When it comes to sex and your faith, I know that you want to get it right.
Our sexuality is tightly woven into who we are — it’s one part who our soul connects with and one part what our body feels.
And for modern Christians, our sexuality is also a battleground. There are so many people telling us what we should believe and how we should act.
It can be difficult to keep your head on straight when you’re trying to balance what you heard at church once, what you think you’re supposed to think, what your heart desires, what your body craves, what your friends tell you, what you see in movies, and on and on and on …
So let’s cut through all the noise, right? Let’s go straight to the source… let’s take a look at what the Bible says! That will tell us what to think and how to act, right? (Spoiler alert: it won’t)
Here are some things that “the Bible says about sex”
Some men should castrate themselves for the sake of God’s Kingdom
For there are eunuchs, that were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are eunuchs, that were made eunuchs by men: and there are eunuchs, that made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.
– Matthew 19:12
A woman should marry her rapist, and her rapist should pay her father
If a man meets a virgin who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are caught in the act, the man who lay with her shall give fifty shekels of silver to the young woman’s father, and she shall become his wife
– Deuteronomy 22:28-29
Everyone should be celibate for their whole life
I’m telling those who are single and widows that it’s good for them to stay single like me.
– 1 Corinthians 7:8
Everyone should get married
Marriage should be honored by all
– Hebrews 13:4
Premarital sex is delightful and men and women can delight in the pleasures of sex
– All of Song of Solomon
It’s normal for men to have more than one wife, and not condemned by God
It’s normal for men to have lovers in addition to their wives, and not condemned by God
The Bible says all sorts of things about sex. Some of them are beautiful. Some of them are revolting.
We have to understand what the Bible is and its place in our faith life.
The Bible is a central pillar of the Christian faith and it was written by flawed humans trying to make sense of their place in the world and their relationship with each other and the divine. We are called to learn from it and wrestle with it but it’s not a step-by-step instruction manual. We have to take responsibility for our faith.
So what should Christians believe about sex?
If we want to be faithful to God, we are called to wrestle with the big issues in life. That’s pretty much the entirety of Scripture: God’s people wrestling with themselves, each other, and with God over who we are, how we act, why we’re here, and how to relate to God.
Scripture gives us a look at the heart of God, as does the life of Jesus, and so too do Christians throughout the ages. But what we don’t have is a step-by-step sexual instruction manual.
Now what? Here’s what I want you to do:
Set aside some time—even just 7 minutes—to really think about your values. These might come from the Bible, but remember that the Bible doesn’t have one clear message on sex so you’ll have to do some digging and discerning yourself. Your values will likely also come from inside of you: how you’ve experienced and observed the world and your reaction to that, what you’ve picked up from your family that still rings true, and what you appreciate in those around you.
Think about big picture values first (things like compassion, respect, trust) and then get into some that might be more sex-specific (clear communication, respect, pleasure).
You don’t need to do anything with these values—yet!—the first step is just to identify them.
If you’d like to share them with us, we’d love to hear them. You can use this form.