The other day I found myself home alone working on a craft project and decided to find something to watch online. Unfortunately, Summer has few good shows for me to catch up on, so I settled with 20/20 (a favorite for my inner psychology nerd). I find the show fascinating when they explore human trends and when I saw one on sex, I knew I had to check it out. What I saw was most definitely fascinating, but more so saddening. They interviewed E.L. James, the author of the 50 Shades of Grey book series, looked into sex shops offering bondage classes, talked to couples who accept an “open-marriage” agreement, followed a woman who pays to have a boyfriend, and then ended with celebrities and their favorite sex positions. Hm. Quality television right there, let me tell you. But in a way, it was an answer to prayer. I had asked for God to show me what to write about for this Sex Talk Marriage Monday and He was definitely faithful to show me as He asked me throughout the program “What do you think about this? Is it ok?”
Thanks, God. I was definitely ready to tackle this one (NOT!). Luckily I had His Word along with the writings of fellow bloggers I trust on the subject, The Marriage Bed, Hot, Holy and Humorous, and Intimacy in Marriage to help (click their links to see what they have to say on the issue). It’s funny, I thought I knew the answer to “What is NOT ok in marital sex?” but as I started researching and praying through the topic, I found it’s not as clear as I would hope.
First, let me just remind you that I am talking about sex within a marriage, here. This is not about pre-marital sex or even adultery. Though I believe those are both wrong, I want to specifically look at the things not as clearly defined for us in the Christian faith. We are married. We can have sex. All is fair game right? Well… maybe.
It’s funny, as humans we love to draw lines (and generally cross them) for what we can and can’t do. Especially as Christians, it can be a tendency of ours to draw firm lines that often get into the territory of legalism if we are not careful. If these are drawn by God they are always for our good, but when drawn by man… well, they can get silly. Here’s some examples of these lines when it comes to sex (all taken from lectlaw.com):
- “In Romboch, Virginia, it is illegal to engage in sexual activity with the lights on.”
- “In Merryville, Missouri, women are prohibited from wearing corsets because ‘the privilege of admiring the curvaceous, unencumbered body of a young woman should not be denied to the normal, red-blooded American male.'”
- “No man is allowed to make love to his wife with the smell of garlic, onions, or sardines on his breath in Alexandria, Minnesota. If his wife so requests, law mandates that he must brush his teeth.”
- “No woman may have sex with a man while riding in an ambulance within the boundaries of Tremonton, Utah. If caught, the woman can be charged with a sexual misdemeanor and her name is to be published in the local newspaper.” The man isn’t charged nor is his name revealed.”
- “It is illegal for any member of the Nevada Legislature to conduct official business wearing a penis costume while the legislature is in session.”
Bahaha…. ok, so that 2nd and last one weren’t necessarily regarding sex in marriage, but I did want you to be careful if you were storing that penis costume for something important. I mean, really? Where did these laws come from? I have to think there were situations that brought on each one, but it shows that it is human nature to control things and to be given clear lines that we shouldn’t cross. People will always be trying to set laws and guidelines for things including sex, but what are GOD’s guidelines for our intimacy?
Just you and me.
1 Corinthians 6:15-20 says this: Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
It is not ok to bring any more than TWO into the equation. Open marriage, threesomes, pornography, you name it. Anything involving other people in your sex lives is wrong. This is a hot topic right now and the media wants you to think “My marriage could only get better and our sex lives more interesting by bringing another into our love making” but this is a lie. Bringing someone(s) into the marriage bed will only hurt in the end. While it may look harmonious in TV specials like 20/20, I promise it will only complicate matters and leave someone in pain. Complications of jealousy, comparisons, STDs, hurt and ultimately divorce, which sounds a lot worse to me than a boring sex life. There are ways to spice up your intimacy with your spouse. Don’t rely on someone else to make that happen.
Sigh, this is one that has me pretty stumped. The topic of BDSM (Bondage, Dominance, Sadomasochism, and Masochism) is ever popular these days with books like 50 Shades of Grey, and honestly, I just don’t get it. I enjoy sex for the pleasure it brings my spouse and I, and the idea of him hurting me or vice versa both frightens and saddens me. We work so hard for good, compassionate, and honoring marriages, it is difficult to see the appeal of anything opposite. But, it’s out there and people want it. They are intrigued by it. So I had to figure it out.
The most difficult part about this is that there is no verse (that I can find, please enlighten me if you know of one) that says “Thou shalt not tie your husband/wife to a bed while whipping them as part of a sexual act.” Hm. Nope, not in there. And I seriously have to ask… is it so wrong? While I do not see the appeal, if a husband and wife are both ok with it, why not? And while I am not God and cannot give an absolute yes or no, I do believe there are some reasons as to why you should avoid any type of pain/torture/abuse in sexual activity. For one, each time you risk something involving pain, you are toeing the line of seriously hurting your spouse as well as yourself. Secondly, trust can easily be broken if one goes farther than the other wanted. And third, dominance and power is often an idol we can create in any aspect of our lives, sex included. The feeling of that dominance and power over someone may become your entire reason for sexual activity, instead of your husband or wife.
While the Bible does not directly say no to this behavior, I do believe it does give some evidence to why we should avoid it. On our bodies being a temple and using it as an idol: 2 Corinthians 6:16 and 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. On not being harsh to your wife: Colossians 3:19, 1 Timothy 3:1-6, and 1 Peter 3:7. A warning of traits to be careful of and to not become (including abusive): 2 Timothy 3:1-8. What love IS (nothing dealing with BDSM included): 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Our bodies are for worship, to be presented as holy: Romans 12:1-2. So is it wrong? My opinion is yes, but it is something you should really go to the Lord about. He will give you the answers.
She/he ain’t for it? Don’t do it.
Overall, I believe that sex should be a mutually blessing and beautiful act. This means that what is uncomfortable or wrong for one should not be acted out by the other. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk about it and share thoughts and opinions, but do not force the other to do something that he or she doesn’t like. Now wives (husbands too, but generally wives…) don’t use this as an excuse to NOT have sex. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do something you don’t feel like doing, I’m talking about an act that might not resonate with you; that you might not think is right. Talk about it, seek counsel, and go to God to see whether or not it is right. Pressure is not the answer, patience and love is. Why? Because ultimately it all comes down to this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these (Mark 12:30-31).
Phew, this post took some work and inner soul searching. Please hear me, this is not a post meant to be judgmental or finger pointing. No, it is one with warnings to keep your sex lives pure and happy. Like Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, God gives us MANY, MANY variations and wonderful forms of sex for ourselves and our spouses. There are only a few things we should stay clear of (like the forbidden tree in the garden) that will only hurt us in the end. If we follow His lead and keep His commands we will only be blessed in the end!