Is sensuality in Christian marriage a sin?

Jay Dee

Is sensuality in Christian marriage a sin?

Mar 20, 2015

I received two questions on our Have A Question page this week that I’m willing to bet come from the same person.  They also sort of are on the same topic, so I’m going to tackle them at the same time: I once

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Is sensuality in Christian marriage a sinI received two questions on our Have A Question page this week that I’m willing to bet come from the same person.  They also sort of are on the same topic, so I’m going to tackle them at the same time:

I once had a conversation with my W [wife] that “sensual” and “sensuality” are vices, sins.  I had no argument to counter because countless Bible verses suggest this. That said, is there a place for “sensuality” in Marriage?  Or is that “of the flesh” sex that is NOT to be conducted in a Christian marriage?  I think I know your position, but I’m curious how to reconcile that the Bible appears to teach “sensuality” is sinful.

Lust according to God is a sin. What about “lusting” after your wife? I thought it would be hot my wife to dress seductively and do a little “dance” for me. She refused saying that it just causes me to lust after her and lust is sinful.  Same thing if I had “pornographic” images of my wife, or any other material or behavior that inappropriately fuels sexual desire for my wife. What do you say?

I think we have a few things to tackle on this one to get to the bottom of it:

  1. What does the Bible say about sensuality, is it “of the flesh”
  2. Should sensuality be avoided in a Christian marriage
  3. What does the Bible say about lusting after your spouse

We had better get started.

What does the Bible say about sensuality, is it “of the flesh”?

I thought it might be helpful to define sensuality first.  So here is what Google helpfully defines it as:

Sensuality – the enjoyment, expression, or pursuit of physical, especially sexual, pleasure.

At it’s core, I think that is sensuality.  Webster’s dictionary expands on this:

Sensuality – The quality or state of being sensual; devotedness to the gratification of the bodily appetites; free indulgence in carnal or sensual pleasures; luxuriousness; voluptuousness; lewdness.

At first glance, this may seem completely different.  However, it’s merely expanding on the same theme, and these are multiple interpretations of that theme, based on a spectrum.  The most simple, of course being “The quality or state of being sensual”.  It may help to know that they define being sensual as “relating to, devoted to, or producing physical or sexual pleasure”.  So, even according to Websters, sensuality can simply be experiencing sexual pleasure.  However, at the extreme end of the spectrum, it includes things such as lewdness, which if you follow that down can include licentiousness (sexually immoral behavior).

So, this is a problem, because sensuality can including everything from enjoying sex to engaging in sexually immoral behavior.  So, it’s far better to drop back into the original languages to see what the author’s intent was, and luckily, we can easily do this today with the internet.

For example, let’s look at Ephesians 4:

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. – Ephesians 4:17-19

The bolded word that’s translated here as sensuality (in the NIV, ESV and others) is “aselgeia” in Greek and Strong’s Notes translates this Greek word as “licentiousness”.  It shows up 8 more times in the New Testament:

What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person. – Mark 7:22

Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. – Romans 13:13

I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged. – 2 Corinthians 12:21

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. – Galatians 5:19-21

For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. – 1 Peter 4:3

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment;  if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority. – 2 Peter 2:4-10

For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. – 2 Peter 2:18

For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. – Jude 1:4

In short, the Bible has nothing nice to say about “aselgeia”, which we would call licentiousness or sexual immorality.  The problem comes in when translations use a very imprecise word, “sensuality”, in place of something with more precision, like licentiousness.

Not understanding the translation, I could see how one could believe that sensuality could be mistaken for something evil, something to be avoided, something “of the flesh”.  But, I think the search needs to be widened to include items on the other end of the spectrum.

Of course, the easiest passages to reference are in the Song of Solomon.  Right from the start we see:

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for your love is more delightful than wine. – Song of Solomon 1:2

And you may think “Aww, that’s sweet”, and it is…but you need to understand that the word love is not an affectionate love.  It’s not a brotherly love.  It is an erotic love.  This is a word reserved for lovers, for sexual partners.  And we see it over and over again.  Two verses later we have:

She
Take me away with you—let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers.
Friends
We rejoice and delight in you;
we will praise your love more than wine.
She
How right they are to adore you! – Song of Solomon 1:4

And again, we see the Bible talking positively about erotic love, about delighting in it, and praising it.  And we can go on, because there are 33 verses with this word in it, and I’d go through every one, but it would be redundant.  I’ve read them all, and they are all positive in their speech.  But, there are two I think really exemplify the idea:

My beloved thrust his hand through the latch-opening;
my heart began to pound for him. – Song of Solomon 5:4

This is an interesting one.  The NIV really doesn’t do it justice.  The original says something closer to “my uterus clamored over him” instead of “my heart began to pound for him”.  Sounds to me like she was pretty strongly sexually attracted to him.  I’d argue that this could fall within the realm of sensuality.

Let us go early to the vineyards
to see if the vines have budded,
if their blossoms have opened,
and if the pomegranates are in bloom—
there I will give you my love. – Song of Solomon 7:12

This verse describes the wife’s idea to slip into the vineyards while everything is in bloom, in order to have sex among.  I’d argue that’s quite the sensual behavior, that apparently God is all for.

But there are verses beyond Song of Solomon.  Check out Proverbs 5:

May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
A loving doe, a graceful deer—
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be intoxicated with her love. – Proverbs 5:18-19

This is the only verse in the Bible that tells men they’re allowed to get drunk…not on wine, but apparently with the physical form on their wife.  Our wife’s breasts (which I’d argue are highly sensual), are supposed to satisfy us always.  Actually the Hebrew is pretty funny, I think.  Verse 19 says something like:

Like a doe of love, an ibex of grace, her nipples they shall satiate you in every season because of your love for her you shall err continually. (my translation)

It tells us we’re shouldn’t be able to think straight because of the sight of our wife’s breasts (nipples actually)!  Yeah, sounds about right…

So, to sum up, I think the Bible says two things about sensuality:

Within the context of a marriage, sensuality, as in enjoying sex, is not only permitted, it is encouraged.  Outside of marriage, it counts as sexual immorality.

Should sensuality be avoided in a Christian marriage?

Based on the above statement, that sensuality (enjoying sex) within marriage is encouraged, then of course it shouldn’t be avoided in Christian marriage.  It should be sought after.

The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. – 1 Corinthians 7:3

And I think this goes beyond just orgasm.  I think most higher-drive spouses have needs that include having a spouse that is not only willing, but interested, that they make an effort.  So, then, Colossians 3 says:

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. – Colossians 3:23-24

Whatever you do!  That includes your spouse! (pun intended)  So, I’d argue that if you are not being sensual in your marriage, if you are not trying to be an amazing lover to your spouse, then you are in fact violating God’s commandments regarding sex, and thus are committing sexual immorality.  After all, sexual immorality is going against God’s plan for sex.  You can’t argue that sex outside of marriage is a sin without standing on the same ground and saying that sex inside of marriage, then, should be not only existent, but awesome.  After all, God created Adam and Eve, sexuality and all (in fact, the first commandment was to go have sex), and then said “Behold, it is very good!”

Sadly, I think we lose how “very good” it was in English.  This is a strong statement.  It’s not only good, it’s completely good, it’s wholly good, it’s not only functional, but the best it could be.  It’s perfect.  This was God’s masterpiece, sex and all.  No beds, no covers, no walls.  Unashamed, naked in front of each other, and I doubt they waited until night time.  This was a sensual experience.  And it was very good.

What does the Bible say about lusting after your spouse?

Google defines the word Lust as “very strong sexual desire”.  But, again, we have a problem with translations here.  Because the Bible uses the Greek word “epithumeo” when we see lust.  But, it just means “to set the heart upon”.  It’s morally neutral.  We have cases where it is wrong:

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. – Matthew 5:28

and times when it is proper:

This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. – 1 Timothy 3:1

So, it is not so black and white as to look up every verse that contains “epithumeo”.  The rule seems simple enough though: desiring something that is good, is good.  Desiring something that is sinful…is sinful.

So, it is wrong to desire your spouse.  No.  How can it be?  The Bible lists a number of reasons to have sex:

  1. Procreation
  2. Comfort
  3. Companionship
  4. Warding off sexual temptation
  5. Pleasure

It seems we have plenty of reasons to desire sex with our spouses, not the least of which is pleasure.  I invite you to check out Song of Solomon again:

I am my beloved’s, and his desire is towards me. – Song of Solomon 7:10

This phrase is actually repeated a few times in the book, and again, it looses something in our English translation.  This isn’t just desire, this is a deep longing, and again, this term “beloved” is not a friendly or even covenant love, it is an erotic love.  It’s very clear that this is talking about sexual desire for one’s spouse.  This is what God puts in his book to teach us what our married sexual lives should look like.

Where does the idea that sex is a necessary evil come from?

This comes from the influence of other religions and mythologies onto Christianity.  It has no basis in the Bible, but rather the Bible is twisted and pulled apart, cherry picking verses to support the idea that the physical is evil and the spiritual is good.

It has gone so far that many believe that in heaven we’ll all be floating around as spirits, but this is absolutely refuted by the Bible.  2 Corinthians 5 spends quite a while talking about how we’ll get new bodies in heaven, physical bodies, that will be immortal.  As well, Jesus has a physical body, and he’s not sinful and two (Elijah and Enoch at least and perhaps Moses as well, it’s unclear) people in the Bible seem to have gone directly to heaven without dying, without losing their bodies.  How is that possible if their body was sinful?

Our bodies are not evil.  Sex is not a sin.  It is a gift, blessed by God and encouraged within marriage. Don’t believe me, read Song of Solomon through. I don’t understand how you could believe anything else after seeing this wonderful message God gave us about sex.

Finally, this week also saw this comment (I believe not so coincidentally) on one of our posts:

I want to believe sex is not “of the flesh”. But when I hinted such that it was to my wife last night, she gave no objections and otherwise consented her agreement. She could point to many many verses in the Bible that appear to support this view. In fact the caste to which I find myself belonging and unable to change (a traditional, conservative, evangelical, reformed, Bible-believing, Christ-exalting faith) including history, traditions, friends, church, pastor, and wife all suggest that sex, while it may be condoned Scripturally, it is still of the flesh and should be: subdued, controlled, limited, restrained, covered, hidden, conservative, etc (my interpretation of their unspoken ideas, because, well you really ought not talk openly about sex) . While I know they would never outright call it sin, they would at the very least call it a necessary albeit culturally corrupted physical act that ought be subjugated to the spiritual. Spirit trumps body. If I dare to suggest we have a sexual problem, it is met with “no, you have a spiritual problem”.

And I wanted to say, you know what, I agree with your wife on this one point:

You do have a spiritual problem in your marriage.  Your wife is rejecting the Bible’s teachings.  Further, I’d argue it’s not possible to become more spiritual while simultaneously rejecting God’s teachings on married sexuality.  So yeah, this is a spiritual problem.  She’s limiting her relationship with God, and with you.  A grievous and lamentable error. She’s been well deceived, as have many.  Pray for her, and others like her, as we continue to do.

Your Turn

What do you think?  What would you say to someone who declared that sex is a necessary evil, or least should be restrained?

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44 thoughts on “Is sensuality in Christian marriage a sin?”

  1. Rechelle says:

    Thank you for bringing this up!! If we don’t lust or have sexual desire for our spouse, then were does that leave us?! Sex is a gift FROM GOD!! A GIFT I tell you!! When I think of sex, I have thoughts of my husband and how he pleases me and let me tell you, even at 47, it gets my blood boiling and it SHOULD!! There is nothing lewd or inappropriate about it. I also want him to desire me as well and if that means wearing something sexy in the bedroom for his eyes only, then FANTASTIC!! This will help satisfy his needs as well as my own and keep him thinking about me more than some other woman who may be “giving it away” by the way she dresses. Stop being so uptight about delighting in your spouse people – otherwise someone else may find it easier to delight themselves with your spouse!

    1. Kevin Howard-Tripp says:

      You are so right one must make every effort to make the sexual experience enjoyable in the bedroom because it is so easy to get it outside the marriage these days, it actually hard work to keep your spouse pure and it is your responsibility.

  2. Ophelia says:

    Thank you for clarifying on topics like this. It’s insane how some teachings are totally twisted – especially in regard to women and our bodies. I can’t believe people even have to ask things like “is it ok to lust after my spouse?”

    Um…aren’t you naturally sexually aroused by them?! Lady, dance for your husband. It’s really ok. It’s awesome he’s honest about what he wants and it’s not some crazy freaking fetish involving juggling, bacon grease and a sock puppet! You laugh, but you know there’s some weirdness in the world and someone somewhere is into that.

    I’ve never felt bad sending my husband racy pics because he’s going to get horny anyway and there’s a lot of competition for his eyes out there – and by women who don’t love him. By being visually sensual, I’m effectively directing that energy towards me. Incorporating sensuality in marriage is awesome because I get to feel desired while he gets to see what he wants to see with no guilt. Errrybody wins!

    1. Ricky says:

      More women need your attitude. I feel like men that I know (not to one side things but I don’t have these convo’s with women who aren’t my wife) often feel gross for their desires or are not satisfied and it feels like to them their sexual satisfaction is the least important aspect in their marriage according to their spouse. Their needs can get brush off under the rug and looked past or looked at as “ridiculous.”

  3. LatterDay Marriage says:

    The idea that anything physical is inherently corrupt comes from ancient Greek philosophy, and you can read 1 Cor and 2 Cor as Paul refuting some of the ideas that came about when Greek Christians started letting those Greek ideas influence their understanding of the gospel. Much of the anti-sex teachings of the past ages (like sex was what caused the fall, sex is only for procreation, sex is a necessary evil, being celibate makes you closer to God etc.) stem at least in part from Greek influence in the early church. Judaism was a very sex friendly religion and we see that reflected in the OT as well as in the attitudes of the Apostles.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Thanks LatterDay Marriage,

      I had started writing about all of that…then looked at the word count…then at the clock (I wrote this late last night), and realized that I was too tired, and no one was going to read a 5000 word post…
      Think I might have to write a separate one on that though…

      Actually, I touched on it in the post What Happened To Sex When Christianity Split From Judaism? if anyone is interested.

    2. LatterDay Marriage says:

      (I’m putting this as a separate post in case you don’t what a discussion on this here since what I’m about to say is not really embraced as part of orthodox Christianity, just delete this if you don’t want to go there.)

      The idea that there is no sex in the afterlife is also IMHO one of those anti-sex ideas that has infected Christian thought and leads to people seeing sexuality as ‘of the flesh’. Yes, I know Christ said that none are given in marriage after the resurection, but that does not preclude marriages made here on earth lasting for eternity, and with that (and the fact you pointed out that we would have physical bodies in the afterlife) would add up to there being physical relations between husbands and wives in the afterlife.

      Adam and Eve were married and commanded to be intimate before the Fall happened. If there had been no Fall, the would still be alive and married and being intimate and still be enjoying God’s presence, so I don’t see there being a problem with having marriage and sex exist after this life too. Wasn’t Christ sent to undo the effects of the Fall? And if there is no marriage or sex in heaven then the Fall isn’t really undone all the way, is it.

      I think most people in a loving marriage, if they set aside the dogma of being taught there is no sex in heaven, would agree that having God force a faithful married couple who passionately love each other to become divorced doesn’t really square with the idea of God being just and merciful and loving.

      1. Jay Dee says:

        I believe the Bible is fairly silent on the topic, so I’ll let it stand as you’ve always been respectful, and I understand the Mormon believe system on this and where you’re coming from.

        If I may share in response though, I think my current belief is that sexuality may be a mere shadow of what intimacy awaits us in heaven. It’s quite possible there is no marriage, because the intimacy and transparency we only see in marriage here on Earth will be commonplace there. But, I can’t substantiate that with Biblical proof. It’s merely a theory.

        1. LatterDay Marriage says:

          Thanks. I’m certainly open to the concept of there being an even deeper form(s) of intimacy there, but I would expect that it too would be only allowable between a husband and wife, and I don’t think it would mean an end to what we have now. I didn’t stop holding my wife’s hand just because we can now go all the way.

          1. Jay Dee says:

            I’ll admit, you have me at a disadvantage here. No one has spent more time theorizing on marriage in heaven (or heavens as you see it) than the Church of Latter Day Saints.

            Which is not an admission that you have it right, you just have better arguments stored up 🙂

            1. LatterDay Marriage says:

              I plead guilty as charged 🙂

        2. El Fury says:

          Jay, I agree with you here. I think relationships in Heaven (among humans and between humans and God) will be at such a higher level than earthly relationships that marriage won’t really translate. The “till death do us part” aspect of the vow is certainly intended to draw a temporal line as well: the marriage is over when one spouse dies.

          1. Jay Dee says:

            You can’t use “till death do us part”, which is a human made expression to try validate a biblical principle 🙂

  4. JAMES WITTER says:

    You did an awesome job in this post. I have really enjoyed it and I think there should be more teaching in the church on this subject… I also wanted to say that our pastor wanted to come and talk with us about this subject because I have been posting these kind of articles on my facebook page and I have taken flak because of it. Our pastor felt that we should not be talking and posting on facebook such a sensitive subject so we do not offend people. The pastor went on to say to us that we should not be focusing on the gift of sex so much and that we should be more focused on the giver( God ). He also told us that as far as sex goes it is pretty far down the list in a marriage. I thought wow you need some help, but I did not say it. I feel that’s why people feel about sex the way they do is because the church has failed lots of people and the teaching has not been how to have the most awesome sex life out there.. We Christians should be having the BEST sex life out there. Just remember that God is up there waiting for us to have sex so he can knock our socks off with such pleasure.. I have heard it said the book of Song of Solomon is a allegory of the the church and God but it does not talk about God in any of the book so it has to be about two lovers and the sex that is involved. I know marriage has the likeness of God and the church and we are to model our marriage after God and the church. I hope I made sense in what I wanted to say here. God bless you abundantly with what you are doing here. We are trying to get a small group study going in our home on this subject. Just thought I would let you know that so that you can be praying for us.

    1. John Lyman says:

      Keep on posting!!!! Pastor who believe this about sex are doing a big disservice to the church. We should be shouting from the roof tops about how incredible Christian sex lives truly can be.

      I also believe if more pastor would be preach about the importance of sex within a marriage we would see the Christian divorce rate go down.

  5. Ricky's says:

    sounds to me like the wife is looking for every excuse to be a gate keeper and avoid sexual intimacy not just a encounter. This is one of the downsides to being raised in church (I’m assuming she was) and the lack of sexual education and glorification within a marriage. How anyone ever felt it wasn’t amazing blows my mind. It’s really sad that so many guys have to deal with this crap.

  6. lollipop man says:

    Hebrews 13:4 says marriage is Honorable in all and the bed is undefiled but whoremongers and adulters God will judge

  7. Lauren says:

    Wow that is a lot to take in. I still need To finish reading the whole thing. And I will. but for now I will say That I want to be lusted by my husband. If that is okay. We were taught sex is for marriage. I want to have the best and not just sexually but emotionally, intimately too. We are young age 30. Everything is great in the bedroom. But sometimes I want more of that lust, that passion. It is so simple. it can just be that look in his eye. It can be just a look that makes me feel everything such as love, appreciation, friendship, respect, togetherness. A hug that really feels like he loves me. We all know our husbands love us. We want to hear it but even then the words seem .. Monotonous, like a record player, same old? I think we need that physical eye contact, that touch, that hug. Throughout the day too, not just right after we turn the tv off and then. I will finish reading the article I read a lot of it. I just wanted to say I miss that spark that I would imagine people get when they are first dating. I know the spark is still there, but it’s not full sparkling. It almost needs reigniting. I have tried to tell my husband this before too and still need to work on it apparently. He has said things like I am too much and that I just want to be smothered etc. I just want to get that spark to light up a notch that’s all.

    1. Ricky says:

      Where’s the like button 🙂

    2. John Lyman says:

      Lauren –

      One thing that has helped my wife and I stay on the honeymoon after 15 years of wonderfulness. Is that we make our marriage a priority and we are very intentional about making it a priority. To do this we have set date nights (also have 3 kids) and one night we do some type of book study, maybe a sermon series with questions, very much like a small group (just the 2 of us). This gives us a time to go deep and be very intimate. You may want to start with the 5 love languages or the Driscols books on marriage. Once you have this going try the 37 questions for spouses to ask each other about sex here. I also came up with a list of the majority of things that is okay for Christians to do in the bed. My wife and I discussed that and boy has that heated up our marriage.

      1. Lauren says:

        Yes I have heard about that book a lot. The 5 love languages. I will look into that.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          It’s a good book.

  8. Lauren says:

    I finished reading the whole blog post. Thank you for writing about such interesting topics that make your readers think about how it may relate to their own marriages as well. Back to the -ORIGINAL POSTER – the poster mentioned that he asked his wife “to dress seductively” and to “do a little dance” and that “she refused.” – well, one reason i can think of for why she said no was that he probably made it all about him! He probably didn’t even present the idea in the proper manner either. He probably made her feel like some toy, some object, some puppet.. Those are just theories. The big one is it’s about What each other wants! He could have said “honey, I think we should serve each other or treat each other in the ways we desire whether that be emotionally, spiritually, sensually, or sexually. Is there anything you are lacking or anything you are needing in this relationship. Is there anything you would like me to do, anything I can improve on to be the spouse you want. For us to grow and connect better.” (And then he could have presented his sexy dress/dance want) but Any of those responses above would have been nice it’s just the original poster didn’t sound like he worded it as what
    Both partners may want or need, to his wife, what EACH OTHER may want, not just himself. Right? And if she still said no, well then he has a good case on making a compromise. He could say, “I promise I’ll try to be more affectionate and maybe it can be a compromise.” I don’t know though. I don’t want to sound like it has to be tit for tat. It’s just he could make it about both of their wants and needs.
    Now this made me think about my own relationship and what I want out of it. I want to be told I am beautiful, I want to be told that I’m loved. I want more affection, hugs, kisses, and more. I will tell him this. But now,I see it isn’t always the right thing to do to ask your spouse for something if you don’t also ask what they may want as well. I don’t mean to judge the original poster but it didn’t sound like he wanted to please his wife and ask her what her needs are. On another note though, we as women (for the most part) tell our husbands what we want and need…and they flat out refuse too! I have been trying to get my husband to do the affectionate things. I am not making him play a guessing game. I am flat out practically handing it out on a serving platter- the instructions or whatnot of my wants/needs. I am handing it to him. And why do they refuse? He has said sometimes “oh your too much” saying my wants and needs are too much to handle?? But he is “trying”. He does say he is working on it. So I can’t say he is always refusing. But it’s just interesting how men say why wife refuses to do things but I bet the husbands are refusing to do what she is asking for too!!!

    1. Not today says:

      Lauren –
      I think I am qualified to respond as my wife has made similar comments in the past.
      Your husband may not do the things you hand him because (a) they make no logical sense to him (so he has no idea how to carry out what you’ve asked); (b) he thinks he is doing what you are handing him (and not getting credit for at least attempting); or (c) he’d love to, but someone else (wife) often spends all the money in the budget (or refuses to respect the funds available) and then he feels stuck between a rock and a hard place with no respect shown him either.
      Unfortunately I don’t have any suggestions or recommendations to make on how to get past this roadblock yet.

  9. FarAboveRubies says:

    I have always danced for my husband. It’s something I can do just for his eyes. It pleases him and I love to please him. He has never danced for me. It’s just not who he is. Some love sessions are all about him. It’s okay because my pleasure is in pleasing him. He is more sweet to me, more loving emotionally, more forgiving ( and I sometimes try his patience). Now, let’s just think for a minute if I had an attitude like, “What about me? Where’s my reward?” I don’t see that as a serving heart. You really do get out of your marriage what you put into it.

    When you married did you say, during the ceremony, ” I will love only if my needs get met first. I will honor and respect but only if you deserve it. I will cherish but only if you treat me like we are still dating”? Okay, maybe you didn’t say that exactly but that is exactly what has happened in some marriages. The scriptures are very clear of what God wants in our marriages. We are to have the closest thing right here on this earth, a relationship that emulates Christ and the church. The two are to become one flesh. God designed sex for marriage. Yeah, it’s really, really good. If it’s not, then it’s time to go back and revisit your vows before God. This applies to both husband and wife.

    I had a pastor tell me to stop giving testimonies when I was first saved. How is that possible??? When one is on fire for the Lord, you don’t get a fire extinguisher. I left that church in a New York minute (that’s how fast I ran from that church). Sorry, but if the pastor, as God ordained as he is, is not following scriptures, it’s time to leave. Pray to God about it and seek His will. Try not to accept some pastor’s baggage. He, after all, is only human. I’m sorry that you are going through that, James. BTDT

    1. Ricky says:

      Could not agree with you more. To the girl above that said “the guy wasn’t wording it right or the wife was thinking what about her needs…” This is so what is wrong with marriages. You shouldn’t have to receive to give. I think if a spouse is going out of their way to actually ask for something, and you have to ability to give it, THEN GIVE IT! So many times I feel like instead of HEARING our spouse we brush off what they really want in our head and irrationalize it. Thoughts like, “that’s a selfish or worldly desire.” Let me tell you something. Anything in your bedroom is virtually ok as long as it’s only between two married people. Why society or the church make sex a sinful looking act is thee most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. I listen to my wife’s needs. Like REALLY listen lately. I’ve noticed her making steps towards mine all on her own. You give without expecting anything and that’s when you get the most. You can’t control what your powerless over.

  10. Jerry Stumpf says:

    Jay Dee,

    It is apparent that you spent a lot time on this. Thank you for your work.

    From all the responses, you can see this is a worthwhile project!

  11. Spiritwalker 142 says:

    I’ve always looked at this with the view of what happens between two consenting married (to each other) adults in the bed room really isn’t a bad thing. As long as you or your spouse aren’t making the other do something that they don’t like what’s the big deal. If you like to flirt then flirt. Hold hands, I’ve spoken to a few people where even that was treated like a sin, it’s OK. If you’re BOTH into acting out 50 shades then do it, in your own room, between just the two of you. What’s the big deal about wearing something that turns on your spouse (that goes for men and women), there’s nothing wrong with playing footsy at dinner, just make sure it’s your spouse’s feet. I agree that the Song of Solomon is there to show that being romantic, even sensual, to your spouse is a good thing. We’re supposed to have sex, in marriage, how else are we supposed to have children and multiply and replenish the earth. I don’t see or really find anything that says it can’t be fun with your spouse, with in a marriage.

  12. Jessica says:

    Jay,

    I just had a chance to listen to your podcast interview at DelightYourMarriage. I’m pretty impressed with the care and time you take to study Scripture. I completely agree that Song of Solomon is a great example of God’s encouragement for a healthy sex life in marriage, but I didn’t realize until now that these erotic verses were as erotic as you described. That certainly adds to the verses themselves.

    I think Christians (and society as a whole) often sees sex as merely a physical act. And, when reduced to just the physical then one must conclude that it is “of the flesh.” But, this is a severely limited view of the “one flesh” union that we read of in Scripture. In fact, though I’m not a theologian, I would expect that “one flesh” means so much more than sexual intercourse. When I think of the one flesh union I picture a bonding of two people, in marriage, completely and wholly. It goes far beyond the physical union (but, thanks to a loving and awesome God certainly includes a physical union), and includes the mind, emotions, and spirit. One flesh bonding, to me, is something that is hard to fully express in words. Its something that requires you to step back for a moment in awe that God gives us this beautiful, mysterious way of living.

    That being said – couples that believe that sex or sensuality is “of the flesh” are actually missing out on the “one flesh” bonding by limiting their relationships. Sex is limited by believing that it is just a physical act, while the rest of the marriage is limited by giving very little importance to the physical side. All of it is important; physical, emotional, spiritual.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Oh, I love studying scripture. If I can study it to understand sex, even better. If it can help people as well, well, that’s about my favorite past time (perhaps tied with actually implementing the things I learn in practice :)).

      And I definitely agree, I think the concept of “one flesh” goes well beyond just the physical. The Hebrew euphemism is “to know” your spouse, and that speaks volumes if you unpack it. I mean, do we really know our spouses? Do we let them really know us? How many are hiding parts of ourselves? But, during sex, that’s harder, you’re naked, and not just physically. Sex is often an awesome barometer for how the rest of the marriage is, because it’s really difficult to have a thriving sex life while the rest of your marriage is suffering. Likewise, you can’t have a good marriage without an active sexual component (with some possible extreme exceptions). Marriage and sex are intertwined together, along with emotions and spirituality, it’s a holistic relationship, you can’t separate a part without damaging the whole.

  13. HopefullyHelpful says:

    I prefer translations of 1 Cor 7:3 that use the word “render” because sometimes we have a habit of waiting until the “idiot light” comes on. You need to “render” your taxes by April 15, not after you get the late payment notice.

    I also tried Colossians 3:23-24 on someone and they blew their top big-time. Sometimes the trenches are very deep.

  14. ricky says:

    That is an fairly accurate interpretation of the bible and a good answer to the question.

    Making love to your wife because you love her is natural and commanded by God in the scripture. Having sex with your wife or other women because you would like to be gratified physically is sin which is the same as having sex with a prostitute or sleeping around. The problem of sexual temptation and immorality is so great that all the “Great” men of bible fell into it: Sampson, David, Solomon. Jesus also commanded not to divorce your wife because it would cause her to commit adultery. There is no boundary or limit when doing things out of love. Those who understands love will know that sex is not even important in a marriage or relationship.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Well, I guess I don’t understand love yet then, because I think sex is quite important in a marriage.

    2. Anonymous says:

      Sorry man no where in the bible does it say that wanting to have sex with your wife because its physically pleasing is a sin. That’s just your point of view that’s not even backed by scripter. But it does make clear that any sex outside of being married to that person is sinful. Even in your heart.

  15. Martin Vivian says:

    I agree with everything you said, but I think you came to the wrong conclusion about sensuality. You said …

    “Within the context of a marriage, sensuality, as in enjoying sex, is not only permitted, it is encouraged. Outside of marriage, it counts as sexual immorality.”

    In that statement you seem to think its impossible to commit “aselgeia” in a marriage context. You seem to be saying only single people can commit “aselgeia”. But I would say the marriage context is irrelevant. You correctly defined “aselgeia” as licentiousness. “outrageous conduct, conduct shocking to public decency, a wanton violence” according to Strongs. Surely this can occur to a married person. Surely this is not just limited to premarital sex.

    What about to ones own girlfriend/boyfriend as a single person. Has sensuality no place here? Our current definition of sensuality is correct “the enjoyment, expression, or pursuit of physical, especially sexual, pleasure.” Again, I am in no way promoting premarital sex. But there are intimacies and pleasures that are in “a way” sexual but have nothing to do with intercourse or even foreplay. Kissing, playfulness, touching, holding, stroking. Generally, I’m speaking of acts of affectionate intimacy, closeness and warmth. These are sensual. But surely you would not associate them with “aselgeia”. It is not “outrageous conduct, conduct shocking to public decency, a wanton violence”. Yet I see single Christians denouncing them as “of the flesh” just as your wife was of certain acts.

    It seems to me that more and more (and I’m sure its out of fear of going too far), that anything that is seemed even slightly sexual is being relegated to the wedding bed and forbidden before marriage. So, Like wise, should not single Christians have a healthy, normal and appropriate desire for their girlfriend/boyfriend and I dare say even act upon these desires in an acceptable, yet sensual, manner.

    Or should I keep my shirt on at the beach, lest I cause my girlfriend to “sin” with her eyes?
    (I’m definitely exaggerating my physique… But hopefully you’re getting my point)

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Within the context of a marriage, sensuality, as in enjoying sex, is not only permitted, it is encouraged. Outside of marriage, it counts as sexual immorality.

      I was using a narrower definition (as bolded for emphasis) at the time. Sorry for the confusion. My point is, it’s not a sin to enjoy sex in marriage, but it is to enjoy sex outside of marriage.

  16. Niki Chat says:

    Ricky, I’m speaking from my own perspective when I say that it’s not that they want to be the gate keeper, or put you through crap. They genuinely don’t want to do anything that is displeasing to God, because they love him, and they do not want to jeopardize their salvation irregardless of the pressures around them. Most times they want that special attention, but they are afraid of it being a lustful, carnal weakness of the flesh. So fear holds them back. If they could realize that it is not a sin in God’s eyes, then that would be a load off their mind. Unfortunately for some, they are constantly being plagued with teachings of it being sin, and it can be twisted to look very legitimately sound, and biblical, like sacrificing your feelings for God. The devil doesn’t give up on trying to destroy everything that is good, and encourage that which is bad. It’s a battle, and easier said then done, because your constantly asking yourself, did this new information that I have been given come from God or Satan? You want God to guide you, but the enemy is out there pretending to be God, and appearing as an angel of light. It’s hard. No one wants to be deceived, but people are being deceived, and when God’s still small voice tries to help them, that devil comes along right after and sowes tares and confusion.
    I’m just trying to express where their coming from, because I myself was battling with this for a very long time. I never wanted to hurt my husband. I just wanted to do God’s will.

  17. Courtleigh says:

    So what do you think about the fact that the Bible says that God is our Husband and the Lover of our souls? And that the Bible also says that marriage is a great mystery and also reffers to Christ and His church? I say this because I ha e had many experiences where God is heavily involved in my sex life in bed with my husband and throughout the day without. In heaven there will be no marriage yet do you honestly believe that Christ will cease to be a sexual being once we ascend? Song of Solomon is also said to reflect the love of God for His people. As well as the bible saying that God is over all, in all, and through all. No exclusions. Including my sex life. And as you said, we are to do all things as if for God..so we are supposed to make love to our Husbands as if to God Himself. And, just like Jesus said “if you have seen my face you have seen the face of The Father” and that He is in The Father and we are in Him, when I make love to my Husband, He inspirits my husband and I see His personality and presence shine through my Husband. It’s a very religious act. We love each other. And Christ also said not to Love anybody more than Him. And I think if you reserve one of the most powerful acts of love for someone and exclude God as being a recipient of that love (a recipient of our sexual love and affections) than that infers that we love our earthly spouse more than He and are not worthy to follow Him. So, if we do not make love to Him as we make love to our spouse, we are unworthy. I see His face and feel His emotions, and He gives me visions as we make Love. Visions of Him and the Love He has for me. And the overwhelming desire He has for me, in way more than just a friendly way. And you know what? It gets me so hot for my husband. I feel this is so very important because 50% of marriages fail 🙁 and a main reason is sex! Or lack thereof. God wants to be extremely active in our sexual lives and wants us to be more in love with Him than with our spouse. Then He wants us to act on our love for our spouse through Him. I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me. ALL things! Women, have you lost you sex drive and the strength to feel sexual love for your Husband? Let Christ strengthen you and fulfill you in that area! He will.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      … I’m confused. No, I don’t think we’re intended to have a sexual relationship with God, and I don’t see how one could…

      1. Courtleigh says:

        There are so many verses that imply that and not one that doesnt. Why would He call Himself our Husband when one of the most important things in marriage is the sexual relationship? Its so important that The Bible specifically says not to deprive each other. The Bible also repeatedly refers to Christ as our Bridegroom and as us being prepared as a Virgin. Why oh why would God use that terminology if there was not something more than just friendship involved in our relationships in Heaven. I don’t know exactly how it works but it is obvious and plainly stated in the Bible that there is a great mystery for us. I will find all of the verses I can and add them in the next comment.

  18. Bill says:

    1 Corinthians 7:6 is very clear, Paul permits lust and sensuality within marriage as a concession and not as a ccmmand. The author claiming that not making an effort to not being sexual in marriage is sexual immorality because it is against God’s plan for sex is ridiculous. There is no command to the man or the woman to be sexual with each other, you are putting pressure on many good marriages that are working perfectly well without sexual pleasure. 1Corinthians 7:6-7 “6. Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. 7 wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.” Let’s be clear sexual desire is a weakness of the flesh, and solely because of our weakness God permits sex within marriage for the purpose of pleasure. With that said at no point is there a command to have sex. A marriage without sex, as long as it is consensual between the spouses, will be a much stronger christian marriage than one ruled by sensuality. This is a biblical fact, however we all agree that as humans most if not all of us are incapable of achieving such level of sexual purity.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I agree, 1 Corinthians 7:6 is clear, though I disagree with your applying it only to the preceding verse. I think it applies to the passage as a whole. That way it’s more consistent with the rest of scripture.

      Paul says he wishes people were unmarried as him, that is the concession, not a command. However, if you do get married, then the implications are clear: A marriage is a sexual relationship. In fact, without a sexual relationship, there arguably is no marriage. If you look at the marriages in the Bible, the clear separation between a couple being married vs unmarried is the moment of consummation. Genesis 24:67 is one example, but there are many.

      Sexual desire is not a weakness of the flesh. It is a God-given desire. The misuse of that desire is what is a weakness of the flesh. Just as hunger is not a weakness of the flesh, it’s a God-given desire. Abuse of that hunger is a weakness. God doesn’t just “permit” sex within marriage for the purpose of pleasure, we’re expected to enjoy it. Proverbs even offers it as a blessing – men are supposed to be almost intoxicated by the breasts and genitals of their wife. In fact, it’s the only time the bible suggests that any sort of intoxication is good.

      So, no, I completely reject your interpretation of what is “biblical fact” as I see nothing in the Bible in it. I think you should go read it again.

  19. kingcaspian10 says:

    The flaw in your argument is that the only “positive” views of erotic love are in the context of an illicit and unhealthy sexual relationship. Solomon is describing sexual activity with his 61st wife. God is never worshipped, honored or even thanked. The sexual relationship is purely physical and emotional. You don’t really think this constitutes a Godly marriage, do you?

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Where did you get 61st from? And it may not been about real people at all, might be entirely fiction.

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