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Sexual Situations According To The Bible

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Believe it or not this subject comes up a lot, especially in Bible study at my church. I also get tons of emails about sexual relationships. People everywhere want to know what the Bible says about sex. I’ve previously covered several sexual topics according to the Bible:

My views on relationships are not always popular, but I do use the Bible to present them. I’ve gotten plenty of emails from people giving me all kinds of reasons why I’m wrong, but for every 10 emails I get, only 1 or 2 actually contain Bible verses in support of what they believe. I find that most of the people I get messages from base their arguments on tradition and not the Bible. So let’s cover a few more questions that I’ve received, but haven’t yet addressed.

Is It OK For Married People To Swing?

There are two examples we can use for this: Abraham and the Nicolaitanes. One example is Biblical and the other example is based on tradition and assumption. When Sarah lost faith in God’s promise to give her a son, she offered her handmaid Hagar to Abraham to have sex. After it was all said and done and Ishmael was born, God surprisingly doesn’t say a word in condemnation about it. In fact, He still blesses Ishmael to be a great nation.

On the flip side of that, Abraham gave two men his wife on two different occasions. On one occasion God keeps Abimelech from touching Sarah (Genesis 20:2-4). On the other occasion we find that God is plaguing Pharaoh, but the text never says he didn’t touch her (Genesis 12:17). Before I give my opinion on the matter, let me point out that tradition teaches that the Nicolaitanes shared wives and that is one of the reason Christ hates their deeds in Revelation 2:6.

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Opinion: Based on the two above examples it seems to be the sharing of the wives that is the problem. The point seems to be to avoid confusion. If a woman has sex with two men and gets pregnant, you have no idea who the child belongs to. However, if a man has sex with two women and they both get pregnant, the father is known. The Nicolaitanes were sharing wives, which again seems to go hand in hand with the Abraham example. I base this opinion on the fact that God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33)

Answer: The men were punished for taking another man’s wife, but Abraham was not punished when he had sex with another woman with his wife’s permission. The common Christian reaction is to give an immediate “no”, but I think the issue may be deeper than that. The truth is, ultimately it is between you and God and no man can tell you what to do. All I can do is point out what’s there. If you are thinking about quoting Paul, please keep reading before you do so.

Is Sex Outside of Marriage OK?

Another touchy subject that I covered earlier. For this example we’ll look at Judah. To be fair, he was born before the commandments were given, but he did have sex outside of marriage. Not only that, it was with his daughter in law Tamar. This was forbidden in Leviticus 20:12. The interesting part of this story is not that Judah had sex outside of marriage but God’s reaction to it. Judah had three sons while he was married: Er – Killed by God (Genesis 38:7), Onan – Killed by God (Genesis 38:9-10), and Shelah – not talked about. Two of Judah’s three sons born via marriage were killed by God. Judah also has two more sons with his daughter in law, outside of marriage: Pharez and Zerah.

In Ruth 4:18-22 we find that it is Pharez that eventually leads to David. We know that it is David’s line through which the Messiah actually comes. Why did God choose the son born out of wedlock as the means to bring about Christ?

Opinion: God established sacrifice as the law, but the prophet Samuel said God is more interested in obedience than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). It seems that people make God out to be a prude, when He really doesn’t make a big deal about normal sexual acts between single men and single women.

Answer: Once again, I have no idea if this is OK. The actions shown in the Bible seem to contradict church tradition. Let me stress that tradition is not Biblical law, but men’s personal opinions on what they think is right. What I can say is that in all 613 laws and commandments, there is not a single one about single people having sex before marriage. If you have not read the articles listed above and want to use fornication as your argument, you may want to read them first. Also, there is a law that commands a woman to be stoned if she gets married and is found not to be a virgin (Deuteronomy 22:19-22). No mention is made as to what is supposed to happen to her if she loses her virginity but never gets married.

What Does Paul Say About Marriage?

Many people quote Paul when it comes to talking about the issue of marriage. Let’s take an honest look at Paul and see what we come up with. I couldn’t tell you how many times people claim that Paul says we are only allowed to have one wife, but is that true? Paul actually only lists two people that should have one wife:

  • Bishops – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Deacons – 1 Timothy 3:12

Paul is very specific in who should only have one wife. There is also another interesting chapter on relationships found in 1 Corinthians 7. However, what I have found is that Paul points out the following:

“But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.” – 1 Corinthians 7:6

The keys words there are “not of commandment”. So the following statements coming from chapter 7 are suggestions and not commandments. What’s interesting is Paul never got married. When quoting Paul, many neglect to mention this fact. Paul also gave the following suggestion:

“For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.” – 1 Corinthians 7:7-9

Was Paul just single? Was Paul just celibate? It’s not 100% clear so many people will make assumptions. The last part of this scripture makes a reference to burning. Its generally accepted that this is a reference to burning with passion (sexual frustration) and not burning in hell. Who is Paul suggesting get married to avoid sexual frustration? He clearly says “unmarried and widows”. However, keep in mind that this was a suggestion and not a commandment.

Opinion: Paul addresses specific offices in the church and specific situations, which leads me to conclude that Paul was not casting a net over the entire church. He also clearly stated that these were not commandments. I also don’t believe words were just thrown in the Bible to fill space. When we say, “what he really meant was”, we change God’s word to what we think it should mean instead of taking it at face value. There is a difference between interpretation and interjection.

Answer: Paul is clearly in favor of marriage, but doesn’t actually get married himself. Do we do as Paul says or as Paul does? I honestly have no idea.

A Quick List of Sexual Status In The Bible

  • Adam – One Wife (two according to some extrabiblical sources)
  • Abraham – One Wife and a mistress (Hagar the maid)
  • Judah – One Wife and a Baby Momma (Tamar his daughter in law)
  • Solomon – 1,000 women (700 wives and 300 concubines)
  • Daniel – Eunuch (no penis)
  • Paul – Single
  • Jesus – Single

What is sexual immorality?

  • Homosexuality – Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:26-27
  • Bestiality – Leviticus 20:16
  • Incest – Leviticus 18:8, Leviticus 18:11, Leviticus 18:14
  • Rape – Deuteronomy 22:25-29
  • Cross-dressing – Deuteronomy 22:5
  • Adultery – Deuteronomy 22:22
  • Prostitution – Leviticus 19:29, Deuteronomy 23:17

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