For many Christians, the thought of God being present while they are engaging in the sexual act, even within the bounds of marriage, can be daunting. For many who have grown up with religious instruction, sex has been so strongly prohibited, and shrouded in mystery, that they cannot conceive of a setting where it is to be freely enjoyed, especially in God’s presence. Yet if fullness of joy can only be experienced in God’s presence (Ps. 16:11) then ultimate sexual fulfillment comes only in God’s presence.
To speak of sexual fulfillment in God’s presence clearly points to the fact that the conditions God has outlined as prerequisite to engaging in the sexual act must be met. We will discuss more of this in future lessons. In this section we shall consider just one component in this respect.
While we may enjoy communion with God every day, God has, in a special sense, imbued the Sabbath day with His presence. So sexual intercourse on any day may be blessed by God so long as it conforms to divine direction. But there is a special blessing to be anticipated with holy sex on God’s holy day.
Consider that the first full day that Adam and Eve spent together in Eden was the Sabbath day. This after God had brought them together as man and wife. The notion of them engaging in the sexual act at some point during the Sabbath is not far-fetched. But it is most commonly challenged on the grounds of Isaiah 58:13. So let us briefly consider this text.
Turning your “foot from the Sabbath” refers to not treating the Sabbath as though you have ownership over it. While the Sabbath was made for man, it is still God’s holy day. This means that He is the arbiter of what is and is not appropriate behavior on the Sabbath.
The injunction interpreted as prohibiting sex on the Sabbath is that against “doing your pleasure.” Our first observation is that pleasure is not categorically verboten on the Sabbath because the very next phrase in the same verse says to “call the Sabbath a delight.” If pleasure in any form were forbidden, then singing or eating on the Sabbath would not be permissible.
What is actually forbidden here is selfish pleasure seeking. By contrast, selfless acts that result in pleasant feelings for the actor, or for others, would be acceptable. For instance, while removing the ox from the ditch may require significant effort and labor, it would be Sabbath appropriate to relieve the suffering of the animal (Luke 14:3–5).
For the Christian, sexual intercourse is not a selfish act. Its purpose is not merely to gratify one’s sexual appetite. Rather, each partner considers the other’s fulfillment as of greater importance. As Paul states it in Philippians 2:4, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
So, on the Sabbath, of all days, when selfless service epitomizes the delight of communion with God, who could forbid the ultimate act of intimacy when sanctioned by God?