I received two separate emails on this question recently. The first was very straightforward:
Is anal sex ok with your wife?
The second email came from a single-but-searching woman. She’d found another Christian-based site that so praised anal sex she became emotionally distraught. As she explained:
Even though I am not naive to this concept, the idea espoused in the post and comments that this form of sex is more pleasurable and intense for men and more desirable than PIV intercourse turned me off men so badly that I no longer desire to get married….It’s embedded in my mind now that unless I go down that road, I can never truly please a man.
There was more to that email, but basically anal sex receiving so much approbation was a huge turnoff for her.
I’ve talked about anal sex in the past and on the Sex Chat for Christian Wives podcast, but I didn’t have a post dedicated to it. Here’s that post.
What Is Anal Sex?
Some have used anal sex and sodomy interchangeably, but anal sex is more specific.
The term sodomy is based on a reference to the story of Sodom in Genesis 19, in which the men of the town approached Abraham’s nephew Lot about his house guests: “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” Lot calls this act “wicked,” and soon after the Lord destroyed the entire town.
In some times and places, sodomy thus referred to homosexual anal sex. But it’s also been used to reference all homosexual sex, all anal sex, and even bestiality.
Meanwhile, anal sex specifically refers to sexual penetration of the anus by a penis. Some include penetration by a finger, but I’d categorize that as anal play rather than anal sex.
As for the flip side, a penis-shaped object into his anus, I’m not covering that this time. If you want, you can check out this post.
Why Does Anal Sex Appeal to Some Men?
Several factors contribute to the desire some men have for anal sex.
First, there’s interest or curiosity of having an even tighter fit around his penis. The rectum is tighter the vagina, so the pressure can be more intense.
Also, some claim that the prostate gland—accessible to touch through the rectum—is an erogenous zone more sensitive than the testicles or penis.
Moreover, pornography and erotica often display and convey anal sex as a peak experience that is enjoyable for both partners.
Is Anal Sex a Safe, Healthy Practice?
In short, no.
What’s often not covered by those who advocate anal sex is that it is unsafe, often painful to women, and unnecessary to achieve the ends they recommend. WebMD and others recommend against anal sex and provide important considerations, such as:
- The rectum is not designed to expand and contract like a vagina, so it’s relatively easy to tear tissue.
- The rectum lacks natural lubrication, thus increasing friction and tearing.
- Ongoing anal sex can lead to fecal incontinence.
- Receiving anal sex increases the likelihood of anal cancer.
- For women, anal sex increases HIV transmission by 17 times over vaginal intercourse and is twice as likely to pass the infection as a shared needle.
- Unlike the vagina or the urinary tract, the rectum is full of harmful bacteria.
- Other infections can be easily passed through anal sex.
- In one study, about 3 in 4 women reported pain during anal sex, with higher intensity than the pain or discomfort some might experience with vaginal sex. (By the way, the latter can almost always be resolved, the former not so much.)
- In the same study, about 15% of men reported pain during anal sex.
(See “The Consequences of Heterosexual Anal Sex for Women.” Medical Institute for Sexual Health, August 26, 2016; “Pain Experienced during Vaginal and Anal Intercourse with Other-Sex Partners: Findings from a Nationally Representative Probability Study in the United States.” The journal of sexual medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, April 2015.)
But What About the Benefits?
What about that tighter fit and prostate stimulation?
As for prostatic massage, anal play with a finger is a possibility, though to remain safe, one could use lubrication and a hand or finger glove. And a wife can also stimulate the prostate gland from the outside, rubbing the stretch of skin and tissue that runs between her husband’s testicles from penis toward anus.
But let’s also put prostate stimulation into perspective. According to a 2015 study: “The orgasm induced through deep prostatic massage is thought to be different from the orgasm associated direct penile stimulation. Although penile stimulation orgasms are associated with 4–8 pelvic muscle contractions, prostatic massage orgasms are associated with 12 contractions. Prostatic massage orgasms are thought to be more intense and diffuse than penile stimulation orgasms, but they require time and practice and are not liked by many men.” (emphasis added)
Are Married Couples Having Anal Sex?
From my online research, the percentage of couples engaging in anal sex is disturbingly high, up to one-third. But it’s not that many when you consider who’s doing it and how.
For instance, 25% of women in one study said they were coerced into having anal sex. Coercion can include force, pressure, guilting, etc., but the ages of those engaging in this behavior top out in the 20s and go down in the 30s. That says to me that some people may try it when they’re younger, but once married—when they feel they can speak up for what they want and don’t want—they do not largely choose to have anal sex.
In my own experience, having heard from hundreds of couples, a large majority of married Christian couples are not having anal sex. Most husbands aren’t even asking for it!
Rather, the vast majority of men who contact me talk about the joy of seeing and touching their wife’s bodies, providing her the pleasure she most desires, giving and receiving oral sex (yep, that’s in there for some, though not all), and above all, penis-in-vagina (PIV) intercourse that culminates with orgasm.
Why Do Christians Disagree about Anal Sex?
Some Christians out there look at questions like this with the lens of “does the Bible forbid it?” and if the answer is no, then they figure it’s okay and if they want to do it, they will. I understand the desire behind that; such folks have often cited scriptures like Galatians 5:1: “For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
I’ll skip over the fact that Galatians 5 is not about sexual freedom but Judaic Christians trying to get Gentile Christians to be circumcised. But the intent such Christians have is not to place undue burdens on people or to let prudery of the past determine our course.
Other Christians, like me, think a specific prohibition is not required to say something is at least a bad idea. For instance, I don’t need the Bible to tell me not to do heroin or cross a busy street without looking. And if I do, I can go flip through Proverbs and find a lot of advice about just not being a fool.
Wisdom involves looking at the evidence, including God’s creation. The design of our bodies provides strong evidence that the rectum is not intended for penetration by something as large as a penis; rather, its purpose is to eliminate feces and harmful bacteria, which does not really signal have sex here.
Do You Disagree?
I’m prepared for the comments section to have detractors—even angry ones. My favorite such comment is when someone says, “Who are you to tell me what to do!” Look, I’m not forcing my opinion on anyone. But I’m someone who has researched, read, and writes extensively about sex in marriage from a Christian perspective and whose blog you willingly visited and can click away from any time. Ideally before you leave me a hateful comment.
I’m also someone who says this is not a salvation issue. Some good Christians think anal sex is okay. I think they’re wrong, they think I’m wrong, and we don’t think either is unsaved. However, it is wrong for anyone to advocate so strongly for anal sex that a spouse feels mistreated or deprived if they don’t get it or at least get to try it.
Because whatever you believe, for the love of all that is good and holy, do not pressure your spouse to engage in sexual act they don’t want to do! Love should rule the day in determining your sexual repertoire. You have so many sexual alternatives that your beloved should be able to simply say “no, thank you” to certain sex acts without you getting angry or complaining.
If you want ideas of lots of great stuff you can do instead, scroll down to the footer, click Blog Topics, and look for my How To Tips. Or pick up my book with a plethora of spice-it-up suggestions.
But for those who wanted to know my thoughts on anal sex, I’ll sum it up as I can’t say it is sinful, but I can say it’s an unwise practice.
“All who are prudent act with knowledge, but fools expose their folly” (Proverbs 13:16).