Christians, relying on the Bible, do think there should be limits on sex. But why?

No one enjoys having their gods stolen or threatened.

Frequently the people around us might put it down to us being old fashioned, judgmental, and contrarian. Contemporary culture, in contrast, is considered pro-sex. After all, it isn’t hung up about questions of gender, while it increasingly questions the idea of monogamy. Thus, it’s unsurprising that the limits Christians insist on for sex don’t go down very well. When freedom in our choices related to sex and sexuality become so dear to the point of idolatry, we should expect negative responses. No one enjoys having their gods stolen or threatened.

Why do Christians limit sex? A tragedy is that repeatedly many Christians themselves can’t give a good answer. Often it’s simply one rule in a long list that their church or elders have passed on to them. And the why, the bigger picture, regularly isn’t supplied. What that also means, as we know, is that rule-based people tend to be judgmental, quick to simply look down on others for any rule-breaking. And this doesn’t help the general idea of what Christians do or don’t believe about sex—and why there are limits.

The Why Matters

So why do Christians limit who should have sex? Here are two main reasons why, as we take into account God and how he has given sex as a good gift.

1. Sex Is Sacred

Firstly, and positively, we think that sex is so sacred or special that it should be set apart only for a certain relationship and context.

Christians are mocked because society’s view of sex is so very low.

And Christians can be mocked for this—it’s seen as quaint at best, but really out of step with societal beliefs. Instead, we have such a high view of the goodness of sex that we don’t think it should just be for anything or anyone. And the reason why Christians are mocked for this is because society’s view of sex, in contrast, is so very low.

2. Out of Its Proper Place, Sex Is Damaging

Secondly, somewhat negatively, when sex is removed from the context it was created for, Christians think that sex is so potentially damaging that there should be limits.

Many of us know how sex has been misused to result in brokenness.

And I would suggest to you that far too many of us know far too well how sex can or has been misused to bring or result in pain or brokenness. So Christians here recognise that humanity has a nasty habit of weaponising and denigrating good gifts from God.

Having said all that, the truth is everyone places limits to sex. You might not think you don’t, but you do. All of us do.

Everyone Places Limits on Sex

We all think that there should be limits to sex.

Here’s a major push back for people having an issue with Christians saying that sex should be limited. It’s this: everyone thinks there should be limits on who should have sex. Let me give you four examples.

1. Animals

Contemporary society generally recognises that people should not be having sex with animals. Instead, we seek to limit sex to people only being allowed to have it with other people. We put limits.

2. Age

Contemporary society generally recognises that young children should not be having sex with one another, right? Even if there is mutual consent, we don’t think that sex is for children to mess around with. Contemporary society also recognises that adults should not be having sex with young children. A recognition that is tragically still often broken.

My point, though, is this: for various reasons, when it comes to age we place limits on sex.

3. Family

Contemporary society generally recognises that sex should not take place between close relatives: parents and their children; siblings; uncles and aunts; even adoptive versions of these. And what are all those? Limits.

4. Consent

Christians are not strange or odd when they also say there should be limits to sex.

Again, contemporary society generally recognises that consent between two adults must be present for sex to be legal. Apart from consent, it’s rape and not sex. Tragically, we all know how often consent is not present. But, again, either because we recognise the goodness of sex, or perhaps more because we recognise the potential dangers of misused sex, we place limits on sex.

So, the point: we all recognise that sex is something that should be limited. In that sense, Christians are not strange or odd when they also say there should be limits to sex.

Two Christian Limits: Context and Gender

As Christians, we agree with the limits modern society seeks to impose, around bestiality, statutory rape, incest, and consent. But we also promote two more: the first is context; and the second concerns gender. That is to say, in terms of God’s designs for us, the Christian view is that sex is for the marriage context between one man and one woman.

It’s Christian who are truly pro-sex.

And again, the why matters. These limits are there in order for sex to be good in the way that God has given it to us. Christians are not, or should not be, seen as merely anti-pleasure or overly religious. Instead, Christians want sex to be good for the people having it—and by “good” I don’t mean distorted porn star fantasies. No I mean good as in for the good, the health, the wellbeing of the people involved.

Christians wanting what God wants place limits. But they are limits to promote flourishing and health; like lines on a road so that cars don’t crash and kill people, and can instead drive and go places. Viewed in that way, actually it’s Christian who are truly pro-sex.

Lastly, it’s true that our world, and even Christians, can at times have such sinful selfishness that even sex in these limits can still be misused. But that in turn encourages us to remember our constant need to look for God’s help and direction in what the true life looks like.