Uh, No: Off Limits Practices in the Bedroom

So God designs marital sexuality to be like a feast that delights the senses.  It’s beyond any meal we could prepare for ourselves, with course after course of succulent samplings, mouth-watering meals, and delectable desserts.

Imagine your favorite food.  Is it Chateaubriand?  Chicken enchiladas?  Seafood gumbo?  You look down at your plate in anticipation, ready to bring each bite to your mouth and savor its taste.  At which point, I dump a cockroach right in the middle.

Do you want to eat it now?  Uh, no.

Some things should be off limits — for food and in the bedroom.  Yes, I understand that some cultures eat roaches, but that’s disgusting.  And some people also partake in bedroom activities that are as repulsive as eating a six-legged exoskeleton.  It’s as if they’ve dumped a cockroach in the middle of an otherwise perfectly good supper.  Here are some OFF LIMITS sexual activities, in my opinion:

Viewing Pornography.  This is inviting a third party into your bedroom and supporting prostitution.  Remember that porn models and actors are paid to titillate their viewers.  It doesn’t matter whether they consented or whether your partner consents to using pornography.  Some people attempt to justify the practice by claiming there is educational value in watching films or viewing photographs, that they get new ideas from these sources.  May I point you to your nearest Christian bookstore where you can peruse the Marriage & Sexuality section for tasteful, godly ideas that do not involve third persons?

Reading Graphic Erotica.  Men have greater desire to view pornography, but women are given to reading erotic romance novels that are tantamount to inviting a third person into the bedroom as well.  Yes, the character that makes your eyelids sweat and that you imagine as your husband takes you in his arms is fictional, but he is taking focus away from the partner in your marital relationship.  Moreover, erotica also places an unrealistic ideal into the minds of the participants.  In a book, Mr. Rippling Muscles can spend three hours pleasuring his love interest until she explodes in a frenzied peak that makes her perfectly coiffed hair frizz.  By comparison, you might think, “Hey, where’s my earth-shattering climax?”  Hello! Your guy is, um, real.  You can get that climax, but it takes relationship, communication, true intimacy.  Not fictional shortcuts.

Anal Sex.  I will have some Christians who disagree with this one.  After all, there is no specific command against it in the Bible.  Listen, there are a lot of things with no specific commands against them that we shouldn’t do because they do not comport with God’s principles or could harm others.  This isn’t about trying to figure out how close to the “no further” line we can get.  Its about honoring God and your partner.  The rectum is not designed for penetration, and such entry can have negative health consequences.  This is supported by medical evidence, and Joe Beam of Family Dynamics does a good job addressing the potential harm of this practice. (See his post on Another Question about Sex.)   Moreover, any references to anal sex in the Bible are condemned (though some believe such condemnation is due to other issues God had with the relationship).

S&M.  That stands for Sadism & Masochism — like bondage, spanking, and a plethora of more intense activities.  The focus is on dominance and submission here.  And not the kind of submission discussed in Ephesians 5!  This is not God-honoring.  Domination, injury, and subjection play no part in godly sexuality.   Physical intimacy is for mutual pleasure, not pain.  Anyone who thinks that hard-core S&M is pleasurable needs to see a counselor immediately; your past may have imprinted negative thought patterns that will cause nothing but harm to your relationship.

Force.  Neither partner should ever be forced to participate in a sexual activity that is distasteful or unwanted.  That means that if your spouse does not like oral sex, don’t have it. If it’s been six months since you had sex together and you feel the need to take what’s rightfully yours, get thee to a pastor!  It is never okay to demand by physical force anything in the sexual realm.  Sex is supposed to be a relational bond, one that elevates your partner and reinforces closeness.  Force will never achieve that.  If you feel that your partner is withholding something from you, discuss that with them, your pastor, and/or a marriage counselor to resolve the issues.  But force is completely opposed to 1 Corinthians 13 love.

Now and then, we need a good dose of Thou Shall Nots.  The secular approach to sexuality wants to take this beautiful thing that God offers and pervert it.

But remember how much God does allow!  He provides His children the very best sexual relationship when they follow His plan.  Read the Song of Songs in its entirety, if you need a reminder.  Or make a list of all the great things you get to do with each other now that you are married.  Isn’t it nice?  (My post-vow self is having a lot more bedroom fun than my pre-vow self ever did.)

In fact, the best is to be had when we pursue sexuality that honors Him and our partner in every way!  Deuteronomy 10:13 says, “Keep the Lord’s commands and statutes I am giving you today, for your own good.”  That’s what all of God’s plan and commands are:  for our own good.

What do you think?  What’s okay?  What’s not?

20 thoughts on “Uh, No: Off Limits Practices in the Bedroom

  1. Sheila

    Great article! I’ve got quite a similar list in my upcoming book.

    I find that the problem many couples have is when one person wants to do something (whether it’s on the list or not) and one does not. I always say to the person who doesn’t want to: you absolutely DO NOT have to do anything you’re uncomfortable with, and especially not anything you think is wrong. But what you should do is to take the stuff you do feel fine doing and dare yourself to make it as fun and exciting as possible!

    Honestly, if we just embrace sex with a good attitude, we don’t need all the “extras” the world throws at us. Commitment is the best aphrodisiac anyway!

    Sheila from To Love, Honor and Vacuum!

  2. Anonymous

    For a long time I did not feel comfortable with oral sex, although my husband wanted to do it. When I say a long time, I mean years. My husband was totally understanding, and just waited on me. Now it’s on the list, and it’s something we both enjoy.

  3. Anonymous

    While I see where you get most of this and buy into most of it from the Christian perspective, I think you are missing the boat on S&M. Just because someone likes to cede control of themselves to another person in the bedroom does not mean they have issues and need a counselor. Conversely, just because someone is willing to take the responsibility of accepting that control doesn’t make them bad or depraved.

    It is a perfectly valid form of play. I know that pop culture has created an image of S&M play and the people who like it that appears way out there to most but it is a much broader subject then depicted most places. It would be worth your time to investigate it a bit more before demonizing it so.

    Just my 2 cents though. Obviously everyone is welcome to their opinion.

  4. J

    Anon #2: Actually, I did not “demonize” S&M w/o some investigation. And the counselor comment was geared more toward being titillated by your own or someone else’s pain, not merely ceding control; perhaps I did not word that best. I still stand by my statement that S&M is a no-no, for the reasons I gave. But I understand that others will disagree.

    In fact, one of my reasons for this post is for people to consider and discuss what is and isn’t okay. I do hope people think about biblical principles as they make their own decisions in this area. Thanks for your comment!

  5. empty_sack

    What about a spouse or spouses openly and honestly having sex with other people?

    Years’ ago my girlfriend and I considered this after we realized that I was no longer able to get erections or even be interested in sex. We loved each other and considered allowing her to get her emotional needs met by me and her sexual needs met by other people.

    Could that be wrong in that particular situation or in any situation?

  6. J

    To empty_sack:

    It is admirable that you care so much for your partner’s pleasure.

    However, I do not believe that sex with outside people is healthy for any relationship. Sex is a bonding experience; hormones are released that increase our emotional responses. Is it a good idea, therefore, for your honey to have a bonding experience with another person? What may start as an outlet for sexual needs can become an emotional affair as well; she may end up leaving her current relationship for one that is more satisfying all-around.

    Moreover, unless you are paying for the service of getting sexual needs satisfied (and prostitution is a big no-no, morally and legally), you are stringing another person along. We may believe ourselves capable of casual encounters, but we simply cannot predict when one of those encounters will become a greater investment of our heart. Do you want to take that chance with an outside person’s heart?

    If you are so desirous of your partner having his/her needs met that you are willing to allow him/her to cheat on you, why not put that effort into satisfying him/her yourself? Yes, you may not have a drive, but if you can kiss, fondle, and use a toy or two, you can get the job done. And the act becomes a bonding experience for you two. Plus, the selflessness involved in pleasuring another is incredibly attractive to the one being pleasured.

    From a moral perspective, I think outside sex is wrong. I am a Christian, so I believe that sex should occur between a husband and wife, period.

    Regardless of your religious persuasion, sex blends two people together physically and spiritually in a way that is exclusive to them. Part of what makes this experience so wonderful in my marriage is that I give this ONLY to my husband and he gives it ONLY to me. I encourage you to not miss the opportunity to connect physically, emotionally, and spiritually with one another; do not introduce third parties into the equation.

    Best wishes!

  7. empty_sack

    J

    Ultimately, for reasons excluding religious dogma and guilt, we broke up instead of getting married like we had planned.

    After 4 years she’s single-but-looking (with many meaningful overnight relationships – I suspect she fears commitment because ours ended badly), and I am just single.

    The celestial plan, if there is one, for couples to bond and go forth and multiply hasn’t worked out for us.

    One of the few pleasures left for a man in my condition is stimulating the prostate. This activity seems to run counter to your edict against anal sex, although I am not sure that using an implement or digit to reach the prostate would be considered sex.

  8. Gretchen @ LadyEtiquette

    I completely agree with every point you make. Especially the ones about pornography and erotica.

    My husband has deployed to Afghanistan twice and been away from me more often training in between. We made an agreement together to save those emotions for each other. Not only that, but I feel that porn puts unrealistic pressure on a woman. The man sees what those “women” do and expect his wife to do the same. He want’s it, we feel pressured to give it, yet we are in no way porn stars.

    The decision has worked wonderfully for us. While other military couples we know are struggling with those issues and with their intimacy together, hubby and I have no problems! It’s all good here!

    p.s. Just stumbled across your blog… adding it to my reader!

  9. J

    @empty_sack: It sounds like your condition, whatever it is, should be discussed with a medical professional. Having talked to quite a few women (not really men on this point), doctors do not always take physical or physiological barriers to sexual satisfaction as seriously as they should. Insist. Best wishes to you!

    I’m sorry that your relationship did not last. I pray that you will find someone who loves you entirely regardless of the sex. If my husband was unavailable to me tomorrow, I would miss the sex but I would still be in love with the man I said “I do” to so many years ago.

  10. empty_sack

    @J My condition is this. Following an accident, I underwent bi-lateral orchiectomy (castration).

    I don’t think your prayers will help with finding a girlfriend/wife. There are not many women who would enter into a sexless relationship.

  11. Ridgeridin

    I just found this website. I like it. Thank you for posting your thoughts up here.
    You bring up a couple of points that are surprising to me however. One is anal sex, and the other is S/M. I will start with anal sex. I guess I disagree with your thoughts on this. It is not for everyone, I agree, but it is (in my opinion) a very pleasurable way to have sex. There are a huge bundle of nerve endings surrounding the anus, and done properly, it can be a huge sense of enjoyment.
    Now on to S&M. This posting almost offended me. If an S&M relationship encompassed the things you say, I would say it is inappropriate. However, I say this with all due respect, you don’t know about S&M if this is what you think it is really about. The level of sexual intimacy is unparalleled in my opinion. If you really understood it, you would understand the the submissive truly holds the power, as she(he) decides how far things go. It is a beautiful symbiotic relationship, in my opinion. I do not agree with the statement that we all need to go see a counselor. Now, while there are men out there who do act that way towards their submissives, I believe they are chauvanists. It should be a loving, esteem building relationship

  12. J

    Ridgeridin,
    Thanks for the compliment. Glad you found my site! Not surprisingly, I stand by my objections to anal sex and S&M. From my understanding, anal sex can be pleasurable due to increased pressure on the penis; however, that goal can be achieved in other ways. As for S&M, I don’t know how that can be considerd a “beautiful symbiotic relationship” or how it can be “esteem building.” God’s gift of sex isn’t about power.
    Of course, I recognize that readers will disagree with me, and I welcome conversation on these topics. I think it’s important for people to ask what they believe and why. Thanks for stopping by.

  13. Ridgeridin

    J~
    Thanks for your reply. Here are my thoughts on it. It is a beautiful symbiotic relationship based on the fact that it is two consenting adults – one who likes being more dominant, and the other who likes not having to be responsible for things. If the dominant is one who abuses the power, (i.e. won’t truly do what the submissive needs, pushing her past the comfort zone, or disregarding the safeword, for instance) then that would be an inappropriate abuse of “power”. The role of the submissive is to please her dominant. The dominant should then praise and complement the submissive for her meeting of said request. I do not believe that S&M is about exerting ones will over the other. It is about exchanging of wills and thereby finding peace and intimacy and love in the relationship.
    If you are interested, I can go into more detail, but I don’t know how much you are wanting to read or understand this.

  14. J

    Ridgeridin: I’m coming from a biblical perspective. And two adults consenting to an imbalance of power in the bedroom is not the sexual relationship gifted and condoned by God. I appreciate that you recognize the potential for abuse of power and attempt to avoid it because the tendency for people in power (whether relational, political, vocational) to push the limits is strong. The prescription in God’s Word is for a husband and wife to submit to one another. My best wishes to you.

  15. Anonymous

    Hi J,

    You stated, “From my understanding, anal sex can be pleasurable due to increased pressure on the penis; however, that goal can be achieved in other ways.”

    I have an excellent sexual and godly relationship with my husband and enjoy anal sex (gasp). If you haven’t tried it, don’t knock it. There are different positions that couples can experiment with that allow both the man & woman to enjoy the experience as well as toys/devices that provide ways to generously apply lubricant in that area. You may have readers who will completely close the door to this option simply because you listed it. I would strongly suggest to anyone reading this who is in that boat to do more research on anal sex. You may or may not choose to go that route, but be well informed. And please don’t be mistaken: the man is not the only one who can experience pleasure from this.

    1. J

      I certainly know some wonderful Christians who do not think this is on the no-no list. For instance, Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus in their book Intimate Issues do not speak against this practice. There is no specific command in the Bible against it. However, I have good reason for concerns, which plenty of doctors can attest to. The rectum holds bad bacteria (unlike the vagina) and tearing of the skin can be a problem, thus causing infections to occur. I agree that people who are interested in anal sex should research it. But I believe the preponderance of evidence points to this not being an area designed by God for sexual penetration.

      I have done my own homework. I do know that more men pursue this route than women, and that can be because the husband desires more pressure. If that is the case, there are other options besides entering the anus.

      As for “if you haven’t tried it, don’t knock it,” that’s a common argument, but I don’t buy it. I absolutely agree with you about researching the issue. But for instance, I don’t need to watch a porn film to know I don’t need to watch a porn film. So that simply doesn’t apply to everything.

      Thank you for commenting with your opinion and experience. I always hope to encourage dialogue on my blog. Best wishes for a continued satisfying marriage!

  16. MarriedGuy

    Great article! I believe that if more married couples took their sex lives serious, worked at it, dedicated more time to it and focused on pleasing the other, there would be fewer fights, fewer hurt feelings and fewer divorces.

    Thanks for the article.

  17. Anonymous

    I have to disagree about bondage being a bad thing. I find it insanely arousing to be restrained. To have him tease me and be unable to move or get him to go a certain place, sends me through the roof! He also finds it satisfying to be able to make his wife beg after so many years of marriage! 🙂

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