In my last post, I talked about 4 great Bible stories involving sex. Specifically, I discussed Adam and Eve, Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, Hannah and Elkanah, and David and Bathsheba (not the adulterous part, the better part).
There are many Bible stories about sexual sin, some of them quite awful indeed. However, the above four and the following three are my favorite ones that teach us something important about God’s gift of sexuality to marriage.
1. The Lover and the Beloved. You had to know this one would make the list! But what’s the story exactly? Beyond all those flowery passages, like how her “navel is a rounded goblet” (Song of Songs 7:2) and his “arms are rods of gold” (5:14)?
Well, there’s an interesting story in Chapter 5, in which the husband comes home late and wants some nookie. (Okay, it’s worded more sophisticated than that, but you get the gist.) And what does the wife do? Yeah, she does what a lot of us wives have done at least one time or another: “I have taken off my robe—must I put it on again? I have washed my feet—
must I soil them again?” In other words, “You want me disrupt my sleep and make some big effort for sex? Come on! Not tonight!”
But what’s inspiring about the rest of the story is this wise wife realizes pretty quickly she’s missed a golden opportunity. She gets up and searches for her husband, desiring him to return to bed with her.
Why? Because they love each other, and sexual intimacy is worth some effort. Once you make the decision to engage, you may find yourself saying, as the Beloved wife says, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine; he browses among the lilies” (6:3). Translation? We’re in love and gettin’ it on. (More or less.)
2. Hosea and Gomer. So Gomer’s not really my favorite person, what with all the running away and adultery. But God commands Hosea to marry her, to pursue her, to make love to her, and to bring her back when she wanders.
I don’t believe this story suggests a spouse should put up with a callous pattern of adultery, because God had His own purposes and points to make with this story. However, it’s enlightening how far God is willing to have a husband pursue a wayward wife.
If your marriage has been struck by pornography or adultery or emotional unfaithfulness, you need to do all you can reasonably do to heal the relationship and create a safe space for holy intimacy in your marriage. Yes, you can leave, biblically, and some situations indeed call for that step. But our culture now leans the other way — walking out as soon as infidelity has occurred. Maybe we could use a little more Hosea in our hearts.
3. Joseph and Mary. So Joseph was betrothed to Mary and found out she was pregnant. Yikes! Thankfully, an angel appeared to him and explained: “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. . . . When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus” (Matthew 1:20-21, 24-25).
When I was halfway through one of my pregnancies, I was diagnosed with a condition that required my husband and I to abstain from sex for four months. I think those four months are like dog years to a husband, because it felt like a reeeally loooong time before he could be intimate with his wife.
While I’m all over the have-sex-often plan, sometimes you can’t. Military couples separated by tours of duty, spouses going through health issues, long-term work separations, etc. can cause an absence in sexual intimacy. And yeah, it’s tough. But you know what, Joseph did it. He waited until Mary had delivered God’s son, Jesus, and then made love to his wife.
Do I think they avoided affection or even arousal? I don’t know. I suspect not. He’d waited for a long time for Mary, loved her, and wanted her as his wife. Yet he was patient when he needed to be, sexually intimate when he could be.
So there are three more stories in the Bible that involve sexuality in some way. Maybe I shed a different perspective on one of them. Maybe I didn’t draw the same conclusions you did. Maybe we can gather in Heaven someday and hear these stories straight from the people who experienced them.
In the meantime, what are some of your favorite Bible stories? What have you learned about marriage or sexuality from them? What is your take on any of the stories I’ve shared?