Having shared the arguments of both St. Jerome and St. Augustine on sex in marriage (which again are not RCC doctrine*), I want to look at what the Bible says. As several readers have noted, Song of Solomon literally sings the praises of the pleasure of marital sex. But even aside from Song of Solomon, there is also Proverbs 5. As with 1 Cor 7, the proverb starts by warning against sexual immorality and then exhorts the believer to direct their sexual passion as rightfully designed, into marriage:
15Drink water from your own cistern,
running water from your own well.
16 Should your springs overflow in the streets,
your streams of water in the public squares?
17 Let them be yours alone,
never to be shared with strangers.
18 May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
19 A loving doe, a graceful deer—
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be intoxicated with her love.
20 Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife?
Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman?
This isn’t cold sex only to conceive a child, or mere duty sex. It also isn’t a picture of sex “purified” by romantic love**. This is sex with great physical passion. The proverb exhorts husbands to rejoice in their wives’ bodies:
may her breasts satisfy you always
Contrary to the argument that sexual passion is sinful if it isn’t carefully constrained, husbands are exhorted to be intoxicated with passion for their wives. The proverb offers the example to follow of a buck in the rut. For how else can we interpret this exhortation?
A loving doe, a graceful deer
Certainly the proverb isn’t encouraging bestiality, but exhorting husbands to approach their wives with the same kind of passion a rutting buck has for a doe.
Aside from Song of Solomon and Proverbs 5, we also learn from Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 that marital sex, along with food and wine, are gifts from God, as they are our earthly reward:
7 Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.
8 Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head.
9 Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain[b] life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might,[c] for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.
There is a carnal, matter of fact, feeling to this, since it is associated with enjoying food and drink. This passage is an echo of Ecc 8:15:
15 So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.
This comes from Ecclesiastes, the book that teaches that our earthly lives are vanity. Yet even while teaching that what matters is the spiritual, it still exhorts us to enjoy the physical pleasures of food, wine, and marital sex. These are it tells us, God’s portion for us for our earthly toil.
*As a Protestant it is not my intention with these posts to teach or comment on RCC doctrine. My point is merely that the teachings of St. Augustine and St. Jerome are not themselves RCC doctrine.
**Romantic love is of course a wonderful thing in the context of marriage, and marriage and sex are both more enjoyable with it. However, the idea that romantic love is purifying is not biblical, and comes from the medieval concept of courtly love, an idolization of adultery.