Sex lives of Bible folks
Does anyone else find that thinking about the sex lives of Bible folks makes them more real to you? Do you wonder whether and how they did things differently and how they saw it? Do you think anyone was as “enlightened” as we are now? Or were they more so? Did they start off enjoying sex just the way God meant for us to (following The Fall) and just kind of lose it as time passed?
The Christmas I was engaged, I thought a lot about Mary and Joseph’s sex life–the fact that Mary would have a vagina stretched from birth before Joseph got to enjoy her, wondering how long they waited after Jesus’ birth before they indulged (I was always assuming they were as eager to enjoy the honeymoon as DH and I were!) Jesus had a bunch of brothers (and presumably sisters) so clearly they had sex a fair few times after.
Not just them, though: Jacob and his 4 sex partners and dozen (plus) children–did the women compare notes on his technique? (The servants anyway; I doubt the sisters ever felt comfortable with each other again.)
I just wonder how much sex, the urge for sex, and the feelings created by and surrounding sex affected Bible (and post-Bible!) history? What are your thoughts???
I don’t have deep thoughts on this, so I’m waiting to read everyone else’s. But I have often wondered about Adam and Eve. Did God tell them outright how to have sex or is it something they had to learn? I’m no Bible scholar so someone else can maybe tell me. Did they have sex in the Garden of Eden?
I have also wondered if in the early days, people had a better understanding of sex or not. And if they did, how was it lost in the Victorian era?
I think it’s interesting how much scripture intimates (ha! Pun not intended) and outright says about the consequences of their sexual choices.
Think of the emotional anguish of Jacobs wives because of his choices. Leah was absolutely desperate for love and affection. She even explicitly talked about it in Genesis 29! (Exerpt below) She just longed to be affirmed and adored by her husband. He used that longing and conflict to get more sex. How awful!
I think about the sexual choices of Solomon. I imagine he was really “enlightened” and enjoyed all sorts of pleasures. He says such good things in Song of Solomon and Proverbs. But his knowledge eventually led him to worship sex as his God. (And I wonder if he will be in heaven because scripture doesn’t record him returning to the Lord.)
In all things, I think these are a clear reminder to us to make sure our hearts are pursuing and delighting in the giver first and the gift second.
As for them enjoying it the way God meant them to, I think there is nothing new under the sun. I think some understand and delighted in sexual pleasure how God intended. And some were legalistic and and closed and some were liberal and too open. I think every generation has those who choose the high road.
Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben,[b] for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”
33 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon.[c]
34 Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi.[d]
35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah.[e] Then she stopped having children.
@peachrings So my mind is a bit blown by reading the verses about Leah’s sons. Three sons, and still she felt unloved. And on the fourth, she finally realized that it was never about Jacob’s love. It was about God’s love. And that child, the one who allowed Leah to see the truth about God’s love being the greatest of all, is the patriarch of the tribe through which God sent Jesus.
A bit more! This is not in Bible times but people who homesteaded and shared cabins as families, did those parents have sex? Where the cabin was the size of our master bedroom and everyone slept in the same room? Or people who traveled to America and were jammed in ships, what did they do? Or martyrs, who were on the run? Were they ever relaxed enough to have sex? Ok, I’ll stop now.
I strongly suspect that women talked. I don’t know if there is much evidence that the Biblical women used a menstruation hut like some Jewish subcultures do. But given that they were ceremonially unclean and their cycles probably would have coincided with each other, it’s not a farfetched notion that they did spend time together during menstruation. I would imagine that talk might have turned toward sex. I feel that polygamy is never seen as a good thing in the Bible, and you’d think that comparing techniques might be a reason why. I really wouldn’t need to hear that my husband was better in bed with someone else than he was with me. I frequently see sister wives out together when I’m on my vacation, and I will admit that it’s about the first thing I think of.
Sex and the emotions that go with it are everywhere in the Bible. David and Bathsheba merit their own thread, for starters. I get sick just thinking about how embarrassed Dinah must have been in the aftermath of her rape. Plus imagine how Sarah must have felt as she lay in bed alone that first night Abraham spent with poor Hagar. All three of them must have had so many conflicting emotions.
I think that as humans are sexual beings, so much of the Bible’s history is strongly influenced by sex. And we have to largely make inferences about how the women especially felt.
One of my favorite parts of the Christmas narrative is when the angel visits Joseph to tell him not to be alarmed. I have so much respect for Joseph. First, for wanting to divorce Mary quietly rather than create a scene. Second, for agreeing to raise the Messiah. I mean, who does that? Huge leap of faith right there. Even with an angel present. Joseph was, after all, just a regular guy. And yes, I respect him for being the man to shepherd Mary into motherhood and postpartum, and her first sexual experience afterwards. It’s beautiful, really. The tenderness he would have had to have shown to this woman who had been prophesied in Genesis, but who was also really the girl next door. There’s a reason. why the whole family is considered holy.
It’s a lesson to the rest of us, I guess. God uses us for His glory. And sex is a part of that.
Well, Samson for starters…
A man of God who accomplished awesome feats. Life was pretty messed up because of his penchant for sex outside of marriage. God’s redemption had the final say in his life, but I still wonder what could have been if he would of lived a godlier sex life.
Lots of lessons there for us today.
I enjoy how you think about subjects like these. I honestly never thought about the sex lives of those in Biblical times.
With this in mind, I was thinking about how Jacob and Abraham may have secretly enjoyed being able to do this or how this appealed to the flesh. I do wonder if they had any conviction about being one woman husband though. Did the Lord make them miserable for going through with these decisions? I also find the accounts interesting that the women made the suggestions. Hmm.
In addition, what about the situation with Nabal and Abigail? How could Abigail enjoy the marriage bed with someone as crude as Nabal? Could the reward God gave her for her faithfulness be for her to be in the lineage of Christ? Wow…what an amazing thought.
I have always believed that Adam and Eve had sex in the Garden before the Fall, and that it had to have been the best sex ever!! Granted, the text only says that Adam lay with Eve after the Fall, when she would have conceived Cain (Genesis 4:1). However, the command to be fruitful and multiply was given before the Fall, and since they were in perfect obedience at the time, I’m guessing they made love often! We don’t have a timeline as to how long it was from Adam and Eve’s creation until the Fall, but it would seem that at least a reasonable segment of time would have passed, enough for them to have sex at least a few times perhaps! 🙂
@peachrings: I’m glad you reminded me about Leah. I have noticed her situation before and thought about how horrible that would be, but admit that I have identified with Rachel more because I was not blessed with the ability to conceive and spent many years crying out for my womb to open while I saw all the women around me with their arms full of babies. Even then, however, I recognized that I was blessed to be adored by my husband.
So then I try to think what could Jacob have done? Having been tricked into taking Leah as his wife when he didn’t love her in the first place, how could he have behaved in a way that truly cared for her and met her needs while respecting the love he had promised Rachel? (This is a great object lesson for why God only permitted polygamy in that time and culture, but designed us for monogamy!!) Because God always leaves us a choice not to sin in any given choice, there has to have been a way that Jacob could have navigated that situation righteously–and still beget 12 sons to father the 12 tribes of Israel. What would it have been? Because I guarantee that they had tried everything (including every prayer, repentance, confession, and lesson learned they could think of) to get Rachel to conceive.
(I am not being argumentative; I am interested in genuine discussion and using what a former pastor called “sanctified imagination”.)