From time to time, I open up a post from a Christian blogger about sexual intimacy in marriage and find myself wondering what Bible they’re reading.
While the overall message about sex from the Church has improved a lot in my lifetime, misconceptions and false teaching still circulate. I worry about spouses looking for answers who land on such pages. Will they recognize the errors or be misled?
In an effort to correct the record, let me set forth seven principles every Christian marriage blogger should affirm about sex. Today I’ll cover four of them and next week I’ll wrap up with the other three principles.
1. Sex is for both of you.
Through the years, too many Christian-based resources have acted like God created romance for women and sex for men. Excuse me, but there is zero evidence of this perspective in God’s Word. God created sex to benefit and delight both husband and wife. And romance is for both of them too!
Just look at these verses:
- “‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh” (Mark 10:7-8).
- “I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me” (Song of Songs 7:10).
- “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:3).
- “Eat, friends, drink, and be drunk with love!” (Song of Songs 5:1).
God intends for two people to be willingly involved in sexual intimacy. Sex is not just for men. It’s for women too.
If we don’t understand that important truth, we may:
- Overlook her unique sexual response, making male sexuality the standard
- Define a man’s sex drive as “too much”
- Fail to recognize intimacy obstacles as solvable
- Ignore the reality of marriages with a higher desire wife
- Excuse pressuring and demands from a higher drive husband
- Deny both spouses the delight of mutual physical intimacy
Let’s get this one right: God created them male and female, and He wants both to be sexually satisfied in marriage.
2. God created sex for more than reproduction.
Too many Christians historically believed that sex was just for the sake of having babies.
But if sex’s sole purpose is reproduction, does it matter whether you enjoy it? In fact, isn’t it better to do other things with your time when no baby is possible? Could sex simply be a necessary evil for the sake of breeding and/or a temporary surrender to the flesh?
While all this was happening, I imagine God up in Heaven like this:
Today, Christian theologians and leaders rarely argue that sex is only for having children. But many husbands and wives report that their spouse checked out after the children arrived or reached adulthood. And I’ve seen tacit support for this idea on a few Christian blogs.
While it’s incredible that connecting our body parts has the potential to create life, the Bible teaches that sex in marriage goes beyond reproduction. God designed it to bring pleasure and intimacy as well. Consider Proverbs 5:19: “A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.” Ever sounds to me like past those childbearing years. And the entire book of Song of Songs celebrates marital intimacy without once mentioning children.
God’s design of our biology also displays His intention—with the health benefits of regular sexual intimacy, the presence of a woman’s clitoris (serving no reproductive purpose but providing ample pleasure), and the release of Oxytocin, a “bonding chemical,” during lovemaking. Research also shows that couples who engage in ongoing sexual intimacy are closer and happier.
3. Sex is not just a transaction.
It may seem obvious that God did not intend sex to be merely transactional, but plenty of statements suggest the opposite. Well-meaning Christian bloggers (and authors and speakers) may identify sex as something one spouse wants while the other spouse wants a different thing and then propose negotiating a trade.
Thus, sex becomes—dare I say it these days?—a quid pro quo. (Whatever your politics, I hope you laughed at that joke and don’t write me hate mail.) In case you still don’t know what quid pro quo means, it’s a Latin phrase meaning “this for that.” It’s like the saying, “You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.”
There’s subtlety here. Because we might negotiate frequency, suggest taking turns with sexual pleasures or climax, or tend to our spouse’s emotional needs knowing all along that makes them more likely to attend to ours. But those aren’t in the same vein as “You do X, and I do Y, and we’re done.”
Sex should not be something a spouse does only to get some unrelated goodie from it. God designed sex to have goodies for both husband and wife!
Do things for each other because that’s what Christ-like love looks like! But don’t look at sex—or other good things in marriage like affection and communication—as trading chips in the game of marriage. You both deserve better.
4. Force and pressure have no place in the marriage bed.
For the love of all that is holy, if I read one more Christian blogger suggesting you have every right to demand, pressure, or even force your wife to have sex with you…
No, I did not say “force your husband,” because oddly, I’ve never read that. (I’m sure it’s out there, but I haven’t read it.) I have, however, read several articles written by both men and women with notions like “there’s no such thing as marital rape.” Oh hogwash!
But hopefully, you’ve read the rest of the Bible in which God makes it eminently clear that His people should not demand their rights or ignore the feelings and value of another person. Hopefully, you’ve read about Christ’s sacrifice and humility, providing us the example we should follow. And maybe we should all camp out on this passage for a while: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).
Now I’m not talking about communication, confrontation, or nudging, which are all reasonable at various times in marriage. I’m talking about abuse, force, or persistent pressure.
Even from a practical standpoint, those are terrible ideas. Think of times in adulthood you’ve been forced or pressured to do something. Did it make you more excited about the event or less likely to enjoy it? Of course others can pressure us to do things we’re later glad for, but most times we walk away with resentment and a desire not to repeat the experience. Do you really want your spouse to feel that way about sex with you?
Stay tuned next time for three more principles all Christian bloggers, and Christians generally, should affirm about sex.
Have you seen any of these false teachings about sex? How have they affected your marriage’s sexual intimacy?
Note: This isn’t about airing out particular websites or bashing individuals. Let’s remain Christian in how we treat others, including our enemies.