Tag Archives: sex

Is It Biblical to Use Birth Control?

The Bible neither advocates nor condemns the use of birth control because it was written long before modern methods of contraception were developed. Consequently, the Bible’s silence cannot be used to argue for or against birth control’s use.

Like many issues in life, God seems to leave it up to us to decide how to honor Him in this matter. God could have plainly stated: “All families must have five children; no more, and no less.” That would have ended the issue. But He chose not to, because He allows for personal choice here. But the freedom to choose necessitates wisdom. Wise couples will take into consideration their emotional, medical, and financial limitations as they seek God’s wisdom when having children.

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Why is it Important Not to Treat Sexual Intimacy Casually?

God intended sexual intimacy to mold a man and a woman physically, emotionally, and spiritually into “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Seeking a “one-flesh relationship” outside of a long-term, committed relationship is like a long-distance runner substituting performance-enhancing drugs for discipline and training or a graduate student hiring someone to write his/her master’s thesis.

Because we are not just animals, the human value of sexual experience is derived mostly from spiritual and emotional intimacy. Casual sexual experiences actually make it harder for people to yoke genuine intimacy with sexual arousal. This is why ordinary married people usually have a more deeply satisfying and long-lasting relationship than promiscuous celebrities who look spectacularly attractive and desirable.

We have fallen far from God’s plan for sexual intimacy. Contraception now allows the wholesale separation of sex from conception, birthing, parenting, and family bonding. Cultural changes have also identified pornography, promiscuity, and sexual relativism with sexual liberation. Consequently, we see unprecedented rates of divorce, family instability, and social problems.

Rather than experimenting with sexual experiences that scar and break hearts, Christians—whether single or married—should focus on establishing and nurturing genuine friendship and intimacy, the kind that will stand them in good stead for a lifetime.

 

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Is Masturbation Wrong?

The fact that the Bible doesn’t specifically mention masturbation implies that we should approach this topic with sensitivity and caution. Most teenagers and single adults face an enormous struggle coming to terms with their sexual longings. Often the individuals who are most conscientious about their sexual feelings are the ones most likely to be tormented by unrealistic guilt. If we add to Scripture and weigh them down with even more unwarranted guilt, we become like the Pharisees and their legal experts. To protect holy principles, they added their own laws to Moses — like fences around fences — and in the process they heaped on others burdens that they themselves were not willing or able to bear (Luke 11:46).

If we are honest, each of us will acknowledge the difficulty of keeping sexually pure in a permissive and sexually obsessed culture. We struggle to avoid either of two extremes. We must not surrender to the hedonistic spirit of the age, but we also want to avoid the spirit of asceticism and proud self-denial that has often marred the history of Christianity. Any belief that our sexual desires and feelings are evil in themselves is based in the Gnostic1 denial of the goodness of the body and the natural world, not in the teachings of Scripture (1 Timothy 3:1-3).

On the other hand, we can’t entirely discount the significance of habitual masturbation as a moral issue simply because it isn’t mentioned in Scripture. One doesn’t speak of “habitual” eating or “habitual” sleeping unless someone is eating or sleeping much more than they should. The fact that you realize you are caught up in a cycle of habitual behavior implies that you know that something is wrong.

All of life’s pleasures have an appropriate context. When we eat entirely for pleasure, we become flabby and unhealthy. When we sleep much more than is needed for rest and bodily health, we become mentally and physically ill. Any misuse of legitimate pleasure has bad consequences.

The purpose of sexual pleasure is to nurture intimacy and unity between a husband and wife (Genesis 2:24 ; Mark 10:6-8 ; Ephesians 5:28-32). Sexual desire is related to our deepest longings, our profoundest potential for intimacy and joy. It is like a fire. In the right circumstances a fire provides warmth, light, and food. In the wrong place it has enormous capacity for destruction.

The Bible doesn’t provide a detailed discussion of human sexual issues. It tends to refer to sexual matters indirectly and with considerable delicacy. For example, even the term sex isn’t used in the Bible, and the male and female sexual organs are referred to only indirectly, as is the act of intercourse. Even such a serious issue as pedophilia isn’t mentioned specifically. It’s likely, therefore, that although it isn’t mentioned specifically in Scripture, habitual masturbation would be included under the categories of “lasciviousness,” “impurity,” and “uncleanness” (e.g. Leviticus 15:16-17 ; Mark 7:20-22 ; 2 Corinthians 12:21 ; Galatians 5:19 ; Ephesians 5:3,5 ; Colossians 3:5).2

What are some of the illegitimate uses of sexual pleasure that we should be on guard against?

Sexual pleasure shouldn’t serve merely as a “pressure valve” for the release of physical and emotional tension. There are more constructive, loving ways to release — and even to harness — our physical and emotional tension.

Sexual pleasure shouldn’t be fed by sinful fantasy. Jesus made it clear that sexual sin isn’t limited to physical act. Sin occurs equally in fantasy and imagination. There is a healthy imagination that leads to actions that honor one another, and a self-absorbed imagination that inclines us to use others for our own pleasure (Matthew 5:27-30; 15:19). Sexual fantasy can be a destructive expression of rage, revenge, or lust. Such unhealthy fantasies can scar and harden our hearts even if they aren’t carried out in the real world.

Sexual pleasure should never be a way we demand that God satisfy us immediately, on our terms. We should never expect sexual pleasure to compensate for our loneliness, disappointment, powerlessness, or sense of rejection. If we use it for these reasons, it is illegitimate.

Followers of Christ have been given freedom and forgiveness to love and honor one another, but not to be enslaved again to the flesh (Romans 6:16). We have been given God’s Spirit and wisdom so that we can understand that our bodies make good servants — and cruel masters.

  1. . Gnostics represented a wide range of beliefs, but they universally believed that a certain gnosis (wisdom) could be attained that is far more important than “mere obedience” to God’s moral law. Paul’s strong words in 1 Corinthians 6:13-20 were written in response to a Gnostic heresy that claimed one could sin “in the body” without sinning “in the spirit.” The Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) were also written largely to counter an early form of Gnosticism, as were a number of other sections of the New Testament.
    Gnostics tended to deny the goodness of the material world and of physical life. They glorified the spirit while maintaining that the body was evil and the source of every kind of corruption. If you are interested in Gnostic beliefs, it would be well worth your time to read about Gnosticism in a good Church History text, like A History Of Christianity by Kenneth Scott Latourette, or A History Of The Christian Church by Williston Walker. Back To Article
  2. Leviticus 15:16-17 makes it clear that masturbation would have been considered “unclean” under Old Testament Law. On page 12 of his highly regarded book, Homosexuality And The Politics Of Truth, Dr. Jeffrey Satinover comments:

    On the basis of the Pentateuch, the Talmud treats all sexual activity outside of marital relations, including masturbation, unequivocally as sins, though it makes careful distinctions concerning their varying severity.Back To Article

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Is It Right for a Husband and Wife to View Pornographic Videos?

We live in a sexually charged culture where some would have us believe that it is acceptable and appropriate for a husband and wife to view pornographic videos. Most in this camp contend that couples watching tapes of other couples having sex can re-ignite dwindling passion and “spice up” a dull sex life.

Although some “training videos” may contain some practical information about the physical realities of sex, they cross a moral line by communicating that information with demonstrations of couples engaged in sexual activities. The strong sexual imagery in the Bible’s Song of Solomon illustrates God’s intention for a husband and wife to take great pleasure in viewing and touching each other’s bodies. Outside of marriage, however, such behavior is wrong. And it is wrong to view such an intimate act under the pretense of “sex education.”

Watching others (regardless of whether or not they are married) demonstrate various elements of the sexual act defiles and contaminates “the marriage bed” ( Hebrews 13:4 ). It’s one thing to read educational literature that objectively describes the various factors involved in the sex act. Thousands of engaged and married couples have benefited from reading books like Intended For Pleasure by Ed and Joy Wheat. But it’s another thing to view taped episodes of couples engaged in various forms of sexual activity. Common sense itself tells us that there is little, if any, objectivity in such “educational” voyeurism.

Whether it be one of the thousands of X-rated videos made each year, or one marketed as a “sex training” video, watching a tape of another man and woman having sexual intercourse ruins a married couple’s sex life. It is a prime example of something that may seem good, but is actually “deadly” ( Proverbs 14:12 ). Watching a videotape of another couple having sexual intercourse may initially inflame the interests and passions of the viewing couple. But in the end it leaves them with many misconceptions about sex that lead to false expectations, disappointment, self-doubt, and resentment.

Pornographic videos create unrealistic expectations about the frequency of sex, the pleasure of specific sexual acts, and the nature of a man’s and a woman’s sexual arousal and need for physical intimacy. Generally, they portray a woman as a sexual object that a man can quickly and easily “turn on” at his discretion. Furthermore, the participants are often digitally, cosmetically, or surgically enhanced, giving a false impression of what a man’s or a woman’s body should look like.

A husband and wife can’t possibly begin to measure up to the bedroom athletes (performers) they see on the screen, but there is an inherent pressure to do just that. Whether it’s acknowledged or not, a husband and wife who view sexually graphic scenes feel a strong pull to look like the actors and to imitate what they do. And when they can’t, many feel inadequate. Some feel resentful. A husband can ruin his relationship with his wife by coercing her into doing things that make her feel uncomfortable and cheap. If she refuses, she tends to feel guilty. If she concedes, she feels used, angry, and dirty.

Couples who have allowed pornography into the bedroom have learned that it keeps them constantly “charged up” looking for a sexual outlet. Sex is proper and normal in marriage, but it is not the dominant need. It is legitimately pleasurable, but people have a tendency to abuse everything pleasurable through inordinate indulgence ( Ephesians 4:19 ). Inordinate demands for physical intimacy and sexual stimuli are without doubt one of the most common killers of the emotional and spiritual intimacy that are the core of every good marriage. G. K. Chesterton wisely saw the end of such behavior: “Pride makes a man a devil; but lust makes him a machine.” Machines do not have good marriages.

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Why Is Dressing Modestly Important?

Is dressing modestly just an outdated cultural standard from the 50s? Turn on the television, go to the movies, or flip through the pages of just about any magazine and it appears that our society has lost the value of modesty. People dress in clothing and styles that are designed to reveal and to bring considerable attention to their bodies.

To suggest that we need to dress with modesty is often looked on as “restraining” or “limiting our freedom.” This argument, however, overlooks the personal rewards of living and dressing modestly.

Modesty in dress sends a message of purity and honor. It puts an emphasis on and values the inner person over outward attractiveness. It says that a person is worth far more than what meets the eye. There is a depth of character that rises above beauty or charm. When we dress modestly, we are saying that we posses inner qualities for which we should gain appropriate attention and value from others.

When we choose to dress in a provocative way, we send a message that we believe our value comes from our looks rather than from our heart. Skimpy clothing says that our worth is in our sex appeal. This is a weak foundation to build self-esteem or self-worth. What happens when we age and the wrinkles start showing? Where will the sense of value and worth come from then? For various reasons (e.g. past sexual abuse, low self-esteem) some believe that their worth comes from how good they look and how many heads they can turn. But that can leave a person feeling empty and alone. All of us, ultimately, want to be pursued and loved deeply because of our hearts and minds, not for our bodies. Dressing in a showy fashion puts the focus on our outward appearance, not on our heart.

The Bible places a high priority on modesty. In 1 Timothy 2:9 , for example, it teaches that Christian women are to dress modestly. They are to focus on their inner attractiveness rather than being overly concerned about outward appearance. This does not mean that they shouldn’t take care of themselves, look their best, and enjoy their beauty. It means that they should not use their God-given beauty for selfish, self-centered reasons, like competing with other women or gaining the lustful attention of men.

Modesty demonstrates self-control, which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit ( Galatians 5:22-23 ). Those who understand the principles of modesty acknowledge human sexuality and the tendency toward self-promotion. But they control those inclinations by choosing to express themselves with humility. Immodesty, on the other hand, can create a false sense of security and self-esteem because it puts too much emphasis on outward appearance.

It can be difficult to maintain modesty when we think of it in terms of it being “limiting.” But if we consider the personal rewards of modesty — self-respect, honor, and self-control — the price is too high not to be modest.

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