As a Christian organization, Focus on the Family draws its 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 — principles that 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 is obligated to treat the needs, feelings, desires, and preferences of their mate as matters of the highest priority. 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. Under no circumstances should either spouse be pressured to engage in any sexual activity they’re uncomfortable with. Marital sex is part of a healthy relationship. It’s not something to be manipulated for its own sake or for the sake of one partner’s personal pleasure.
So, what about sex toys?
The Bible never addresses the question of sex toys or “marital aids” — so we’d suggest (tentatively) that couples use their own judgment.
But we’d be quick to add that mutual consent is absolutely critical. If you have any reservations about sex toys, don’t make a decision until you and your husband can talk. Your spouse should never force you to do something that feels wrong. And you shouldn’t give in to such pressure — that would violate your own integrity.
And if either of you has a history of pornography use, sex addiction, or sexual abuse, you should definitely steer clear of sex toys altogether. Using them will reinforce a predisposition to depersonalize sexual intimacy, which might encourage involvement in dark, pornographically related sexual practices.
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 — in youth and old age; in times of stress and times of joy; during pregnancy, childbirth, and child-rearing; during and after menopause — the list could go on.
But no matter the stage of life, married sex is about honesty, prayerfulness, vulnerability, flexibility, and good communication.
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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Marital Intimacy (resource list)
Sex and Intimacy