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An attempt to think through some things taught in the Word about sex, both by direct statement and by extension and implication:

  • Sex is created by God ("by him all things were created"--Col. 1:16).
  • Sex continues to exist by the will of Christ ("in him all things hold together"--Col. 1:17).
  • Sex is caused by God (he "works all things according to the counsel of his will"--Eph. 1:11).
  • Sex is subject to Christ ("he put all things under his feet"--Eph. 1:22).
  • Sex is being made new by Christ ("Behold, I am making all things new"--Rev. 21:5).
  • Sex is good ("everything created by God is good"--1 Tim. 4:4).
  • Sex is lawful in the context of marriage ("all things are lawful"--1 Cor. 10:23).
  • Sex is to be done for the glory of God ("whatever you do, do all to the glory of God"--1 Cor. 10:31).
  • Sex works together for the good of God's children ("for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose"--Rom. 8:28).
  • Sex is a cause for thanksgiving ("nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving"--1 Tim. 4:4).
  • Sex is to be sanctified by the Word of God and prayer ("everything . . . is made holy by the word of God and prayer"--1 Tim. 4:4-5).
  • Sex can be enslaving and its entrapment must be resisted ("I will not be enslaved by anything"--1 Cor. 6:12).
  • Sex should not be an occasion for grumbling ("do all things without grumbling"--Phil. 2:14)
  • Sex should be an occasion for rejoicing in the Lord ("rejoice in the Lord always"--Phil. 4:4).
  • Sex should be an occasion of contentment in the Lord ("having all contentment in all things at all times"--2 Cor. 9:8 mg.).
  • Sex should be engaged in with holiness and honor ("each one of you [is to] know how to control his own body [KJV: "possess his vessel"; RSV: "take a wife for himself"] in holiness and honor"--1 Thess. 4:4).
  • Sex should usually not be withheld from one’s spouse (do not "deprive one another [sexually], except perhaps by agreement for a limited time," that they might devote themselves to prayer--1 Cor. 7:5. But then they are commanded to "come together again [sexually], so that Satan may not tempt [them] because of [their] lack of self-control"--1 Cor. 7:5).
  • Sex can be both pure and impure in this fallen world ("To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled"--Titus 1:15).

--Adapted from my introduction to Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, pp. 12-13.


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11 thoughts on “Sex: According to the Bible”

  1. Jordan says:

    I don’t understand the point of this exercise. Why put orthodox Christian statements about sex next to Bible verses that have nothing to do with that? It has the appearance of sloppy prooftexting, although I’m not sure that’s what was intended. One could replace the term “sex” with the term “homosexual activity” or “sex outside of wedlock” and end up with a string of heterodox statements seemingly drawn from the Bible in the exact same way. Why can’t lying be pure to the pure, and impure only to the impure?

    I’m not trying to nitpick, but I don’t know how else to interpret this. This is not how the Bible is to be used.

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Jordan, thanks for your comments, though I’m not sure I entirely understand the objection. In addition to some of the direct statement I’m trying to look at one of aspect of reality in light of what God tell us about his gifts. The reason it wouldn’t work to replace evil things in the all/everything/whatever statements is because the biblical authors obviously weren’t intended that to be part of the intended meaning.

      Here’s another way of looking at it, from a related example. Paul says in 1 Cor 9 were are to become “all things” to “all people” in order to “win some.” It’s worth thinking through what he means by “all things.” He doesn’t mean “become a child molester” in order to “win molesters.” But it’s a legitimate exercise to consider the range of things he does intend.

      I guess I don’t see this any more problematic than telling my kids that they should play sports to the glory of God given the “whatever” in 1 Cor 10:31. And if they asked if cheating on a test is including by extension in that verse, I’d say they were simply misunderstanding.

      Hope that helps, at least a little.

      JT

      1. Jordan says:

        Judging from the comments below, I didn’t make my point.

        My point is that the verses quoted are insufficient to derive the statements about sex. (Or, rather, they’re sufficient to derive false statements about sex also, so we know that they can’t be interpreted literally.) The truths about sex are derived from other verses not quoted (sometimes in conjunction with the more general verses quoted).

        My objection is that this appears (note the post’s title) to present a Biblical “case” for something when it does not in fact do so. It is just not sufficient for that. I believe it encourages sloppy prooftexting. For example, how do we know that “sex is being made new by Christ”? Because he’s making all things new? But, after all, “at the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage”. This new sex doesn’t sound much like the old sex! Or am I missing something? (Of course I am, because I’m taking verses out of context and making no effort to actually interpret the texts.)

  2. I agree with Jordan. It’s problematic to take extremely generic statements out of the bible and then plug some given issue into all of them. Technically, sex is a part of “everything,” but then, so is sin. Jordan’s point is that if you plug certain things into the sentence where you placed “sex”, you can arrive at absurd or at least questionable statements.

    The less specific a biblical quote is, and the less context given, the worse the exegesis. This is an example of using really generic verses with no context.

    It’s disturbing to me if you don’t see how it’s problematic to make an article called “Sex according to the bible” and almost none of the verses referenced mention sex.

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      So if someone asks you for an example of an “all things” passage, any answer will be out of bounds? Yes, you could place “sin” in there, but to do so would be wrong!

  3. Mike Francis says:

    Justin, I appreciated this post and benefited from it. Thank you.

  4. Chris says:

    Thank you Justin. Informed, concise and routed in scriptural authority as always.

    The Holy Spirit wrote scripture, so to say that seemingly vague or open verses can not be used for any purpose is to say that God decided to include meaningless verses in the bible. (see 2 Tim 3:16 http://bit.ly/c1xzfc)

    Lets look at 1 Corinthians 10:31 since that example has been brought up. It is not possible to do something sinful to the glory of God. So therefore you could not do homosexual activity to the glory of God. But, inside the bounds of marriage you can have sex to the glory of God. And, you should desire to. You should desire to do all things to the glory of God. I think this even includes reading and commenting on blog posts to the glory of God.

  5. Steve says:

    Justin,

    Thanks for this. Unlike our friends above, I don’t object to your use of Scripture. I think that all these ‘everything’ and ‘all things’ passages are generic but they are presupposing that the things enjoyed are lawful and good.

    But what about the truth that sex is for procreation. I get shocked at how even we as Christians, along with our culture, tend to separate sex from child-rearing. Just a thought.

  6. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Sex is a gift from God. And He provides instructions and commandments alongside this gift.

  7. Sara says:

    Yes, a helpful list. I was also surprised to see no mention of fruitfulness, procreation. Obviously it is the Lord who opens and closes wombs and not every sexual act will result in a baby, but that is one of the clearest biblical aspects of sex. And the beautiful picture of fruitfulness as an aspect of the Christian life, illustrated by a marriage.

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Justin Taylor, PhD


Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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