Holy Bible on Stand

What Does the Bible Say About Arousal?

Often, the first thing that comes to mind when asked what does the bible say about arousal is God’s design for sexuality. He intended for sex to be enjoyed between one man and one woman within the bonds of marriage.

Consequently, anything outside of that design is considered lust—pornography, masturbation, and sex with multiple partners.

1. Romans 13:13

In this passage, Paul exhorts Christians to “lay aside the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light” (v. 13). The “night” here refers to the present evil age, and the “day” refers to the new age ushered in by Christ’s return.

He goes on to tell them that their bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, and they should not use them for sexual pleasure. Masturbation, which is often associated with lustful fantasies and pornography, should be avoided because it is by nature self-serving, and it is unnecessary. God has designed the body with natural means of relief of sexual tension: ejaculation, wet dreams, and seminal emissions are all good ways to relieve it.

He also warns them against immorality, fornication, and homosexuality. And he reminds them that marriage is between one man and one woman. Sex within the marriage relationship was God’s idea, and it is a beautiful thing. When it is done properly, under blessing, it is an opportunity for intimacy, joy, and discovery. It was a part of the first husband and wife’s lives before the fall, and it should be cherished as such. Despite what the world says, sex isn’t shameful; it’s a gift from God. It’s the reason why Adam and Eve could eat of the tree of knowledge without shame (Genesis 2:15-25). It was God’s plan.

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2. 1 Corinthians 6:18

Most people, when they think about what the bible says about sex, might focus on its prohibition of having sex before marriage. But this isn’t all the bible has to say about sex.

The Greco-Roman, idol-worshiping culture of Paul’s day normalized sex of every kind, including prostitution, adultery, and pedophilia. So it’s no wonder that some of the Christians at Corinth had trouble seeing avoiding sexual immorality as such an important part of Christianity.

For this reason, the bible teaches believers to not only avoid sexual sin but also practice abstinence within marriage. It calls for abstinence from any sexual activity except with mutual consent for a reasonable amount of time consecrated to fasting and prayer (1 Corinthians 6:18).

While the bible does warn against masturbation, it is not a commandment (Romans 1:24-26). Masturbation can be an effective means of releasing tension, but when done excessively, it becomes self-serving and deceives oneself. It can be just as damaging to a relationship as the acts of lust.

The scriptures teach that sex is more than physical pleasure and it is about loving your God-given spouse and cleaving to them so you become “one flesh” together. This is a deeper union than just a physical relationship and it can only happen in the context of marriage. If you want to release your sexual tension in a holy way, then pray and look into a healthy marriage counseling program.

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3. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4

If you were to ask the average person what they think the Bible says about sex, they would probably say that it’s okay for married couples to have sex and that lifelong celibacy isn’t a good idea. But this is only a small part of the picture. The Bible addresses sexuality in a much deeper and finer way than that.

Rather than simply telling them what not to do, Paul encourages the Thessalonians to become more and more holy. This was God’s will for them, he said. The best way to learn how to do this was to “keep away from all sexual immorality”.

This is the only passage in the entire Bible that explicitly mentions sex, and in terms of what it’s okay to do and what isn’t. I believe that the sex Paul refers to here is more general than he would have used it in 1 Corinthians 5. That’s because he uses the phrase “porneia” in other places (e.g., Ephesians 5, Colossians 3) and in a more broad list of vices that he would have included prostitution in.

Sex is about more than physical union; it’s about intimate friendship, about cleaving to your God-given other, about becoming one flesh. And that is a beautiful thing! And before you have that, however, you must be sure that you are pure in Christ. The more deeply you believe that, the more easily it will be for you to resist sexual sin and keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.

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4. 1 Corinthians 7:4

In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul answers questions written to him by Christians in Corinth. One of these concerns whether married people are more spiritual than unmarried ones. He explains that marriage should not be seen as a refuge from sexual immorality, but rather a way to control it. He also makes clear that sex in marriage is not inherently less spiritual than abstaining from it altogether.

A common misconception of this scripture is that it says wives have no power over their husbands’ bodies. This is not what Paul means. In fact, he goes on to say that the authority God gives husbands over their wives’ bodies is matched by the authority wives have over their own bodies. It’s important to remember that the whole chiasm of verses 1-7 is based on mutuality, not hierarchy. This is the only time that Paul discusses authority in relation to sex in the bible.

The word for “power” here is the Greek noun exousiazo. It is sometimes translated as “authority,” but can also carry the idea of freedom or liberty. I like to think of it as the same kind of meaning that is carried by the noun license, which gives you the right and authority to drive a vehicle on public roads. Exousiazo is about something much more personal than a driver’s license, however: it’s about sex in marriage.