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Sex in a Christian marriage is a beautiful, God-designed act. It is not only for procreation but for pleasure. God created sex in a Christian marriage for us to have physical, spiritual, and emotional intimacy with our partners.
I’ve received several emails on what is ok and what is not regarding sex in the Christian marriage. While I wish the Bible included a how-to manual or a specific list of guidelines, it does not. It does, however, make several items crystal clear.
Ever wondered if certain sexual practices are labeled “sinful” or “okay?” Unfortunately, it’s impossible to make a universal list that all Christians would accept. Each community has different understandings based on the same general biblical principles. That being said, we still want to provide some guidelines so everyone can enjoy their sexuality in accordance with God’s desires for his children!
God isn’t caught off guard by our desire for physical pleasure and the joy that comes with it – in fact, we believe He delights in watching us experience something so intimately connected to His creativity! Still, just like parents’ rules on bike safety would ensure kids don’t get hurt while they’re out riding around having fun, God also has boundaries set up to protect us as we enjoy this amazing gift.
Though the Bible may bring up sex, it’s not exactly a step-by-step guide on getting jiggy with your partner. So when folks discuss Song of Solomon as an instructional manual for achieving sexual bliss – we respectfully disagree! Instead, let’s view this piece of poetic beauty as embracing and celebrating romantic love — because that is its true intention.
Jesus wanted us to ensure our relationships were free from transgressions, which meant physical infidelity and all forms of lustful thoughts. So by taking a deeper look at ourselves and truly understanding the importance of faithfulness in marriage–from both an emotional and a physical level—we can protect and savor those loving moments even more!
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Premarital sexual relationships are often seen as the norm in our society, but Scripture is clear that fornication brings with it serious consequences. Behind the facade of “sexual freedom,” couples must cope with heavy burdens resulting from rash decisions. It’s important to remember that this so-called freedom isn’t without a price tag!
The Bible doesn’t shy away from listing some serious sins that it says are abominations to God. Homosexuality, bestiality, and incest may not be topics we like discussing, but they all made the list of big no-nos in scripture. (Leviticus 18, Romans 1:21-32, I Thessalonians 4:1-8, and I Corinthians 6:12-20).
As the world evolves, though we may find different sexual practices around us (from Internet porn to sex toys and videos), Scripture has no definitive answer to these deviations. So when considering these matters, married couples should look for principles in the Word of God–and apply them to modern-day life accordingly! After all, humans haven’t changed much since creation: we still have the same human anatomy with hormones driving us towards pleasure; plus, the desire for intimacy remains strong today too.
Christian Sex: Becoming Flesh with One Partner
We know that living a monogamous lifestyle, as suggested by Biblical commandments, promotes sexual intimacy and satisfaction. This means sex isn’t something to show off or just relieve physical tension – it’s an opportunity for connection with another person. Though casual encounters can bring some pleasure along the way, they don’t measure up to biblical standards when you want deep emotional gratification from your intimate moments.
When two people are in a long and loving relationship, each sexual encounter can be an opportunity to deepen their trust in one another. That’s when the pleasure experienced moves beyond ‘having sex’ into something more meaningful – it truly becomes “making love.” On the other hand, multiple partners could create feelings of jealousy or comparison that become barriers to achieving true intimacy.
Mutual Submissiveness in Christian Sex
Though it can be easy to get caught up in the daily grind of life, men’s and women’s vastly different sexual desires often cause tension. Men crave more frequent sex and a variety of forms of play, while women appreciate emotional connectedness with tender touch and conversation paired with consistent love-making techniques. Suppose couples want their connection – physical pleasure and heartfelt intimacy – to last over time. In that case, they must find ways to bridge this gap between them regarding positions for intercourse, frequency of sex, or experimentation.
A relationship between a couple can blossom in unique ways through mutual submissiveness! Both partners can demonstrate their respect and share meaningful moments of love. In addition, taking this approach creates an atmosphere that invites genuine maturity into your sexual playtime, so you both gain from it even more.
Intimacy requires sacrifice and compromise, but it’s worth the effort. Even when we step out of our comfort zones to show love for one another in a sexual context – whether that means foregoing a fantasy or making ourselves more available for intercourse- those little moments can be incredibly powerful. They’re what makes us feel truly connected with each other!
From extensive study, I believe there are few sexual activities in a marriage prohibited by Scripture. From oral sex to rear-entry vaginal penetration and even mutual masturbation – it all goes! For added protection against some medical issues, Paul advises us of the Old Testament commandment of not engaging while your partner has her menstrual period. On top of that, his warning in I Corinthians tells us couples should never deny one another sexually unless both parties agree and for a mutual time of fasting and prayer; this reinforces our belief that marital relations are sacred and intimate for both partners involved!
Sex in the Christian Marriage Should be Pleasurable
Sexual play should be pleasurable for both partners! When that’s not the case, it can create resentment and distance between you – which isn’t part of God’s design. Medical solutions may be available if painful activities prevent intimacy in your relationship. Issues like vaginitis or painful erections could very well become a barrier to joy if left untreated Don’t hesitate to consult with an expert who will help get you back on track toward enjoying each other again.
Sometimes couples might be curious about sadomasochistic sex or bondage. However, these behaviors can take away from the selfless love of sex and make it more about power dynamics instead. This type of aggressive behavior is a sexual perversion that may lead to shame, humiliation, and devaluing of one partner (or both). Also, unfortunately, this kind of domination has been found to require increasingly extreme measures for gratification – including rape in some cases.
Christian Sex is About Relationship
While it might seem like sexual intimacy and strong relationships go hand-in-hand, that’s not always true. We’re seeing an increasing number of cases where people are forming addictions to sex acts driven by a need for compulsive behavior instead of meaningful relationship connections. Unfortunately, this has meant some partners become mere objects in fantasy stimulation fueled primarily through internet pornography or similar sources – leaving the real connection sacrificed in favor of addiction behaviors. We have seen women equally hooked on romance novels or chat-room sex talk for sexual release. These disorders displace the relational dimension of sexuality.
Marriage without an intimate and sexual connection is like a car without gas—it may look fine from the outside, but it won’t get you anywhere. Unfortunately, too many couples are settling for robotic physicality and relying on their own mental fantasies to spice things up – all of which leads them away from true intimacy.
Pornography might give you the sexual thrill and arousal that’s missing in your relationship, but those illusions of fantasy can lead to severe consequences. Suppose we don’t match up against unrealistic images of perfect people conjured by Hollywood standards. In that case, it could cause us to be unsatisfied with ourselves or each other – which may eventually kill our love life! So let’s not let porn get between what matters: enjoying a genuine connection built on real-life trust and intimacy. It is lust in mind and explicitly forbidden in the Bible.
Sex in the Christian Marriage: Genital Union
There’s something special about the genital union that can’t be replaced – it serves as a reminder of our connection and the desire to become one. Its passionate embrace creates an intimacy like no other, allowing us to revel in sexual playfulness while ultimately experiencing true unity together.
Sex is Designed for Married Couples
We were created to be exclusive sexually. Becoming “one flesh” with your partner is essential for satisfying sexual needs. Sex was not designed to be a group sport or for one to have multiple partners. Casual sex, or sex outside of marriage, may relieve sexual tension but fails to meet our needs for deeper intimacy that sex in a Christian marriage was designed for.
God created sex to be between a husband and wife as is written in the Scriptures:
A husband and wife build their relationship and intimacy, one sexual encounter at a time (Of course, they do this in more ways than just having sex, but bear with me here). That deepening level of intimacy can turn “just” sex into “making love.”
Having sex outside marriage is against God’s design and promotes mistrust, sexual performance anxiety, and partner comparison evaluations that destroy marriage intimacy.
Sex Should Include Mutual Submissiveness
We are all different creatures with varying levels of sexual drive and interests. Usually, men’s desire for sex is more substantial than women’s, and they enjoy more variety in the marital bed (in terms of sexual play, positions, etc.). Women, however, seek more emotional intimacy and connectedness. These differences often lead to conflicts regarding the frequency of sex, specific sexual activities, and more. (I write about these differences in-depth in my book, The God-Centered Marriage)
Instead of looking at these differences as barriers or another reason to fight, use these differences as an opportunity for mutual submissiveness. For example, talk about sex with your husband and what each of you desires in your marital bed. Discuss frequency, positions, and what needs the other partner has. Agree on what is mutually acceptable and what is off-limits. Use what you learn to show respect and submission to each other.
You may have to sacrifice (be submissive) to your husband when you do only what is mutually acceptable. For example, a wife might perhaps consider more frequent sex to please her husband (Not in the mood for sex? See 7 Tips for When You Just Aren’t in the Mood) or try different sexual positions or play that is out of her comfort zone to please her husband.
A husband, for example, might try to adjust his needs for sexual frequency or let go of a particular sexual fantasy. Sex in a Christian marriage should not be difficult, but should never make one spouse feel pressured or less-than.
Although asked regularly, specific sexual activities that may be “wishes” for one or the other partner include oral sex, rear-entry vaginal penetration, initiation of sexual activity, positions for intercourse, and mutual masturbation.
I cannot find any Scripture against the above regarding sex in a Christian marriage. However, Paul does make it clear that we are not to withhold sex from our spouses except by mutual consent.
Sex Should Bring Pleasure
Sex was created to be enjoyable for both spouses. If sexual activity doesn’t bring pleasure to BOTH partners, it can lead to resentment and damage intimacy. Sex was designed for us to become one flesh.
That’s not part of the design for “becoming one flesh.” If, for some reason, sex is painful for either of you, consider a visit to your doctor, as it is likely something easy to fix (like vaginitis). Painful sex can lead to problems with intimacy as well as sex.
While the Bible does not explicitly address sadomasochistic sex or bondage, those behaviors involve one spouse’s power over another and do not reflect marital submissiveness. If one partner is experiencing shame or physical or emotional pain, they should not be included in sex in a Christian marriage.
Sex Should Focus on the Relationship of the Couple
When you are focused on each other and pleasing each other, sex in a Christian marriage is a beautiful and pleasurable act. However, when you introduce others into your marital bed via fantasies, pornography, etc., it forms a barrier around the beautiful intimacy that God has gifted us with.
While pornography (film, photographs, and other sexually explicit material) may provide arousal, they take the focus off of each other and introduce a third party into your marriage bed. They also increase the potential for comparison and low self-esteem. Additionally, pornographic material can become a crutch requiring one or more of the spouses to need such material to perform sexually. For healthy and intimate sex in a Christian marriage, avoid pornography.
What the Bible Says About Specific Sexual Acts
Ok, so I get that I’m to have sex with just my husband and that pornography is not honoring God, but as long as both partners agree, is there anything off-limits in the bedroom? What about the use of sex toys? Are oral and anal sex allowed?
These are questions that I have heard and discussed with friends. Unfortunately, the Bible does not address these activities, but we have to ask ourselves two key questions:
What does God prohibit in terms of sex in the Christian marriage, and what does God allow for?
God does say quite a bit about sex, and even Song of Songs celebrates sex in a Christian marriage. And, while His Word doesn’t address all of the sexual activities we might consider, we can look to Scripture for answers on what we should avoid and not allow in our marital bed.
Ready to guess what scriptural source rocks the house regarding oral sex? It’s none other than Song of Solomon! So, get ready for some steamy readings from one of our most beloved books.
If both parties are on board, then why not? Sex isn’t just for making babies – it can be an incredible way to have fun, express love, and grow in intimacy with your spouse.
The word “fornication” means any unlawful sexual intercourse, including adultery. In the Bible, the Greek definition of the word “fornication” means to commit illicit sexual intercourse. It comes from the Greek word “porneia,” which means “unclean.” This broad term includes sexual intercourse outside of marriage (1 Corinthians 7:2, 1 Thessalonians 4:3), sleeping with your stepmother (1 Corinthians 5:1), sex with a prostitute (1 Corinthians 6:13, 15-16), and adultery (Matthew 5:32).
Adultery occurs when a married person engages in a sexual relationship with someone other than their spouse. The Bible clearly condemns this act: “You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14). It violates the commitment made in marriage to be faithful to one’s husband or wife.
Adultery is a sin and was punishable in the Old Testament by death (Leviticus 20:10). In the New Testament, Jesus elaborated on the definition of adultery and included emotional acts and thoughts. (Matthew 5:28).
This condemnation is found in both the Old and New Testaments, so it is pretty clear that God’s position on this has not changed.
Several Greek words are translated as “impurity.” For example, to become “impure” (in Greek, “molvno”) can mean to lose one’s virginity (Revelation 14:4) or to become defiled due to living out a secular and essentially pagan lifestyle (1 Corinthians 6:9, 2 Corinthians 7:1). The Greek word “rupos” often refers to moral uncleanness in general (Revelation 22:11). This includes impure thoughts and viewing pornography.
For a married couple to become involved in sex orgies or partner swapping is forbidden and goes against the previously mentioned condemnations.
Prostitution, which is paying for sex, is morally wrong and condemned throughout Scripture (Leviticus 19:29, Deuteronomy 23:17, Proverbs 7:4-27). Prostitution is also having sex outside the marital union, which adds more credence to its condemnation in the Bible.
Lustful passion does not refer to the powerful, beautiful, and God-given sexual desire a husband and wife have for each another. Instead, it refers to an unrestrained, indiscriminate sexual desire for men or women other than the person’s marriage partner (Ephesians 4:19).
In the Old Testament, sodomy refers to men lying with men. The English word means “sexual intercourse involving anal or oral copulation or unnatural sexual intercourse, especially of one man with another or of a human being with an animal.” Mistakenly, some Christian teachers have erroneously equated sodomy with oral sex. In the Bible, sodomites refer to male homosexuals or temple prostitutes (both male and female). In modern use, the term sodomy is sometimes used to describe anal intercourse between a man and woman, BUT this is not the meaning of the biblical word.
Obscenity and Foul Language
In Ephesians 4:29, Paul says,
The Greek word for unwholesome is very descriptive and literally means “rotten” or “decaying.” In Ephesians 5:4, the Bible warns us to avoid “silly talk” or, as it is called in some versions, “coarse jesting.” We have all been around people who can see a sexual connotation in some innocent phrase and then begin to snicker or laugh. This is wrong. However, this does not rule out the appropriate sexual humor in the privacy of marriage, but instead, inappropriate sexual comments in public.
Incest brings up strong negative emotions in most people. Incest – sex with a close relative (one’s parent, child, or sibling) is widely considered particularly depraved and detrimental, and stigmatizing for any children conceived as a result of incest.
So now that we’ve covered what is NOT OK, let’s talk a bit about what is OK and how to increase pleasure in sex in a Christian marriage.
For a hands-on course to draw closer to your husband and God, consider checking out The God-Centered Marriage Course.
Tips for Increasing Sexual Pleasure in Your Marriage
Both Spouses Should be Sexually Pure
In the above section, we talked about impurity against God’s commands. To be pure in the marriage, both spouses need to avoid immorality, unpure thoughts (about anyone or thing outside of the marriage), and have eyes only for each other. If this is an issue in your marriage, consider accountability partners to ensure that you both stay pure.
Both Spouses Need to Understand Each Other’s Needs
In my book, The God-Centered Marriage, I talk about this in-depth. God created men and women as unique creatures. Men crave the physical aspects of sex more than women (usually, but not in all cases). Women seek non-sexual touch, emotional connectedness, and support. Talk with each other, learn what your spouse needs from you, and be aware that your needs may not meet your spouse’s needs. Learn to get out of your comfort zone and satisfy your partner’s needs.
Wives Should Embrace Their Sexuality
Learning to embrace sensuality is essential because sexual inhibition will compromise sex in a Christian (or any marriage) and can harm the marriage. Learn how to love yourself and see what your husband loves about you. Practice ways to be sexy for your husband. This is a tough one for many women as before marriage, we are told that sex is bad (or at least outside of marriage) and to avoid appearing too sexual. Ask your husband what he finds appealing about you and flaunt it – for him only!
Both Spouses Should Recognize How Sex Can Bless Their Marriage
Understanding each other’s needs is a part of this, but sex in a Christian marriage can bless the marriage in many ways. Sex is a gift from God. We increase our emotional, physical, and even spiritual intimacy with our spouses through sex. Make it a point to have sex more often and watch your marriage blossom. (Your husband will be pleasantly surprised, too!)
Learn to Talk Openly About Sex
Even couples that have been married for years can struggle to talk about sex, but talking about sex deepens emotional intimacy and helps you learn more about what your spouse needs, wants, and enjoys. Talking about sex can also get you aroused, which is always a bonus and can lead to more sex! (Which, as we know, blesses a marriage!) Talk about what each of you enjoys or would like to try. Talk about your fantasies (of course, these fantasies should only involve your spouse!). Talk about what the other recently did that made you feel good. Talk, talk, talk about sex!
Learn to Experiment
In any marriage, there can be a desire to “spice things up.” However, anything done repeatedly, in the same way can cause boredom – even sex. So, as mentioned above, talk to your spouse about sex and step out in faith to try something new. Then, perhaps, you and your husband can take turns trying something you each desire.
You may enjoy this video on what we wish we knew about sex in a Christian marriage:
Or one of these recommended resources:
Married Sex: A Christian Couple’s Guide to Reimagining Your Love Life by Gary Thomas, Debra K Fileta
31 Days to Great Sex: Love. Friendship. Fun. by Sheila Wray Gregoire
Sex in a Christian marriage is a blessing, a gift from our Creator, and a beautiful bonus of marriage. Become a student of your husband’s needs and enjoy this incredible gift from our Awesome God!
Because of Him,
ESV – “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”