Title: Biblical Principles of Sex
Author: Bob Smith
Publisher: Timeless Texts, 2003; 51 pp. $8.00
This week, in our daily Bible reading program, we’ve finished reading the Song of Solomon.
Much has been written and preached about this book in recent years — with a new interpretation that is much more literal than in previous generations and centuries. In part, that is helpful. The Puritans did their hearers and us no service by understanding Solomon’s book as an allegory of love between Christ and the church. Yet contemporary preachers who go to extremes in their attention to speculative details in the Song of Solomon likewise do their hearers and readers a disservice. [Aside: John MacArthur did a masterful job of addressing this topic in a four-part series entitled, “The Rape of Song of Solomon.” It is archived on Pulpit Magazine.]
There must be a better balance of understanding the Biblical text without being lurid.
Into this discussion steps Bob Smith with his exceedingly helpful book, Biblical Principles of Sex. The book is short and the premise is simple: what does the Bible have to say about the sexual relationship between married believers? Smith examines several primary texts (Gen. 1; John 4; 1 Cor. 7; Prov. 5), offering clear exposition of the relevant verses, and then application of the principles drawn out of the passages.
His discussions of how the truths in these passages work out, particularly his understanding of 1 Cor. 7, are particularly helpful. Smith offers six fundamental principles to govern intimacy in marriage:
- Sex in marriage is pure and holy.
- Sex is not he basis of marriage, and marriage is not first and foremost a physical union.
- The goal of the sexual relationship is to provide sexual satisfaction for one’s spouse.
- Both have equal ability to satisfy each other.
- Pleasure in sex is not forbidden, but assumed and encouraged.
- Sexual relations are to be regular and continuous.
Even those who have been believers only a short while will likely be familiar with these passages — they are commonly taught and referenced on the topics of marriage and sexuality. Yet Smith brings a fresh perspective to these passages. For instance, in discussing sexual “needs,” he notes that a need is that which will result in harm if it is not supplied. He then draws this conclusion:
So what are “sexual needs”? Actually, there are none. But it may help in a marriage relationship to think of the matter this way: Look at your spouse’s desires as needs you are required to satisfy. Inaction on your [part] will not prevent damage to your spouse since none will occur. The main issue is whether you are pleasing God by satisfying your spouse’s desires. As a matter of fact, to treat your spouse’s desires as needs (which you are required to supply) aids your spiritual growth and prevents spiritual damage to you rather than to your spouse. Thus the only time you can use the term “sexual needs” is in relation to your spouse.
Smith’s goal is to encourage believers to cease looking at self-centered desires and begin cultivating affection in marriage that strives to serve, rather than use, one’s mate.
When Christian couples practice Biblical sex, they will proclaim the Gospel as it is seen in the marriage relationship. Their companionship should grow and develop in all areas of their relationship, including the sexual area. Sex must fit the overall picture of marriage relationships. Two people must grow in all their relationships with each other. They must have deep intimacy and interpenetration in every area of their life — spiritually, mentally, and physically. As they discuss other areas of life, it will be easier to discuss the sexual relationship. These principles should be memorized and made a very vital part of their lives.
As Smith (who is currently the co-founder of Faith Baptist Counseling Ministries and previously taught at The Master’s College and Seminary) points out, these principles are particularly for sexuality, but they also have broader application to marriage, and as such are appropriate for teaching to children “as a part of the whole view of marriage.”
Here is a book that looks unashamedly and unblinkingly at a sensitive topic, yet addresses it in such a way that it can be discussed with children, and without offering inappropriate speculation. Here is a worthwhile book for all counselors and all married couples.