For my book report I chose the topic of sex in the Bible. I thought that it would be a very interesting topic because in many churches discussion of sex and sexuality is taboo. I thought that by reading this book I could become more informed of what the Bible truly says on the subject. I also chose this topic because I felt that it would be easier reading a book about the bible on a topic I was interested in. Most subjects pertaining to the Bible are not interesting to the average teenager, and I felt this book would be fun to read. The name of the book was Sex in the Bible by Michael R. Cosby. Cosby discusses five parts of the bible in which sexual relations are discussed. First he discuses the laws that apply to sex in the Hebrew culture according to the book of Dueteronomy. Secondly he discuses the wisdom advice of the book of proverbs. Cosby then discuses the actual act of sex in the book of songs. Next he writes about the topic of sex and sexuality in the synoptic gospels. Finally he discusses sex in the books of Corinthians and Paul’s letters to the Romans. Cosby’s goal is to interpret the true beliefs of the early Jews and Christians.
The book of Deuteronomy is a book of laws directed for the Hebrew. They are laws given to them by their god Yahweh. The book of Deuteronomy has several rules and laws pertaining to sex. The book was written within a society that was very male oriented. Thus the book makes the assumption that the wife is property of the husband. This did not give the husband the right to treat his wife as a slave, however only he had the option of divorce, and he only had the option of verifying his wife’s virginity. The basic two principles behind the laws of sex in Dueteronomy are that: sex was to be only had in the confides of marriage, and that the women must be a virgin going into the marriage.
Pertaining to the act of premarital sex, either by free will or by force, the punishment is death by stoning. If it turns out that the women was raped, then that man which committed the crime will be forced to marry the women, and is forbidden to divorce her ever. As far as a women not being pure when she is married, Dueteronomy says that the husband has the right to bring this claim to his new wife’s father. If the accusation is true than the women will be stoned to death in front of her father’s house. Having an impure daughter was an ultimate disgrace to a father, in that it was his resposibility to prevent that. If the claims turned out to be false then the husband was beat in public and charged one hundred coins to be given to the bride’s father.
There are also several other topics involving sex that are mentioned Deuteronomy. The act of polygamy is considered an acceptable practice, and in many cases expected. Under Hebrew law if a man died his brother was obligated to take his brother’s widowed wife’s hand in marriage. If the brother were already married then it would be expected of him to now have two wives. There are two other laws mentioned in Deuteronomy that are seen as sins to Yahweh, but are not punishable by death. Those two acts would be prostitution, and transvestitism (or the act of men dressing like women and vice versa). These acts, although not punishable by death, were seen as sins by God, and anyone who partook in the act of prostitution or transvestitism would be accursed.
Moving on, Cosby goes to the book of Proverbs. Proverbs, unlike Dueteronomy, does not dive laws about sex, but rather advice about it. Proverbs is not based on a covenant motif but rather on accumulated wisdom that has resulted from many years of observation. It is similar to Deuteronomy in that it addresses a great number of different aspects of life, but the way it is presented is much different. There is no emphasis on the Hebrew people’s covenant with God. In fact proverbs is not specifically written for the Hebrew people, but rather as advice for the people of all nations.
The main emphasis in Proverbs is to explain why it is better to stay away from women of poor morals. Proverbs says that there are two kinds of women, which represent paths along which one can take. The first is the path of wisdom, righteousness, and justice; that path is lead by the pure women. The second is the path of folly, perversion, and death; this path is lead by the women who tempts man. The writers of Proverbs wrote it with the intent to instill within young men the desire to order their lives by Wisdom, rather than Folly. Wisdom allows a person to make intelligent decisions based on the understanding of God’s code. Folly, on the other hand, causes a person to focus on their desires of the moment, and enticed by what seems tempting. By focusing on what the individual wants now, Folly blinds that person to the long-range consequences of his or her actions. Wisdom, however, allows the individual to see that a long happy life will result from obeying God’s law.
Next Cosby discusses what has been written in the book of Songs. Where Dueteronomy and Proverbs are laws and advice on sexual relations, the book of Songs romanticizes love and sex. The book of Songs is actually a book of poems, many of which are about love. Songs gives a form of expression to what has been learned in the previous two books. Sexual intercourse is a wholesome and enjoyable part of marriage, and should be enjoyed by both husband and wife. God created men and women as sexual creatures and gave them sensual pleasures to be enjoyed fully. Thus it is confirmed in scripture that we are physical beings with real emotions of love and passion.
Cosby now moves on to the Synoptic Gospels and the teachings of Jesus. Jesus’ preachings about sex and sexuality was similar to the advice given in Proverbs and the laws stated in Dueteronomy. Jesus required one to adhere strictly to God’s moral code. Jesus taught that both the act of adultery and the desire of another person’s spouse was wrong. He also believed that divorce was not valid among men and women because it was God who had to do with them coming together. Although his teachings were similar to that of Dueteronomy, Jesus also preached love and forgiveness to people who broke the laws. He did not denounce them or curse them to hell, but rather forgave them and tried to teach them the error of their way. Jesus believed that men and women should not just seek to obey the laws of God, but rather to seek the will of God.
Cosby then moves on to discuss the interpretation of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and to the Romans. In his letter to the Corinthians Paul expounds on the teachings of Jesus to the people of Corrinth. Paul took a moderately conservative view when explaining sexual relations; he took neither the side of the liberals, nor the ascetics. Paul rejected the views of the liberals who viewed the body as unimportant, thus allowing them to pursue all bodily pleasures. Paul rejected this idea, and tried to instill in the people the idea that the body is a temple of God.
Paul also preached to the ascetics that sex was a healthy part of marriage. He went along a long with Jesus’ preachings about marriage, divorce, and adultery. However, Paul did not condemn celibacy. He believed that having children were not necessary, and therefore one could remain celibate. Paul believed it was his duty to try to reform the world’s moral codes. He hoped to lead people into a relationship with God that would reveal love and moral purity to others.
With this in mind Paul writes his letters to the Romans. In Romans discusses sexuality amongst the Romans. The main topic of his discussion is homosexual behavior. In Rome at the time homosexual behaviors were not looked down upon. It was viewed as an expectable part of Roman society; it was common for a man to have male lovers, yet to also love his wife and children. Paul sought to change this by preaching to them the views of the Hebrew law. The Hebrew law saw homosexual behavior as an act of perversion that violated the order God has created. Paul insists that the people who practice these behaviors need to seek the grace of God for forgiveness.
It is interesting to see how Christian societies have adapted the codes of Deuteronomy and the wisdom of Proverbs. Many Christians as well as Jews still try to practice these laws and codes. However, to adhere to the laws of old Hebrew seems impossible in today’s society. Some of the laws simply can not apply and some are sought to be too difficult for people to attain. The laws of Deuteronomy may seem ridiculous to a modern day woman, however it is still important to understand where the laws came from and why they were written. Although the actual text might seem off base for a woman, and even men, they can adapt to it, and have adapted to it. Men and women have taken something from those books and applied it to their lives in society today. Whether it is staying monogamous or withstanding from homosexual acts, these books of the bible have been personally adopted by different people throughout many generations. While a lot of laws are not seen in modern societies, the affects of these books are seen everywhere.