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1 Corinthians 7:1-9 (NASB):

Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 But because of sexual immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. 3 The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise the wife also to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise the husband also does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 But this I say by way of concession, not of command. 7 Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each has his own gift from God, one in this way, and another in that.

8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. 9 But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Nothing in this passage mentions reproduction / the begetting of children as the primary motivation/reason for initiating intercourse (at least at face value). Instead, we see expressions such as "fulfill his/her duty to his/her wife/husband", "stop depriving one another", "come together so that Satan will not tempt you", "lack of self-control", "for it is better to marry than to burn with passion", which can more easily be understood in my opinion as Paul saying "look, if you need to keep your passion in check, get married and quench it with your spouse". Instead, nothing in the passage makes me think that Paul's intention was to say "look, if you really want to have many children, get married and beget lots of them with your spouse". The latter reading would make no sense to me.

Question: Is Paul expressing approval of marital intercourse as a means to keep the sexual passion of the spouses in check rather than beget more children at 1 Corinthians 7:1-9?

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  • I feel I have to downvote this question because you haven't given any reason to not think this is the meaning of the passage. Please provide more context to your questions! – curiousdannii Mar 21 at 23:38
  • Yes, not only expressing approval, but even advising and urging Christians to marry if they cannot contain sexual desire and burn with it, for in marriage this desire will be checked and leveled so as to not "burn", that is to say, exert a damaging influence. – Levan Gigineishvili Mar 22 at 7:05
  • What Paul seems to be saying is that it is better to sexually desire the opposite sex over members of the same sex, or animals, like dogs (Lev 20:13,15). And that this desire should be exercised with a sanctioned marriage partner, rather than with extramarital acquaintances. But that the best thing is to not have any carnal sexual desire at all neither within, nor without, marriage. – Constantthin Mar 24 at 12:34
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Statistically speaking, procreation is a very minor part (in some marriages, zero) of the purpose of copulation. [Biologically, copulation produces offspring quite rarely! And, after menopause, the average woman still has as much sexual activity as before as far as years are concerned.]

The question appears to be predicated on some assumption that sex is only acceptable for reproductive purposes. The Bible never presents this view! Witness the following:

  • The entire book of the Song of Songs is a celebration of the ecstatic joys of erotic love. Several passages here describe how the lovers are "faint with love" and aroused with desire, eg, SS 2:5-7, 3:5, 4:5, 6, 7:7, 8, 10, 8:3, 4, 5, 6, etc.
  • Prov 5:18, 19 - May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth: A loving doe, a graceful fawn— may her breasts satisfy you always; may you be captivated by her love forever. [I will assume that this audience is mature enough that I do not need to explain the euphemisms in this passage.]
  • Sex appears to have been given to help bind two people together to make them "one", Gen 2:24 (quoted in Matt 19:5, 6, Mark 10:8, 1 Cor 6:16)

None of this means that the purpose of sex is to simply satisfy one's passions - the purpose is to express a sacred and holy bond between two loving people in which no one else may participate.

However, the biological fact that people have a sex drive means that for some, this is a source of temptation. Paul, in 1 Cor 7:1-9, is simply suggesting that if this is a problem and source of temptation, then find a good, Godly partner and get married. In the case of older couples, this has zero chance of producing children, but that should not prevent married couples enjoying one of the great gifts of God.

Nothing in all the above, or anywhere else in the Bible says that children MUST be born to a marriage. The command to "fruitfully multiply" was an imperative in ancient times but it would be far better now that it were ignored because of overcrowding. For both these reasons, intelligent contraception is not opposed in Scripture.

In short, the Bible does not teach the doctrine of "Holy Flesh" (= sex only for the purpose of procreation).

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  • Better to say that the command to multiply and fill the earth has been achieved already than that it should be ignored. – curiousdannii Mar 21 at 23:37
  • @curiousdannii - yes that might be a better way to phrase it. – Dottard Mar 21 at 23:40
  • @curiousdannii "the command to multiply and fill the earth has been achieved already" How do you know this? – One God the Father Mar 22 at 3:37
  • "The command to "fruitfully multiply" was an imperative in ancient times but it would be far better now that it were ignored" !!! It wasn't just an ancient imperative, it is a God-given commandment. Do you have a scripture-based reason for ignoring this commandment? – One God the Father Mar 22 at 3:38
  • @AnthonyBurg - The WHOLE of the commend says, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth" (Gen 1:28) - that job has now been done - the earth is certainly full of people!! – Dottard Mar 22 at 4:52

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