What Does The Bible Say About Sex? (4 surprising truths about sex in the Bible)

What does the Bible say about sex?

That can be a loaded question… it’s one of the most searched for and sought after questions on the internet. Yet despite the amount of interest in the question, much of what you will find is not based out of the Bible.

The reality is many search for answers to back up what they already believe or to justify what they want to do. 

So I want to take a look at sex in the Bible and see what it really says and how it applies to our lives today. 

Disclaimer About What The Bible Says About Sex 

But before we can dive into what the Bible says about sex we need to be on the same page. 

We will be looking at this topic from a Biblical point of view. We will obviously disagree if that is not where you are coming from. That’s okay. 

If you are not following Jesus, what the Bible says about sex isn’t really a question that should concern you. Instead you should wrestle through who Jesus is, what Jesus did, and what impact that holds for you. That comes first. 

I say that because many Christians try to force a Christian sexual ethic upon non-Christians. Not only is that ineffective, I don’t think that’s what the Bible teaches. If you aren’t following Jesus then these standards shouldn’t be forced upon you. 

But, if you are following Jesus then the topic of sex in the Bible should be of high importance to you. After all, when you say you are following Jesus you are submitting to his kingship. Therefore, you should listen to what he says. 

So, if you are following Jesus and find yourself in disagreement with what I am writing, keep in mind I’m simply pointing to what is in the Bible. Take it up with God. Study what the Bible says. Our beliefs should be rooted in something solid and not in what we think is right. 

What Does The Bible Say About Sex 

Alright, what does the Bible say about sex? Quite a lot actually. 

In fact, there’s too many Bible verses about sex to look at each individually in this blog post. Rather than diving into each individual verse we are going to look at the larger themes that are found in the Bible. And then we will look at how we can apply this to our lives today. 

If you want to read through each of the verses you can find them here: 100 Bible Verses About Sex

Bible Verses About Sex

We often view the Bible as a clean and family-friendly book. And don’t get me wrong, the Bible has incredible truth for ALL ages. But there are also some very disturbing and sexually explicit passages as well. 

Take Song of Solomon for example. Today we read this book as a cute romantic relationship between two lovers. But this is no PG encounter; it’s an explicit picture with sexually charged imagery. We’ve soften much of it in modern English translations. But in the original Hebrew it’s so explicit that the Jews didn’t let their kids read it until they became adults.

In Song of Solomon 5:14, for example, most translations simply state, “his body is polished ivory,” which really isn’t a great translation. What the wife is doing in this passage is comparing an elephant tusk to her husband’s… you know… in other words, she is saying he is WELL endowed. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg; this book is full of sexually charged imagery between this couple. 

This is what is surprising to some that sex in the Bible is often talked about as a beautiful gift from God when in the confines of marriage (Proverbs 5:18-19). 

Now, my guess is when you think about what the Bible says about sex you likely think about the rules, boundaries, and guidelines. Such as these: 

  • In Genesis 1:28 we see from the beginning the command to be fruitful and multiply. 
  • Genesis 2:24 shows that sex was God’s idea and creation. 
  • Leviticus 18 gives a long list of rules regarding sex, including Leviticus 18:7 which seems like something that shouldn’t need to be said. 
  • In 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 Paul tells husbands and wives to prioritize sex. 
  • A chapter prior in 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Paul tells us to flee from sexual immorality. 
  • Jesus emphasizes the seriousness of lust in Matthew 5:28. 
  • Jesus also emphasizes the Old Testament teachings on sex/marriage in Mark 10:6-9. 

Those are the parts that come to mind when we think of the Bible verses about sex … but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s some pretty disturbing stories involving sex in the Bible that we often just ignore. For example: 

  • Lot has drunken sex with his daughters… Eww… (Genesis 19:30-32). 
  • In Genesis 38:8-9 Onan disobeys God by “waste the semen on the ground”… I’ll let you figure out what that is implying. 
  • Judges 13-16 is one of my favorite stories of a sex-crazed maniac that goes around killing people (read more here).
  • Ezekiel 23:20 is just a crazy verse that compares Israel’s actions to lusting over a donkey’s genitals (read more here).
  • Even the man after God’s own heart commits adultery (2 Samuel 11) and then covers up the illegitimate child with murder. And just to be clear this was David’s doing; Bathsheba most likely had little to no say in the sex or murder. 
  • The New Testament gets in on the action too. A woman CAUGHT IN THE ACT of adultery is brought to Jesus (John 8:1-11). Literally caught in the act and probably still naked. 
  • Paul has to remind people in his churches that sleeping with your father’s wife is a bad idea (1 Corinthians 5:1)… Seriously, some people… 

Although the Bible shares stories of some pretty extreme sexual misconduct, that doesn’t mean it condones it. Rather it is regularly condemned. 

And we could go on… but I think the point’s been made. Sex in the Bible is a very common topic. And not just about the good of sex and the rules of sex, but also it tells stories about how sex is used and abused. The Bible doesn’t shy away; it talks openly and in such detail that would shock most Christians. 

4 Truths From Sex In The Bible 

So, what does all this mean? I want to take what we saw above and distill it into practical truths for us today. 

1. Sex Is A Good Gift

The church has often portrayed sex as a dirty act. It places the spotlight on abstinence and the avoidance of sexual sin. Although not (always) intentional, this leaves sex to be viewed as dirty and shameful.

I think this approach is backwards. We should be focusing on the goodness of God’s plan for sex. It’s a gift that should be honored, cherished, and enjoyed. 

Largely this focus has been brought about by the purity movement. While good-intentioned, they took the focus of the goodness of sex and placed it on the avoidance of sex. 

Now, this does’t mean that any expression of sex is good. We’ll look at the rules in a minute. But the Bible is clear, sex is a good, God-created and ordained act. The church should be known for portraying sex as a good thing (in the right context) rather than something to be avoided.

Great resource: For Couples Only by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn

2. Singleness and Celibacy Are Also Good (and a gift)

We need to hold these first two points in tension. While sex is a good gift, so is singleness. Sex is not the end-all be-all as culture makes it out to be. It’s not what makes you human, and it’s not needed to be complete. The reality is while sex is good, it’s not what we often build it up to be in our culture.

You can live without sex. Not only that, you can thrive and live fully while being celibate. Several key characters in the Bible were single and celibate. And Paul talks about at great length the benefits of not being married (1 Corinthians 7). 

So many people today define themselves by their sexuality. For followers of Jesus that’s not who they are. The Bible defines you by who made you, whose image you bear. 

Sex is good, but it’s not ultimate. Singleness and celibacy are also good. They are all precious gifts that we should use and enjoy.

You might also like: 10 Surprising Modern Day Idols (how to identify idol worship in your life)

3. Sex Is Not Just Physical

Most in our culture see sex as a physical act. And that’s certainly an element. However sex in the Bible is shown as much more than just physical; it has emotional AND spiritual elements to it. 

For the most part it’s easy for us to buy into the idea that sex is emotional. We get that, it makes sense. But sex is also spiritual. 

That’s why in Genesis 2:24 we are told that husband and wife become one flesh. In the New Testament Jesus and Paul quote that verse and expound upon the spiritual nature of sex. 

Sex is not just a physical act, it’s a spiritual mingling in which two people become one.

When you reduce sex to just a physical act it’s easy to argue why you should be able to sleep with whoever you want. But the reason the Bible gives guidelines for who we sleep with is precisely because it’s not just physical. There’s something going on that we cannot fully see or understand. 

For a great resource check out: The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Marriage, Sex, and Redemption

4. Sex Has Rules (for our protection)

We tend to think of rules as restrictive, they keep us from doing what we want. But in reality rules tend to be good for us. 

Think of a parent, every good and loving parent gives their children rules. A parent that gives their kids no rules is not loving. 

Rules keep children safe, healthy, and help them develop. But for some reason we fail to take that same reasoning to God. We think a loving God should let us do what we want, what we think is best. A good God should have no rules. 

God gives us rules because he loves us. Not to kill our joy and end our fun, but rather to protect us, to keep us healthy, and to help us grow into who we are created to be. 

Sex has rules. Why? Because God loves us and wants what’s best for us. After all he created us and sex, therefore he should know how it’s best used. 

Increasingly, many Christians have reasoned their way to a belief that it doesn’t really matter who you sleep with. It’s not a big deal. The problem is when we do that we are acting as if we know more than God. 

Is it possible that God can see and understand things that you cannot? Is it possible that that rule that seems so archaic and prohibitive is actually for your good? 

We are finite. God is infinite. As followers of Jesus we are called to submit to what he says is the correct way to live because we believe he has our best interests in mind. Even when it doesn’t make sense to us. 

So yes, sex has rules. But probably not as many as you think… 

The Bible clearly and consistently says sex is reserved for marriage. Anything outside of that is going against what God says is good.

Now, within the confines of marriage there are few, if any, rules surrounding sex. As long as the husband and wife are both consenting and no third party is involved (physically or virtually) then more or less anything goes. Some people will try to put more strict rules in place for sex within marriage, but they are baseless claims that simply aren’t supported in the Bible with a proper reading. 

Again, I’m not interested in forcing a Christian sexual ethic on someone who is not following  Jesus. This is for those who are following Jesus; we should strive to live as God says is best. 

You don’t have to understand it all, but we are called to trust and follow him even when things don’t make sense. He has our best interests in mind, even when it might not seem like it. 

Want to learn more? Check out: What Does The Bible Say About Marriage? (7 important lessons)

Closing Thoughts About Sex In The Bible 

There’s so much more that could be said. But I’ll save that for future blog posts. There’s just no way to address this topic fully in a few pages. 

But I do feel I need to say one more thing. I intentionally did not directly talk about homosexuality. That’s a topic that deserves much more space. But let me just say this. The church is well-known for throwing stones and condemning the LGBTQ+ community. I wish that wasn’t so… they are people so incredibly loved by their creator. We all have sin in our lives, but praise God that doesn’t disqualify us from finding forgiveness and acceptance at the cross.

I wish the church was known for leading with love and not just heaving condemnation. We, the church, have severely alienated the LGBTQ+ community from Jesus. It’s possible to stand on truth in a loving manor, and by and large the church has failed to do so. That is not okay and needs to change.  

I will write more in-depth about that one day, but an EXCELLENT book on the topic of homosexuality and what does the Bible say about sex is: People To Be Loved: Why Homosexuality Is Not Just An Issue

Preston Sprinkle is the one who wrote that book. You can check out his work here: The Center For Faith, Sexuality, and Gender

Jeffery Curtis Poor
Follow Me

Share With A Friend

DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affliliate links, meaning I get a small commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links. This is at no cost to you and helps keep Rethink up and running.
Notify of
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments