Hot, Holy & Humorous

Is It Okay to Say No?

In the last few weeks, I’ve received three separate questions from wives that overlap in their tone. Summarizing what they asked about:

  • Doesn’t a husband need oral sex to be sexually satisfied?
  • How can I handle a husband who persists in wanting to be pegged (defined below)?
  • Is a wife in the wrong for not wanting her husband to talk about her being with other men, aka cuckolding?

Now, I generally believe that husbands love their wives and want to focus their sexual attention on the woman they chose, love, and married. I’ve written several times about my general admiration for men; for example, To Good-willed Husbands Who Want a Great Sex Life, What I Truly Believe About Men, What’s So Great About Men? – Knowing Her Sexually. I’m a big fan of masculinity and good men.

That said, I want to scream at the top of my lungs and shoot rubber-bands at those husbands who pressure their wives for activities that don’t need to be in the marriage bed. (I’m a really good rubber-band shooter, FYI.)

What’s Okay and Not Okay in the Bedroom

You may have looked at that list above and concluded that these are very different acts. If so, you’d be right. I take no issue with oral sex being part of a married couple’s repertoire, while pegging is at best unwise and cuckolding is just wrong. But the thread that pulls these together is that in each instance, a husband behaves like his sexual satisfaction depends on a particular activity and then attempts to force or manipulate his wife to comply.

Before we go into how a husband should treat his wife and how a wife can respond to such pressure, let me address about what’s okay and not okay with each of these.

Oral Sex. Some Christians believe oral sex is sinful. I’m not one of them. Having studied this issue, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s okay for married couples to engage in oral sex and that, very likely, oral sex is mentioned in the Song of Songs (2:3, 4:16). That said, many couples should skip oral sex.

Why? If sexual abuse or assault involved oral sex, it can be retraumatizing to engage in it again. That may need to be taken off the menu, at least for a time and possibly for a lifetime. In addition, if a sexually transmitted infection is present, oral sex should not happen (except perhaps with a condom or dental dam, but even then, be careful). Some spouses may find oral sex to be degrading or can’t get past concerns about hygiene. I have a hard time imagining germaphobes being able to engage in oral sex without intense anxiety.

If oral sex gets crossed off the list, that’s okay. There are plenty of other ways to arouse and satisfy your spouse. What you thought your mouth might do could be achieved with excellence by your hand or the addition of a marital aid. Maybe what your mouth should do more of is simply deep kissing (one of the three actions that help many women reach orgasm).

Just because an activity can be a part of a couple’s sex life doesn’t mean it should be a part of a couple’s sex life.

Just because an activity can be a part of a couple’s sex life doesn’t mean it should be a part of a couple’s sex life.


Pegging. In case you don’t know what pegging is, I’m sorry. Because I’m about to tell you something you might have gone the rest of your life without knowing and been content with that ignorance. Blissful, one might say. But pegging involves a woman wearing a strap-on penis to provide the man anal sex. I wrote on my views about this practice here: Q&A with J: Pegging. Is It Okay?

In short, however, this practice is unwise at best and possibly wrong. While I cannot point to a scripture that says, “Thou shalt not peg,” we can ask how God designed our bodies. And anal sex isn’t it. (See Is Anal Sex Okay?) Moreover, how does it fulfill our God-given roles as man-woman, masculine-feminine, husband-wife for her to wear a phallus to enter his rectum? It doesn’t.

Where did this idea come from? It’s not strictly gay sex, but pegging also appears with heterosexual men in porn. If a husband persists in asking for pegging, I’d ask how much porn he’s watched and whether he’s still watching it.

Cuckolding. Cuckolding is becoming aroused by your partner engaging in sex with someone else. It can be pursued in reality (watching your partner with someone else) or in fantasy (talking about or imagining your partner with someone else). Clearly, the former is worse because you’ve involved another person, but both are bad because they promote infidelity.

If there’s anything the Bible clearly says about sex, it’s that it should be exclusive in marriage. Bringing in someone else literally or mentally violates the covenant and trust you have with your spouse. We are not to lust after others, but rather focus our full romantic and sexual attention on the beloved we chose and committed to.

Suggesting that your wife take up with another man is asking her to be an adulteress. It’s asking her to sin. And you imagining her with someone else treats her like an object for your arousal rather than a full partner in your exclusive sexual relationship. It’s plain wrong.

But Do You Still Want It?

Explaining why you shouldn’t pressure your spouse for these activities doesn’t kill your desire for them. Plenty of spouses know they shouldn’t want things that they do want. Even if they want to shut off those longings, they don’t know where to find that switch.

Here’s where you need to do some personal work by asking where these desires came from. Your interest in oral sex may have come from a good place, but what about pegging, cuckolding, and other “kinky” activities? Would you have come up with those on your own? Or were they birthed by viewing porn or hearing stories from others who described them as erotic must-haves?

Do they come from a desire to pleasure and satisfy your spouse? Or from a desire to sate your own selfish lust?

Did someone pervert your sexuality through molestation, abuse, or exposure to porn?

If your interest in these activities came from a problematic past, then it’s time to wrestle with that past, re-envision what sex can and should be, and pursue healing for those wounds and misconceptions. Among the paths to healing are stopping porn (now), attending a support group that addresses unwanted sexual behavior, and/or seeing a Christian counselor to work through your issues.

Healthy and holy sexuality involves lifting up your spouse in the bedroom, treating them as a beautiful partner made in the image of God whose sexual satisfaction you value and whose intimacy you treasure. What does that look like? Here you go:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4–7

What If Your Spouse Wants What You Don’t?

It’s okay to say no.

Wait, let me say that a different way. IT’S OKAY TO SAY NO.

Yes, I yelled that at you, because that’s what some of you need to hear. Saying no to a particular activity, especially one you find sinful or degrading, is not saying no to intimacy with your spouse. It’s saying yes to real intimacy!

Saying yes to an activity you don’t want creates resistance, resentment, and even repulsion to sex with your spouse. You may try to be a “good sport” for a while, but the pressure to perform and the disregard for your own choice and pleasure will undermine the care and safety needed to feel known and loved. And what is sex in marriage but being known and loved?

The most common Hebrew word for lovemaking is yada which means “to know.” Thus, Adam knew his wife Eve. Had he demanded and persisted with sexual acts she didn’t want, she wouldn’t feel known. She’d feel used.

But it’s one thing to tell you that you can say no, and another thing for you to figure out the how. Do you just keep dodging the question? Asking him to stop? Engaging in everything but that one thing you’re saying no to?

Let’s Aim for Better

We have a tendency to ask how far we can go without going too far. Teens are known for asking that question to their youth ministers, but adult spouses often do the same thing. They want to know where the line is and then put their toes right up against it, or hey, a few toes over the line wouldn’t really hurt, would it?

What’s okay in the marriage bed is a perfectly fine question! I even answered (up above) regarding the three issues wives asked about.

But a much better question is: What fosters trust, vulnerability, and intimacy in a marriage? Sex as God designed it to be does just that!

Our generous Father designed it to:

  • be mutually desired and satisfying
  • involve both partners’ consent
  • be a place where we can be, physically and emotionally, naked and unashamed (Genesis 2:25)
  • last throughout a marriage

If you’re being pressured to sin or to do something you find objectionable, speak up. Let your spouse know that you do not want to participate in that particular activity. Moreover, their demands make you feel less safe and less open to sexual intimacy. Explain not only what you don’t want, but what you do want. What would great sex look like for you?

Cast a vision. Talk about what true sexual intimacy could be with you both involved in figuring out what you want.

If he (or she) stubbornly pursues their selfish desires, set boundaries. That could include pausing sex for a time until they get help to address what’s perverted their desire. Be clear that you are more than willing to work toward a great sex life! But you can’t support sex that degrades or dishonors you.

If your spouse refuses to engage in a conversation, counseling, or other help, seek a Christian counselor or mentor for you. Find a trustworthy someone you can check in with to make sure your viewpoint is reasonable and to gain practical suggestions for how to proceed. A qualified advisor who knows your particular situation could be invaluable in helping you move forward.

A Final Word on Consent

It’s my belief that when you say “I Do,” you consent to pursuing sexual intimacy with your spouse. But pursuing sexual intimacy is not the same as having sex! You might go months without sex in a marriage, yet still be seeking intimacy through dealing with a hurtful past, navigating physical challenges to sex feeling good, addressing a porn addiction (his or yours), etc.

Consent is not given on Day 1 and Day 1 only. Rather, each time, we can choose whether to engage or not. Clearly, I’m in favor of engaging more than not. I have a whole ministry devoted to it! BUT all the examples of good sex in Scripture involve consent—for each time and each activity.

In Song of Songs 5, the husband comes to his wife’s bedroom, wanting to make love, but she’s tired and isn’t sure she’s ready (Song of Songs 5:2-3). By the time she finally decides she does want him…

I opened for my beloved,
  but my beloved had left; he was gone.
  My heart sank at his departure.

Song of Songs 5:6

Yep, the husband left. He didn’t break the door down, demand what he wanted, or pout when he didn’t get it. He respected that sexual intimacy involves consent—even in marriage. (I can’t believe I need to say “even in marriage,” but I’ve read enough from other sources to know I do.)

Your body is yours. You share it willingly with your husband or wife in a manner that honors God according to your conscience. I encourage spouses to make sex a priority. But consent is a high priority too.

God believes in free will. If He won’t force us to accept His salvation, He certainly isn’t in favor of a spouse forcing their mate to engage in certain activities, especially unwise or sinful ones.

Figure out what you will say yes to, what you will say no to, but especially how you can nurture healthy and holy sexual intimacy in your marriage.

11 thoughts on “Is It Okay to Say No?”

  1. “I opened for my beloved,
    but my beloved had left; he was gone.
    My heart sank at his departure.

    Song of Songs 5:6
    Yep, the husband left. He didn’t break the door down, demand what he wanted, or pout when he didn’t get it. He respected that sexual intimacy involves consent—even in marriage. (I can’t believe I need to say “even in marriage,” but I’ve read enough from other sources to know I do.)”

    I’ve read other sources, too, that suggest that “I do” equates to lifelong unconditional consent. That the wife is not free to refuse – for whatever reason. Appreciate your application of Song of Songs 5:6. I had only seen it from the wife’s perspective in that she changed her mind. But I love the picture of the loving husband who put aside his wants out of love for his wife.

    1. Thanks! Every time I think I’ve gotten everything out of a passage, Scripture (and the Spirit, I suppose) shows me more depth.

  2. I opened for my beloved,
    but my beloved had left; he was gone.
    My heart sank at his departure.

    Song of Songs 5:6
    Yep, the husband left. He didn’t break the door down, demand what he wanted, or pout when he didn’t get it. He respected that sexual intimacy involves consent—even in marriage. (I can’t believe I need to say “even in marriage,” but I’ve read enough from other sources to know I do.)

    I read that verse recently, and always just took it for what it stated, that when she was finally ready to receive, he left, and her heart sank.
    I guess I figured he was impatient because foreplay was taking too long and didn’t just want to end up cuddling for the night. By the time she was finally ready to open up, he left and she was upset. If it was a positive interaction, wouldn’t she have a more positive response at his departure other than “her heart sank”? I guess I want to know why her heart sank if he was showing respect, which typically promotes intimacy.
    Thank you this much needed ministry to the body of Christ, I’ve learned so much from your page and the podcast. ❤

    1. I feel like this is a missed connection. Particularly, because she gives her reasons in the passage:

      “I have taken off my robe—
      must I put it on again?
      I have washed my feet—
      must I soil them again?”
      SS 5:3

      It’s not that she didn’t desire her husband or that he was behaving disrespectfully. Rather he came to her, wanting to make love, and she’d already turned in for the night. By the time she roused herself enough to think, “Yeah, that sounds pretty good!” he was gone. And her heart sank because the opportunity passed them by.

      My two cents. Of course, it involves interpretation, and I’m certainly not saying I have it all right here. I appreciate your perspective! (And your kind words. ♥)

  3. I’ll admit, I really didn’t enjoy this one. I am all for the first one, and for oral for my wife as well. While I knew about the other two, all I can say is yuck. The reality is that significant back door activity poses health risks, the primary reason it is off the table, a decision made by both my wife and me.

    Cuckolding is a term I wasn’t familiar with, but knew of the reality that there are husbands (and wives) that allow and encourage such things. Scripture is clear, we are not to bring others into our intimate relationship. That means a hard no to this perversion. It also means I refuse things like dress up (pretending to be someone else is still wrong, as I understand scripture), and pornography.

    I also reject anything that brings pain, which is more of a conviction than absolute biblical decree. I don’t see it aligning with the full counsel of scripture. I believe this.

    Fortunately, my wife agrees with me on all of these principles. It is such a blessing to be on the same page with my wife. We both seek God’s best, and by doing so it brings us closer together and more unified.

    She is not excited about oral, but she knows how much it means to me. I don’t push, however, she is willing to surprise me on a rare occasion, which is enough to me. This expression of love from her tells me how much I mean to her. I would rather her give willingly than feel coerced. I will admit, I would mourn the total loss of it, as it is incredibly special to me. Another point I have to make is that there is no finishing with oral unless it is for her. We tried that once and she didn’t enjoy it. If I didn’t respect her in that, I wouldn’t have any hope of enjoying that wonderful gift from her. It is ok for her to set a limit to what she will do. So when there is oral, it is the most intimate foreplay.

    1. Yes, I waver at times on whether I should publicly bring up topics that are fringe, but I guess I err on the side of making sure it’s clear for those looking what the best/biblical answer is. I love your comment, though, especially the love and respect you have for one another in your marriage.

      1. These are real world issues. It is good to bring up these topics, despite the difficulty or awkwardness of the discussion. I appreciate your boldness.

    2. Yes I agree Chris, In Through the Out Door is not just a bad Led Zeppelin album but also a bad sexual practice. Never tried it, never wanted to 😝

  4. I will always believe it is okay to say no, you don’t have to give reasons you can just say no and your no should be respected and coercion has no place in a marriage.

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