We’re currently running a survey on period sex (if you haven’t filled it out, please do so), and the responses have been fascinating. It’s fun to skim through the comments people have written to see the wide variety of opinions and practices. One that comes up now and again are that people don’t know if it’s a moral issue or not. They aren’t sure what the Bible says on it. So, I thought I’d share my views on the topic.
So, can you have sex during your period according to the Bible? Let’s find out. Just a heads up, this is going to get a bit deep.
So, we have some verses to deal with in Leviticus:
If a man lies with a woman during her menstrual period and uncovers her nakedness, he has made naked her fountain, and she has uncovered the fountain of her blood. Both of them shall be cut off from among their people. – Leviticus 20:18
When a woman has a discharge, and the discharge in her body is blood, she shall be in her menstrual impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening. And everything on which she lies during her menstrual impurity shall be unclean. Everything also on which she sits shall be unclean. And whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening. And whoever touches anything on which she sits shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening. Whether it is the bed or anything on which she sits, when he touches it he shall be unclean until the evening. And if any man lies with her and her menstrual impurity comes upon him, he shall be unclean seven days, and every bed on which he lies shall be unclean. – Leviticus 15:19-24
So, I take this to mean:
If you are having sex, and suddenly the wife’s period starts, then you are ritually unclean for seven days. If you knowingly have sex during her period, then you are to be cut-off from from the Israelite.
And we have some other passages that reference this:
If a man is righteous and does what is just and right— if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman in her time of menstrual impurity, does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, does not lend at interest or take any profit, withholds his hand from injustice, executes true justice between man and man, walks in my statutes, and keeps my rules by acting faithfully—he is righteous; he shall surely live, declares the Lord God. – Ezekiel 18:6-9
Behold, the princes of Israel in you, every one according to his power, have been bent on shedding blood. Father and mother are treated with contempt in you; the sojourner suffers extortion in your midst; the fatherless and the widow are wronged in you. You have despised my holy things and profaned my Sabbaths. There are men in you who slander to shed blood, and people in you who eat on the mountains;they commit lewdness in your midst. In you men uncover their fathers’ nakedness; in you they violate women who are unclean in their menstrual impurity. One commits abomination with his neighbor’s wife;another lewdly defiles his daughter-in-law; another in you violates his sister, his father’s daughter. In you they take bribes to shed blood; you take interest and profit and make gain of your neighbors by extortion; but me you have forgotten, declares the Lord God.– Ezekiel 22:6-12
So, what do we do with these? I mean, these are in the Bible, we cannot deny that. But, the question is, do they apply. Now, some Christians like to claim that we don’t have to read the Old Testament, because we are “New Testament” Christians. I don’t agree with that. Particularly since the New Testament spends so much time referencing the Old Testament. Being a Christian who doesn’t read the Old Testament is like reading Coles notes on Oedipus Rex and then claiming to live your life by the play. You might grasp the basics, but you miss out on much.
Others will say that the law was nailed to the cross. But, this is a misquoting of this verse in Colossians:
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. – Colossians 2:13-14
Our debt was nailed to the cross, not the law. If we get a speeding ticket, and the court decides to forgive the ticket (the debt), then that doesn’t mean we’re free to speed.
Others will say that Christ did away with the law. But, this directly violates Christ’s words:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:17-19
So, Christ didn’t come to abolish the law. But to fulfill it. So, then, we have to look at which parts of the law were fulfilled by His coming, death and resurrection. Because not all of them were. For example, the 10 Commandments have nothing to do with His coming, death and resurrection. And so, we need to still keep all of these:
- You shall have no other gods before me.
- You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
- You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
- Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
- Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
- You shall not murder.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
So, why do we keep them? Not because of the debt, which has been paid. If we kept them because of fear of the debt, then we proclaim that Christ’s death was meaningless. So, what then?
If you love me (Jesus), keep my commands. – John 14:15
Now, many Christians like to forget that Jesus is God in this verse, and so think that it doesn’t apply to the commandments He gave before he was “begotten”, but the fact is, that’s why we keep them. In fact, many of the 10 commandments preexist the 10 commandments. The 10 commandments are just the first time they were codified, because God needed to re-teach the Hebrews how to love after being enslaved in Egypt for multiple generations. They’d forgotten about God and how to love Him.
So, then we have some of the law that was fulfilled, and some that we follow out of love. There were other laws too. There were judicial laws that applied to the nation of Israel, because it acted as their legal system. For example, an eye for an eye. In the harsh world the Israelites were in, that worked. There were laws to keep them separate, like not mixing fibers in their clothing, so they could easily tell an Israelite from a non-Israelite. God didn’t want them mixing with others, because when that happened, they invariably fell away.
We have the same calls in the New Testament, to not be yoked to unbelievers. The underlying truth is still the same: Don’t marry someone who doesn’t follow God. But the method changed with the culture. It doesn’t mean we can’t communicate with them, just recognize that marriages are … problematic, at best. They risk our eternal life with God at worst. Not because God won’t accept us … but because we may learn not to accept God.
So, how does this help us? Well, now we have some logic to decipher laws.
- Is it judicial?
- It it meant to separate us from non-believers?
- Is it part of the Sanctuary system that was fulfilled by Christ?
So, sex on periods, is it judicial? I’m going to say no. Does it separate us from non-believers? No. Especially these days. Usually you don’t know when another woman is having her period. Is it part of the Sanctuary system fulfilled by Christ?
I’m going to say yes. Why? Because this was a ritual uncleanness. Women aren’t unclean because they have periods. They aren’t sinning. This was to show us, metaphorically, what sin has done to our world, that we need a savior. In Israel’s time, this was a very literal metaphor. You could not approach God when you were unclean. You needed to be made clean by the priest. Just as today, we cannot approach the Father in our unclean state (which is always). We need a priest (Jesus) to cleanse us. To turn our prayers into a sweet smelling scent for God.
Because even our good deeds are as filthy rags.
But, since Jesus has come, since He is acting as our intercessor, we don’t need this metaphor to teach us any longer. We (creation) have seen the fulfilling of that prophecy, that system that was to teach us about what Christ’s ministry is in the big picture.
So, in short, for those who just skipped to the end: Yes, I think it’s okay to have sex on your period.
Now, if this turned your theology on it’s head, because this was a lot of stuff to take in, and you want to discuss, feel free to email me at email@example.com.
7 thoughts on “Can you have sex during your period?”
We also must understand the types of laws in the Bible and their context. There are 3 types….Most of laws in Leviticus where for the Israelites, as you stated. These were ceremonial laws and laws to protect the Israelites while they were wondering the wilderness.
God’s moral laws are different and are cohesive throughout the old and new testament. They are not the weird type of laws that are hard to understand.
Anything to do with cleanliness of the outside of the body and eating was meant for the ritual of sacrifices and what not. The cleanliness of the heart is what God is concerned about in my opinion..
Thanks for your articles. 🙂
I don’t recall saying most.
I disagree on this one. Now, most will use the passage in Peter to justify eating whatever they want, but in Peter’s vision, Peter tells God he won’t eat, and he never does. In fact, the Bible says he was wondering at the meaning of the vision. If it was about food, it would be obvious, but he knew that wasn’t the case. In the next chapter he explains that it’s about the gentiles. Note he never mentions that they can eat whatever they want. He wouldn’t, because that’s not what the vision was about.
And the food issues weren’t about the sacrificial system. They were given to Noah at the flood. Prior to that, God’s people were vegetarian. It had nothing to do with the Israelites, though God did of course reinforce it then. The issue behind it is simply God saying “I didn’t make these animals for food.” That was the same at Adam’s time, Noah’s time, the Israelites and today. Some animals are acceptable for food, and some were designed to clean up the earth. So, yes, there were “clean” and “unclean” animals, and that was a part of the sacrificial system, but the root issue is fit for consumption or not, and that still exists, regardless of the sacrificial systems’ fulfillment.
Now, of course, someone will bring up this verse:
And I agree, it’s not the food that defiles you. It’s the state of the hard that defiles you, if you know better. If you know God did not design that animal for food, and you eat it, then you are saying “I know better than God”, and that becomes a salvation issue, not the food itself.
I remember in school the mantra: “If it makes sense, make no other sense!” The plane meaning would be “don’t have vaginal sex during her period.” There are other kinds of sex, so those would be OK! Right? We tried to have vaginal sex during her period, but it was uncomfortable and sometimes painful. We decided to skip those days vaginally. We enjoyed other kinds of sex together on those days. Generally, we took the OT to be for the Jews anyway. We followed the NT, and used the OT as background material for the NT. We gained principles from the OT more than the exact commands. i.e. the dietary and ceremonial laws were for the Jews, the moral laws are still in play especially if they are repeated by Jesus in the New. A woman’s period would be under the ceremonial laws. Complicated, but that is how I deal with it.
I think sometimes Christians forget that these verses were written when there was no “New Testament”. There is a very strong call for us to live and breath the Old Testament as well as the New Testament.
Good point Jay!! I will keep that in mind when reading the OT. I am open to change. Always learning. I respect your point of view, but I was taught another way.
I grew up being taught another way too. I get it.
Well my goodness!!!!! I was one who never understood the differences in what we still “had to keep” or not regarding old testament. I’m just now figuring and reading things out. Before I had surgery this one was so hard for us. I was on my cycle sometimes 14 days. And ohhhh the pain,fever,nauseated, flow,stained everything,and depression and out of all that yes I still wanted to make love. It wasn’t until I had surgery I found out it was okay. I mean that’s not something you asked the pastor. Now for the rest of the post and comments thanks Jay for the insight on laws, and especially foods. I have been studying these in the past few months like crazy. I always,wondered because some things people keep in thr IT and some not. For instance the not wearing that which pertaining to a man/women verse. Duet. 22:5. Some say that’s wrong for women to wear pants and it still stands because it’s an abomination to God in that verse. And God never changes so it’s still sinful. However the verse if read in the orginal text says something to the effect of women wearing utensils of armor of a warrior. Or something to that effect. Any way I was really wondering about the food and everything.