What Does the Bible Say About Sex and How Does the Bible Say It?
The initial question was, “What should preachers preach about sex?” Preachers do preach about sex. The most common themes deal with forbidding sex outside of marriage and condemning homosexual relations. While these are noteworthy themes, they are not the only teachings about sex in Scripture. So I would like to visit the first part of the current question, “What does the Bible say about sex?” With full assurance I can say that the full message of Scripture with regards to sex is not just to condemn adultery, fornication, and homosexuality. There is certainly more.
Most people are surprised to find how many positive statements the Bible makes about sex. The most famous “positive” sex citation in the Bible is Gen. 1:28a, “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply . . .’” There is really no other way to enjoy this part of the blessing without having sex. Sadly western culture has placed a taboo on the large family, seemingly shading married couples who have more than 2 children as being somewhat irresponsible. The American dream has grown to include limitations on family size, but the Bible makes it clear that children are a blessing (Psalm 127:3-5).
The Bible teaches that sex is not just for childbearing, but that it is something to be desired and enjoyed. The Bible celebrates sex within the marriage bond. If I were going to summarize the Bible’s teaching about sex for married couples it would be simple, “Have sex. Have lots of it. Enjoy it.” Here are only a few examples:
Proverbs 5:18-19, “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.”
The entire book of the Song of Solomon has a very erotic tone. Some people try to over spiritualize it and say that it only refers to Christ and the Church. While such elaboration may make for a good sermon, it may rob the text of its original intent. In Song of Solomon 4 and 5 the bride and groom admire one another’s bodies. By chapter 7 their passion grows and by the end of the chapter the image is one of consummation.
Sex within marriage is such a beautiful and celebrated thing that God used the image often to describe His relationship with chosen Israel. Speaking through the prophet Ezekiel the Lord said, “I made you flourish like a plant of the field. And you grew up and became tall and arrived at full adornment. Your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare. When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine.” Ezekiel 16:7-8
When it comes to answering the second part of the question with regards to “how” does the Bible say what it says about sex, we would say that it says what it says plainly. God saw Himself as so intimate with Israel that when they sinned against Him He described it as adultery. He would often describe their sin as a man cheating on his wife and sleeping with a prostitute. As a living parable of Israel’s whoredom with other gods, the LORD instructed the prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute. In describing the pain of an unfaithful wife, Hosea would in fact be preaching to Israel about her harlotry before God. The language is often intense: “Plead with your mother, plead— for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband—that she put away her whoring from her face, and her adultery from between her breasts; lest I strip her naked and make her as in the day she was born, and make her like a wilderness, and make her like a parched land, and kill her with thirst. Upon her children also I will have no mercy, because they are children of whoredom. For their mother has played the whore; she who conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.” (Hosea 2:1-5)
In saying what the Bible says about sex plainly, we should note that the Bible does not describe the act of sex, as in how it is done, perhaps as a biology textbook would. Neither is the Bible pornographic. So if the preacher is faithful to preach Scripture he will not be crude or inappropriate from the pulpit. There is no need to elaborate on what the Bible leaves to the imagination. People get the point without the preacher painting the picture.
So should preachers preach the full message of Scripture with regards to sex? I should say so. If preachers are to preach what Paul called, “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) preachers should preach not just the negatives about sex, but also the positives. Paul certainly did. For instance, he conceded that single people want to have sex and that the desire is strong; so strong that they should seriously consider marriage (1 Corinthians 7:36-38) before remaining single. If a couple is married Paul teaches that they should regularly give themselves to one another (1 Corinthians 7:2-3).
No one can deny, sex is in the Bible; the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beauty of it. Preach it.
So again, should preachers preach the full message of Scripture with regards to sex? I will deal with issues of audience in my next post, but allow me to ask this question. Would you consider reading the Bible through to be a worthy goal for your child or teen? Is it appropriate for a widow, a single woman, a single man, or a married couple to read the entire Bible? Most would say, “YES!” If so, they cannot accomplish the goal without reading everything that the Bible says about sex. In the same way, preachers should preach the Bible and preach it all with liberty!