What Does The Bible Say About Arousal

Arousal, defined as any physiological and emotional responses to an external stimuli or an internal thought or emotion, is an important sexual and emotional experience. The Bible says very little specifically about arousal, but there are plenty of lessons to be learned. When learning what the Bible has to say about arousal, it is important to remember that the Bible’s teachings not only encourage chastity and virtue, but they also promote a healthy and enjoyable marital sex life.

Deuteronomy 24:5 advises couples to reserve their bodies only for each other during their marriage. This implies that physical intimacy (even if not sexual) is an important part of a healthy marriage, and allows us to learn that arousal is an acceptable part of a marital relationship.

In Song of Solomon 8:4, arousal is emphasized as something deeply desired and received. The Bible does not associate serious shame or guilt with arousal, and this is further evidenced in Galatians 5:16-18. Here, Paul encourages believers to earnestly pursue the “fruit of the spirit”, which includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and temperance. Joy and peace can be experienced in a way that is expressed through arousal.

The Bible further teaches us to “marry in the Lord” and experience arousal only within the confines of a healthy marriage. I Corinthians 7:2-5 describes the importance of moderates experiences of arousal that are appropriate and accepted. It advises couples to engage in physical intimacy in an appropriate and respectful way, both outside and within marriage.

The Bible tells us that abstinence before marriage and fidelity after marriage are fundamental concepts alongside arousal. Ephesians 5:3-5 instructs us to avoid immorality, sensuality, and impurity, and to instead be filled with the spirit. This Scripture also states that any sexual immorality should be avoided, and that arousal should be kept only within the bounds of marriage.

The Bible also teaches us that arousal and physical intimacy should never be used in a way that hurts, degrades, or disrespects others. In Genesis 4, Cain killed his brother Abel out of envy and jealousy arising from the thoughts that were in his head. This shows us how powerful physical and emotional arousal can be, and how it has the potential to be used in a negative and hurtful way.

Arousal in Church Context

Biblical sexual ethic of arousal includes the discussion of what is appropriate or inappropriate in the context of the church. Focusing on the spiritual aspect of Christian teachings towards arousal can help couples to uphold the virtues set forth in the Bible. Most churches refer to the principle of church attendance as a positive outlet for physical arousal that expresses the couple’s commitment to the Lord without directly engaging in physical intimacy.

In I Thessalonians 4:3-7 Paul encourages believers to abstain from improper behavior and encourages self-control. This Scripture implies that arousal should only be accepted in an appropriate context, and it also serves as a reminder that even in a church context, arousal should be engaged with respect and modesty.

Romans 12:1-2 furthers this concept, instructing us to “be not conform to this world” and encourages us to use our bodies to honor God. This Scripture can serve as an impetus for couples to practice the proper behavior in a church setting, and refrain from sexual immorality.

Genesis 2: 24-25 is perhaps the clearest passage in the Bible that speaks directly to the concept of arousal. It is clear that God approved of arousal and physical intimacy between a married couple, as long as it is done in a way that is pleasing and respectful.

Arousal in Single Life

The Bible teaches us to reserve our physical arousal for a married relationship, yet there may be times in our single lives when we are tempted by seemingly innocent arousal. Galatians 5:19-21 teaches us to keep our focus on Christ and reject temptations to engage in behaviors that do not honor God. The Bible implies that any physical contact outside of marriage is a form of sexual immorality. The Bible also instructs us to “flee the appearance of evil”, encouraging us to take active steps to avoid temptations that may lead us astray.

I Corinthians 6:19-20 echoes this message and speaks directly to the single life, reminding us that our physical bodies are part of our responsibility to honor God. It instructs us to avoid immoral and wrongful practices as part of our commitment to Christ. We should refrain from arousal outside of an appropriate context and instead seek to honor God with our appearances, lustful thoughts, and by abstaining from sexual immorality.

Romans 13:14 teaches us the importance of modesty, self-control, and sobriety. This Scripture further encourages us to view arousal as something to be kept solely within the confines of a marital relationship. We can become more aware of the potential dangers of engaging in arousal outside of appropriate contexts, such as our single lives.

Arousal in Friendship Relationships

Romans 12:9-10 encourages us to have an unwavering devotion to each other, which can be expressed through physical touch and acts of service without sexual activity. This Scripture teaches us to seek out non-sexual activities and maintain appropriate boundaries in our friendships. We can also use I Peter 4:8 as an impetus to be thoughtful and considerate of each other, and respect each other in non-sexual ways. This Scripture encourages us to “love one another deeply”, and use our time and energy in ways that are not inappropriate or immoral.

Proverbs 27:19 encourages us to remain devoted to our friends, and to love and serve them in appropriate ways. This Scripture implies that platonic relationships should not be internalized in a sexual manner, and should not be used as platforms for physical arousal. When we withhold our physical arousal for our appropriate partner, we demonstrate our respect for ourselves, our partner, our friends, and God.

I Thessalonians 4:11-12 relates sexual arousal within friendships to similar inappropriate behavior as adultery, fornication, and other immoral behaviors. This Scriptural passage further reinforces the teachings of the Bible that arousal should be kept within the bonds of marriage.

Arousal towards Strangers

The Bible teaches us to have reverence for those who are outside of the marital relationship by abstaining from any sexual behavior including but not limited to arousal. As written in James 4:7, this reverence should be present in all relationships and interactions. We should never seek out or act upon any aroused feelings towards strangers or acquaintances.

In Matthew 5:27-28 Jesus instructs believers to abstain from any thoughts of arousal towards anyone other than the appropriate partner. Thoughts alone are a form of sexual immorality and betray a lack of self-control and commitment to our partner and ourselves. This Scripture expresses the importance of the need to keep our sexual desire within appropriate boundaries.

Leviticus 19:29 commands us to “not prostitute your daughter by making her a prostitute, lest the land fall into prostitution and the land become filled with depravity”. This Scripture serves as a reminder to not only be mindful of our own behavior and arousal, but to take on the responsibility of protecting those around us from being taken advantage of. It is important to remember that the Bible teaches us to maintain a level of respect and morality in all social and sexual relationships.

Arousal towards animals

The Bible tells us to keep our arousal toward animals to a minimum. Leviticus 18:23 states that it is an “abomination” and an “abhorrent thing” to have arousal or sexual activity with animals and that it should be avoided at all costs. The Bible also serves to remind us of the importance of being moral and reverent when we engage in any kind of arousal, regardless of it being towards a human or animal.

Romans 1:26-27 forbids the unnatural coupling of humans and animals for the purposes of sexual pleasure. This Scripture serves as a reminder to maintain respect for animals and nature, and to refrain from engaging in any type of arousal or activity that goes against the teachings of the Bible.

Deuteronomy 27:21 serves to further reinforce the need to avoid any type of physical contact with animals. This Scripture tells us to offer no “sacrifice to Molech” and reinforces the need to remain respectful and moral whenever engaging in any type of arousal.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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