How Can Sex be a Sin and a Gift?

It’s another night in my life when the word sex comes up — at the dinner table with friends. For New Years’, we gathered at a friend’s house to ring in the New Year potluck style.

As new and familiar faces trickled in, my friend and hostess introduced my husband and me. “These are the Rigglemans. Chris works for Chief and Heather is a writer. She is well known for her sex articles that taught me a thing or two about oral sex as well.”

Of course, I turn 10 shades of red and blush, but I am honored to have been able to put sex in the context of God’s Word for Christians. Besides, where else would it be appropriate? I want my friends and especially my kids to know what a gift sex is from our Mighty God.

I don’t want my kids or fellow friends to be embarrassed or turn 10 shades of red when someone refers to sex. I want them to know it’s an amazing gift God gave to us.

I want them to know there is no shame in their bodies or having hot, steamy, sexy sex with their partner. However, it comes with biblical context because God only intended sex to be between a husband and wife.

God Loves Sex

Make no mistake. God loves sex. He really loves sex! I tell my kids and friends this often. Why? Because God created sex for several reasons. It’s not just for procreation. God created sex as a gift between a husband and wife to express their love for each other.

He also created it to increase intimacy and there are so many health benefits to having sex too. If sex was just for procreation, then why did He create a woman to have a clitoris?

The clitoris has over 8,000 nerve endings alone and its only purpose is to give women intense pleasure from orgasms. That’s double the amount of the penis.

Many historians think that the most surprising thing the Bible says about sex is found in 1 Corinthians 7:3-4: The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.

For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. (1 Corinthians 7:3–4). Roy E. Ciampa and Brian S. Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians put it this way:

The marked mutuality of Paul’s comments (the husband has authority over his wife’s body, and she has authority over his) was, however, revolutionary in the ancient world where patriarchy was the norm. 

For the husband to have authority over his wife’s body was nothing special…. Paul’s following statement affirming the reverse, that “the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does,” clearly pointed to a radical and unprecedented restriction on the husbands’ sexual freedom. 

It communicates, negatively, his obligation to refrain from engaging in sexual relations with anyone other than his wife and, positively, his obligation to fulfill his marital duty to provide her with sexual pleasure and satisfaction.

What Sex in the Church Means Today

When Chris and I went to our first marriage retreat together, the main speaker addressed the men of the audience. He told them that in no uncertain terms sex is not just for them. If they didn’t know how to hold off climaxing until they were able to make love to their wives where she climaxed first or simultaneously, then they were not real men.

The audience was silent and stunned. Why? Because our culture has stereotyped sex to be all about pleasing a man and women are objects of desire. This is one of the many perverted reasons there is prostitution, sex trafficking, shows like Game of Thrones or The Handmaid’s Tale, and why there is a billion-dollar industry of pornography devouring souls and marriages in its wake.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 says, “For God wants you to be holy and pure and to keep clear of all sexual sin so that each of you will marry in holiness and honor — not in lustful passion as the heathen do, in their ignorance of God and his ways.”

God’s Blueprint for Sex

God intended sex for a husband and wife. The very fact that God created humanity as “male and female” reveals that we are created as sexual beings. The first blueprint for sex is found in the very beginning of the Bible.

The Bible says, “From the beginning of creation, God ‘made them male and female’” (Genesis 1:27; Mark 10:6-8, ESV). It goes on to declare, “‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’” (Mark 10:6-8; Genesis 2:24).

Linda Savage writes about the mingling of spirits and bodies in sex in her recent article, “Spiritual Sex: Ecstatic Love Beyond the Physical,” she writes,

… it is sexual energy that goes beyond physical sensations of pleasure and genital orgasms. It is not limited to genital stimulation and the release of tension through a quick and simple orgasm. When spiritual sex is consciously practiced, there is a quality of “mindfulness,” which is heightened awareness and expanded consciousness. The more cosmic experiences utilizing sexual energy create ecstatic states. The essence of spiritual sex is enhanced awareness, extraordinary inspiration, and a sense of merging with the life force.

Read the Song of Solomon. It follows a loving relationship between a man and woman through their betrothal, wedding night, and beyond.

Chapter four is unmistakable in its discreet meanings following by Song of Solomon 5:3 with God’s blessing and approval! “Eat, friends, and drink; drink your fill of love.”

Before sex comes into the picture, God promotes the beauty of abstaining until the right person comes along in the boundaries of marriage.

How Can Sex be a Sin?

The word sex is horribly abused and misunderstood in today’s world. The media have created an artificial meaning in many minds. This gift becomes a sin when we choose to have sex outside of marriage or abuse it within the confines of marriage.

God made it very certain that the marriage bed must be kept pure (Hebrews 13:4). In Matthew 19:4-6, Jesus states,

“At the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So, they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 

First Corinthians 6:9-10 says, “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men . . . will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Engaging in sex without the benefit of marriage is immoral, and “it is God’s will that you should be sanctified: That you should avoid sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3; 1 Corinthians 6:18).

Sex becomes a sin when it becomes self-serving. For example:

The Bible forbids incest. It’s in the Bible, Leviticus 18:6 says, “No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations.”

The Bible forbids bestiality. It’s in the Bible, Leviticus 18:23 says, “Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it.”

The Bible forbids lust. It’s in the Bible. Matthew 5:28 says, “But I say: Anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

The Bible forbids same-sex partnersIt’s in the Bible, Romans 1:26-27 says,

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

The Bible forbids pornography, sex trafficking, and prostitutes. It’s in the Bible. It’s in the Bible, I Corinthians 6:15-17, says,

Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts and members of Christ? So, should I take part of Christ and join Him to a prostitute? Never! And don’t you know that if a man joins himself to a prostitute she becomes a part of him and he becomes a part of her? For God tells us in the Scripture that in His sight the two become one person.

The Bible forbids sex outside of marriageIt’s in the Bible. Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

When it is outside of marriage, when a partner cheats, and especially when it comes to pornography. In our “Netflix and chill” culture, God’s Word about abstaining is what singles need to honor.

Even if you’re engaged to marry, even if you’re widowed, even if your partner for some medical reason is unable to have sex.

Sex is a beautiful and dangerous gift. Please handle with care, in the power of the Spirit, so you can live a healthy and whole life.

God has given us such an amazing gift that bonds two people. May we take great responsibility in honoring our marriage bed!

For further reading:

What Is the Biblical Definition of Marriage?

What Does the ‘Husband of One Wife’ Mean in 1 Timothy 3:2?

What Does the Bible Say about Pornography?

What Is Polygamy and What Are Examples Today?

Why Do We Pray for Love?

How Are We Created in the Image of God?

What Is Adultery?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/dragana991


Heather Riggleman is an author, national speaker, former award-winning journalist and podcast co-host of the Moms Together Podcast. She calls Nebraska home with her three kids and a husband of 21 years. She believes Jazzercise, Jesus, and tacos can fix anything and not necessarily in that order! She is author of I Call Him By Name Bible Study, the Bold Truths Prayer Journal,  Mama Needs a Time Out, and Let’s Talk About Prayer and a contributor to several books.  Her work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, MOPS, Today’s Christian Woman, and Focus On the Family. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com or on Facebook.  

Leave a Reply