Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!
Sex is for Procreation?
A common assertion by many Christians is that the purpose of sex is for procreation. Although the value of this position in defending various other positions is not to be ignored, what is of concern is that this does not seem to encompass the totality of the biblical witness on the purposes for sex. Sexuality is a complex issue which the Bible addresses from multiple angles.
Richard M. Davidson’s seminal work, Flame of Yahweh, provides a comprehensive look at sexuality in the Old Testament. Against the notion that the purpose of sex is for procreation, he argues:
Amid the cacophony of pagan fertility rite percussion, beating out the message that sex is solely for procreation, in the Song [of Songs] the procreative function of sexuality is conspicuous by its absence. The Song does not deny this ninth facet of a sexual theology, but as in Gen[esis] 1, where procreation is added as a separate blessing (Gen[esis] 1:28), sexuality in the Song is freed from the common misunderstanding that its sole (or even primary) intent must be for the propagation of children. (605-606, cited below)
He provides much more argumentation than this, of course, but the conclusion above is telling. Perhaps we have missed something when it comes to the biblical teaching on sexuality. By focusing exclusively on procreation, we have not fully embraced the Bible’s comprehensive scope. The Song of Songs is an oft-ignored book which clearly shows the goodness of human sexuality, and that this goodness is not limited to the purpose of procreation.
That is a message worth putting forward, as couples struggle with miscarriage, infertility, and the like. Sexuality remains a good thing, even if it does not produce children, for God created human sexuality and called it good. The message of the Bible, and of Song of Songs in particular, teaches that human sexuality is wholesome and holistic, it is not reducible to one purpose or intent. See Davidson’s work, Flame of Yahweh, for further explanation and exegesis.
What do you think? How might the reductionist approach of sexuality = procreation often taught by Christians impact the perceptions about human sexuality? What can we do to better present the biblical view of human sexuality?
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Richard M. Davidson, Flame of Yahweh (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2007).
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