Christians have a very positive view of sex. The Bible begins with the ancient story of Adam and Eve. In it a man and woman enjoy their naked bodies and God takes delight in them having sex. Another book of the Bible, called Song of Songs, is a poem that unashamedly puts sex at the heart of romance.
God’s plan for this planet is that life should flourish and reproduce. Birds have magnificent plumage so that other birds find them irresistible to breed with. Flowers have scent and colour to attract what they need to reproduce themselves. Humans are the biggest beneficiaries of all from God’s plan because he made sex so delectable.
Intimacy is God’s gift to humans – a good and rich gift. God has placed sex in the world so that human life should emerge as the climax of all his creative activity. Love drove the plan. God sought someone to cascade love on.
Because Christians believe that love drives the process through which God has brought about human existence, they hold that love is the finest setting for sex. And because the best setting for a child to be brought into the world is to loving and committed parents, Christians have always urged people to see marriage as the best context for sex. Many would hold it to be the only context. The view that marriage is the right context for sex struggles to retain credibility. It is ignored by young people outside the Christian community and a formidable challenge for young people inside the Christian community.
Because of this, the Bible’s description of sex as a committed and joyful way of bringing pleasure has been overshadowed by the impression that it is something with which Christians are ill-at-ease. Most Christians would like to affirm the goodness of sex, with its giving and receiving, its healing and enriching.
In contrast to the surrounding culture they also value the goodness of a celibate life. Jesus himself was celibate, and those who do not have sex because of choice, age or lack of opportunity open themselves to full and enjoyable lives.
Christians’ dismay at the way sex can be debased by pornography, violation or paedophilia is something shared by many outside the church as well. Their concern would have a greater impact if some Christians in positions of authority had not themselves offended.
God, gracious as he is, continues to make sex utterly compelling and pours his love into every new life that results from it.
What the Bible says about it
An extract from the Bible:
Your lips cover me with kisses;
your love is better than wine …
No woman could help loving you.
Take me with you, and we’ll run away;
be my king and take me to your room.
We will be happy together,
drink deep, and lose ourselves in love.
Where to find it:
Song of Songs 1:2-4
About these words:
Song of Songs is a series of highly-charged love songs between a woman and a man. It was written several centuries before Jesus, and he would have known it well.
And they said…
Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury:
Christian teaching about sex is not a set of isolated prohibitions; it is an integral part of what the Bible has to say about living in such a way that our lives communicate the character of God. Marriage has a unique place because it speaks of an absolute faithfulness.
William Temple Gairdner, clergyman who spent most of his life in Egypt, 1873-1928. A prayer for his future wife Margaret Mitchell:
That I may come near to her, draw me nearer to thee than her. That I may know her, make me to know thee more than her. That I may love her with the perfect love of a perfectly whole heart, cause me to love thee more than her and most of all. Amen. Amen.
That nothing may be between me and her, be thou between us, every moment. That we may be constantly together, draw us into separate loneliness with thyself. And when we meet breast to breast, my God, let it be on thine own. Amen. Amen.
Malcolm Muggeridge, journalist, 1903-1990:
Sex is the mysticism of materialism and the only possible religion in a materialistic society.