A large part of sin as described biblically is a matter of works of the flesh. Paul in his epistles is very thorough in listing them all. Many translations include sensuality in this list. Most bible commentaries and sermons posted on the internet interpret scriptural use of the term sensuality as sexual deviance in one form or another.
I turned to the dictionary:
1. The quality or state of being sensual or lascivious.
2. Excessive devotion to sensual pleasure.
Noun 1. sensuality – desire for sensual pleasures
concupiscence, A strong desire, especially sexual desire; lust.
physical attraction, sexual desire, eros – a desire for sexual intimacy
These definitions describe sexual desire as mankind’s dominant sense?
“Colossians 3:5 NIV “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”
Ephesians 4:19 NIV
“Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.”
New American Standard Bible
“and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.”
International Standard Version (©2012)
“Since they have lost all sense of shame, they have abandoned themselves to sensuality and practice every kind of sexual perversion without restraint.”
English Standard Version (©2001)
“They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.”
Galatians 5:19-21 English Standard Version
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Let us leave out sexual drive in describing what it means to be sensual.
What man, or woman, doesn’t find the feel of English leather appealing? Is that not sensual?
My wife enjoys a tub soak and uses aromatic oils in her bath. That is sensual.
I enjoy listening to jazz or classical music, it effects my senses and more than just my hearing. Most people find music of one genre or another appeals to their senses, – hips start swaying, toes start tapping.
The freshness of the air after a summer rain, even the feel of rain on the skin is sensual.
The aroma of fried onions at the fair. The taste and satisfaction of chocolate. Ice cream on the palate. Hand cream on dry skin. The feel of soft fur on boots and gloves. Stroking the cat, even having the dog or cat on your lap. The changing glow of a sunset. The delight of increasing warmth of sunrise when camping. The play of a fighting fish on light tackle. The warmth and glow of a campfire or fireplace. The emotions of having your lover close, the caress of a lover’s hands. These are all sensual. Surely God gave us these senses for our pleasure, and if so, then they are not sinful.
I find the feel of a well crafted tool, a hammer for instance, the balance, the form to the hand, that is appealing to me. Is that not sensual?
There is something suspicious in an item that is termed ‘Decanted’. I received an email today with an ad for ‘5 Decadently-Scented Body Products’. Obviously appealing to ones sensuality. Then again, ‘Decadent Chocolate Cookies’ are just plain and simple yummy.
Manufacturers employ design teams which will conduct surveys to incorporate sensuality into their product knowing that looks and feel are often more important to a customer than function. They call it ergonomics. They also realize that sex sells. Are we now bordering on the sinful side of sensuality?
Your cell phone has been designed to appeal to you. It’s shape, color and handling is meant for a specific grouping of users. Whether you are young, older, male or female, there is a cell phone tailored directly for you. The sensuality inherent in people translates to money for the savvy entrepreneur.
Fashion is the biggest manipulator of sensuality/sexuality. Why do women wear high heeled shoes? Certainly not for the comfort or practicality. It is for the way it makes a woman look and feel. Raising the heel adds shape to the calves and tightens the buttocks increasing the sensual appeal. Taller women are far more sexier, not that shorter women can’t be sexy, but it comes down to overall sensual appeal. Feeling sexier is more sensual, even if it is only to the ego.
Fashion is tailored for sex appeal for both women and men. Accentuate the bust and hips on women and narrow the waist or have the garment flow to the walk. For men, pants should slim the hip line and jackets give breadth to the shoulders. Clothes define a person, that defining can be attractive, sensual or sexy. To dress to be flirtatious or appeal to the sexual senses of the opposite sex can very well be sinful. Does this mean that the Christian must always be prudish, reserved?
What is the difference between fashion and style? I offer this from Divine Magazine for Women:
“Style requires self-awareness, self-knowledge, confidence, personality, inventiveness, and the courage to express one’s true self in an increasingly fast-paced world that renders individuality almost obsolete. ….. matters of style carry certain social implications. For one, as Psychology Today Editor-at-Large Hara Estroff Marano put it best, “Style presumes that you are a person of interest; that the world is a place of interest, that life is worth making the effort for.” The author also incisively points out that style implies a degree of moral responsibility. Once we limit ourselves to pieces reflective of our personal style, consumption no longer becomes something we blindly partake in to excess, or at the behest of marketers. And in that verve, we do our part, however small, to reduce the waste that currently engulfs our planet.”
Perhaps Ephesians 4:19 explains it best “Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.” I believe Paul is inferring that we make sure we remain sensitive and restrained, not only to our own sensual pleasures but, the sensual drive of others that we may not cause them to lose themselves to lust.