Last week, I began covering misconceptions and false teaching about sex that still show up periodically on Christian blogs and in other resources. While we can have honest and reasonable disagreements about particulars, some principles should be affirmed by all Christian bloggers.
The first four principles from last week’s post are:
- Sex is for both of you.
- God created sex for more than reproduction.
- Sex is not just a transaction.
- Force and pressure have no place in the marriage bed.
Let’s address the remaining three.
5. Even within marriage, there are some limits.
“Anything Goes” is a song written by Cole Porter, not a verse written by the Holy Spirit. And yet, that is the attitude of a few Christian bloggers—that once married, you can do anything and everything. As if the words “I do” mean “I do any kinky, crazy thing I want.”
One specific blogger used Hebrews 13:4 as his proof text that all activities were equally fine once married. In the New King James Version, it reads, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” Thus, the blogger interpreted that the marriage bed is undefiled no matter what happens.
But that’s not what the verse is saying! A better translation would be any of the following:
- Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. (NIV)
- Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. (ESV)
- Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery. (NLT)
- Let marriage be honorable in all, and the marriage bed undefiled; for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers. (BLB)
Hebrews 13:4 isn’t about green-lighting every kinky idea you’ve ever had, but rather keeping the marriage bed pure by avoiding adultery and sexual immorality. Plus, we have to consider how the rest of the Bible commands us to treat one another in marriage—and that doesn’t involve using our spouse as our personal sex toy.
Which brings me to another fallacy: that if God didn’t specifically ban an act, it’s automatically honky-dory.
Certainly the Church has at times banned or belittled a sexual practice that is perfectly fine. And we should not place undue burdens on believers, as the Pharisees did. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).
But later in that chapter, Paul also points out: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (5:13). We should follow God’s direct commands but also apply godly principles to determine what can be on our bedroom menu and what should be left off.We should follow God's direct commands but also apply godly principles to determine what can be on our bedroom menu and what should be left off. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet
1 Corinthians 10:23-24 puts it this way: “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”
Faithful Christians can argue about where the boundaries are, but the idea that there are boundaries should be no-brainer.
6. Porn and erotica are bad.
Here’s another should-be-obvious point, but it’s apparently not. Because I’ve read plenty of excuses for engaging with porn or erotica—everything from “it doesn’t hurt anyone” to “we learn from it” to “it helps us get aroused for each other.” And then there’s the standby claims that porn is a reasonable substitute when a spouse won’t provide sex or that erotica is okay because no actual persons are involved.
If you want to know what I think about porn and erotica, you can head to any of these:
- 5 Reasons to Stop Using Porn…Now
- Why I Haven’t Talked About 50 Shades
- It’s True: Porn Can Kill Your Sex Life
- Is Animated Porn a Problem?
- 50 Shades of Here-We-Go-Again
But the summary is that they’re bad for your soul and your marriage. They move focus away from your spouse and onto others; they prioritize the physicality of sex above any other aspect; and they normalize fringe activities and searching for that next high.
There’s the storytelling subgenre oddly titled “Christian erotica.” All that means is that it has the same purpose and effect as other erotica, but the characters are married. C’mon! Are we really that gullible? Is it somehow okay to involve others in your exclusive, one-flesh bedroom if they’re married too? Think through that logic, and you’ll find it’s not logical at all.
In addition, porn involves real people who get hurt. Do not cite their willingness, the pay they receive, or “amateur porn” unless and until you have fully researched porn’s high prevalence of abuse, sexually transmitted infections, and sex trafficking. And just because that girl looks twenty-one doesn’t mean she is.
Whether you want to call porn and erotica sin or not—and I believe it is—it’s definitely unwise. Just ask all the couples who had their marriages wrecked by it. Ask couples who had to walk the journey of rebuilding their intimacy. Even ask non-Christian experts who researched the subject thoroughly (An Open Letter on Porn, The Gottman Institute). And if you’re in a sexless marriage, engaging in porn or erotica will worsen an already difficult situation.
7. The Bible is not your bludgeon.
Last, but not least, could we please stay away from sites that recommend using a Bible passage as your personal bludgeon against your spouse?
The Word of God definitely has something to say about what sex should look like, as well as what we owe each other within marriage. But the Bible is God’s love letter to you—not His edict against your spouse. The primary goal of reading Bible passages should be applying them to our own sin-filled lives.
What then does one hope to gain by pulling out scriptures and hurling them at our spouse? Is it our defense mechanism? Are we lashing out to make our spouse feel pain like we’ve felt? Or do we simply expect our spouse to hurt so much they’ll change to avoid more of it? Even if that were to happen, how would that improve your overall intimacy?
Let’s take the most common infraction in the area of sex: using 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 to demand your spouse give you sex. Wanna see how that makes this blogger feel?
I actually like that passage because it’s NOT about obligation but the priority and mutuality of sexual intimacy. But you have to understand its context.
At that time, some Christians in Corinth had proclaimed celibacy a holier state so spouses were trying to avoid sex to be more spiritual. Rather than agreeing, the apostle Paul reasserts that God wants married couples to make love regularly, that sex is a crucial part of marriage, that we should not deprive one another as if that is a higher form of obedience when God Himself created sex for marriage! Paul’s not offering spouses a bludgeon, but rather affirming God’s invitation for couples to enjoy sexual intimacy with gratitude not guilt.In 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, Paul's not offering spouses a bludgeon, but rather affirming God's invitation for married couples to enjoy sexual intimacy with gratitude not guilt. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet
But let’s presume your spouse is completely wrong—on this or something else—and needs conviction by the Holy Spirit. You still don’t get to be the one to hammer down judgment. As Christ said, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7, ESV).
What you can do instead includes:
- Pray for your spouse
- Communicate your feelings and concerns
- Ask about their feelings and concerns and give them real consideration
- Propose studying the Bible together
- Suggest marriage counseling
- Attend a marriage class or conference
- Work on yourself
- Set proper boundaries
- Continue to communicate and ask for what you want, with gentleness and love
- Involve others if persistent sin warrants (e.g., abuse, addiction, adultery)
- Keep praying
But please don’t use God’s words like Thor’s hammer on your spouse. No matter how right you may be in what is said, how you say it matters quite a lot to our Heavenly Father.
Have you seen problematic teaching on these points? What other principles are important for Christians to affirm?