What does the Bible say about sex?
If you Google this question, you will find a series of articles discussing a dozen or so Bible passages that clearly address sexual issues like adultery, fornication, same-sex activity, and married sex. While those passages are important to understand, they are not the most important thing you need to know about your sex life.
We often make the mistake of reading the Bible as if it’s a reference manual. Concordances (and now web searches) help us find the passages that directly address our questions. That’s not a bad approach, but it is an incomplete one.
The Bible is a story of God’s invitation to an intimate relationship with Him. Please don’t read the “dos and don'ts” of biblical sexuality without first understanding this story. God’s desire is not to “fix” your broken sex life or to judge your sexual sin. His heart is to reunite you through Jesus Christ to the relationship you were created to have with Him. His child. His beloved.
Many people think of sex in the Bible as a list of rules we must follow in order to gain God’s love and approval. They believe they will go to hell because of their abortion, their current relationship, their porn addiction, or their gender confusion. As one gay woman put it when a friend invited her to church, “I wouldn’t go near a church because I’m afraid I would immediately burst into flames.”
When we think like this, we’re putting “the cart before the horse.” Whatever changes God may desire to make to your sex life must begin with His radical transformation of your identity.
God doesn’t change what we do until He first and foremost changes who we are. I know so many Christians who strive to live by the biblical rules of sex without first stepping into the power of knowing Christ Jesus as Lord.
What Is the Most Important Thing About You?
Many of you know that I was born, raised, and currently live in Northeast Ohio. I have lived in other places over the years (Florida, Colorado, California, Chicago), but Akron is home. As we like to say in my city, “I’m just a girl from Akron.” If you spend enough time with me, you will see evidence of this heritage—my Midwest accent, the fact that I call soda “pop,” and my unwavering love for Cleveland sports.
This part of my identity flavors how I dress, how I talk, and how I interact with the world. Affections and attitudes flow from identity.
All of us have many different markers of identity. Ethnicity, age, gender, profession, or political party to name a few. Each one of these influences and expresses who we are.
The invitation to know God through Jesus Christ is intended to trump all other identities. Many of us call ourselves “Christians” as a secondary identity. It’s simply a piece (perhaps even an important piece) of how we see ourselves and the world. We try to blend that piece with all the other aspects of what it means to be me.
Friend, this is where we go wrong. God does not call us to simply integrate a Christian identity with every other defining marker, but to recognize Him as “Lord of All.” Every other identity pales in comparison to the most important thing about me: I belong to the Lord, and He belongs to me.
If you are a Christian, the most important passage in the Bible about your sex life is this one: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, and see, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17)!
We live in a day and age where people define themselves by their sexuality: Are you married, divorced, or single? Gay or straight? What are your personal pronouns? In church culture, we may subtly ask, “Are you sexually pure or broken?” Right before the “new creation” verse, Paul writes, “From now on, we regard no one from a worldly point of view.” The only question that really matters is this one: Are you a new creation through Jesus Christ?
My friend, God doesn’t change what we do until He first and foremost changes who we are. I know so many Christians who strive to live by the biblical rules of sex without first stepping into the power of knowing Christ Jesus as Lord.
As an Ohio native, what would it take for me to cheer for the Michigan Wolverines, the New York Yankees, or the Baltimore Ravens? (I cringe even as I type these words!) My affections could only change with a radical new identity. And how could I adopt a British accent instead of my Midwest way of speaking? Only through years and years of living in a new country.
Your most powerful weapon against sexual shame, temptation, and confusion is not a list of rules, but walking in your new identity through Jesus Christ. Paul himself experienced this. For much of his life, Paul prided himself in being a zealous follower of God, steeped in the privilege of an impeccable Jewish heritage and training. Then one day, he encountered Jesus. In an instant, he was changed, but it took time for him to “flesh out” this new identity.
God changes our sex lives not by an external list of rules, but through an internal change of identity. As Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Can you say that?
How Knowing Jesus Changes Your Sex Life
If knowing Jesus is truly the center point of my identity, I will begin to see and experience the world differently. This is why the Bible tells us that we will feel like aliens and have different affections than the world does. Following Jesus means surrendering everything, including the powerful messages that once defined my experiences.
Yes, He is invited into my sexuality, into my wounds, into my shame, and into my struggles. It didn’t happen right away, for God waited for me to open each door.
God is not calling you to simply live a sexually moral life, but to grow in the maturity of what it means to be transformed by Him. Imagine your life as if it were a house divided into rooms. Some rooms, like the kitchen and living room, you are comfortable sharing with casual acquaintances. Other rooms like your bedroom or office are reserved for people who know you well. And then there are the hidden spaces—closets, the attic, the basement storage—where all the junk stays piled up and unexamined.
Growing in your relationship with God means that you invite Him into every room. Over the course of your journey with Him, the Lord will ask for access into not only the public spaces of your life, but the secret, hidden, and personal places.
And so, yes, He is invited into my sexuality, into my wounds, into my shame, and into my struggles. It didn’t happen right away, for God waited for me to open each door.
God’s transforming and redemptive work is not just for those who identify with a particular sin struggle or expression of their sexuality. It’s for all of us. It’s for the Christian man who approaches the bedroom with a demanding spirit. It’s for the woman who swears to herself that she will never allow herself to trust a man. It’s for the Christian single who believes she will never be whole unless God brings a spouse. And it’s for the Christian teacher who has taught the rules without compassion.
As you wrestle with sexual pain and struggles, consider this question: is there any identity, good or bad, that trumps your Creator’s love for you and His Lordship in your life?