Christians like sex, just like everybody else.
It’s okay, you can admit it.
Strangely, one of the most fundamental aspects of God’s creation is also the most misunderstood and taboo subjects in all of Christian culture, despite the fact that the Bible is unabashed and natural about sexual activity—so natural, in fact, that a careless reader might miss its mentions of sex entirely.
That’s a problem. So many Christians have no idea what the Bible actually says about sex. God’s view of human sexuality is a topic few Christians bring up, and fewer actively endeavor to learn more about. But if we’re to live by God’s standards, and simultaneously enjoy our lives to the fullest, we must learn.
Christians need to lift sex out of the dark realm of taboo and place it, as a subject, into the light. Your understanding of sexuality shouldn’t just be about what you can’t do—it should also be about the joys of what you can. Both are equally important.
Read on to find out everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Christianity and sex so that you can know both the limits and the possibilities of this innate part of being human.
How the Bible Defines Sex
Before we get into the “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots” of Christian sexuality, we need to see how scripture defines sex.
First, sex is natural. When God created humans, “male and female,” He considered His creations to be “very good,” according to Genesis 1:27, 31. This means that they were good in their totality—sex drive and all.
Second, sex is relational—it brings two people together on both a physical and emotional level. This counts, to some degree, for even the most casual encounter. This is because it takes down our natural barriers—both in terms of clothes and emotional vulnerability. To have sex, a couple must enter into this state of vulnerability, which naturally encourages an emotional bond. Genesis 2:24 describes marriage as two individuals becoming “one flesh,” feeling “no shame” at being “naked”—both emotionally and physically.
Finally, sex is pleasurable. Just look at Song of Solomon. In 1:2, we see “May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine.” This verse isn’t depicting sex as a chore, or as the mere vehicle for procreation. This entire book, in fact, is testament to the pleasures of sexual intimacy.
Now that we’ve got a few definitions down let’s take a look at what we most commonly hear about sex in the Church—the “shalt nots.”
All About Sexual Sin
Scripture does give some clear guidelines about sex. Sexual intercourse should take place within the context of a loving commitment. This is most likely to be marriage, although there are no verses specifically forbidding sex between two unmarried people.
Paul, in Thessalonians 4:3-5, does condemn casually sleeping around. Christ condemns adultery throughout the Gospels. Several books of the New Testament forbid “illicit sexual intercourse,” which is translated from the Greek word, “porneia,” which refers to any sexual contact outside of monogamous marriage.
And so, from all this, we can deduce the rules: marriage should be monogamous, and Christians shouldn’t casually have sex outside of it.
There’s good reason for this—God isn’t being a killjoy. Every rule God puts into place is there for our benefit.
Because sex is relational, casually engaging in it can bring some serious emotional pain. Essentially, you’re making yourself vulnerable to someone who hasn’t committed themselves to taking care of you while you’re vulnerable.
That’s a recipe for hurt, and we haven’t even mentioned other risks, such as pregnancy and disease. The trust and closeness of a real relationship is the safest place for sexual intimacy to be had.
But now that we’ve taken a look at sexual sin, let’s move on to something lighter: what the Bible says about the joys of sex.
All About Sexual Joy
When most people think about Christianity and sex, they think of those dour, dark-cloaked Puritans, and how they hated sex and fun and anything happy. But here’s a tip: even the Puritans weren’t all that puritanical about sex.
In fact, they were pretty horrified at the prevalent Catholic notion that virginity was best. Puritan Minister John Cotton once wrote that “Women are creatures without which there is no comfortable living for man.” Other Puritan writers recognized the “human necessity” of sexual intimacy, and celebrated it within the context of marriage.
It’s strange to think, but many of today’s Christians are far more uptight about sex than the 17th-century Puritans. This is because of an obsessive focus on sexual sin—any time sex is mentioned, it’s usually mentioned in terms of what Christians can’t or shouldn’t do.
But look at this verse from Proverbs 5:18: “And may you rejoice with the wife of your youth…Let her breasts satisfy you at all times. May you be captivated by her love constantly.”
That’s passionate. That’s romantic and sexy and joyous. Sex naturally gives people comfort, intimacy, and physical pleasure, and it’s all right there in the Bible.
In fact, I Corinthians 7:5 outright encourages intimacy, saying "…do not refuse these [sexual] rights to each other. The only exception to this rule would be the agreement of both husband and wife to refrain from the rights of marriage for a limited time, so that they can give themselves more completely to prayer.”
Associating sexual intimacy with shame and secrecy only denigrates this blessing, so don’t be afraid to talk about it, learn about it, and most of all, enjoy it within a context that isn’t harmful.
Sexuality is not inherently sinful. It is an aspect of humanity that leaves us incredibly vulnerable, and so God has handed down a few guidelines to keep us safe and happy.
But Christians should focus on more than the guidelines—they should focus, too, on the gift, itself. Being willing to talk about sex in a positive way removes the stigma of shame that plagues many Christians. Believers across the world struggle with sexual identity, frustration, and brokenness—all issues that need to be addressed rather than repressed.
If God called His creation “very good,” so should we.