Many Christians are uncomfortable talking about sex. Growing up, we were taught that having sex is “wrong," talking about sex is "dirty,” and to refrain from it until marriage. This is one of the big reasons why having conversations about sex even into adulthood can be difficult. However, sex is not dirty. In fact, we learn from turning to Scripture that it is one of God's many gifts. In the Old Testament, the term for sexual intercourse was “to know” a husband or a wife. The most intimate knowledge of a partner comes through this. There is no place in Scripture that teaches that sex is a sin; however, the Bible condemns the wrong use of sex.
In the context of marriage, God says it’s ok to satisfy our partner’s sexual needs. In fact, He encourages it. The Bible describes the pleasure that husbands find in marriage with these words: “Rejoice with the wife of your youth….Let her own her breasts intoxicate you at all times. With her love may you be in an ecstasy constantly” (Proverbs 5:18, 19). This doesn’t mean that wives are excluded from pleasure in their marriage with their husbands. God also intends for wives to enjoy sex. The Bible says that husbands and wives should satisfy each other’s sexual needs: “Let the husband give to his wife her due, and let the wife also do likewise to her husband” (1 Corinthians 7:3).
Sex is a reflection of the loving goodness of God. God created sex. God made our bodies in a special way with male and female parts and pleasures. When our first parents consummated their covenant, God was not shocked or horrified, because He created our bodies for sex. The reason that sex is fun, wonderful and pleasurable is because it is the reflection of the loving goodness of God who created it as gift for us to steward and to enjoy: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame” (Genesis 2:24-25).
God does not want sex to be done in a way that there is any shame. Proverbs 5:18-23 calls to question a man’s lust of another man’s wife: “Why, my son, bed intoxicated with another man’s wife? Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman? For your ways are in full view of the LORD, and He examines all your paths. The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast. For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly” (Proverbs 5:20-23). Many people experience shame in regards to sex. The Bible reminds us that sex should be done in such a way that there is no shame. However, sometimes shame is a gift from God in response to our sexual sin and sometimes it is the devastating feeling we bear because we have been sexually sinned against. Other times, we have not sinned or been sinned against but feel shame because we have wrong thinking and feelings about sex in general, or a sex act in particular.
God wants us to reserve sex for marriage, not because it’s bad or dirty in His eyes, but because it’s special and sacred in His eyes. To take it outside of marriage violates what sex is in the context of marriage. This is why writers of Scripture so often compare idolatry to the sin of fornication or adultery. It also explains why they use sexual purity and faithfulness between spouses as an image of our relationship with God (e.g. in Song of Solomon, the Book of Hosea and the 16th chapter of Ezekiel).
God also denounces sexual immorality.In fact, sexual immorality is denounced in about 25 passages in the New Testament. Jesus said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:20-23). The apostle Paul also said to flee from sexual immorality. All other sins people commit are outside their bodies but those who sin sexually sin against their own bodies.
While God wants us to avoid sexual sin, no sexual sin is beyond God’s forgiveness. Thankfully, He doesn’t withhold forgiveness or grace from those who ask for it. 1 John 1:9 promises that if you confess your sins, that He is faithful to forgive and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. This includes all sin, and does not exclude sexual sin. Psalm 103:12 also promises, “As far as the easy is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” In addition to forgiveness, God wants you to embrace His grace that will help you embrace the promises He has for you with joy.