What does the Bible say about sex in marriage?

sex in marriage, marital sex
Question: "What does the Bible say about sex in marriage / marital sex?"

Answer:
Sex was created to be a unique experience to bind husband and wife together in what the Bible calls a “one flesh” unity (Matthew 19:6). Since God invented sex, He gets to set the parameters for its use, and He makes those parameters very clear throughout Scripture (Hebrews 13:4; 1 Corinthians 6:18). Sex was designed for marriage. Period. Any sex outside those boundaries is sin. And despite what current culture wants us to believe, marital sex is between a man and a woman, not two men or two women. Simple biology makes it obvious that male and female bodies were designed to fit together in a way that same-sex physiology cannot. God knows what He is doing. So let’s investigate what the Bible has to say about marital sex.

First of all, marital sex is to be the consummation of a lifetime commitment made by two people. In ancient times and in several different cultures, wedding celebrations often included a “bedding ceremony,” in which the bride and groom retreated to the bedchamber to consummate their marriage. They would return to the party afterwards, and the celebration with friends and family would go on. The marriage was not considered complete until the bride and groom experienced sexual intimacy. While that may seem a bit crass according to our modern standards, it does illustrate the value that many cultures traditionally placed on virginity and marital sex.

Because the sexual drive is so powerful, the Bible encourages marriage in order to avoid sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 7:1–2). Marital sex is to be mutual and frequent so that husband and wife are not tempted to commit adultery (1 Corinthians 7:5). The Bible gives detailed instructions about marriage, sexuality, and divorce in 1 Corinthians 7. The bodies of a husband and wife belong to each other. Verse 4 says, “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband. Likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife.” This giving over of the body to the one we are committed to should eliminate any possibility of extramarital liaisons. When we understand that our bodies are not our own, that they’ve been pledged to a spouse, we can shut the door on any thoughts of loaning them to someone else.

Marriage was designed by God as a picture of the covenant relationship He wants with us (2 Corinthians 11:2). God places great importance on human sexuality because marital sex is the most intimate relationship two human beings can have. It is also a picture of the intimacy God created us to enjoy with Him. In marital sex, there is a giving over of the body, and in our spiritual relationship with God, we are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1–2). The sexual act is a consummation of the covenant made between and man and a woman. Covenants were always consummated with the shedding of blood (Exodus 24:8), and, usually, blood is shed when virginity is lost. When God made His covenant with us, the blood of Christ was shed (Hebrews 13:20). Marital sex is more than a means of procreation and a safe outlet for our sexual drives. It is holy to God because it symbolizes the pure soul intimacy He wants to share with us. To engage in sex as a casual activity is to strip it of its true meaning.

Marital sex is the only sexual expression approved by our Creator. It should be treated as a sacred gift and enjoyed by husband and wife. We should guard our hearts and eyes from any outside temptations that try to sully or steal sexual intimacy. Pornography, extramarital affairs, divorce, and promiscuity all rob us of the beauty and value God wove into the sexual act. We cannot experience all God designed sexuality to be unless we save all sexual activities for marriage.

Recommended Resource: The Act of Marriage by Tim and Beverly LaHaye

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What does it mean that the marriage bed is undefiled (Hebrews 13:4)?

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Can a Christian woman wear sexually provocative lingerie for her husband?

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