So what do you think? Are there rules for married Christians when it comes to sex? As a Christian sex therapist, I’ve heard a wide range of responses to this question. There are some believe that since the Bible talks about the marriage bed being undefiled then anything that is not expressly forbidden (like bestiality for instance) then two consenting married adults can do anything they choose. I’ve also heard Christians say that ultimately sex serves the purpose of having children and that if you’re not engaged in sexual activity that could potentially create children, then you’re not living out God’s design for sex.
And yes…that last one really is a belief that some people have currently, not a hundred years ago.
So what gives? Is one side right and the other wrong or is the balance found somewhere in-between?
Perhaps the focus shouldn’t actually be “rules” for sex.
There’s two problems with focusing on sex rules. First, if you’re a “rule follower” you can have a tough time with anything that might color outside of the lines. For example, if you believe Christians should only use the missionary position you’ll probably not aim for a lot of freedom and excitement in your marriage bed.
The other problem – If you like to find the “wiggle room” in your rules, then sex rules will just feel like someone else’s way of limiting your freedom.
That’s actually why I prefer the term boundary over rules and you’ll find me using it throughout this article. I also like the term “theology of sex” when we’re talking about how our faith in Christ informs our belief about what is and isn’t okay for the Christian.
If you haven’t thought much about your theology of sex or what sex rules you believe married Christians need to adhere to OR if you’ve thought about it and still have some questions, I’ve got a video that will walk you through the boundaries that you can put in place to strengthen your marriage and sex life.
The following video shares 5 questions that you can ask to decide if a certain sexual activity is okay or not, but if you prefer or need text only (I get it…I check emails in crowded areas too), the transcript to this video is directly under the video. And, for the links that “are in the description of the video,” simply click on the links in the actual text. After you watch, make sure you let me know your thoughts and/or questions are.
And…here’s the transcript:
Have you thought about what your theology of sex is? I’m Dr. Jessica McCleese, Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Certified Sex therapist and in this video I’m going to help you answer a question I often hear from Christians, “What is and isn’t okay in marriage?”
But first, comment below and let me know if your church has recently talked about marriage and sex and what this should look like for the Christian.
So, let’s get started. Like I said a moment ago, people have often asked me questions about what’s right or acceptable for married Christians and what things we should say no to. Now, these questions are typically specific about a certain act or maybe a prop that they might bring in to enhance their sex lives. And, while future videos can address some of those questions directly, this is going to be a foundational video that gives you 5 big principles or standards that you can apply to your marriage any time you have a question about whats okay or not okay in your sex life. By the way, these principles come from Dr. Cliff and Joyce Penner who have been doing sex therapy with Christians for 40 years. Their information is in the description under this video so you can check out their website.
Boundary 1: Mutuality
The first principle is the concept of mutuality. This comes from I Corinthians 7:3-5, and Ephesians 5: 22-33. These are lengthy passages so I’m not going to read them on this video, but I will paraphrase them a little, but I encourage you to go grab your Bible and check them out for yourself so you can completely understand what’s there.
In 1 Cor, we read that husbands and wives should give themselves sexually to one another. And, the Scripture actually encourages us not to deprive one another unless you both agree to do so, that’s that whole concept of mutuality. And, during the time that you’re abstaining from having sex at that moment, you’re actually supposed to be devoting yourselves to prayer. And, after that time, you’re supposed to come back together.
Ephesians teaches us that we submit to one other. This isn’t a one-sided instruction that wives are just supposed to submit to their husbands, but a call for both husband and wife to value and treasure each other above themselves.
Again, both of these describe the concept or both of these Scriptures describe the concept of mutuality. We are not supposed to demand anything from our spouse, but instead give freely to one another.
Boundary 2: Is it loving?
The second principle is the concept of loving behaviors. When Paul talks about marriage in Ephesians, he ends by saying that he’s also talking about Christ and the church with his illustration. So he explains that our loving behaviors toward one another is an example of how Christ loves his Church. And, Jesus himself prays in John 17 that all believers would be united to one another living out the harmony of love or the message of harmony and love from Christ. So there’s no greater place than the marriage bed for a Christian couple to decide to live out loving and unifying behaviors with one another. In fact, I fully believe that we are most like Christ when we live a life of love loving behaviors toward one another.
Boundary 3: Does it build intimacy?
Building intimacy is our third principle. So, God’s word declares that married couples become one and that what He joins together nobody can separate. But, becoming one isn’t just something that happens just because a couple has sex with one another. Becoming one is a deeper more intimate encounter because it calls us to a knowledge and understanding of one another that grows throughout your marriage. So, true intimacy seeks to understand one another. You look to know your spouse completely and fully and it happens both in and outside of your sex life. So this includes the friendship you have with one another and the spiritual connection that you have with each other. So think of things like forgiveness and trust when you have that spiritual connection and your prayer life together. So, if you’re doing anything in your marriage bed that starts breaks down that trust or that causes insecurity or fear, I can assure you that you’re not building intimacy. Everything in your sex life should bring a closer connection to one another. By the way, if you’re looking for some tips on building your intimacy in your physical, spiritual, and emotional connection, grab my free guide, Enhancing the Dance. Just click on the link in the description of this video.
Boundary 4: Free from medical concern?
Alright, our fourth concept has do do with medical safety. Not a lot of explanation is needed for this one. If the activity you’re considering could possibly cause some type of medical concern or medical problem, it’s off limits. Playing with your own medical care or medical safety just isn’t in a just isn’t something you can do in a loving relationship.
Boundary 5: Distance from God or violate his principles?
And finally, our fifth principle is to ask yourself, “Does this behavior distance me from God or does it violate any of his principles? See, God gave us the gift of marriage and sex is one of the beautiful ways that he allows us to be bonded to our spouse. But, sex has it’s boundaries. The boundaries contained in Scripture are there to help us see God’s best for us. If you’re engaging in a behavior, or considering a behavior that is not in line with Scripture or you’re doing something that feels sinful for you, avoid these behaviors. Your relationship with God should never be threatened because of a sexual desire that you or your spouse has.
Hebrews 13:4 tells us that marriage should be held in honor and that the marriage bed should not be defiled. This doesn’t mean that anything goes once you’re married. It means that we allow God’s design for marriage and sex to guide our behaviors. So, next time you have a question about what is and isn’t okay in your marriage, ask yourself – is this a mutual decision, is it loving, does it build intimacy between us, are there any medical concerns involved, and does distance me in any way from God or violate one of his principles? Your answers to these questions will help you decide if this is an activity that you can add to your marriage bed.
If you’ve liked this video give me a quick thumbs up and share it with a friend so they can hear these tips as well. In the description below, you’ll find my free guide, Enhancing the Dance, so if you’re looking for ways to build the intimacy in your marriage, that’s a great way to do it.
God bless you, your marriage and your sex life!