Does the Bible Teach That Sexual Relations Are Sinful?

The traditional parent-child discussion on sex is often referred to as the birds and the bees. I had a think about this and have no idea what the birds and the bees have to do with human sexuality; if anything, they make the discussion much more complicated. But one thing that did strike me while pondering this most worthwhile conundrum was that an animal’s sexual activities are never sinful. For example, if you’ve got a cat and it comes home pregnant, you don’t condemn it for doing something sinful.

But humans? For humans it’s different. We can sin – that is, we can fall short of God’s standards – and one way we can do this is through improper sexual relations.

So what does the Bible teach about this? Let’s consider three verses that cover this subject: two that show how sexual relations are to be used acceptably and one sinfully.

First let’s consider God’s blessing at Genesis 1:28

“Further, God blessed them, and God said to them: “Be fruitful and become many, fill the earth and subdue it,”

Fulfilling this divine command would require that Adam and Eve have sexual relations, wouldn’t it? Doing so would not be sinful but would be in harmony with God’s purpose for the populating of the earth. Jehovah reiterated this when Noah survived the flood and, once more, it’s nice to see that He referred to populating the earth as a blessing.

So procreation for a husband and his wife is not sinful. What about recreational sex?

1 Corinthians 7:2-5 “because of the prevalence of sexual immorality,* let each man have his own wife and each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband give to his wife her due, and let the wife also do likewise to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but her husband does; likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but his wife does. 5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent for an appointed time, so that you may devote time to prayer and may come together again, in order that Satan may not keep tempting you for your lack of self-control.”

Sexual relations between a husband and wife are completely appropriate and an important part of the relationship. There is no mention of baby-making here, just the generous sharing of one’s body with the other.

What sex is sinful, then? Well, the scripture in Corinthians contrasted proper sexual relations between a husband and his wife with sexual immorality, that is, intercourse involving parties who are not scripturally married to each other. But is sexual immorality really sinful? Or is it just an acceptable alternative? Aren’t our bodies ours to use as we see fit?

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 For this is the will of God, that you should be holy and abstain from sexual immorality. 4 Each one of you should know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not with greedy, uncontrolled sexual passion like the nations have that do not know God. 6 No one should go beyond proper limits and take advantage of his brother in this matter, because Jehovah exacts punishment for all these things, just as we told you previously and also strongly warned you. 7 For God has called us, not for uncleanness, but for holiness. 8 So, then, the man who disregards this is disregarding, not man, but God, who gives you his holy spirit.

While we can do what we want with our bodies, sexual immorality has consequences; it affects our standing with God. Jehovah says that sex involving parties who are not scripturally married to each other does not meet his approval; in other words, sexual immorality is sinful.

So, does the Bible teach that sexual relations are sinful? As we often find, the Bible’s view is clear, candid and refreshingly balanced and straight-forward. God’s arrangement is that a man and a woman married to each other can have sex to produce children and just for fun. Unlike the birds and the bees, though, the Bible teaches that any other sexual relationship is sinful.

rs p. 367 ¶1–p. 368 ¶2

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