Skip to main content

A Biblical Catechism on Sex and Marriage: The Purpose of Sex

[This post continues a series of posts entitled 'A Biblical Catechism on Sex and Marriage'.  The intention is to provide basic material for further instruction by a trusted teacher of God's Word in a church that is committed to Biblical authority.  The Church’s mission is to invite people to live under God’s righteous rule.]

Question 2. What is the purpose of sex?

Answer: The purpose of sex is for marital union (‘becoming one flesh’) and marital procreation. 

Genesis 1:27-28  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  [Note: Regarding marriage.]

Matthew 19:4-5 [Jesus] answered, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,  5 and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh'?  [Note: Regarding divorce and remarriage.]

1 Corinthians 6:16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, "The two will become one flesh."  [Note: Regarding prostitution.]

Ephesians 5:31 "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."  [Note: Regarding marital permanence and devotion.]

Comment 1: The pleasure of sex cannot be separated from the purpose of sex.  Sex, while a pleasure, is a physical union of a male and a female (‘one flesh’) that also symbolizes and seals marital union.  The purposeful union of marriage is the right context for sexual pleasure: sex is a marital pleasure.

Comment 2: The pleasure of sex is celebrated through anticipation in the Song of Solomon.  This book also warns the reader not to awaken love before its time (2:7; 3:5; 8:4).  These texts say, ‘do not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.’  The NRSV seems to capture the point: ‘…until it is ready!’  The pleasure of sex must not get ahead of the proper place for sex, which is within marriage.  Every couple needs to establish boundaries and not unite sexually before marriage.

Comment 3: The act of sex seals the marriage.  Only the woman can demonstrate virginity at the time of marriage if her hymen is torn during her first act of sex.  The bloodied cloak was kept as proof, and any evidence of pre-marital sex could call for the end of the betrothal or marriage (Deuteronomy 22:13-24; Matthew 1:18-19; 5:32; 19:9).  Note that, if the young women of Israel remained virgins until marriage, this would automatically mean that the men would also be virgins when they married.

Comment 4: Sex is not simply a bodily function or pleasure; it is a matter of morality.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to live and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

1 Corinthians 6:13-15, 18-20  The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.  14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.  15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!...  18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.  19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,  20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.