…” etc, “pure speculation” ? I think perhaps you’re confusing what the Bible describes vs. what God condones or stays is how things should be.

      • Trilemma

        Yes, my statements about Jesus being married are speculative. That’s the point.

        God told King David that he gave David all his wives and concubines and would have given him more if that would have kept him from committing adultery. I take that to mean God condones polygamy.

        • Stuart

          Condoning something doesn’t mean that God considers it ideal and something that he intended as the normal way that marriage works. Jesus had clear teaching that marriage was designed by God as one man and one woman coming together as one flesh for one lifetime.

          • Trilemma

            Jesus was answering a question about divorce and not a question about what marriage is. Did Adam and Eve have a wedding? The Bible doesn’t say.

          • Stuart

            Divorce and marriage are inexorably linked. Jesus answered the question (about divorce) by stating what God’s original design and intent was for marriage. Marriage isn’t about a wedding ceremony, it’s about the natural purpose of one man and one woman coming together to raise a family for the purpose of stabilizing and perpetuating society. We can certainly disagree about the Bible’s teaching on this. But at the end of the day, it’s not a debate between you and me. It’s between us and God. If God is real (and I believe he has), and if he has spoken through the Bible (and I believe he has), then he has made some clear statements on how things ought to be and what he considers to be wrong actions (across a whole host of things, not just sexual conduct). The question all of us have to come to terms with is, what do we do with this? Are we confident that we’re in right standing with God? Personally, I’m not. So I can only throw myself down on his mercy and beg for forgiveness and trust what the Bible says about the person of Jesus of Nazareth and the claims he made.

          • Kathy

            Stuart, your statement beginning with “Are we confident that we’re in right standing with God?” was troubling. If you have placed your faith and trust in what Jesus accomplished for you on the cross (forgiveness of your sins and reconciliation to God) and surrendered to His Lordship in your life, you CAN be confident in your right standing with God”. You do not have to “beg”.

          • Stuart

            Kathy, I have placed my trust in Jesus, and I am personally confident in my right standing with God. Perhaps my wording was slightly mistaken.

          • Kathy

            Good to hear! Sorry for the misunderstanding.

          • Stuart

            No worries 🙂

    • LgVt

      You’re confusing what the Bible records with what the Bible condones. Every case in the Old Testament–and I mean every single case–of a man having more than one sexual partner, whether in the context of multiple wives or of concubinage or what have you, leads to strife and suffering. There is not a single happy family in the bunch, and it’s a rare occurrence (e.g. Joseph eventually saving his family, after his brothers sold him into slavery) that anything positive comes from it at all.

      • Trilemma

        King Saul had one wife and one concubine. I’m not aware of any strife caused by that. However, I think polygamy is a bad idea.

    • tether

      A daughter is next of kin.
      “‘None of you shall approach anyone who is near of kin to him, to uncover his nakedness: I am the LORD. The nakedness of your father or the nakedness of your mother you shall not uncover. She is your mother; you shall not uncover her nakedness.”
      ‭‭Leviticus‬ ‭18:6-7‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

      Also if one can’t have sex with their mother or father that would include a daughter not having sex with her father.

      • Trilemma

        The verse you quoted is addressed to men not girls and equates uncovering the nakedness of one’s mother as also uncovering the nakedness of one’s father.

        • tether

          Daughters are still next of kin

          • Trilemma

            But in the long list of next of kin, daughters are not listed.

          • tether

            So are you saying that because the Bible didn’t specifically say daughters you interpret that to mean God condones father daughter sex?

          • Trilemma

            No. I’m saying the Bible doesn’t condemn father daughter sex. Nor does the Bible condemn Lot’s daughters for having sex with their father.

          • tether

            And what became of the sons born out of Lot’s daughters?
            Moab and Ammon?
            They became the Moabites, and the Ammonites.
            Enemies of God’s people.
            Keep reading and studying the Word.
            I also urge you to not read all the junk online about the Bible. There is so many twisted interpretations out there that can really sound convincing.

          • Trilemma

            And Jesus was the descendant of a Moabite woman. I agree there are many twisted interpretations out there. Many of them are from Christians.

          • Kathy

            Just curious…which particular Christians do you have in mind?

          • Trilemma

            Deuteronomy 22:28-29 say a woman shall marry her rapist. Christians have a number of twisted interpretations that argue that either the woman wasn’t actually raped or that marrying her rapist is actually the morally best thing for her.

          • Kathy

            I thought you had particular denominations in mind.

            ESV study Bible: “The law seeks to protect the woman, who is less likely to be married because she was violated” It appears your focus is so often on the sexual references in Scripture. I do realize this article pertains to that, but don’t notice many comments of yours on other types.

          • Trilemma

            Do you believe the best way to protect a woman who was violently attacked by a man is to have her spend the rest of her life with the man who attacked her? Looks to me that she’s being condemned to a life of domestic violence.

            I also comment on the trinity, hell, the First Amendment, environment, evolution, tithing and others.

          • Kathy

            Yes, you have commented on those topics. It just appears you are continually trying to justify the sexual behavior/ lifestyle of yours or someone close to you and go to great lengths to try to accomplish that.

            There is nothing at all wrong with contemplating and questioning…God gave us the intellect and reasoning skills to do that. However, God’s thoughts are higher than ours, as His ways are higher than ours. To continually question and subsequently doubt because you can’t fully understand or figure out every verse in the Bible is standing on very shaky, even dangerous ground. You are essentially telling God that either He doesn’t know what He’s doing or that He is just plain wrong. Won’t go well for you on judgment day, so in your best interest, you may want to try just a little more humility.

          • Trilemma

            I am not questioning God or telling God that he doesn’t know what he’s doing or that he is wrong. I firmly believe the command that a woman shall marry her rapist did not come from God but came from an early Iron Age people who didn’t know God very well.

          • Kathy

            Like you, I can only speculate. Perhaps it was meant as a deterrent to a man with intentions of forcing himself on a woman, thinking he would then be obligated to marry her.

            If Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:15-17), there cannot be verses that are and verses that aren’t. Just because we don’t understand or don’t like it for whatever reason doesn’t give us the freedom to discount it. That IS telling God that He is wrong.

        • tether

          Addressed to men or man, there is a difference. Often the Bible uses man to address all mankind, male and female.
          Man does not live by bread alone.

        • tether

          “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
          ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:27‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
          Man clearly refers to both the male and female.

          • Trilemma

            The verse you quoted says, “‘None of you shall approach anyone who is near of kin to him, to uncover his nakedness: I am the LORD.” “Him” means male not female.

          • tether

            Then read a few more verses down to verse 17. I hope we can agree that a mans daughter is also the daughter of her mother whom the man had sex with.

            “You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, nor shall you take her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness. They are near of kin to her. It is wickedness.”
            ‭‭Leviticus‬ ‭18:17‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

          • Trilemma

            That verse is saying a man can’t have both a woman and her daughter. He must pick one or the other. If he uncovers the nakedness of the mother then he can’t uncover the nakedness of the daughter. If he uncovers the nakedness the daughter then he can’t uncover the nakedness of the mother.

          • tether

            Yes he must pick one or the other and since he already picked the mother then the daughter is forbidden.

  • Jed

    Yawn …
    I’ve witnessed evangelicals get bent out of shape over gays,
    but just murmur about abortion.

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