Sex and the New Testament

What does the Bible say about sex? Illustration by Anchor Lines, a Christian Webcomic

Jesus’ teaching, and that of the apostles in the New Testament, stands in stark contrast to the prevailing culture in many parts of the world. My intention in posting this comic is not to judge those who are living outside of the Biblical standards for sex and marriage, but rather to show the wisdom of the boundaries God has placed around sex.

A few short verses encapsulate a great deal of Jesus’ teaching on sex and marriage. In particular, Matthew 19: 4-9, and Matthew 5: 27-32. In the first of these he answers a question on divorce, and in doing so points back to the origins of marriage in God’s created world, affirming it as a lifelong union between one man and one woman.

In the second, Jesus speaks on adultery, recasting it as any kind of sexual activity outside of marriage – even to the inclusion of fantasising about anyone other than your own husband or wife. If you want to be a follower of Jesus, this is the standard he sets. For me as a Christian, my own failure to fully live up to this high bar is a constant reminder of how much I need his help and forgiveness.

If you think God doesn’t highly esteem sex, take a through Song of Solomon – the Message version might provide a helpful paraphrase of the language used. God invented sex, and designed it to be a good thing. At first glance his standards can look outdated, unnecessary and intolerant – yet undeniable damage results when we ignore his ways. He understands sex better than we could ever claim to, and in wisdom and love has set boundaries around it for our protection and blessing.

If you would like to read further on this subject, you might like to try the excellent The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller, or Sex and the Supremacy of Christ by John Piper and others.


Matthew 19: 4-9 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.  I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Matthew 5: 27 – 32  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.


This is available as a print


  1. Nice post. Quite appropriate in these times. But then God’s word is appropriate at all times.

  2. “And the spread of sexually transmitted infections would all but evaporate” actually means they do everything except go away, which I assume is the opposite of what you meant.

    • I think in the normal usage, ‘all but evaporate’ means it would almost completely disappear, which was what I meant.

  3. It’s ironic that Christians shaming others and refusing them education because of their “sexual ethic” leads to all of the problems you listed. The world wouldn’t be better off in your anti-gay sex-negative fantasy. It would be much worse.

    • Shaming others is not the example Jesus set, and I agree that it is unhelpful – but it’s naïve to think that all of the problems listed are the result of Christian influences. People were perfectly capable of all these things long before the church came on the scene. The purpose of this post was not to shame anyone, but to point out that God’s laws are not outdated or unkind – they are intended to protect us and let sex be as good as he designed it to be.

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