Why the Biblical view of sex is best

One of the more maligned aspects of Christian morality is the view of sex. Many of the critics simple knock-down stereotypical strawmen, instead of examining the actual Church teachings on sex. Unfortunately, much of the stereotypes have been reinforced by uninformed Christians and their own ignorances of what the Bible actually says. But when examined properly, the Christian view of sex is one that gives even more evidence that Christianity is true and the way believers are called to live their lives is the most beneficial way possible.

Many people, wrongly, assume that Christians hate sex. They believe Christians don’t like sex and that we hold a very low view of it.

However in the Christian view, sex is held in very high esteem. In Christian theology, sex was given as a gift to humans by God. He could have designed human reproduction any way, but he wanted to given humans the gift of pleasure in sex.

In order to kept the pleasure at the highest state possible, He placed boundaries on it. His rules are not there to limit the fun of humans. On the contrary, when we use the gift of sex within the God-ordained boundaries we are able to experience sex in the highest form – the most pleasure, with the least possibility for pain.

Countless studies have been done to evaluate the effects of premarital sex on the success of the marriage. Here are some the evidences that support the Christian view of sex and why it ultimately is the best way:

One study found that 20 years later, men and women who had reported being virgins at age 18 were about 50% less likely to be divorced, had completed one additional year of formal education and had annual incomes about 20% higher than people who were not virgins at age 18. The study also found that women who were virgins at age 18 were half as likely to receive government assistance and more likely to have a positive financial net worth than women who reported having had sex by age 18.

A look at data by the Heritage Foundation found married women who have premarital intercourse are “34 percent more likely to experience marital dissolution” at some point in their marriage. For each year that sex is delayed prior to marriage, the “risk of marital disruption is reduced by about 8 percent.” Women who both premaritally cohabited and had an intimate relationship with a man other than her eventual husband are at a high risk for divorce (166 percent greater than virgins).

Compared with married couples who did not cohabit before marriage, couples who cohabit before marriage are 65 percent more likely to separate and, if separation occurs, only 33 percent as likely to subsequently reconcile.

Research has found that couples who did not engage in sexual activity before marriage report greater sexual fulfillment after marriage

Those who have trial marriages do not have better marriages. Trials, or half-steps, that test whether the relationship works are not successful—in fact, quite the opposite. Research indicates that couples who live together before marriage have significantly lower marital satisfaction than those who do not cohabit.

Other studies have shown that those who wait until marriage to have sex:
• Show higher levels of overall marital satisfaction
• Have a higher overall commitment to marriage as an institution
• Are more likely to see their spouse respects them
• Have a smaller fear of divorce
• Are less restless about their marriage and outside relationships

Those inclined to disagree with this research will most likely pan the sources, but they must acknowledge that it would be very difficult to find a liberal (or even moderate) source willing to publish such data. The findings run contrary to society and many common-held (or hoped for) beliefs.

I don’t report the findings with glee or with a smug satisfaction in the failings of others. I find it sad that so many people (both Christian and non-Christian) choose to attempt to find happiness (sexual and marital) outside of the guidelines that bring the best results.

I know many married and unmarried people (being 26, I still have “connections” to both worlds). None of my friends who are married come up to me and say, “Man, I wished I would have ran around with a few more girls before I got married.” (Even if one was willing to say that to a guy friend, would that say that to their spouse?)

In fact I find the opposite is true. Many of them have told me how much, now that they are married, they regret having sex with everyone except their wife.

Virtually all of them are looking for things to do to avoid the fate of many of our parents – divorce. They don’t want that to happen to them and their wives. Yet by their actions before marriage, they set themselves up for failure.

Violating the God-established standard of waiting until marriage for sex does not automatically make someone a bad person or even destine their marriage for failure. It does, however, increase (even if it is simply statistically) their chances for a divorce and a less satisfying marriage.

The biblical guidelines for sex are not there to hinder the development of people or even limit the fun of the follow, but rather are there to act as the lines in a road – if you stay within those lines you almost asure yourself of reaching your destination safely, but if you venture outside the lines you increase your chances of veering of course and becoming involved in an accident.

I don’t want to see people’s marriage described as accidents (or even worse – wrecks), but even more than me, God desires for us to have fruitful, loving, enjoyable relationships including marriage. These standards are not God-given because they are true, but they are true because they are God-given and we only increase the opportunity to hurt ourselves and others when we “go our own way.”

* I have purposely avoided mentioning the issue of being gay. That is a seperate debate. This one is strictly dealing with the issue of heterosexual sex and the consequences of engaging in that outside of marriage.

This article has 13 comments

  1. Provocative title. For a minute there I thought you were going to slam me for my prudish comments.
    You made the case against pre-marital sex, and we've read about homosexuality and the bible, but what about the details of anal and oral sex? I don't find any scriptural references. Guess that means it is up to the invidual. But can we make any good guesses based on biology or epidemiology? I alluded to such in a previous comment.
    Also, I don't know if I agree entirely with the statement that God requirs boundaries around the use of sex "in order to kept the pleasure at the highest state possible". I mean, I take your point that the pleasure of sex is intended by God for our enjoyment, but the reason for boundaries is really more for our protection. Like all powerful agents (fire, alcohol, knives etc.), if not contained and used properly, it will cause harm. The boundaries are set to protect us and keep us within the intended design of our bodies and souls.
    Also, the intimacy of intercourse is meant as a very personal bonding between two people in love – something unique and special to cement two people into lifelong enjoyment and committment. Diluting the emtional power of this event in marriage by doing it before or outside marriage weakens the marriage bond and the unique emotional intent of sex.

  2. Actually, I wrote this last week, but I have been tweaking it since then and thought now would be a good time to publish it in light of the current debate.
    The pleasure point is a dual point as I said – the boundaries provide "the most pleasure, with the least possibility for pain."
    I also avoided the personal bonding issue because it is hard to "prove" that statistically. I believe that and have seen that through anecdotal evidence, but you can't quote statistics on it.
    As to the prudish comment, barring no clear biblical reference I do think it is a matter of conviction. Some give different text to support different ideas. One biblical argument against your position is the idea of one flesh – if married couples are indeed one flesh then anything they do together as a married couple is okay because they are essentially the same flesh.
    Personally I somewhat disagree with you. While I do think God gave us sex to procreate, I don't think He commanded us to limit it to that use. Again, He could have made it something a lot less pleasureable and something we just did just to have children.
    If you take the view that everything must be for the possibility to have children then you force yourself in a corner that God may not have intended for you to be in. You eliminate all forms of birth control (which many may argue against anyway), but you also remove the use of condoms or even the family planning techniques. If one took that to the strictests level a married couple would only be allowed to have sex when they could produce children – limiting the times a fertile couple could and totally limiting the times a couple who could not have children for whatever reason could.
    I think God gave us sex as something to be enjoyed by married couples in order for them to have a family, but I don't view sex as purly ultilitarian – only to produce offspring. As you said it is a very powerful emotional thing and I believe that regardless of whether it produces children or not.

  3. Aaron loves sex. Seeker doesn't. The undercurrent of this conversation is FANTASTIC!

  4. Actually, my argument is not that all should be done for procreation, but rather, we should not be using our other orifices for things that they are not intended for, specifically the mouth and anus. I would also argue that kissing IS part of the design of the mouth. Manipulation of the genitals with fingers is arguably fine, as I argued.
    I agree that sex should be enjoyed, but I doubt that the anus was meant for sex.
    And I am on the fence about birth control – not only do Catholics have a strong doctrinal argument against it, but there is a growing evangelical discomfort with birth control which we should consider. My wife and I used chemical birth control, but due to how sick it made my wife, we decided to quit. However, there may be moral/spiritual reasons for xians to NOT use birth control.
    One of the principles I think about is that of sowing and reaping. The bible says that we can not expect to sow without reaping. Yet in our society, we continually try to work around that principle. I think the use of things like sugar substitutes is a form of trying to sow without reaping. The most healthy thing is to learn self-control, not put artificial things into the path of our sowing. I know that sounds kinda different, but I wonder if our attempts to not reap via birth control actually just cause us to reap something ELSE, something not so good.

  5. BTW, what did I say to make you think I don't enjoy sex? I just don't enjoy what I consider to be perversions of sex, including anal and oral sex. As a Christian, I have never been comfortable with oral sex. While I leave that up to the individual, I think the argument that anal sex is unnatural is good one, that against oral sex a bit weaker.

  6. Actually, my wife and I do not use birth control for moral reasons – the fact that every form of chemical birth control can cause a fertilized egg to detach from the wall (essentially ending a pregnancy). It is very, very rare with most birth control (rarer in some than others), but it can and does happen.
    There should add some more confusion to the debate – Aaron is more conservative than seeker once again.
    Something else should be added to this debate. Just because we can do something doesn't mean we should do something. Just because husbands and wives are the same flesh does not mean they should do whatever crosses their minds to do. Some things may be painful (emotionally or physically) and one or both of the spouses may have pyschological reasons for not engaging in a type of behavior.

  7. I am only painted as untraconservative, I believe, because I am impassioned and vocal about certain positions, and not as diplomatic as you. Also, I argue on homosexuality more than you.
    You are slightly more conservative than me on many issues, including birth control (well, we're on the same page almost), stem-cell research and abortion, maybe even on music (I doubt you listen to killswitch engage, but i bet you don't care if i listen ;).
    However, I'll stand by my argument that anal and oral sex may not be proper for xians (well, for anyone, but non-xians are probably not at the point of refinement in their spiritual walk to consider such things). Oops, did I write that out loud? Heh. Probably it doesn't matter that much. What does matter is what is specifically prohibited in scripture.

  8. I keep forgetting… was the point of the biblical story of the man who marries his dead brother's wife and "spills his seed" when he is with her that you should or should not use birth control when nailing your brother's wife?
    ;)

  9. Lonnie, now you deserve a b*tch slap.

  10. Quote: "Actually, my wife and I do not use birth control for moral reasons – the fact that every form of chemical birth control can cause a fertilized egg to detach from the wall (essentially ending a pregnancy). It is very, very rare with most birth control (rarer in some than others), but it can and does happen."
    Well, I'm not sure that the scientific evidence is with you there. Yes, abortions happen with the Pill but it has not been proven to happen at a rate significantly higher than natural abortions.
    But if you prefer the better "safe than sorry" ethical doctrine then a condom with a latex compatible spermicide works almost as well as the pill.
    And EL, situation with between Onan and his brother's widow is actually a place of disagreement between protestants and Catholics. I think the Protestant position is better because 1. you shouldn't base entire doctrine on one passage and 2. especally one where the what the nature of the sin actually was is rather unclear. Personally, I think the sin was Onan refusal to obey God's direct command to Onan to "Go in to your bother's wife and marry her, and raise up an heir to your brother." So it wasn't about Onan's act of coitus interruptus which wouldn't have done anything in terms of contraception and God knew that so the logical interpetation was it was the direct disobedience to God's direct and personal order to Onan to continue Er's line that got him killed.
    The point was God know what we do in in private and we can't hide sin from God because He is Sovereigh. Onan's sin was his insolent mockery of God and lack of moral integrity.
    The valuable lesson is clear. One should obey God's law and fullfill thier moral obligation and not just try to make it look like you are a moral person when you know you are actually very immoral in private or in "secret."
    One doesn't have to understand the practical implications of this moral principle to our modern age. The whole Jack Abramoff scandal is an example of what happens when Onan's example in followed instead of God's law.
    Once again the wisdom of the primative Brooze Agers strikes again…(God, I love Bible stories…)

  11. Septeus,
    Thanks for the comment. This was something that we talked with my wife's doctor about. They have warnings on all the birth control (pill, ring, etc.). So she asked him about it, if there was any that didn't pose that risk. He told us no, again that it was very miniscule with some of the options but that it could happen with any chemical birth control.
    Does that mean that I equate someone taking birth control with someone who has an abortion? No, I don't think so, but for my wife she didn't want any chance of it happening unnaturally.
    I totally agree with you on Onan. To bring a whole doctrine out of that is crazy. To me it is similar to the Mormon doctrine of baptizing the dead.

  12. Mormons baptize dead Jews too – how messed up is that? "Oh well, we think you're secretly Mormon or something, so now you are. According to us. And you have no choice in the matter."
    Mormons…we ought to build a wall around Utah.