What does the Bible say about intimacy? Is it permissible only in marriage?
Separated from God
Before looking at what the Bible says about intimacy, maybe I should say what our relationship with God is. Before we’ve ever been saved, we were enemies of God (Rom 5:10) because our sins had separated us from a holy God (Isaiah 59:2). We could not even approach God as we were cut off from Him “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8) and since “we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Rom 5:9). Whoever believes in Jesus (John 3:36) and repents (Mark 1:15) will be saved (John 3:16). It’s not about religion; it’s about a relationship with God. That is possible only through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).
Marriage and Intimacy
The author of Hebrews writes about the differences between sex within marriage and sex outside of marriage by writing, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Heb 13:4). This means that sex within marriage is good in God’s eyes and is a blessing from Him and as long as it’s within the confines of marriage, God is pleased. Sexual intimacy is His gift to married couples, but it changes drastically when one of the spouses has sex outside of the “marriage bed.” That is called adultery and this law has never been changed and in fact, some in the first century church were put out of the church for their sexual immorality. Even the unsaved (Gentiles) know what sin is and what sin isn’t (Rom 2:14-15). Christians are without excuse. God will judge all sexually immoral people who refuse to stop, repent, and live in faithfulness to their marriage partner.
If a man or woman says “If you loved me, you’d go to bed with me,” they are not only lying, they are trying to use your body to fulfill their own lusts of the flesh. True love never harms anyone (1st Cor 13:4) or takes advantage of someone’s situation. We can tempt others just as Satan did Eve. We can so easily cause a brother or sister to stumble by touching or stoking areas that are expressly forbidden by the Bible. Lust of the heart is adultery to Jesus (Matt 5:27-3) and any sex outside of marriage is considered sinning against one’s one body and not like the other sins which we commit, which are outside of the body (1 Cor 6:18). Solomon asked, “Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned” (Prov 6:27) or “Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched” (Prov 6:28)? Obviously the answer is no. Playing with fire eventually or even suddenly leads to getting burned and in the chest (our hearts) and then to our “clothes” meaning that we might have the fragrance of an adulterer before others. Solomon’s conclusion is that “he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished” (Prov 6:29). The Day of Judgment will come; it’s only a matter of time for the unrepentant adulterer or sexually immoral person (Rev 21:8). God says that “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body” (1st Cor 6:13) and “he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh” (1st Cor 6:16) so “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (1st Cor 6:18). Paul essentially says that our body is supposed to a temple for the Holy Spirit, not a brothel (1st Cor 6:19) so flee and don’t look back like Lot’s wife who “looked back, and she became a pillar of salt” (Gen 19:26b).
A Relationship with God
God knows us better than we know ourselves and writing about what the Bible says won’t help you if you haven’t repented and trusted in Christ. This means all the old things are passing away, not all at once, but surely they will. For some, it comes suddenly but for others, they struggle with a particular sin most of their Christian life. I don’t know why that happens. Some have no doubt, some live in doubt. The idea of repentance is turning away from sin and forsaking it all together. Each person’s sanctification in Christ comes at different speeds. We must give people time to be changed by God’s Spirit. I know I make a very poor imitation of the Holy Spirit in trying to convict someone of their sin. A person that has repented may stumble but they get back up, ask for forgiveness, and move on into a life of obedience again. God is patient with us but will chastise any child of His if they start to stray into or even plunge into sin but a person that’s genuinely repented and then put their trust in Christ should not live in fear of hell. I hope you already have a relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ (John 6:44) so that you can never perish (John 3:16) because you believed Jesus when He said “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). That’s how you establish a relationship with the Father; repent and believe the gospel (Rom 10:9-13; 2nd Cor 5:21).
This might seem old fashioned to some but God does not change. He judged Sodom suddenly but He may judge others later, but the truth is every idle word and every single thing we do, we will have to stand before God to give an account (Rom 14:12) but if you’ve repented and trusted in Christ, then your sins were placed upon Jesus Christ at the cross. If not, you will have to bear your own sins and that will take all of eternity because you can never pay them for them by yourself.
Article by Pastor Jack Wellman