How Do You View Sex?

A couple of years ago I was fortunate enough to be in an Old Testament class with a ridiculously brilliant professor.  I mean this guy might be the most knowledgeable guy I’ve ever met.  At one point we were talking about The Law and I decided to ask a fun question, just to stir the pot.

I asked him, “Does the Bible literally say that I can’t have sex outside of marriage?” Without flinching (have you ever noticed professors never flinch) and he said, “No it doesn’t.  But it does say that if you have sex with someone you have to marry them right then.”  We all laughed.

One of the things that is hardest about being single is not having sex.  I love when married people tell me that sexual temptation doesn’t go away when you get married.  I know that’s true but, it’s not the same thing. We have to choose between not satisfying the desire or sin – you have another option.

This is the one thing that the Church is for sure going to tell single people – Don’t have sex. But that is not enough.  And the way we tell people can often set us up to fail.  It’s shouldn’t be about “waiting for marriage“, making the act of sex unholy, twisting bible verses to make them about sex, making the desire for sex bad, or even pretending that somehow I can crush that desire. It’s about understanding what sex is – biblically speaking.

Our culture has separated sex from marriage.  It says the purpose of sex is pleasure and personal enjoyment.  It’s something that we do to make ourselves feel better.  Now there is some truth to this of course, sex does feel good.  God created it to be pleasurable, which is awesome.  But that is not the end result.

This view ultimately makes sex less powerful.  We’ve had it drilled in our heads over and over that it is just a physical act.  And when the Church runs around telling us not to do it, without telling us what TO do, then it just adds to the problem by basically keeping it as a physical act – just one we shouldn’t do.

The message can end up being that It’s just about pleasure and feeling good in marriage (if I get married I get pleasure) but it still sells sex short and could mess up married sex. Worst of all we sometimes paint sex in such a negative light that when people do get married they struggle to enjoy it.

But the Bible talks about sex as much more than a physical act to do or not do.

From the very beginning, right after He creates Adam and Eve, God says that they will leave father and mother and become one flesh.  Jesus echoes this later of course when he is asked about divorce.  He essentially says, “You don’t get it at all.  Marriage is permanent and sex is part of what makes it that way.”

Sex is not just physical.  It is meant to be a spiritual act.  It bonds two people together in very real, one flesh way.  This is why where ever sex is talked about all through scripture it is always either within the context of marriage or the context of sin. There is no in between.  But we can also know for sure that the desire for sex is from God.  We can’t just throw that out or pretend it away, just because we as singles are not in a position to have the desire met.

We are going to desire sex.  A lot actually. Probably even if I’m called to singleness.  In my opinion trying to kill that desire is crazy.  But here’s the thing, I have all sorts of desires.  I don’t get to do them all, I have to submit them to God.

What I can do is not feed it the wrong way.  Paul (while talking about this subject) uses food as and example.  I can’t just eat what I want all the time.  I want a cookie every day, and if I eat that cookie every day, I’ll want it even more the next day.  We are not to be controlled by our desires.

Also, as I mentioned briefly before, if I separate sex from marriage there is way less reason to get married.  As crazy as it sounds, one of the surest ways to stay single is to have sex outside of marriage.  
Our culture is at set up in opposition to the scripture.  This isn’t new of course, its always been so, but now we are inundated with it.  We have to walk with God and we have to own our view of sex.  What is your real view of sex – the one you practice?

24 thoughts on “How Do You View Sex?

  1. This is so good, I was just talking with a single friend about the subject and explaining that if we were not meant to experience sexual desire, God could have waited and installed it into each of us on the wedding day. He is God, after all! The trick is identifying what we desire, learning what to do with it without labeling desire as bad. Thanks for starting the conversation!

  2. I completely understand why we should not have sex outside of marriage. Sex can be a very destructive thing when not used in it’s proper context. But every once in awhile I get a little vexed. Since God made sex pleasurable and he made is all sexual beings with this desire, it seems “unfair” that married people can have sex but single people can’t. He created us with this desire but we can’t fulfill this desire if we’re single. If you look at it a certain way, it could seem cruel to give us a desire that we can’t fulfill without sinning. It could be analogous to putting a huge juicy steak in front of a starving lion, but then shocking him with electricity every time he tries it eat it. If God gave us this desire for sex that we can’t satisfy if we’re single, what are we supposed to do with this desire? As a single person, What are we to do with this tension that we’re not allowed to release?

    • I think you deal with it in the same way you deal with any temptation to sin. A good question for all of us would be why do we consider sexual immorality to be different and more difficult to overcome than other temptations to sin?

      • This is a great point. I have all sorts of desires. Most of them are twisted versions of the original plan from God. It’s a heart problem more than a physical one.

    • Yeah it’s a hard question. What do you do with a desire that is instinctively in us but we can’t fulfill. I’m going to go at this more soon. But for now I’d say that God is not unfair. If He was fair we’d be screwed. I would say that He gave us the desire for sex to be within marriage – not just the desire for sex. More soon I promise.

  3. Justin, I have been enjoying following your blog and how questions generate a pathway to explore difficult topics especially in the area of sexuality.
    As a married woman who is free to have sex “without sinning” I was intrigued by the comment above and being single – desire – tension release.
    Is marriage about no longer having to “struggle with desire becoming sinful?”
    If sex is a “tension release” it is about my turning to that which God created to fulfill me, rather than my own Creator. Within marriage we are not free from desire that leads to sin.
    What are the roots of my desire?
    Do they separate or join me with my Creator first?
    I believe that there is more to desire that needs to be taught for empowering us to live engaged with our bodies – married or single and we NEED one another to even have these conversations. In working in the area of sexuality and spirituality it is the raw vulnerability of singles that have taught me to continue recognize how Christian communities have inadvertently placed a marginalized value on singleness and desire.
    What if we dared to linger in the hard questions that help us together–married and single–to see the roots of our desire?
    To see and value this desire as an opportunity to explore the “tensions” of what is being revealed.
    Is it possible desire has something to teach us about being with God and with others?
    Is it possible desire has something to teach us about being with God and with others?
    Could we encounter being joined to God first, and in turn experience the vulnerability that desire reveals?
    Will be great to hear more from you Justin.

    • I don’t plan on getting married…like I hate that we still live by this outdated tradition that we are all getting married someday. I also hate that sex before marriage is seen as immoral. If I’m not hurting anyone…how is that immoral? It just sounds outdated and archaic. Do what you choose to do, if you want to wait, wait…but that doesn’t make I nor anyone else who chose not to, a bad person.

      • Thanks for the honest comment.

        First, it’s not about being a good or bad person per se. That’s a way bigger issue than sex. We are all both good and bad. Myself included.

        But the question here is what is the view and therefore value of sex. Actually the view of sex as created for God is not archaic. The act of sex for pleasure only is way more archaic. Sex without being tied to marriage came way before the 10 commandments. Way before. In other words the argument of “I should be able to do what I want” is as old as humanity. It’s not progressive or modern. Look at the near eastern sexual practices from 4000 years ago.

        My thing is if sex is only physical and for whenever we want with whomever we want, then it actually has less overall value. Of course that’s just my view.

      • Sweet sister it’s not about good or bad it about holy. I am 27 virgin I never kiss a guy. U
        I want sex badly but I want God’s power and purports in my Friday . I am a bad person b/ c deride to sin but I’m too chicken . I ‘m not trying to judge you and it does suck. But God so good and loving …it a The big O but is a Loving father

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    • Thanks for the question – can you define that a little more. Like what should our view of sex be if we never get married? If we don’t get married then that means (biblically speaking) that we don’t have sex. Which is ok. Some of us aren’t even called to get married. Which is also ok. What we are not called to do, is have sex outside of marriage. Not sure if that is what you are asking.

  14. I think sex ( as God designed it ) I is beautiful sand should be a fun living picture of Christ giving himself to us and we to Him. That being said with CP and a past induces no kissing before or after my 27 birthday i losing hope for marrige

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