Sexual practices in marriage

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steve
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Sexual practices in marriage

Post by steve » Sat Mar 28, 2020 2:03 pm

Fair warning: This post is edgy. It deals with anal sex in marriage. I wrote a response to a young husband who inquired about this, and, since it is a question many couples have, I felt that it should be shared. If the subject is offensive to anyone, then I suggest you not read it.

Steve,
I have always heard that there are no limitations in what a married couple may choose to do in the sex lives, but I am not sure. My wife and I are curious about anal sex. My wife says that she is okay with it, but we do not want to sin. Can you tell me what the Bible might say about this?
A—


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Hi A—,

Like yourself, I have always heard that there are no limits upon sex between a married couple—and the Bible mentions none. I cannot say that any particular practice between married partners is a sin. What I will say should be taken as my opinion—not on the level of scripture, but nonetheless coming from an older man who has meditated long on the ramifications of most Christian behaviors.

I would have concerns about some sexual choices that couples might make. For example, I believe that certain kinds of role-playing, bondage, sado-masochism, and such, would be inappropriate for Christians, married or not.

My reason for saying so is that the sexual union between man and wife is supposed to have at least two purposes, in addition to the enjoyment of both parties.

The first obvious purpose of sex is the reproduction of the race. That this is an important purpose in God's mind is not only stated in scripture (Genesis 1:28; Malachi 2:15), but is also evident by the great pains to which people must go in order to enjoy sex naturally while guaranteeing that they will not become pregnant.

The second, and highest, purpose of sex is to represent the union of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:31-32). This is where the practices mentioned above would be out of place. They deprive sex of its sanctity, and turn it into a pursuit of increasingly perverted novelties in the quest for maximum pleasure.

We live in a highly over-sexualized society, which leads to a law of diminishing returns in terms of pleasure and stimulation derived from the sexual act. If sex is performed regularly only for pleasure, rather than as an act of mutual intimacy, it cheapens the sacred purpose of it, and turns one's partner into an object for self-gratification. In a sense, it is like each party is practicing masturbation, using the other person's body in the process.

As with taking drugs, the stimulation of sex (pursued only for pleasure) becomes more "boring" over time, without introducing unnatural innovations. Natural pleasures have a way of degenerating from fantastic to ho-hum. I once moved to an area where the natural beauty took my breath away—for a few months. Then it was just ordinary. The same is true of every pleasure. Modern people have short attention spans, and seem to need to move on to new pleasures as the older ones cease to feel novel. Your favorite dessert becomes bland, it you have the same thing every night. When sex is approached primarily as a means of pleasure, the excitement diminishes over time.

We should enjoy sex, but, as in all other activities, pleasure should not be the primary pursuit, but a by-product of doing a good thing for right reasons. Anal sex has drawbacks—e.g., it can do harm to the woman, and is extremely unsanitary; it divorces sex from the face-to-face intimacy that God intended between the couple; and it obviously is not potentially procreative. On this last point, I do not say that a couple should not have sex at times when pregnancy is impossible—like immediately after a period, or after the wife's menopause—but to transform sex into something that is not related to its purpose at all has an impact on one's attitude toward it, and toward their partner.

Also, while many women agree to anal sex with their husbands, most women, I believe, do not prefer it. I suspect this to be true even if a woman won't verbally own up to it. The very act has a "dominance" feature (as seen in the case of prison rapes, for example), which makes many women feel demeaned. If they feel such an element of dominance in their physical relationships with their husbands, some women may come to dislike sex altogether. Women, more than men I think, have a hard enough time welcoming sex with their spouses as they grow older. Everything should be done to retain the sense of respect for the wife throughout the marriage, so that she may thrive sexually into her senior years. Introducing negative feelings about sex in the younger years may have a deleterious effect upon the sex life in a later season of life.

I am concerned that the couple who become bored with natural sexual intercourse may be too concerned about the sensations associated with the act. Natural sex is probably the greatest pleasure of any God-given activity. It should never grow stale, if the primary motivation is to cultivate intimacy and to reflect the oneness of Christ and the church. Assuming natural sexual intercourse is possible (some medical conditions may preclude it) one orgasm should be as good as another—and will be, unless we are seeking to maintain the same excitement in sex that we had the first time we did it. If we have to create new, imaginary scenarios or novel positions, using unhealthy portals, etc., then the pursuit for ever-increasing excitement may have become somewhat idolatrous.

There is hardly a movie today that does not include sexual themes—and graphic sexual encounters that would have been regarded as pornography a generation ago. Also, porn is easily available to everybody on the internet, which makes living in the modern world a spiritual minefield for men seeking to maintain sexual integrity. Also, men in their prime have a hard enough time keeping their thoughts pure without such visual stimulations. I think it is this nation's sexual obsessions that have destroyed our society. One who is as old as I am, and can remember a former less-perverted culture, can see this more clearly than can a younger person born into it.

I am not legalistic about such things. However, I would counsel any spiritual man to guard his heart against the creeping attitudes of the world about sex and sexual partners. The man who tires of natural sex with his wife, tends to seek other positions and situations that may "keep the flame alive." Unfortunately, that journey is a slippery slope, and usually leads not only to the seeking of new practices, but also of new partners. A man may be on that road and remain monogamous, but when he has reached the place where he is looking for yet another level of experience, he has probably already ruined his own ability to simply appreciate his wife and to find her satisfying, especially as she ages. I would urge any man to avoid getting on that road.

Blessings!

Steve

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darinhouston
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Re: Sexual practices in marriage

Post by darinhouston » Sun Mar 29, 2020 9:00 pm

Very well said!

dwight92070
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Re: Sexual practices in marriage

Post by dwight92070 » Mon Jan 25, 2021 2:51 pm

I would also like to comment. Steve, you said that "the sexual union between man and wife is supposed to have at least two purposes, in addition to the enjoyment of both parties." But if the enjoyment of both parties is a given, as you imply, then aren't there really three purposes?
1. Reproduction
2. Represents the union of Christ and the church and
3. Enjoyment of both parties
The very fact that you do not even list enjoyment as one of the purposes seems like you want to diminish that aspect of the sexual union, but I think it is just as important as the other two.

You spoke of sex being "performed" regularly only for pleasure vs. an act of mutual intimacy. I don't see sex as something that we perform, but rather something that we enjoy. Please explain to me how 2 married people who are being mutually intimate with each other differs from 2 married people who are receiving enjoyment and pleasure from one another. What does the first couple do differently to be mutually intimate, that the second couple does not do? Or what is the first couple not doing that the second couple is? I see no difference whatsoever, unless you assume that the second couple is engaging in some of the perverse and harmful sexual acts that you mentioned - and yes, I agree that anal sex is one of them.

Using your spouse's body to masturbate seems like a contradiction in terms. If you're masturbating, then your spouse isn't even there. I guess you could be saying that you can "tune her out", while you're just simply lusting after her body. Well, I suppose if you don't love your wife, you could do that. But if you love each other, you're happy to please them with your body and they are happy to please you with their body. Proverbs 5:19 "Let her breasts satisfy you at all times." Paul said that the husband has authority over his wife's body and she has authority over her husband's body. Unless I'm misunderstanding that, the husband is free to enjoy his wife's body and she is free to enjoy her husband's body for mutual pleasure and intimacy, without guilt or condemnation.

I believe a line is crossed, however, whenever a sexual activity causes physical injury or the transmission of germs.

God bless you,

Dwight

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steve
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Re: Sexual practices in marriage

Post by steve » Wed Jan 27, 2021 7:12 pm

Hi Dwight,

I am not sure how anyone can read (or hear) anything I have ever written (or said) about this subject and then suggest that I think sexual activity is not supposed to be pleasurable or enjoyable. Nothing I have ever said or written diminishes the value of enjoyment in marital sex. Even the sentence from me that you quoted acknowledges enjoyment as one of the objects of sex:
Steve, you said that "the sexual union between man and wife is supposed to have at least two purposes, in addition to the enjoyment of both parties."
In view of what you quote me as saying, where I specifically mentioned enjoyment as one of the purposes of sex, it is hard to understand your summary of it:
The very fact that you do not even list enjoyment as one of the purposes seems like you want to diminish that aspect of the sexual union...
Why would anyone want to do that? I certainly have not done so.

I am not sure how you could quote my statement, where I specifically mention enjoyment as one of the purposes of sex, and then can say, "The very fact that you do not even list enjoyment as one of the purposes..."

While sex should ideally be mutually enjoyable, there may be a case for continuing to practice it even when the pleasure and enjoyment of the activity is no longer a factor for one of the partners (e.g., 1 Cor.7:5). If mutual enjoyment of sex is the highest priority, then there ceases to be any argument for its continuation when one party completely loses interest.

There are motivations for the Christian, more important than simply to enjoy one's activities. It is one of the attractions to eating that it can be very enjoyable. If, however, a person should lose his or her sense of taste, there would still be good arguments in favor of continuing to eat food. One would soon discover that there are reasons to eat that are even more important than the sensual enjoyment of eating the meal.

I have said nothing to diminish the desirability of enjoying sex (or of eating!). What I said was that, when enjoyment becomes the primary motivation for either activity, the sensation itself becomes an unhealthy obsession, which Christians who wish to guard their hearts (Prov.4:23) would do well to avoid.

dwight92070
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Joined: Sat Dec 10, 2011 12:09 am

Re: Sexual practices in marriage

Post by dwight92070 » Fri Jan 29, 2021 6:10 pm

Steve,
You said, "I am not sure how anyone can read (or hear) anything I have ever written (or said) about this subject and then suggest that I think sexual activity is not supposed to be pleasurable or enjoyable." Please allow me to explain. First of all, I never said that you thought sexual activity is not supposed to be pleasurable or enjoyable. That is an over-reaction on your part. Let me quote what I said. "It seems like you want to diminish that aspect of the sexual union." In other words, you come across as, "Have fun, but not too much fun."

Yes, you did mention enjoyment as one of the purposes of sexual union, but you did not include it in your list. Let me explain. You could have said that there are at least three purposes for the sexual union between man and wife and then state each one. But you didn't do that. You said that the sexual union between man and wife is supposed to have at least two purposes, in addition to the enjoyment of both parties.

This is like saying, "There are nine commandments, in addition to 'You shall not covet'" But, the reality is that there are ten commandments. In this issue, there are at least three purposes, but you only went on to list two of them: Quote: "The first obvious purpose of sex is ..." Then you said a few words about the first purpose and even gave scriptures for it. You continued in your next paragraph: "The second, and highest purpose of sex is ..." and again, you said a few words about the second purpose and included scripture. But where is the next purpose? You never said, "The third purpose of sex is enjoyment of both parties." and then continue to explain that one of God's purposes for sex is for the enjoyment of both parties, without guilt, shame, or condemnation. Nor did you give any scriptures to back that up. Song of Solomon; Proverbs 5:18-19; 1 Corinthians 7:4; Hebrews 13:4

So, in my opinion, you didn't give the complete Bible picture of the sexual union between man and wife. You elaborated on two purposes, but said little about the third. You did focus on the abuses of the third, but little to nothing on how the third actually plays out. In that way, the third purpose was diminished in importance, rather than elevated as part of God's plan. No scripture was given to validate and honor it, like you did for the other two.

"If sex is performed regularly only for pleasure, rather than as an act of mutual intimacy, it cheapens the sacred purpose of it, and turns one's partner into an object for self-gratification." I have to admit, when I have sex with my wife, I cannot remember one time thinking about the relationship between Christ and the church. Was I thinking about how pleasurable it was? You better believe I was! Was I grateful for my wife and even grateful for sex? Yes! So have I been cheapening the sacred purpose of sex now for 37 years? Have I turned my wife into an object for my self-gratification? My answer to the last two is NO! The marriage bed is UNDEFILED and marriage is HONORABLE.

As I said before, if I am knowingly causing physical injury to my wife or knowingly exchanging harmful germs with her, then I am not loving her and I am sinning against God. If I go outside of our marriage in adultery of fornication, then I am sinning against her, my family, and God. Have I ever been bored with sex with my wife? NEVER! Do I search for and look at porn? Prior to marriage, I did some, and yes, some even after marriage. Now? Obviously, porn "pops up" in many places, but I don't search it out, and God gives me strength to resist it when I see it. Yes, I have failed and looked at it, but I confess it, repent of it, and move on.

You said " ... it divorces sex from the face-to-face intimacy that God intended between the couple" Are you saying that this is the only way that sex can be done in order to honor Him? Face-to-face? Are you saying that if we have sex any other way, we are cheapening it's sacred purpose and turning our spouse into an object for self-gratification?

God bless you,

Respectfully,

Dwight

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