Last updated on October 2, 2020
Dear Mr. Hamilton,
I was taught growing up that sex is only for procreation and that when I get married I can only have sex if it is to try and get my wife pregnant. Is this true?
Roman Catholicism teaches that sex is only for procreation (attempting to have children). However, this doesn’t match what the Bible teaches. Sex serves a legitimate purpose separate from reproduction.
One purpose of sex is to satisfy the body’s desire for sex. “Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (I Corinthian 7:2). Therefore, sex within marriage helps reduce the temptation to commit sexual sins.
Sex also exists as an expression of love and enjoyment between the husband and wife. “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband” (I Corinthians 7:3). Interestingly, Paul calls it a duty in marriage to express sexual affection between a husband and wife. And Solomon points out that sex within marriage is intended to be fun. “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love” (Proverbs 5:18-19). Your fountain is a poetic way to refer to your penis. The reference to the deer in describing your wife’s breasts is because a deer bounces when it runs.
The Song of Solomon talks about romantic love, including sex. Interestingly, the desire for children is not mentioned in its pages. Instead, we find the wife suggesting that she and her husband take some time off to enjoy each other. “Come, my beloved, let us go forth to the field; let us lodge in the villages. Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine has budded, whether the grape blossoms are open, and the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give you my love. The mandrakes give off a fragrance, and at our gates are pleasant fruits, all manner, new and old, which I have laid up for you, my beloved” (Song of Solomon 7:11-13). There are numerous allusions in this passage. Mandrake is a plant that stirs the desire for sex. Throughout the Song of Solomon, the budding vineyards are a symbol of the growing love between two people. What she is offering her husband is some time experimenting with sex, trying out both old and new ideas.
Thus, we conclude that while sex is for procreation, it was not intended to be solely for that.