Historically, the idea labelling sex as dirty and evil crept into some Christian denominations, resulting in the erroneous teaching that sex should only be engaged in by married couples when they wanted to have children.
God created humans as male and female and considered His whole creation “very good” (Genesis 1:31). He planned for husbands and wives to be joined together and to become one flesh through sexual relations (Genesis 2:24), and He calls the marriage bed “undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4).
Children are a natural result of sexual intercourse between a husband and wife and are called “a gift from the Lord” (Psalms 127:3, New Living Translation). But the Bible does not restrict sex in marriage to be only for making babies. In fact, the Bible encourages husbands and wives to give pleasure to their mates.
Our Marriage and Family: The Missing Dimension booklet points out: “The idea that sex was dirty and evil was an idea that crept into Christianity from early Catholic teachers. Their compromise with the obvious reality that sexual activity was necessary to have children resulted in their teaching that sex should only be engaged in by married couples when they wanted to have children. Yet there is no such instruction in the Bible.
“Genesis 2:24 says, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh [have sex].’ Proverbs 5:15-19 encourages couples to enjoy sexual pleasure together within marriage. Paul says that husbands and wives should render the sexual affection due each other—refraining only during times set aside for prayer and fasting (1 Corinthians 7:3-5).
“No passage in the Bible forbids husbands and wives from having sex for pleasure when not trying to conceive children. There is nothing wrong with couples using contraceptive methods, provided they are not physically harmful, to postpone having children until the time of their choosing.”
One passage often cited as prohibiting birth control is in Genesis 38. This sad story is one of selfishness and rebellion, but does not make a statement about birth control in general.
After Tamar’s husband Er died, her father-in-law Judah told his son Onan, “‘You must marry Tamar, as our law requires of the brother of a man who has died. Her first son from you will be your brother’s heir.’ But Onan was not willing to have a child who would not be his own heir. So whenever he had intercourse with Tamar, he spilled the semen on the ground to keep from having a baby who would belong to his brother” (Genesis 38:8-9, NLT). Onan’s sin was rebellion and selfishness, not birth control.
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