Is Biblical Teaching on Sex Hateful and Repressive?

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(Original post by Sean McDowell here.)Let’s face it; we live in a world saturated with sex. Our movies, music, novels, politics, and even advertisements are dominated by sex. Essentially, the celebrated view of sex in our culture is: if it feels good, do it. According to the ideas propagated by the late Hugh Hefner, and others in the sexual revolution, anything that prevents someone from experiencing consensual sex in whatever fashion he or she desires is viewed as harmful and repressive.

But is this narrative really true? In the updated Evidence that Demands a Verdict, my father and I lay out the positive evidence for Christianity. But first, we felt it was critical to “clear the fog” by responding to common charges such as this. So, is biblical teaching on sex hateful and repressive?

While Christians have certainly failed at times to teach and model the biblical view of sex, it is false to assume that God hates sex. In fact, the opposite is true—God created sex and said that it was good! Proverbs 5:18-19 says to “rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.” And the Song of Solomon speaks of the power and beauty of sexual intimacy. Sex, as God designed it, is a wonderful thing. He designed it for four reasons:

  • Procreation. Even though children don’t always result, sex is a baby-making act by its very nature. In Genesis 1:28, God says, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” It’s worth noting that this is actually a command from God (it is also a blessing). Few complain about this command!
  • Unity. One of the most powerful aspects of sex is its ability to bond people together. 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.” In the act of sex, a man and woman become fully united. Sex is not merely a physical act; it involves an emotional, relational, spiritual, and even transcendent connection.
  • Recreation. So many people think God is a cosmic killjoy when it comes to sex. But they fail to realize that God created sex to be pleasurable in the first place. God could easily have made sex boring or tedious—a mere duty, like taking out the trash or changing the oil in our car. Or he could have made human beings reproduce asexually. But he made sex one of the most exhilarating of all human experiences.
  • Glorify God. We are to glorify God in everything we do. The apostle Paul says, “Wo, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). When done with true love for another, in accord with God-ordained principles and boundaries, sex brings glory to God.

Does God’s view of sex really bring harm to people? Let us ask some simple questions:

What would the world be like if everyone followed the biblical plan for sex, engaging in sexual activity in a committed, lifelong relationship with someone of the opposite sex? Would there be more suffering or less? Would we have more intact marriages, or more broken homes? Would there be more fatherless homes, or more involved fathers? Would STDs, teen pregnancies, and abortions increase or decrease?

Despite the cultural narrative that biblical guidelines bring repression and harm, medical doctors Joe McIlhaney and Freda McKissic Bush conclude, “It appears that the most up-to-date research suggests that most humans are ‘designed’ to be sexually monogamous with one mate for life. This information also shows that the further individuals deviate from this behavior, the more problems they encounter, be they STDs, non-marital pregnancy, or emotional problems, including damaged ability to develop healthy connectedness with others, including future spouses.”[1]

God doesn’t hate sex. He gave it as a blessing and designed it for human flourishing. And he lovingly gave us boundaries to protect and provide for us.


[1] Joe McIlhaney & Freda McKissic Bush, Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex Is Affecting Our Children (Chicago, IL: Northfield, 2008), 129.

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