The Bible gets a bad rap when it comes to sex.
When I first published this post, the United States was pre-shutdown, pre-social distancing, and pre-mask. We were also living more “normal” lives.
Now it’s August and I’ve seen disturbing reports that emotional affairs are on the rise. Sadly, emotional infidelity eventually becomes physical infidelity. It seems this post is more timely today (and for what’s coming soon) than it was in early February.
Some of us, having been raised in very conservative circles, rarely hear what the Lord says about sex (except to condemn it) while our culture views sex as a recreational activity akin to eating dessert.
But the Bible is not anti-sex. How could it be? God made it. Our sinfulness messed up our perceptions about sex and then, like we humans do, we swing back and forth on the pendulum of sexual expression.
Like a great many other subjects, the Bible gives us fences to keep us safe. We are, after all, sheep in God’s eyes. We’ll run right off cliffs if He doesn’t tell us, “No. This is off limits; it isn’t safe.”
As we continue our journey through the Proverbs, we find some of these fences in Proverbs 5:15-18.
Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.Proverbs 5:15-18
New International Version
“Drink water” is a euphemism for sex. The seasoned father is telling his son to find satisfaction for his sexual desires with his wife alone. Perhaps in our hyper-sexualized, 21st century, American (for most of my readers, at least) culture, it’s more clarifying to say it this way: pour all your sexual energy towards your wife (or husband, if you’re a woman).
The father goes on to encourage his son to never go outside the confines of marriage to find sex. He tells him not to share “water” with strangers.
The Hebrew word underlying our English translation of “strangers” does not imply someone you do not know. The meaning is “different”, “illicit”, or “unauthorized”. The context implies not to have sex with someone who is foreign to the “nation” of your marriage.
Scripture reminds us of the fences around sexual expression: it is exclusive to the marital relationship of a husband and wife (see 1 Corinthians 7:1-5).
The father concludes his teaching to his son with the blessing of verse 18: “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.”
I don’t think this is an accidental verse in the Proverbs. The blessing is more than mere words. It carries the summary of the warning from this section: drink from your own fountain.
How do we continue drinking from our own fountain in a culture encouraging sexual expression without boundaries?
I believe the answers rest in the passage itself. In no particular order, here are three ideas for drinking from your own fountain.
- Realize the Lord is not giving us sexual fences to deny our free expression but to bless us with intimacy and depth not found any other way.
- The blessing of intimacy and depth in a marital relationship is not only found in “spice”, but in time.
- Our fountains will be blessed when we embrace this truth: the grass is not different or better “over there”. It’s just got different fertilizer.
No, the Bible is not against sex. On the contrary, we’re encouraged in this area, but we’re encouraged to stay in the fences.