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 protected].
37 Questions for spouses to ask each other about sex
Subscribe to get the 2 page PDF full of questions to help you and your spouse start to talk about your sex life.