What's OK in the Bedroom?

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Since I speak and write books on sex, I get asked questions—a lot of questions. The most common questions relate to "what's okay in the bedroom?" Questions like: Is oral sex okay? What about anal sex? Is it wrong to role play with my husband? Is it okay that my husband likes to spank me? Do you think sex toys are wrong? What's wrong with a married couple watching porn together? Is masturbation okay?


Before we even get into discussing whether something is right or wrong in the bedroom, I want to emphasize that God's desire is for you and your husband to experience great pleasure! His standards are not to limit your enjoyment, but to heighten it. I think many Christian couples have no idea what freedom they have in the bedroom. They settle for "vanilla" sex (aka, the missionary position), placing self-imposed restrictions on themselves that have nothing to do with God's perspective. God made the marriage relationship a safe place for a husband and wife to explore, experiment, laugh, and get lost in sensational sex.


There is nothing spiritual or moral about limiting sexual pleasure in marriage. God is the greatest proponent of your pleasure—not the pleasure that is sweet for a season, but the deep, profound satisfaction that only grows sweeter with time. Once you understand what God has said "no" to, you are free to have a great time exploring all he has given you to enjoy.


As with all areas of life, God's instructions on sex can be found in the Bible. The Bible talks about sex a lot, but often the answers to sexual questions aren't found in a chapter or verse—for example, you won't find any references to vibrators. But using the Bible as a reference guide for decisions will make you wise in discerning good from evil (Hebrews 5:14) even when something seems like a gray area. Here are three questions that can help you discern whether certain sexual acts are right or wrong:


Question #1 – What does God clearly say "no" to?


There are some things the Bible is very clear about, particularly related to sex. Some women get confused about whether what God said "no" to in the Old Testament still applies in our day. For example, women wonder if it's okay to have sex during their period since the Old Testament law said not to. The Old Testament emphasized being ceremonially pure as a physical way of distinguishing God's people from the rest of the world, but since Jesus paid the sacrifice for our sin, being ceremonially clean isn't an issue anymore. However, all of God's people are still called to be morally pure, and sexuality is a big piece of moral purity.


Moral purity means that sexual expression is reserved for the covenant of marriage between a husband and wife. God says "no" to certain violations and perversions of this. Here is a summary of what God prohibits sexually:

  • Fornication: which means having sex outside of marriage (1 Corinthians 7:2, 1 Thessalonians 4:3)
  • Adultery: having sex with someone who is not your spouse. Jesus expanded adultery to mean not just physical acts, but emotional acts in the mind and heart (Matthew 5:28)
  • Homosexuality: The Bible is very clear that for a man to have sex with a man or a woman to have sex with a woman is wrong in God's eyes (Romans 1:27, 1 Corinthians 6:9)
  • Lustful Passions: First, let me tell you what this does NOT mean. Lustful passion does not refer to the powerful, God-given sexual desire for each other enjoyed by a married man and woman. Instead, it refers to an unrestrained, indiscriminate sexual desire for men or women other than the person's marriage partner (Mark 7:21 – 22,Ephesians 4:19)
  • Coarse Joking: In Ephesians 4:29, Paul says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths." We have all been around people who can see a sexual connotation in some innocent phrase, then begin to snicker or laugh. This is wrong. However, this does not rule out sexual humor in the privacy of marriage, but rather inappropriate sexual comments in a public setting.

What God says "no" to probably didn't surprise you, but his standards are also not very "PC." If you believe that God, the creator of your sexuality, has your best interest in mind, you will understand that these boundaries are to protect you.


Question #2 – How do you keep sex just between you and your husband?


God said "no" to having sex outside of marriage and having sex with someone you're not married to, so why do we even ask this question? Because many people fudge on it.
Reserving sex, sexual fantasies, and sexual expression only for your husband means more than just what you do physically, but what you look at and what you think about. This is what Jesus said:


You have heard that it was said, "Do not commit adultery." But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28


This includes fantasy, pornography, online relationships, and erotica. This seems like a pretty strict standard. Jesus goes on to advise us on how to deal with temptation:
If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. Matthew 5:29
His message is clear: get rid of whatever causes you to sin in your heart! If it is a portal for temptation, get rid of the iPhone, satellite TV, or your Facebook account. Cut off the relationship that is tempting you. If you really want to know what God says, take his warning seriously. Throw out the mommy porn. Stop flirting with anything that causes you to think, lust, or fantasize about someone other than your spouse.


Question #3 – Will this sexual activity be good for both of us?


This is where things get fuzzy. We don't see anywhere in the Bible where God clearly says "no" to things like sex toys, masturbation, or oral sex. In fact, you'll find very different opinions from Christian leaders on all these topics. The Corinthian church had questions about gray areas too. Instead of telling them exactly what to do, Paul gave them guidelines of how to use good judgment when the Bible doesn't clearly state something as right or wrong.


Everything is permissible for me—but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me—but I will not be mastered by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12


A few chapters later, Paul seems to repeat himself:


Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. 1 Corinthians 10:23-24


Here's what you can take from these passages. There are many things in life that you are free to do and enjoy. When you are not sure whether something is okay, put it through Paul's filter:


Is this beneficial? Is it good for me? For my husband? Is it good for our marriage?
Does it master me? Can it be habit-forming or addictive?
Is it constructive? Does it help me grow and mature? Does it build our marriage?
Is it loving? Does this action show love towards my husband or is it selfish?

This may mean that for some couples, a sexual act will be fine, and for another couple, the same act isn't right for them. An example of this is oral sex. Some couples feel great freedom to include this in their lovemaking. For other couples, oral sex is a trigger for memories of sexual abuse or pornographic images. The same act can be loving for one couple and harmful for another.


Do you wish God had given you a list of sexual acts with a clear "yes" or "no" by each one? It sure would make things a lot easier. But God, in his wisdom, has left some things open for a husband and wife to talk and pray through. Ultimately, you have to seek his wisdom for your own marriage. If you and your husband disagree on a "gray area," you will have to listen and learn to love each other through the decision.


After all, sex is a lot more than just sharing your body—it's a journey of intimacy. Figuring out boundaries together gives you great opportunities to seek the Lord's wisdom, and to learn how to love each other more deeply.

 

For more answers to your questions on sex:

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  • Olivia

    Olivia

    I was looking for an article on this subject for a long time, and as you said I only found different opinions which dragged me into more confusion. Me and my husband we are struggling with these issues on sexual activities permitted in the bedroom. While he thinks that anal sex is ok, and it offers him a great pleasure, stating that he feels very much intimate with me in those moments, I disagree with him and I am very reluctant to continue with this activity. Also he likes sometimes to take pictures or videos with us while having sex and that also really disturbs me. He says he loves me, and my body and that I should be happy and proud of it,but I don't feel comfortable at all with it. We had many conversations on these issues but we never got on the same line, and this affects quite a lot our relationship. I am praying for this and that God makes us more united in our physical intimacy and also spiritually.
  • Jacci Roberts

    Jacci Roberts

    Hi Olivia, I'm glad you found our blog and I hope it helps you and your husband talk through the doubts and discomfort you have. We have a video Q&A that also addresses the "homemade" pornography question, you can find it here: https://www.authenticintimacy.com/resources/17318/friday-5-january-31st-2019
  • Christopher Neff

    Christopher Neff

    So, is it bad to be 100% Vanilla, and never ever have anything to do with BDSM, kinks, and fetishes, or even trying them? Since you said God doesn’t want us cheating ourselves out of our full pleasure potential. Is there other people like me left, or has BDSM taken over the world, and converted everyone, forcing me to either choose between converting myself, or staying single for the rest of my life? I am 100% Vanilla, and have no interests, or desires whatsoever in BDSM, or Kink in any way, shape, or form. Never have, never will in a million years. I have below zero pain tolerance, and will only ever avoid it every chance I get no matter what anyone else says, or thinks, being the fact that people have told me that if there’s no pain involved, it’s not authentic BDSM, and that it’s just wimps wanting to have the status of being edgy, cool, and mysterious, etc. I also don’t like inflicting it, or seeing others in pain either even if I know they consented to it and are enjoying it. It still has the effect on me as if I’m the one who’s receiving it. I don’t like Breath Play at all period, and I don’t like having my neck touched by anyone, or anything at all ever, no exceptions. I also don’t like fear, or humiliation, degradation, or cruelty, and meanness either. I don’t like being bound because I’m Claustrophobic. Is there any people out there like me who are authentically 100% Vanilla like me, not because of conditioning, shame, or guilt, but because we are just that way naturally? Where do I find one like that, and how do I make 100% certain that I end up with someone who IS 100% Vanilla like myself who will never ever desire anything Kinky? Just so you know, I am also content with being limited, and like simplicity, peace, calm, and quiet with not a lot of activity, or stimulation going on, and I am a HUGE Home Body. I also like my actual Ice Cream the same as my sex: Just plain Vanilla, and that’s it. I also am not very sexual either, and don’t take a lot of interest in sex, sexuality, or sexual things, or activities much if at all either. I’m not ASexual though. I like what others would consider Mediocre. Is all of that really so wrong, or bad that I should feel the need to fix, or change about myself? And also, is it selfish if I break up with a partner for not being 100% Vanilla like me? I ONLY want partners with NO kinks, or fetishes? Is that okay? Is it evil, or a sin if I divorced my future wife, (whoever that is) because she had Kinks/ Fetishes she wanted to try out? Is it okay, or will it make me a jerk if I require that my future wife MUST be 100% Vanilla, and have no Kinks, or Fetishes whatsoever? The more sex articles I read online, the more, and more anxiety, depressed, and inadequate I feel. Like, there's no one out there who is compatible with me exactly as I am.
  • Joseph

    Joseph

    Christopher, I read your comment on the article, "What's OK in the Bedroom?" and I just wanted to respond with what I think, because I want to be helpful. So a little about me I'm 24, engaged, and a guy. Growing up didn't have a great view of sex, but praise God he is shaping me, and teaching me. And with being engaged, I've had to deal with the fact that soon sex will be a part of my life, so I've been trying to round out the corners of what I know. Currently, I am a virgin, praise God for that gracious gift. But I have had the opportunity to talk with married mentors, read books, and explore the bible on the topic of sex. So to get to your question of, is it sinful to have a completely vanilla sex life? I would say no, of course not! I think what this article is trying to say is that God actually gives a lot of freedom when it comes to sex, but that doesn't mean you have to be into anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. So for you: if God made you with a lower sex drive, that is OK. You don't have to have any shame or discouragement in that. The whole point with sex being for married people, and something God gives freedom in, means that one married couple's sex life will look different than another couple. Some couples might engage in oral sex, but for another couple, it is off the table. That is ok! That is how God designed it. Marriage is not a mold to fit into, but clay that will be shaped by God, and the couple that is in it. Also, something that you mentioned is that you're not into kinks or BDSM. That's a good place to be! I don't think the article was advocating for either of those things. What I think this article was getting at, is that sex can look for different, without getting into pain or weird things. For example take different positions for sex. Most people refer to missionary style as vanilla. One person on top of another. But there are other positions, where someone is standing, and the other person is not. I would not say that this is a kink, or BDSM. It could possibly just enhance the pleasure for one or both persons. But this is where if truly that change of position makes someone feel uncomfortable, then it will turn into sin. If you are engaging in something that doesn't feel appropriate before God, then you shouldn't do that thing, and if a partner is trying to force their spouse into it, then they are not demonstrating Christ's love of humility, and submission. One of the purposes for marriage is to grow. Grow as a couple, an individual, and grow your relationship with Christ. With there not being a hard and fast line on a lot of things in sex means that a couple will have to rely on the holy spirit. They will have to pray. They will have to consider each other. They will have to submit to each other, and they will have to serve each other. This means that for a healthy marriage and sex life, the couple will have to consider what God wants, and follow that. It will take messing up, and failing, and having hard conversations. To get to another one of your points, "will it make me a jerk if I require that my future wife MUST be 100% Vanilla" only your future wife will be able to actually answer that question. And I'm not trying to be annoying by saying that, I just mean, that only you and you future wife, if that is what the Lord wills for your life, will know what lines are appropriate for you. Say you marry someone that is okay with being 100% vanilla in the bedroom, but she wants to have sex more often than you do. The both of you will have to figure out how to serve each other, and not be selfish. Compromise. Or say for example eventually your wife wants to try a new sex position (not BDSM, not a kink, something you feel is appropriate), and you don't really want to put in the effort to even try it, than that won't be very loving to your wife. If truly vanilla sex is what you think is appropriate, and everything else feels like a sin, that is okay. But I do think you have to be honest with your feelings. You will have to be sure to communicate that before you are married. Also though, be ready to lay down what you want, for the benefit of your spouse, IF it does not violate your conscious. And hopefully your spouse is doing that too! You just don't want one person ALWAYS sacrificing, and one person who NEVER does. Some of the best advice I've gotten from an older mentor, who is close to 40, "the things that usually lead to strain, and then potential divorce in a marriage, is sex and money. When the time comes in a relationship to talk about those things, find a mentor you trust (pastor, married couple) and talk openly about what those things are to you, and your expectation of them". If God has marriage in the works for you, trust Him that He will pair you with someone that you can work through this with. Not necessarily someone that has the same views as you, although that is entirely possible; but someone that you feel comfortable communicating with about these things. Sex is not the most important thing in a marriage, but it is an inescapable part of it that you have to be willing to enter into it with having a mind to serve your spouse with, but even more importantly honor God with. Thanks for reading! Sorry it is so long, and feel free to not take any of my words as advice, but I genuinely hope this is helpful and encouraging. Please send a message to me if you have questions about anything, or want me to back this stuff up with scripture references! Normally I would not do this, but I felt compelled to. All the best to you, I have said a couple prayers for you

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I’ve learned over the years to view my husband’s desire for me to be a gift rather than an obligation. This has been a major paradigm shift that has changed the atmosphere of our love life. One day Mike asked me, “Aren’t you glad that I want to be with you all the time? Isn’t it a good thing that I desire you and want to be intimate with you?” I had to agree with him. If it weren’t for sexual intimacy, Mike might get lost in his own world and be content for weeks without connecting with me. This one special part of our relationship causes him to think about me often. Our sex life makes our relationship different than every other relationship he has. Instead of lamenting the fact that your husband needs sex, why not celebrate that your husband needs you!    God has given the gift of sex not just for the immediate experience of intercourse, but for the intimacy forged through a lifetime of navigating desire, obstacles, and even disappointment. Simply approaching sex as a need to be met will shortcut the more significant work of two people learning to become one.   Want to learn more? Grab a copy of Juli's new book, God, Sex, and Your Marriage or join an online book study this winter and read it with other like-minded couples. Check out our ten-week Bible study Passion Pursuit. It shows you how to make passion a priority in a way that honors your husband and God. 1 https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/275795