Of Singleness & Sexuality

If the Bible Talks About Sex, Why Don’t We?

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With the issue of sexuality there is very little the Bible doesn’t talk about. It’s not shy about all sorts of perversions – presumably because it is such a universal human issue. But it’s an uncomfortable topic. I’d be lying if I said I really didn’t want to answer this question. Nevertheless, in my travels, I keep coming back to it. I’m encountering a lot of single people who have a lot of unanswered questions and yet no-one seems willing to answer them. If you’re single, it’s become taboo to talk about sex. But I love breaking taboos, so here goes.

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Before I begin, I’d like to take this opportunity to address my brothers and sisters who live with the regret of having failed to live up to God’s pure marriage design. I am not here to condemn you. I grieve alongside you for the part of you that was stolen by sin. We all have regrets and things we wished we could undo. His grace is sufficient to cover the shame and He does not want you to live in regret for past actions (2 Corinthians 12:9). Nor do I. Instead, I intend to comfort you. If you feel trapped by your desires and actions, my heart connects with you. I share your pain. Your tears, I have also cried for myself and with my beloved friends who have also found the unhealed scars of sin. I know how difficult Jesus’ command to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11) is in practice. I think Songs of Solomon 1:5-6 can be your comfort. Though the woman is darkened by sin and regret for having failed to ‘keep her own vineyard’, she delights in the loving mercy of her husband who looks upon her in delight. There is redemption and forgiveness on offer, regardless of how undeserving you might feel.

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Sex was and has always been God’s intention for His creation. It was present in the Garden of Eden. The first thing that was not good about creation was that Adam was alone (Genesis 2:18), that is, he did not have a wife – a help mate. Following the fall, God gave Adam and Eve the command to “go forth and multiply” (Genesis 9:7). But the Bible is clear that sex is to be enjoyed by husband and wife. Paul tells us in Hebrews 13:4 that “marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and the sexually immoral. Marriage is honourable and the marriage bed undefiled: but the unfaithful and adulterers God will judge.” Who are the ‘unfaithful’ and ‘adulterers’? Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:28 that it can be anyone who undervalues marriage and indulges in sinful lust. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Regardless of whether the object of our desire is married or not, we commit adultery if we so much as think impure thoughts about another person.

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Self-control is the key. But it is also very difficult. This leads me to a very sensitive issue which is often neglected and left unspoken. True, it is a difficult, unpleasant topic, but there are a lot of questions floating around, asking what the Bible says about self-sexual gratification. Quite simply, is masturbation right or wrong? Is it a sin? Well, first of all let’s look at what it means etymologically. ‘Masturbation’ literally means ‘self-abuse’ and I think that could not be more accurate. The Bible is strangely silent on the matter which is odd considering it does touch on issues like the sin of bestiality (Exodus 22:19, Leviticus 18:23, Leviticus 20:16, Deuteronomy 27:21). Nothing seems taboo except for this issue. Since it’s not a conversation many are willing to have there are few answers to satisfy the multitudes of questions.

ImageThe Bible calls us to be continually transformed through the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2). It also tells us to “caste down arguments, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Sin begins with a thought. Sexual sin is no different. It begins with a lustful eye, a wandering gaze and a wayward thought. Masturbation usually involves fantasy and visualisation, often utilising pornography. The Bible is very clear that these things are sins (Job 31:1-3, Matt 5:28) A lustful thought not taken captive, will eventually lead to other perversions, because sin reproduces just like righteousness does. As it reproduces, it becomes more complex and stronger. If we do not deal with our evil thoughts, they will take root in our hearts. Effectively, masturbation is an act of idolatry committed in the heart and mind before it is even committed physically.

Some sources I have consulted cite Tamar and Onan in Genesis 38 to explain that “spilling the seed” is a sin. I don’t subscribe to this thought because I think there were greater abuses playing out here – namely that Onan was going against God’s will in denying Tamar and his own brother Er the right to bear children. But I’m willing to be proven wrong on that.

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Really though, masturbation and sexual visualisation is surely better than open fornication right? I may have once thought that but I’m not so sure anymore. As an action, it exists outside of God’s original plan for sex, which is designed to be enjoyed only within the marriage unit. Therefore, at best it can only be a temporary fulfillment of our permanent desires. I’ve consulted many medical sources and all seem to agree that masturbation is a means of creating a sex drive, not curbing it. The very nature of sin is that we become slaves to it. We crave it, we are consumed and it destroys us from within, often without us realising we were ever taken captive in the first place (John 8:34).

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The very fact that the Bible speaks so much about the issue of sexuality acknowledges that it has power over us. It is easiest for the most beautiful of all gifts to become defiled by sin or when enjoyed outside of its season. The problem though is when we become too in love with the gift, seeking after the pleasure rather than seeking the Source of it. This is when a blessing can become a curse. First Corinthians 6:18 speaks of this fine line and warns us to “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” Not that sin has varying degrees, but the Bible seems to say that this a very big sin and it means a lot to God.

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If we truly believe that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), then we need to act accordingly. We need to flee temptation (James 4:7, 1 Corinthians 6:18). Whether single or married, we need to make a commitment with our eyes (Job 31:1) not to awaken desires before their appointed time (Songs of Solomon 8:4). It is better for us to keep the door to sexual immorality firmly closed. Indeed, this is much easier than trying to close it later. I know that it is shied upon to be considered ‘innocent’ in this world, because we equate it to child-likeness. But honestly, we are to be children before our Father in Heaven, we are to crave only righteousness and seek only what is pure (1 Peter 2:2-10). Running after sin may make us wise in this world, but it will also cause us more pain.  Sex is addictive and it can cause tremendous harm to us if we use it outside of God’s original design. If in doubt about your actions, ask yourself this: ‘would I do this if my future spouse was in the room? Would I want them to know about this?’

ImageBut, I must stress this: if you have fallen into sin in this area, there is forgiveness and cleansing on offer. Next week, Andrew will explain that there is life after sexual sin, that there is freedom and healing through confessing and turning from our actions. We no longer have to live in regret.

Yours in comfort that God is in control of our lives and loves,

Emma.

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7 thoughts on “Of Singleness & Sexuality

  1. Masturbation is natural and very normal, there is nothing in the Bible that says otherwise. God created us with a sex drive. We are imperfect creatures therefore it is an unrealistic standard to expect absolutism when it comes to morality especially a person’s sexuality. God wants us to go to Him with our sexuality, we should thank Him for it. That does not mean I promote fornication but I think you sound a little overzealous and over religious.But thanks for sharing your post its always nice reading a different opinion.

    1. Hi Blondecoffee89,

      Yes. You’re right. The Bible does not mention whether masturbation is right or wrong. It simply doesn’t mention it at all, which is a little unusual. It very much leaves us in the dark in understanding how we are to deal with it, whether we should refrain or delight in it. To think that our bodies are capable of self-stimulating like this is pretty incredible. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to tickle yourself, but it doesn’t work. Yet strangely enough, we can still masturbate – which effectively is the same thing with different results. I speculate that this proves that masturbation begins in the mind – it is the mind’s visualisation that causes climax. I’m more than willing to be proven wrong on the whole issue, if anyone has any Biblical insight that may indicate that masturbation is purely physical and therefore, purely natural and to be delighted in.

      I’m not at all infallible. Whatever I say that may correspond with the truth – as God sees it – comes from Him and I claim no authorship over it. Whatever does not compliment the truth, is purely my own sin. I ask that my readers be discerning of me so that they may keep me accountable as much as I keep them encouraged. I don’t at all wish to be seen as over-religious, indeed it saddens me to see that you have perceived me this way.

      As to calls for absolutism, I am not at all naive to think that none will fall just because I wrote a blog about it. My words are merely tools for thought. Because the Bible does not speak about masturbation as either a sin or otherwise, it very much requires a personal decision, whether we personally believe it to be a sin or not. I am not presenting a rule to be follow without testing or questioning, but rather hoping that this may clarify some of the questions that aren’t being answered. It would be irresponsible of me, I believe, to neglect the subject because it is uncomfortable or ambiguous. I do not intend to heap guilt on my readers, I do intend to make them think about their actions in the context of God’s perfect truth.

      Thank you for your time in responding to my post and I hope you will find some comfort in my words, should they be from God.

      Yours in Him,
      Emma.

  2. You do seem “religious” simply because you quote from the bible a lot. Personally, I believe the bible to be a set of man-made rules crafted by the church to keep its followers in check.

    I can’t believe that the bible / “the Christian God” assumes that people who don’t have recourse to marriage (for whatever reason) should remain in want, and in torment as a result thereof. If that is true, then that’s not the kind of of “god” I would want to worship, nor abide by a set of rules (bible) supposedly marketed for him.

    I have written my thoughts on abstinence you can find at faithbond777.wordpress.com. My email is faithbond777@gmail.com in case you want to dialogue a bit.

    FB777

    1. Hi faithbond777, thanks for stopping by.

      Sorry I haven’t replied sooner, but I was checking out your blog. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It seems that you believe that waiting for anything is outside of God’s plan. Would I be right in thinking that?

      In regards to your comment about the Bible being man-made, I’m interested to hear your thoughts on whether or not the events it chronicles are historically accurate and that the authors really did write the Bible in the time-frame generally assumed by scholars?

      Thanks again,
      Emma.

      1. Hi Emma

        Thanks for reading my blog – I hope you found it interesting or at least worth your while.

        No, I am not scared of waiting. I am 44 now and . Where you come from, this will probably qualify for an entry in the “Ripley’s believe it or not”. I’ve always had this notion of being with just one woman, having sex with just her, no one else, till the end of my time. If I wanted fun, I could have had it by now; I still can. So waiting is not a problem. My angst is this whole set of insane biblical rules proffered by a church to emotionally subdue its followers through moral blackmail.

        If you go through the history of the church, you will find that Christianity replaced a pagan religion, and the christian festivals we have today are just a mask for those pagan festivals. Have you a mention in the bible that Jesus was born on 25/12? But if you do some research, you will find the pagan festival that Christianity masked to garner followers. I’ll also give you something to think about: why don’t all the gospels appear in the bible; why only the ones selected by the church?

        For a moment, let’s assume I am fluffing a bit. You could see a part of a mini-series by the History Channel, titled “Rivals of Jesus”. That should give you a lot to think about. And you will also learn of religions rivaling Christianity.

        What I really hate about Christianity is the (a) hypocrisy in the church – they advocate against sexuality and you’ll find many pedophiles and worse within their walls (you can catch this book: Amen – The autobiography of a nun written by Sister Jesme (Penguin); and (b) that Christianity is an S&M religion – it revels in pain. You deny yourself, you are a sinner from birth to death no matter what, everything that feels good has to be chastised, etc.

        I am no longer a Christian and will never be religious. But I will definitely be spiritual. And the difference is that spirituality deals with not wanting to do a wrong thing willingly, whereas Christianity deals with the negative – the fear: you do this, and you will go to hell.

        All said and done, please don’t let my junk mess you up. Please follow your own path.

        FB777

        (PS: I liked you article; I think it is well written with a certain measure of humbleness. Do write more and enlighten others) 🙂

  3. Hi again faithbond777,

    I’m sure that if you and I met in reality, we would be friends. I would tentatively say that we have a lot in common. Contrary to what you seem to believe, I do not attend a ‘church’ – in the tradition sense. I do not have a denomination (I ere on the side of charismatic Protestant) and I do not care much for institutionalised religion. You see, I left church when I was quite young for the reasons you have listed – the hypocrisy, denial, self-righteousness, bigotry and so on. To me, churches in their current state resemble more of what Jesus called the ‘white washed tombs’ than the haven for the lost and broken. I’ll be the first to admit I’m corrupted by sin. I was born into it, it’s the decease that rots my soul and makes me live outside of God’s purpose and plan. I am the only one to blame for that. But though I was hurt by the church, as it appears you have been too, the empty words of man did not taint the holiness of God and the Bible (as I believe it is God’s true Word). It grieves me to hear that the hurt has caused you to believe otherwise. You don’t have to believe me, you don’t have to like me, but I want you to know that the Bible is not filled with hate and malice. It is filled with hope and a story of incredible redemption – of a Father who loves His children so much that He would choose to die in order to snatch them from the hand of the unworthy foster parent.

    In light of the fact that I have not spoken of my personal opinion on the church, I am interested in knowing what gave you the impression that I am a Catholic? I know that you have not said as much, but all of your grievances are angled at the Catholic church.

    I am not blissfully unaware of the origins of Catholic traditions like you seem to think I am. I am probably more knowledgeable than most on the pagan origins of these traditions – I can read Attic Greek (5th Century BC) and whilst this is not the original language of the Bible (the New Testament was written in Koine Greek, which is a little different in terms of syntax and grammar) I think we can agree, that I’ve done my research. Before you jump to conclusions, no, my degree in Ancient Greek Culture and Archaeology did NOT come from a Christian university or Bible college – I am attending the University of Sydney, a very secular institution.

    I am well aware that the Bible makes no mention of Jesus being born on the 25th of December, I know that that is Dionysus’ birthday. It is far more likely that Jesus was born in September, since that is when other sources say Rome called a census. I am not ignorant of history. I know that Emperor Constantine, when he attempted to legalise Christianity, put a Christian stamp over all the pagan festivals, statues and beliefs – effectively, he made what we generally term ‘Pagan Christianity’ from which was born the traditions of the Catholic church and many of the Protestant practices too, following the Reformation.

    You ask why the Bible does not incorporate all the testimonies of Jesus in the Gospels. My answer is simple – those who wrote the Gospels were Apostles. This meant they were witnesses to Jesus Christ in life and death and resurrection. Furthermore, they are complete. It’s very unusual to find four complete sources explaining the same events. The writings of Cassius Dio, Suetonius, Tacitus and Paulinus as well as Clement of Alexandra all speak of Jesus Christ and make some reference to possible sightings of him following his execution – but they are not complete sources, nor are they eye-witness accounts.

    But you have still not answered my question – Does the Bible chronicle historically accurate events?

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