What The Bible Really Says About Sex

LotCould this “sex and the Bible” story by Lisa Miller be a taste of what the new Daily Beast-ly version of Newsweek will become? Maybe they read the leaked AOL business plan that requires all stories to be SEO-optimized, meaning lots of “content” featuring sex, God and scandal…

The poem describes two young lovers aching with desire. The obsession is mutual, carnal, complete. The man lingers over his lover’s eyes and hair, on her teeth, lips, temples, neck, and breasts, until he arrives at “the mount of myrrh.” He rhapsodizes. “All of you is beautiful, my love,” he says. “There is no flaw in you.”

The girl returns his lust with lust. “My lover thrust his hand through the hole,” she says, “and my insides groaned because of him.”

This ode to sexual consummation can be found in—of all places—the Bible. It is the Song of Solomon, a poem whose origins likely reach back to the pagan love songs of Egypt more than 1,200 years before the birth of Jesus. Biblical interpreters have endeavored through the millennia to temper its heat by arguing that it means more than it appears to mean. It’s about God’s love for Israel, they have said; or, it’s about Jesus’ love for the church. But whatever other layers it may contain, the Song is on its face an ancient piece of erotica, a celebration of the fulfillment of sexual desire.

What does the Bible really say about sex? Two new books written by university scholars for a popular audience try to answer this question. Infuriated by the dominance in the public sphere of conservative Christians who insist that the Bible incontrovertibly supports sex within the constraints of “traditional marriage,” these authors attempt to prove otherwise. Jennifer Wright Knust and Michael Coogan mine the Bible for its earthiest and most inexplicable tales about sex—Jephthah, who sacrifices his virgin daughter to God; Naomi and Ruth, who vow to love one another until death—to show that the Bible’s teachings on sex are not as coherent as the religious right would have people believe. In Knust’s reading, the Song of Solomon is a paean to unmarried sex, outside the conventions of family and community. “I’m tired,” writes Knust in Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions About Sex and Desire, “of watching those who are supposed to care about the Bible reduce its stories and teachings to slogans.” Her book comes out this month. Coogan’s book God and Sex: What the Bible Really Says was released last fall.

Conservative critics say that coherence is precisely what the Bible offers on sex. Reading it in the context of the Christian tradition, and with an awareness that the text is “divinely inspired”—that is, given to people directly by God—a believer can come to only one conclusion on questions of sex and marriage…

[continues in Newsweek]

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  • Balh

    Horrible article. For one, the bible is left to interpretation, and you put in your headliner, “what the bible really says about sex.” Furthermore, you did not give one single reference on where in the bible this information was read from.

  • Balh

    Horrible article. For one, the bible is left to interpretation, and you put in your headliner, “what the bible really says about sex.” Furthermore, you did not give one single reference on where in the bible this information was read from.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    And down the ages we figure out that the Bible was just all of the powerful moneyed minds of the age putting forth their opinions as fact for the masses. One of these minds happened to be a sex fiend, and thus this became the word of God.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    And down the ages we figure out that the Bible was just all of the powerful moneyed minds of the age putting forth their opinions as fact for the masses. One of these minds happened to be a sex fiend, and thus this became the word of God.

  • justagirl

    his entire hand!!??? omg – slut!!

  • justagirl

    his entire hand!!??? omg – slut!!

  • emperorreagan

    My sister is in seminary. The best stories she has to tell are about the literalist idiots in the classes taught by legitimate religious scholars. Apparently, some of the professors are subject to a constant barrage of being told they’re going to hell for not reading the bible correctly…she does say tweaking the literalists is a pretty entertaining way to spend a class some days, though.

  • emperorreagan

    My sister is in seminary. The best stories she has to tell are about the literalist idiots in the classes taught by legitimate religious scholars. Apparently, some of the professors are subject to a constant barrage of being told they’re going to hell for not reading the bible correctly…she does say tweaking the literalists is a pretty entertaining way to spend a class some days, though.

  • Diz417

    the Bible doesn’t offer coherence on any topic

  • Diz417

    the Bible doesn’t offer coherence on any topic

  • DeepCough

    A lot of what Christians believe isn’t even in the Bible, and that’s largely because they fail to even read it.

  • DeepCough

    A lot of what Christians believe isn’t even in the Bible, and that’s largely because they fail to even read it.

  • David Frost

    Yeah the Song of Solomon is a pretty wild book. Thats no secret, not by a long shot. I think the overall gist of what the Bible actually says is if you want it, and almost everyone does, find you a wife (or husband), and completely enjoy it as much as possible. At least most Protestant denominations hold that view.

  • David Frost

    Yeah the Song of Solomon is a pretty wild book. Thats no secret, not by a long shot. I think the overall gist of what the Bible actually says is if you want it, and almost everyone does, find you a wife (or husband), and completely enjoy it as much as possible. At least most Protestant denominations hold that view.

  • Synapse

    Pretty clear the chasm between the morality of the Bible and ours is vast. What else would you expect from a very ancient culture that has been preserved through writing and had some aspects preserved because of it? Pre-christian cultures clearly did not have the stigma of sexuality that the absurd ascetic christians have placed on the western world.

  • Synapse

    Pretty clear the chasm between the morality of the Bible and ours is vast. What else would you expect from a very ancient culture that has been preserved through writing and had some aspects preserved because of it? Pre-christian cultures clearly did not have the stigma of sexuality that the absurd ascetic christians have placed on the western world.

  • duskdragonfly

    I do love the Song of Solomon :)
    however that quote about the hand through the hole thing – totally out of context. if you read the passage (Songs chapter 5) the “hole” is actually the hole to the chick’s front door of her house- and she’s just happy to see him ;)

  • duskdragonfly

    I do love the Song of Solomon :)
    however that quote about the hand through the hole thing – totally out of context. if you read the passage (Songs chapter 5) the “hole” is actually the hole to the chick’s front door of her house- and she’s just happy to see him ;)

  • Paterik

    Never gave it much thought before, but when reading all these accounts of “interpretations of sex and the Bible” I am left with the understanding that modern humanity will not rest until it has reduced everything to a digitized accounting … Is the glass half empty or is it half full? The the interpretations of the biblical contents on any subject, be it sex or whatever is as numerous and interpretable as statistics …Which can be made to read anyway the interpreter so desires at this or that moment of interpretation … Today, is it cold outside, or is it not warm outside, wait five minutes and we can reinterpret that another way … not now dear, we’ll reinterpret it when we’re finished … now where were we … … later sweet meat, I have a headache…

  • Paterik

    Never gave it much thought before, but when reading all these accounts of “interpretations of sex and the Bible” I am left with the understanding that modern humanity will not rest until it has reduced everything to a digitized accounting … Is the glass half empty or is it half full? The the interpretations of the biblical contents on any subject, be it sex or whatever is as numerous and interpretable as statistics …Which can be made to read anyway the interpreter so desires at this or that moment of interpretation … Today, is it cold outside, or is it not warm outside, wait five minutes and we can reinterpret that another way … not now dear, we’ll reinterpret it when we’re finished … now where were we … … later sweet meat, I have a headache…

  • Dmitry

    The best reason to read the bible is so that you may dismiss it and move on with your life.

  • Dmitry

    The best reason to read the bible is so that you may dismiss it and move on with your life.

  • http://www.facebook.com/wendell.bravo Wendell Bravo

    philoshophy of history bible timeline :political messiah (jesus christ)original mission second coming the code of the world on new heaven new earth (drives for food sex and power are useful in the field)

  • http://www.facebook.com/wendell.bravo Wendell Bravo

    philoshophy of history bible timeline :political messiah (jesus christ)original mission second coming the code of the world on new heaven new earth (drives for food sex and power are useful in the field)

  • http://www.facebook.com/wendell.bravo Wendell Bravo

    philoshophy of history bible timeline :political messiah (jesus christ)original mission second coming the code of the world on new heaven new earth (drives for food sex and power are useful in the field)

  • http://www.facebook.com/wendell.bravo Wendell Bravo

    resited & fought out disturbed of peace alien colinizers enemy of freedom disturbed of peace.,       prejudice discrimination of my life (wendell_bravo666 one world government )hindi ko to sana to (unuto nanay ko sa tuperware waiter ako that time and college pacita complex)papatulan high school brak na ko rito saint michael college fo laguna (record)(macky)(rotc) 3rd year break na ko free hanggang 4th year no sleeping bacardi by night not all asleep at the night poisoinous<weed;4th year 1991 graduate saint michael college of laguna (exiled kingdom of saudi arabia )1993(1994 to 1995 pmms)1995 marriage 1996 october 3 i sign the book of political messiah to philoshophy of history timeline bible ng katipunan)rev war123(home collegge little palyboy shorth time tapos waiter botohan ng kapitan si surot at daddy mo sa simbahan don ako watcher pa ni surot ,ninong ko po sana si ama si buencamino ang nagkasal (legal)process in term of time of kuya arthur ang daming papeles ho talaga hanggang            (bank on tommorow bp.i. pacita complex )(manager ebot)(anding's toyland divisiria at anson transaction of my checking account on b.p.i. i need my record bank statement galing ako igtad ako no attorney)kausap ko dala ako sulat arman sagot b.p.i. kuha ako attorney (eh ?)(now)prejudice discrimination hit by (curse)(bah)(yung pong papeles ko po rito ay may kasunduan signed by arlene arcilla casupang husband relly casupang all papers of bussiness transaction process by name "ellen"kasama last ni ate linda (hope god for patience<<+< bati))(fall of the republic)(to all patriotic sure december 21 2011 mark)(end times).on my mail.surrender na ko awa na ko instrument of she devil of voodo of my life and my family from period i lost it .hope you understand this i lost my barako (lost)(cause)?,,,,then tommorrow…..date,.oct.i swear to god to the holy bible of christian republic of the philipppines office of the mayor. to tell all the truth and nothing all but truth .swear to god lord jesus christ world perfection.amen.nwo.     mama papa baby bro monet missy . in love of god (god the nature )and country and countrymen ,live in the bossom of my family.amen.    pls back my life in justice .give it judge and jury. you can power it by the law and real life on ,,,papers (record in municipality of binan,laguna philippines)?<<<

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