Proverbs on Sex
Unfortunately people take either one of 2 approaches towards the discussion of sex: either they treat it as taboo or else they drag it in the mud. When I was a child I remember asking the honest question: "What does the word 'circumcision' mean?" I won't ever forget the look of horror on the face of the person I asked. They said: "Shhhhhhhh! We'll talk about it later." (We never did.) I remember in the early 60's in church seeing a woman's belly sticking out and asking my sisters if that lady was pregnant. They said: "Shhhhhhhhhhh! You can't say the 'p' word!" The opposite approach is not healthy either. Today you've got Janet Jackson bearing her breast on national TV. (Somebody quipped: "What is it with the Jacksons always exposing themselves to little children?") It is interesting that 50 years ago people spoke freely about death but seldom about sex, while today people speak freely about sex and seldom about death. There is a connection in that those who live sensual lives are afraid of facing the Judge on the day they die.
The Bible adopts neither of these approaches in its discussion on sex. It neither avoids it nor degrades it. The Song of Solomon glories in the wonders of the physical part of the relationship between a man and woman in love. (Whatever else it is, the Song of Solomon is not about the spiritual love of Christ for the church.) The bride luxuriates in the physicality of her groom, while the groom luxuriates iin the physicality of his bride. (The Jews definitely understood Song of Solomon this way because many did not allow Jews to read it until they were 30 years of age.) Later in 1 Cor. 7 Paul speaks candidly and specifically about sexual tensions within marriage and within society. It is such a fundamental aspect of the human condition that if the Bible is going to address us legitimately, it must address this issue.
SEX IS FUNDAMENTAL TO PEOPLE
Why does the Bible address sex in Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and 1 Cor. 7? It is because sex is not simply something we do, it is a part of who we are. At the very beginning of the Bible Moses writes: "God created man in His own image: male and female created He them" (Gen. 1:27). In other words, man is not simply male; man is male and female. A man is made up of the male and female; it takes the 2 to make a whole person (something 2 men or women in a homosexual relationship cannot experience). A male is incomplete apart from His female counterpart, while the female is incomplete without her male counterpart. This is true not only physically and sexually, it is also true tempermentally. It was by no means an accident that whenever you poll married people that you discover that most men marry women who have opposite temperaments from theirs. If a man is a lion, the woman tends to be a golden retriever, and vice versa. If the woman is a beaver, then the husband tends to be an otter. They balance each other out. In fact that is one of the reasons they marry each other--to balance themselves out with somebody opposite from them. Sex is basically a way to find that balance in the physical realm.
PURPOSE OF SEX
Why did God make us sexual? First, it results in procreation. The kind of sex the Bible endorses produces children. Marriage is the foundation block of society. It produces a stable environment for family and the raising of children. Sex is essential in producing this family. (Homosexuality is illegitimate because it cannot produce this effect. In fact if the entire human race turned homosexual overnight, the entire human race would be destroyed within one generation unless artificial means of procreating were adopted.)
Second, sex is also for uniting 2 individuals, not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. Moses writes that God made us male and female so that we might become ONE flesh. The sexual union of a man and woman should reflect the unity in that marriage. Sometimes it enhances that unity; however, it is not to be a substitute for that emotional and spiritual unity.
Finally, sex is for the purpose of gratifying people's sexual needs. This is an area which must be treated with the utmost honesty and humility. Men need to realize that women's sexual needs differ from theirs, and women need to realize that men's sexual needs differ from theirs. They both need to realize that the other spouse's sexual needs are real and legitimate. (Of course, like all other areas, this area can be misused and abused; however, the need to deal with this maturely is incumbent upon us all.)
Although this purpose is not necessarily the highest motivation for sex, it nevertheless is a major consideration in this discussion. Paul in the context of sex specifically mandates that the husband is to fulfill the sexual needs of his wife, while the wife is to fulfill the sexual needs of her husband (1 Cor. 7:3). In fact he goes on to say that the only valid reason to stop having sex is for the purpose of devoting oneself to prayer. Even that is to be mutually agreed upon and that for only a short period of time: "Stop depriving one another except for agreement that you may devote yourselves to prayer; and come together again [in sex] lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self control" (1 Cor. 7:5).
The spouse who refuses to have sex is steering their marriage to the garbage dump. Sex is not a weapon to be used in marriage. I've seen spouses who regret terribly their earlier decision to put an end to the sex in their marriage. Their spouse has either divorced them for someone else or has turned to other people outside the realm of marriage, such as prostitutes, to satisfy their legitimate sexual needs. The divorce and prostitution are DEFINITELY WRONG; however, the unilateral decision on the part of one of the spouses to put an end to sex was just as wrong according to Paul.
THE PROBLEMS WITH OTHER FORMS OF SEX
One of the biggest lies to come out of the 60's was that if something sexual is taking place between 2 consensual adults and since it does not harm anybody else, then it's nobody else's business. The lie in this statement is the clause "since it does not harm anybody else." The truth is that it does harm other people. Two episodes in the last 20 years illustrate this. First, the AIDS explosion occurred because consenting adults were promiscuous. They claimed they were not harming anybody else. Well, they were contracting unwittingly an STD and passing it on to their spouses, to their children, and to blood banks. Children with hemophilia who had never done anything to warrant getting AIDS started dying, AFTER they had already been ostracized by their friends at school. What these consenting adults did actually did harm others. Second, one of the justifications used to excuse a former president's behavior was that it was between consenting adults who were not harming anybody else. After that episode a poll was taken among the nation's teenagers which showed that the attitudes of teenagers towards certain sexual practices had changed. The poll discovered that American youth now felt that the sexual practice the president engaged in was now appropriate and acceptable. He did harm others; he did have an effect on others. (The neat thing is that after him came a president with higher moral standards who in turn positively affected the sexual mores of the teenagers of his administration.)
The rage in today's society is the promotion of homosexuality. Yet today's rage conflicts with God's standard of sexual conduct. Two reasons in particular militate against sex between people of the same sex: (1) this type of sex violates the principle of procreation and (2) this type of sex does not result in two persons complementing each other, in their becoming one. With regards to the first reason, if the entire world became homosexual over night, within one generation the world would cease to exist.
Now some excuse homosexuality on the claim that God made people gay. They claim that they have found a chromosone in homosexuals' genetic make-up which proves they were born gay. First of all, that has not been proved, only claimed to be true. Second, it does not matter even if there is a gene that produces homosexuality. The fact is that we are all flawed in some way or other, that is, we all have inclinations either to steal, be angry, lie, lust, etc. This is the reason God offers His Spirit to us so that we can resist these natural inclinations.
For more on this issue, double-click on the following link: Christian Medical View Regarding Homosexuality.
Extramarital Affairs and Sex Before Marriage
Sex is supposed to be the exclusive property of marriage. When you consider it, you discover that sex really is the unique and defining element in marriage. I can't think of anything else that you and your spouse do that you can't do with somebody else: sharing an apartment, sharing possessions, dining out together, sharing personal thoughts, etc. Sex is the element in marriage which distinguishes it from every other relationship.
Moreover, sex is to be confined to the marriage relationship thereby eliminating extramarital affairs and sex before marriage. Moses writes: "The 2 shall become one flesh." Although this unity involves spirituality and emotions, it definitely encompasses sexuality. The sexual union between 2 people creates an intense, specific unity which cannot be experienced any other way. When this is honored, the relationship between the husband and wife becomes very valuable to both. By restricting sex only to that relationship, they keep that relationship unique to them. When one or both engages in sex outside the marriage, it reduces the uniqueness of that relationship for them. Their spouse then is put on the same level with others in their lives. The math of the Bible works like this: 1 + 1 = 1 (unity), while 1 + 2 = 3 (division). Because a person has an extramarital or premarital affair does not mean that this unity cannot be restored. It's just that it takes a lot of time, work, and change for this unity to be restored.
Notice the healthy element in confining sex to the marriage relationship. A few years ago when Roger Staubach was riding high as the quarterback for the National Championship Dallas Cowboys, he was asked how he felt about being a sex symbol. He replied that the only person he wanted to be a sex symbol to was his wife. His response was right for 2 reasons: (1) he affirmed the sexual nature of the marriage relationship and (2) he confined sex to the marriage relationship.
PROVERBS ON THE TOPIC OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT
With regards to the proverbs selected for today's discussion, it appears that the main purpose of those proverbs is to warn young and older men to keep away from the prostitute (whether she be a religious or secular prostitute).
In all this discussion about sex, it would be easy to conclude that anybody who engages in an extramarital affair, premarital sex, or homosexual sex is damned and going to hell. That's simply not true. There is only one unforgiveable sin--rejecting the Spirit drawing you to Jesus to experience the Father's salvation and lordship. There is forgiveness even for those Christians who conducted themselves improperly AFTER becoming Christians. I as a father would never reject Nathan and Molly if they slipped up; well, if I being evil would not reject my children, how much more will God not reject His children? We raise the high standard of God's code of sexual conduct for us all to follow, while at the same time accepting our own humanity and offering God's forgiveness to those who fail in this area.