In today’s “anything goes” culture what are the parameters for good sex between a Christian husband and wife?
Are there some things that are off limits? What about sex toys? Do they have a place in a Christian marriage? How do you know if a sexual act is wrong between a husband and wife?
God definitely has something to say on this topic. First and most important is the necessity that each spouse honours the other’s comfort level, respectfully. True love does not force someone to do something that causes them pain, shame, or discomfort, be it physical or emotional. If one spouse puts on the brakes, the other needs to honour that. However, I’ve also discovered that for those who have been sexually abused or had sexual trauma in their past, their sexual comfort level can be skewed, in that anything associated with sex causes discomfort or even disgust. For those people, healing is needed in order to perceive sexuality as God created it — a good and wonderful thing between husband and wife. For more information, read my article “Healing from your Sexual Past” or my book Kiss Me Again: Restoring Lost Intimacy in Marriage.
For knowing what is appropriate, ask these three questions:
1. Is it prohibited in Scripture?
If it isn’t prohibited in Scripture, then it’s allowed. Sometimes a study of biblical terms will be necessary to answer this question. For example, the Bible does not use the word pornography, yet it is very clear that the use of pornography is prohibited. God talks about sexual immorality and sexual impurity, including obscenity — these are all words that would describe pornography. I have talked to many Christian couples who felt that pornography within marriage is OK. However, I would argue based on my study of the Scriptures, and the damage caused by pornography, that God’s language on this topic prohibits the making, viewing, and distributing of pornography.
2. Is it beneficial?
2 Corinthians 6:12 says, “Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible, but I will not be mastered by anything.” If your activity is not prohibited, ask God to show you if it’s causing you, your spouse, or your marriage harm in any way. Often what is right for one person could trigger pain and lack of safety for someone else, and therefore, cause pain for you and your marriage. Don’t allow anything into your bedroom that becomes an obsession for one or both of you. Don’t choose something that may demoralize or replace the other.
3. Does it involve anyone else?
This one is really important, because in Hebrews 13:4, God implores us to honour our marriage bed and keep it pure. He gave sex as an amazing, bonding gift within marriage, between a husband and a wife. Whenever we bring anyone else into our marriage bed, even through pornography or in fantasy in our minds, we have crossed into the prohibited area according to God.
Another caution: we should be careful about how much we talk about the “marital bedroom.” What happens between a husband and wife is private and personal — intimate. You need to trust one another that what you do with each other is not a topic of conversation with others. The key is to honour and respect your partner in all things, which includes what we talk about with others. There is a very fine line of what is appropriate and what is not.
God loves us so much, and because He is our Creator, He knows exactly what we need, what will hurt us, and what will be good for us and help us thrive. His guidelines are not to punish us or ruin our fun, but to provide the best for us, and to protect us from incredible heartbreak, pain, and damage. So with that in mind, have fun together and enjoy what God created for pleasure!