God, Marriage and
Is that thing we like to do
okay with God?
article is for married couples who have questions about what God
considers right and wrong in the bedroom.)
Matt and Beth had been married 3
years when they became Christians. They already enjoyed a passionate
sexual relationship. They joined a church and began to grow in their
Christian lives. At some point (and they really didn't know where or
how) they got the feeling that God kind of tolerated sex, but didn't
really want them to enjoy it too much, because it was "fleshly." Beth
never wanted to have sex on Sunday morning before church because it
just didn't seem spiritual. All of those "don'ts" in the Bible seemed
to start putting a damper on things. They even began to wonder if
some of the sexual play they enjoyed so much was sinful. At times
they were caught between their passion and feeling guilty. It started
to put some strain on their sex life and finally on their marriage.
It even impacted their relationship with God. Matt and Beth needed
some real answers from a Christian perspective regarding what was
right and wrong in the bedroom.
At some point in their relationship
every Christian couple will need to consider and decide what is
acceptable to both God, and each other, in terms of sexual activity.
While Matt and Beth are a fictional couple, they do represent a lot of
couples who desire to be pleasing to God in every area of their
lives. Young Christian couples who are planning to get married and
couples who become Christians afterwards often have questions about
this important part of their relationship. Often they are too
embarrassed to ask the pastor about such a sensitive subject.
There are two assumptions and both
are equally wrong. One is that "anything goes" and the other is that
"almost nothing goes."
God Created Our Sexuality
As Christians, we start with the
premise that God created sexuality and everything that goes with it.
He created our sexual organs, along with the intense physical and
emotional pleasures. Sex was His idea. Had He not wanted us to enjoy
it he could have simply removed a few nerve endings and brain cells to
tone things down a bit.
A Christian couple should approach
sex from the basic viewpoint that God intended them to fully enjoy it
and each other. This will eliminate a lot of confused or guilty
feelings and allow couples to relax and enjoy each other more.
Two Basic Scriptures Regarding Sex in
is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and
adulterers God will judge."
Hebrews 13:4 NKJV
husband should not deprive his wife of sexual intimacy, which is her
right as a married woman, nor should the wife deprive her husband. The
wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband
also gives authority over his body to his wife. So do not deprive each
other of sexual relations. The only exception to this rule would be
the agreement of both husband and wife to refrain from sexual intimacy
for a limited time, so they can give themselves more completely to
prayer. Afterward they should come together again so that Satan won't
be able to tempt them because of their lack of self-control."
Corinthians 7:3-6 NLT
In general the Bible is
very pro-sex; within marriage. It does not describe it as dirty or
something to be avoided, or only for procreation. It treats the
subject as normal part of our lives and something that Christians need
to deal with in a regular basis. Because it does not give a lot of
specifics we assume that God leaves some discretion to the conscience
of individual couple.
Sexual Sin in the Bible
Bestiality and Pornography
Most of the Biblical taboos relating
to sexual sin have to do with adultery (a married person having sex
with someone other then their spouse), fornication (sex between an
unmarried man and woman), incest (sex with a close family member),
homosexuality (sex between people of the same gender), bestiality (sex
with animals) and pornography (revealing another person's nakedness).
All of these are declared to be sinful in no uncertain terms. There
is no possible way a sincere person could read the Bible and come away
with the conclusion that these things were okay.
There really aren't any direct
scriptures that speak of what is "godly" or "ungodly" sex within the
bounds of a loving, committed marriage. For instance the Bible does
not say, "thou shalt not ________," (fill in the blank with your
favorite sexual activity). We are left then to determine some things
by spiritual discernment.
Could Marital Sex Become Sinful?
There are spiritual principles which
govern all areas of our spiritual life though and these can be applied
to marital intimacy as well. As we have seen sex in and of itself is
not sinful between husbands and wives (your own of course). However
sin is not just an act, it also entails motive and drive. It is
possible for a married couple to sin in sexual areas, but as a general
rule the motivation is probably more a factor then the act.
Lust Verses Love
Love should always be a motivating
factor in marriage, and that includes sex. In another article I
stated that "lovers give and lusters take." Lust is always wrong, for
its motivation is wrong. Lust is focused on what self wants, while
love focuses on the one loved. The principle is found in the well
known passage of scripture, John 3:16, "For God so loved ... that He
gave ... " A Christian couple should passionately desire each other.
And that desire should be fueled by love. The difference is the
motivation and drive. As a Christian man or woman focuses on loving
pleasing their spouse, greater pleasure and more emotional bonding
occurs. When a person is more interested in their own pleasure, it
becomes lust and less satisfactory for their partner. Many women end
up feeling that they are sex objects rather then wives.
Perhaps we should define "lust."
Lust is not just strong sexual desire. Lust is all about
self-fulfillment. Lust is selfish and self-centered. Lust only
gives, when it is sure it will get more in return.
Sexual passion in marriage is part of
the glue that holds a couple together. So passion is not lust.
Passion, fueled by genuine love keeps the spark of marriage going for
decades. How often have we heard, "the fire went out." "The flame is
gone." Those are words describing passion. When this happens it is
not long before the dying embers of sexual desire get stirred
The Bible tells us that love is the
highest goal of the Christian life. With this as a guiding principle
a Christian couple will be cautious about areas of sexuality that do
not stem from love. A spouse should never demand that their partner
do something sexually that they are not comfortable with. If one
partner wants to try something and the other is uncomfortable they
should take time to discuss it, explore and get used to it, or, decide
together not to.
The old manipulation technique of,
"If you really loved me you would _________," should never cross the
Christian's lips. This very statement represents lust rather then
Using Sex as a Tool or a Weapon
While it is not a good thing, it is
not all that uncommon for one spouse to use sex as leverage to get
something non-sexual from their partner. A woman may withhold sex in
order to get her ways in other areas of the marriage. A man might
treat his wife with less respect to get her to do something she
doesn't want to do. These attitudes about sex are clearly sinful
because they are centered on manipulating the other person for one's
own purpose. They have left the realm of love and enter the arena of
self. Self is always sinful.
Violating Your Conscience with Sexual
Another guiding principle in the
Bible is our conscience. Paul explains that not everything is wrong,
but if a person thinks it is wrong and does it anyway their conscience
will be troubled and they will condemn themselves. Paul's advice is
to not violate your conscience. So it doesn't really matter if
someone tells you something is okay, unless you really come to the
place were you are personally at peace with it, it will hinder you
spiritually. A husband or wife should not demand that their spouse do
sexual things they feel are wrong or sinful. In I Corinthians 812
Paul tells us to entice a Christian to do something he/she feels is
wrong is sinning against Christ, even if the thing they don't want to
do is not really sinful.
Pornography in the Christian Bedroom
Pornography is sin. It always has
been and always will be, even if both spouses are consenting to watch
it. It has no place in a Christian marriage or home. The Bible is
plain about not "revealing another person's nakedness." Pornography
causes lust, and it causes people to lust after someone other then
their spouse. Besides the spiritual issues involved, pornography
can be very addictive. It has been proven that those who regularly
view pornography have to have more and more hardcore images to get the
same arousal. It is like drugs or alcohol. Often pornography leads
to one spouse wanting something the other spouse does not want to do.
Many couples have been destroyed because one partner got addicted to
pornography. Christian couples should avoid pornography at all costs.
Fantasy Role Playing
Some couples enjoy sexual role
playing as a means of foreplay. While this technique is not
specifically mentioned in the Bible it is worth considering the pros
and cons of it. Within reason it might be harmless enough, but
fantasy can do a lot of mental stimulation and could lead to
fantasizing about another person or even pornographic things. The
mind is a hard thing to control. Once you start stimulating and
creating images in it, it is hard to get them out.
In effect role playing is pretending
to do or be something wouldn't normally do or be. Let's look at
simple example, the wife might dress like a prostitute or get a
"naughty nurse" uniform. Obviously a Christian man should not be
visiting a prostitute. However if he gets aroused just playing at it
with his wife, there is a possibility that he will struggle with the
temptations to do it in real life. These are extra pressures a
Christian and a marriage do not need. You must keep in mind that
sexual stimulation causes chemical brain reactions and people can get
addicted to that stimulation. Like most addictions a person requires
more and more stimulation to get the same "high" as time goes on.
Because of that, Role playing should be used with some limitations and
caution in the Christian marriage.
What About Other Things Besides
Probably, at some point, most couples
will at least consider some forms of sexual activity besides
intercourse. Oral sex, masturbation, sex toys, anal sex, rough play
and a few other odds and ends may come up. Christian couples may
wonder if these are acceptable to God.
The Bible does not specifically
address any of these issues, except perhaps sodomy (anal sex).
However, it addresses sodomy specifically in terms of homosexuality,
not as an alternate method of heterosexual activity.
Because of this area of scriptural
"silence" the Christian couple will need to determine between
themselves and God what is acceptable and what is not.
The only note I'll make here is that
because of a number of health risks involved in anal sex it is
probably not advisable, but that does not necessarily make it sinful.
By now you've probably figured out
that the heart has a lot more to do with sexual sin then the actual
acts, at least within the bonds of marriage. The overall principle in
every area of our spiritual lives is obeying the Lord as we understand
His personal directions to us individually. In another scripture,
Paul tells us, "Whatever is not of faith is sin." I am therefore
convinced that what might be okay to one person might be sinful to
another, depending on their level of faith. In some areas of our
Christian, where the Bible does not specifically give us guidance, we
tend to grow as we go. That means that as I mature God may speak to
certain areas of my life that He may not speak to in others (or simply
hasn't gotten around to yet). I am personally responsible to what God
reveals to me, but unless I have clear scriptural backing, I should be
careful about making everyone else live up to my personal
convictions. The end of the matter is that God is quite capable of
letting you know if you are doing something wrong.
My prayer for every couple who reads
this article is that God would richly bless your marriage and grant
you the same passionate, self-sacrificing love for each other that He
has for you.
About the Author:
Dr. Steve Highlander holds a doctorate in Pastoral Theology from Faith
Bible College in Independence, MO. and is a Certified Christian
Counselor with the Association of Scriptural Psychology Therapists. Dr.
Highlander in is involved in mission work and serves as dean of
Acts Ministry University, a new
online bible College. Steve and his wife Brooke, who holds a
doctorate in Scriptural Psychology, operate
C3M Ministries. C3M stands for
Church in the Third Millennium and is dedicated to helping the church
return to her New Testament moorings of faith and practice. For
free audio and print resources visit