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4 Principles Christians Should Affirm About Sex

This post was originally titled 4 Principles Christian Bloggers should affirm about sex. Several times since, I’ve thought that was far too narrow. Rather, all Christians should understand and embrace these principles—the four I’m sharing (again) today and the three I’ll share next week.

Image of couple's feet in bed with blog post title

From time to time, I read an article, listen to a podcast episode, or see a social media post from a Christian 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. In an effort to correct the record, let me set forth seven principles Christians should know and affirm about sex. The first four are below, and my next blog post will have the final three.

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!

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:

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 from several Christians.

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 leaders have identified sex as something one spouse wants while the other spouse wants a different thing and then propose negotiating a trade.

Thus, sex becomes a quid pro quo. Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase that means “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 one more Christian suggests 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 seen that. (I’m sure it’s out there, but I haven’t seen 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, you say, doesn’t my spouse owe me sex? Hey, I’ll be first in line to say that marriage should, if at all possible, include sexual intimacy! That’s how God intended marriage to roll.

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 or even confrontation, which could be 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 Christians should affirm about sex.

This post was originally published November 22, 2019 and has been lightly edited and updated.

7 thoughts on “4 Principles Christians Should Affirm About Sex”

    1. Uh…I actually like that movie. But I’ve always been bothered by the scene where he drags her back. Nope. Nope. Nope. There had to be something between him not confronting her and THAT. Oh well.

  1. This made me so happy being reminded that God delights in the intimacy he created for husband and wife. God is so good, even when we fail him! Thank you J!

  2. If sex were not strictly for procreation, then why are we not naturally equipped to physically control when we have & don’t have children? Man-made obstacles/interferences must be introduced in order to thwart God’s intent.

    1. I’d turn that around and say that if sex is strictly for procreation, then why don’t we conceive every time we have sex? Moreover, why is human sex so different from the mating that animals do? We don’t keep to mating seasons, we often make love face to face, and we continue to have sex well beyond our capacity to bear children.

      For example, in the Bible when Abraham and Sarah are told they are going to conceive, they don’t say, “But we don’t have sex anymore.” They talk about being too old to conceive, but not too old to maintain sexual intimacy. The same is true for Zechariah and Elizabeth.

      Also, in the Song of Songs, there is no mention of bearing children. The married couple there pursue sexual intimacy because of their love for one another and desire to express and nurture that love.

      Now, Christians can certainly debate whether procreation should remain a possibility during childbearing years, not to be blocked by contraception, but that’s different from saying it’s “strictly for procreation.” That’s just not what our experience and the Bible show.

      1. Great answer! Oddly, many early church writers held the “procreation only” view. Perhaps it was due to Roman influence which believed the same (Roman marriage contracts often included the clause procreandorum liberorum causa—”for the sake of procreating children.” I think it is simply hard for men to do what God commanded — “husbands love your wives.”

  3. I also appreciate #4, and would expand that to include not only sex but marriage itself as my husband and I have enjoyed almost 24 years of marriage with no children. Several years ago we attended a family funeral and reception afterward, where we interacted with the deceased’s relatives. One woman whispered some well-meaning support in the buffet line in regard to our “problem,” having apparently been misinformed or having drawn her own conclusions; and when I corrected her she looked horrified to learn that we’d been contentedly married for 15 years with no children. I’ve had less dramatic but somewhat judgey queries from others who ask, “You don’t have kids? Huh…” Kids were always an “if it happens, it happens” thing for us, and I myself cannot identify (although I do sympathize) with couples who have allowed childlessness to destroy their finances and/or their marriage.

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