Any conversation with your children about sex and marriage would be incomplete without discussing sexual attraction. This topic often lacks biblical clarity for Christians because it is most commonly discussed outside its biblical context. The Bible is clear: sex is reserved for marriage. If one is attracted to sexual activity, that attraction can be pleasing to God only when it is focused on its expression within marriage. On the other hand, I am not saying that we should not appreciate—and even, in a proper sense, be attracted by beauty. But the Bible makes a distinction between admiration of beauty and sexual attraction. The beauty of Job’s daughters was recognized throughout the land. That is not the same as saying that people throughout the land desired them sexually. On the other hand, Proverbs 5:19 speaks of being captivated (NIV) or intoxicated (ESV) by love for one’s wife. The public admiration of physical beauty is appropriate when there is no intimacy or lust involved. Sexual attraction, though, is to be restricted and private. Unlike the appreciation of physical beauty, biblical sexual attraction leads to intimate knowledge of the person being admired. Biblical sexual attraction must involve at least these four qualities:
- Worship of God
- Intimacy and pleasure
- The purpose of procreation
- Expression of unity in the one-flesh relationship
In his book, The God of Sex, Dr. Peter Jones gives a thorough and compelling biblical argument for this view of sexual attraction. Biblical sexual attraction goes far beyond what the world calls sexual attraction, and marriage is absolutely essential if God is going to be honored when you or your children think about sex. In this culture, we have the myth of the red-blooded American male. The idea is that when male or female hormones are at work, sexual attraction can’t be helped; it is involuntary. That may be the world’s understanding, but it is rooted in the humanistic, Darwinian thought that sex is primarily a biological function and that sexual attraction is necessary to ensure that humans keep breeding. Both your sons and daughters must be taught that such thinking is unbiblical and displeasing to God. Sex and marriage are not the products of a long evolutionary process. Rather, they are part of God’s mandate for man at creation to glorify God as he occupied and controlled the earth. Christ warns against lust leading to adultery of the heart. Paul insists that Christians are not to live life as the world does, becoming dominated by sensuality. Sensuality is what passes for sexual attraction in this culture–but sensuality is actually the opposite of biblical sexual attraction. That is why it is vital that sexual activity be rooted in the context of marriage. Sexual attraction is to be private and deeply personal between husband and wife. Biblical sexual attraction is not primarily physical attraction. Look with me at Proverbs 5:15-21, and you will see why this is true.
Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer – may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love. Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man’s wife? For a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all his paths.
Note the personal nature of this instruction. The husband’s thoughts are not to be public, but private. He is not to look at other women the way he looks at his wife. There is no doubt that the husband is to be sexually attracted to his wife and her body. But note carefully that this attraction is not physical at the core. The passage does not say if one’s wife meets certain culturally accepted criteria then he is to be attracted to her. Not at all. Rather, this view of sexual attraction is intensely biblical and personal. Since every woman’s body is different–in some cases dramatically different–from other women’s bodies, it cannot be the size and shape of her body that is the basis of a husband being captivated and intoxicated by her. The four relational components listed at the beginning of this chapter form the basis of the husband’s intoxication for his wife. That is how appreciation of physical beauty and biblical sexual attraction differentiate themselves. Physical beauty can be admired by many. But sexual attraction is only for one’s marriage partner.
Sexual attraction outside of marriage will lead to lust and, eventually, torment. It is important to teach this truth to both your daughters and your sons. In Galatians 5:19-21, sensuality is listed as one of the deeds of the flesh. The Spirit’s fruit of self-control is what counters sensuality. The Holy Spirit’s fruit of self-control is not the anguished self-denial of living with unmet desires. Biblical self-control is rooted in the fact that God has better things prepared for his people in sexual relations than we can possibly imagine. That is the view of self-control that God wants you to teach your children. That is the view they will need in order to withstand the sexual onslaught of modern culture. What the world offers as sexual attractiveness is a lie. It never satisfies. It only produces an uncontrollable hunger for more and more sex. Sexual attraction in this context is simply lust, and it is destructive to all it controls.
[This post is written by Jay Younts, and is drawn from his brand new book, Everyday Talk about Sex and Marriage: A Biblical Handbook for Parents.]