Sexuality in the Bible: A Critical Examination

2021-05-20 22:18:54
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Sexuality among human beings is defined as the ability to have erotic responses and experiences (Baniste 222). Such experiences, according to (Martos 692), may be expressed through beliefs, desires, thoughts, values, attitudes and relationships such as marriage. It is important to note that religious aspects affect the way sex is viewed in the society. The early Christian and Jewish writings portray divergent views on sexuality. I will critically examine the aspect of sexuality in this paper. My thesis statement is that I believe that sex is positively portrayed in the bible. This paper will endeavor to prove this thesis statement. To test my thesis, I will illustrate both sides of the statement with examples from proverbs, Song of Songs, Holy Bible and historical passages on the early Christian and Jewish perspectives in relation to sexuality. I will then attempt to affirm my thesis statement.

To begin with, the views of some early Christians seemed to disapprove the aspect of sexuality. One early father of Christianity, Gregory of Nyssa on virginity 12, argued that Eves virginity should have been upheld. However, due to the shame associated with the pleasures of sex, she feared facing God; hence, had to hide after the act with Adam (Martos 693). This meant that sex was probably wrong because Eve should have remained a virgin as it were. Gregorys counterpart, Irenaeus against Heresies Bk 3 chapter 22:4, asserted that Eve lost her virginity because she was disobedient to God. The fact that they were naked and comfortable with it means that they were not aware of sexuality. Eves action therefore, was a blatant disobedience to God. In addition, John Chrysostom 14:3 and 15: 2 emphasized on this view by claiming that marriage, sex and childbearing were not necessary in paradise. Adam and Eve are said to have been adorned with virginity but they disobeyed God (Martos 692), and lost it henceforth. These early fathers of Christianity actually seemed to demonize sex and portray it as an evil stemming from disobedience to the rules set by God.

A second view against sexuality is portrayed in Augustines perspective as articulated in The City of God. The assumption is that sex must be bad and shameful and this explains why people hide while having it ( Kasprzak 95). He exemplifies this view by stating that even a well-married man has to send all the servants out so that he can have sex with his wife. The argument is that if one has to hide so as to avoid public judgment in this case, then the action must be bad. Augustine emphasizes that everybody knows what goes on between husband and wife for the sake of reproduction of children, 47. He asserts that mans disobedience was important because it is what set the stage for offspring; otherwise, the happy city would only be populated by saints. The disobedience, however, had lasting consequences: the sexual organs (which he describes as shameful) of the woman would forever be subjected to excruciating pain during childbirth (Kasprzak 95). Augustine further argues that lust is what made Adam and Eve to disobey God yet he need to procreate should have been a matter of will, not lust, 48. He believes that before the sin of disobedience, human beings would still have procreated without lust. The underpinning issue here is that people are driven to blindly have sex by eroticism and lust. Since mans disobedience, therefore, sex became more of lust than an aspect of procreation of children hence giving it a negative image.

After considering the negative portrayal of sexuality, I would like to consider the opposing side so as to affirm my thesis. To begin with, sex is accorded a positive image in the bible. The Song of Songs, for instance, is so loaded with romantic messages that it seems to separate itself from other biblical books (Baniste 223). The book candidly deals with a subject area that makes many Jews and Christians uncomfortable. It poetically begins with romantic words that express love and physical romance: Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for your love is better than wine.(Song of Songs 1: 2). The book portrays issues of romance, sex and marriage so candidly brought out that even the Jewish Rabbis, despite their robust and healthy view of sexuality, are said to have wondered how such a book was included in the Holy Bible (Wisley 558). Nevertheless, the book portrays a positive image of sexuality.

Secondly, the notions of marriage and sex portray a positive image of sexuality in the bible. God is said to have created woman from man then commanded that man shall leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (Gen 2: 21-23). Mishna Torah 12: further stipulates the obligations of a man to his wife, one of which is to cohabit with her(4). Abraham was circumcised as part of the covenant (Gen 21:4) and was instructed that to guard the covenant, he ought not to engage in illicit sex (Zohar III, 14a). Sex with close relatives is considered illicit(Lev 18: 6). This means that sex was allowed as long as it was not illicit. Also, one of the things that a man should not deprive his wife of is marital relations (Ex 21:10). Such information shows the positive notion with which sex and marriage are upheld.

In addition, the Talmudic perspective stipulates that a man is allowed to have sexual relations with his wife (Talmud Yevamot 20b). This means that no one is restricted from having sex with his wife. As long as the wife consents to the idea, then there is nothing wrong with having sex with her (Bickart 505). The Talmudic perspective further states that whoever knows his wife to be God-fearing but doesnt have relations with her is a sinner (Talmud Yevamot 62b). This portrays a very clear image that sex in marriage is not bad after all.

Finally, in her letter of fidelity and marriage, *** urges women not to condemn or be unfair when dealing with their unfaithful husbands. This is in an effort to hold the marriage together. She argues that the man may cheat on her only for pleasure but will always be with her in a beneficial way. The writer adds that condemning the man make him worse but treating him with fairness and moderation will make him feel guilty and yearn for a change in behavior, for the better. This basically means that marriage, where fidelity and sexual relations thrive, is highly regarded and anything possible should be done to uphold it.

In conclusion, it is clear that despite the views of some early Christian and Jewish challengers of sexuality, the proponents of the same issue presented stronger arguments that legitimized sex; hence giving it a positive image, especially in the bible. I therefore confirm my thesis that sex is positively portrayed in the bible.

Works cited

Baniste, J. A. "Book Review: The Pseudepigrapha on Sexuality: Attitudes toward Sexuality in Apocalypses, Testaments, Legends, Wisdom, and Related Literature". Biblical Theology Bulletin: Journal of Bible and Culture 43.4 (2013): 222-223. Web.

Bickart, Noah Benjamin. "Overturning the Table: The Hidden Meaning of a Talmudic Metaphor for Coitus". Journal of the History of Sexuality 25.3 (2016): 489-507. Web.

Burns, Joshua Ezra. "Jews and Christians? Second Century Christian Perspectives on The Parting Of The Ways (Annual Deichmann Lectures 2013) By Tobias Nicklas". Journal of Early Christian Studies 23.3 (2015): 491-492. Web.

Kasprzak, Dariusz. "The Theological Principles Underlying AugustineS City Of God". Theological Research. The Journal of Systematic Theology 1.0 (2013): 95. Web.

Martos, J. "Book Review: Making Sense of Sex: Attitudes Towards Sexuality in Early Jewish and Christian Literature. By William Loader". Theological Studies 75.3 (2014): 692-693. Web.

Wisley, L. G. "Book Review: A Theological Commentary On Song Of Songs: Paul J. Griffiths, Song Of Songs: Brazos Theological Commentary On The Bible". The Expository Times 124.11 (2013): 558-558. Web.

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