As a Christian organization, we draw our beliefs about sexuality from the Bible. And Scripture makes it clear that sex is God’s special gift to a husband and wife within the exclusive bonds of marriage.
Beyond that, there are three important things the Bible says about the meaning and purpose of marital sex. These principles inform and shape all expressions of physical intimacy in marriage:
- It’s central to a husband and wife becoming one flesh (Genesis 2:24).
- It’s how they participate in the ongoing work of God’s creation through the pleasure and delight of procreation (Genesis 1:28).
- It’s intended to serve as a symbol of the union between Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:31-32).
Love, liberty, and selflessness in marriage
From the Christian standpoint, marriage is a relationship of love in which a man and a woman model for each other the self-sacrificial nature of Christ’s love for His Church.
Sex isn’t supposed to be “all about me.” Instead, it’s designed to function as part of the give-and-take of an interpersonal relationship. It’s a holy mystery — a powerful bonding agent that shapes and affects the relationship between a man and a woman as nothing else can.
Where there is love, there’s liberty, because God has given a husband and wife the privilege to define the uniqueness of their sexual relationship. No one else has the right or authority to tell them how to behave in the bedroom, as long as their actions don’t violate Scripture.
But love also implies that each spouse must give highest priority to the needs, feelings, desires, and preferences of their mate. In other words, mutual consent is basic to all healthy sexual expression in marriage.
Consent implies that both parties know what’s proposed and expected. That they fully understand the physical and emotional ramifications of the suggested activity. That there’s room for discussion. And that both partners are always free to say no.
Respect, humility, and forbearance — essential to all human relationships — are of the greatest importance in marriage. Neither spouse should ever be pressured to engage in any sexual activity they’re uncomfortable with. Marital sex is part of a healthy relationship. It should never be manipulated for the sake of one partner’s personal pleasure.
So, what about oral and anal sex?
The Bible never addresses the question of oral sex in marriage — so couples must use their own judgment. (We realize that some Christians have strong reservations about oral sex, and we respect their point of view.)
But we strongly caution couples against anal sex:
- Anal sex appears to breach the biblical concept of mutual respect and enjoyment between partners. Renowned Christian sex therapists Clifford and Joyce Penner report that the majority of women who engage in anal sex with their husbands admit that they don’t enjoy it — that they feel violated.
- Anal sex poses serious medical risks, including bacterial and viral infections of the vagina, penis, rectum, and anus. That’s not to mention that rectal tissue is more delicate and vulnerable to tearing and abrasion than vaginal tissue.
Sexual intimacy in marriage is a lifelong process
Above all, cover your relationship with grace as you grow and learn together.
Different forms of expression can be appropriate at different seasons — when younger or older; in stress or joy; during pregnancy, childbirth and child-rearing; during and after menopause … The list could go on.
If you have other questions or would like to discuss your concerns at greater length call us for a free over-the-phone consultation. Our licensed or pastoral counselors will be glad to help in any way they can.
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Sex and Intimacy