Sex in a Christian marriage is a very uncomfortable subject. Why is it so difficult to talk about something that was created by God and is completely amazing? Sin. The enemy has highjacked this beautiful gift from God and twisted it so much that we can’t even talk about it. No more. Today we will look into the topic of sexual intimacy. This may be an uncomfortable conversation but we have to address it when looking at having a godly marriage.Let me repeat that. God designed sex in a Christian marriage. Sex in marriage is a good, beautiful gift from a loving Father… Let's talk about it. Click To Tweet
God Designed Sex in a Christian Marriage
Let me repeat that. God designed sex in a Christian marriage. Sex in marriage is a good, beautiful gift from a loving Father.
Yes. God designed sex. Sex has been around since creation and it was intended for pleasure as well as bonding and procreation and probably a lot of other things we’ve lost sight of.
However, since sin entered the world, the enemy has so completely distorted sex and intimacy that we tend to have unrealistic expectations. Today, we will discuss sexual intimacy in a few layers.
- Differences between men and women with relation to sexual intimacy.
- The importance of sex in a Christian marriage.
- Roadblocks to sexual intimacy
We will also see ways to work through some of the most common Christian marriage intimacy issues. This is not so much an article with sex in a Christian marriage tips as it is an overview of the topic – to be clear.
Related Post: 10 Biblical Reasons for Marriage That Still Apply Today
If you are in an abusive relationship please talk to someone. This article is not written for you at all. There is not a place in Scripture that tells you to stay in danger or endure abuse by your spouse. It is never okay for someone to hurt you.
Verses in the Bible about God hating divorce do not give your spouse permission to hurt you – which God also hates.
You can’t pray harder to fix an abusive spouse. God does not want you to stay and fix them or stay in harm’s way while He fixes them. There are safe places. Please find one. Know that you are loved by God and God would want you to get help, and not continue to be hurt.
I say this from a place of love. Abuse is never okay. Please find help.
Bible Verses About Sex in a Christian Marriage
We know that sex was designed by God to be a beautiful expression of our love. Some verses about sex in marriage are below.
“The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise the wife also to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise the husband also does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (1 Corinthians 7:3-5 NASB)
“Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers.” (Hebrews 13:4 NASB)
“But because of sexual immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:2 NASB)
Even though the entire book of Song of Solomon addresses the topic of healthy sexual intimacy it is still hard to navigate all the ways that a husband and wife see sex in a Christian marriage differently.
Related Post: Top Bible Verse About Sex
The Difference Between Man and Woman is Real
“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27 NASB)
The truth is men and women see most things about sexuality differently. This goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden when God created man and woman. He created us with similarities and differences. Think about that for a moment.
God created Adam as a man. He saw that man should not be alone and then created Eve as a woman. Think about all the ways men and women are different.
We have different body parts inside and out, different ways of relating in relationships, different ways of approaching tasks, etc. We are different. Is it any surprise that we are different sexually as well?
Related Post: 16 Characteristics of a Godly Marriage
Different Sexually: Men Vs. Women
This is a snippet from my home. I fully understand that while men and women are different, each man and each woman are also different. The dynamics of each marriage are different as well. This in no way is a blanket statement, it is just what I have learned from my own life and from counseling wives over the years.
My husband is a visual creature. Yours too. Naked is one of their favorite words. I can’t speak for all men of course, but I’ve learned that my husband loves to see me naked. I am the only one who can fulfill my husbands’ sexual needs and desires.
Let me repeat that: I am the only one who can fulfill my husbands’ healthy sexual desires – without sin… just as he is the only one who can fulfill mine.
Personally, I am not really a sexual being. I’d rather not be on display. I don’t want to fulfill his desires, in fact, many times I forget they exist. Now to be fair, I have sexual desires as well. They sneak up on me after weeks of being too busy to think about them.
The difference between men and women sexually is absolutely alive and well in our home. How about yours?
Understanding Most Men
For years I ignored the differences in our way of seeing sexual intimacy. Well honestly I didn’t just ignore them, I also tried to convince my husband to be more like me and at times I criticized his overactive sexual appetite. And we began having intimacy issues the same as most couples regardless of whether they are Christain or not.
The first step in how to fix intimacy problems in a marriage is to acknowledge that men and women have different sexual needs and expectations.
My husband has sexual needs or desires which are physical. His wife has sexual desires, sometimes they are physical but most of the time they are emotional needs in marriage. Understanding that these needs are different goes a long way.
Now is that to say no men connect the physical desire for sex with emotional connection? Of course not. We are all different. It has just been my experience that they are two separate things for men while for women they are connected. For example, if I do not feel emotional intimacy with my husband I am not really in the mood for sexual intimacy with him. He on the other hand would never say that to me.
A Hard Truth
Your husband was created by God with sexual desires. Those desires are not sinful when they are for you in a healthy way. You are the only acceptable sexual anything your husband can have without sin.
Ouch. Did I mention this would be uncomfortable?
Your husband needs you to be a sexual being with him in a healthy way. Regardless of the craziness of my day or the season of life I am living in, I have to be mindful of my husband and his desires.
By denying him these healthy sexual desires in the Christian bedroom – I am NOT removing the desire God put in him – I am removing the only way he can fulfill that desire without sin.
A Story of Denial
A mentor helped me think about this in a funny way years ago. I had a newborn and a toddler, I was beginning to work from home and sex was the last thing on my mind. Months would pass and I would be angry that my husband wanted to touch me after the kids had used up all the physical energy I had. She began to walk me through Scripture about sex in a Christian Marriage and could tell I was checking out. So she asked this:
What would happen if your husband suddenly outlawed eating chocolate in your home?
Imagine that one day your husband approches you, shocked that you want to eat chocolate. He goes out of his way to explain the dangers of eating chocolate.
You agree it’s not best or well timed and try to be sensitive to his aversion for the treat. You try to ignore the candy aisle in the store. Maybe you do well for a while denying yourself that sweet comfort food.
But then Aunt Flo comes for a visit and you are desperate. You reason, ‘He knew I loved chocolate when we were dating. How dare he try to change me. I need chocolate. I love chocolate. Chocolate is not really bad in moderation.’
Imagine the righteous indignation as you sneak into that back drawer. The one where you were secreting away a Hershey’s Kiss. Can you feel the pleasure of the melted chocolate on your tongue? Feel the nervous tingles as you listen for his footsteps in the hall. Nervously praying his game doesn’t go to commercial before you can hide the evidence of your indiscretion.
Healthy Sexual Activity
Your desire for chocolate is not a sin as long as you are not overindulging or using it for something crazy. Neither is your husband’s desire for sex as long as it is within the confines of your marriage bed, in healthy ways with both parties consenting to the act.
Here we make a difference between a Christian marriage and a non-Christian marriage. Not all things are godly in the marriage bed. If your spouse is asking for things outside of God’s design for sex in a Christian marriage you have every right to say no.
God’s design for healthy sexual intimacy within marriage is this: One man with one woman. Simple.
There are lists of things that are called an abomination sexually all throughout the Bible, but the basics are that if it involves one man with one woman and they both consent, sex is intended to be a blessing.
Related Post: Is Virtual Infidelity A Ground for Divorce Biblically?
What Causes Christian Marriage Intimacy Issues?
Earlier I described the beginning of intimacy issues in our marriage. It was not pretty. I always knew my husband was a sexual creature. How about your spouse?
Do you remember making out and all that fun stuff early in your relationship? I loved that. What happened to change my mind about sex? What caused the Christian marriage intimacy issues in the first place?
- Body Image
- Mother minded rather than wife minded
- Hurt, unforgiveness and bitterness
- Lack of feeling in love
- Lack of sexual satisfaction
These are not all-inclusive, just the things that touched our marriage in a real way.
I believed the enemy’s lies about sex and body image… did you?
The enemy has been distorting God’s perfect design for sex in a Christian marriage since the beginning. Today he has twisted the picture of sex in the media. The media’s image of sexuality is unrealistic; thin, tanned, blond, sumptuously proportioned in alluring ways.
Beautiful women. Fake. Nothing like what I look like. And it makes sexual intimacy challenging as I feel myself competing with that fake woman.
Maybe it’s just me. In the bedroom when the clothes go away I am suddenly anxious, ashamed, embarrassed, and desperate to hide. I think: ‘Don’t look at me, I’m ugly’. ‘I have stretch marks from babies and failed diets’. ‘Nothing is in the right place anymore’. ‘Let’s get this over with.’
His Truth About Body Image
My husband swears he sees a beautiful woman – the woman he fell in love with – when he sees me. All the flaws I see when I look in the mirror DO NOT cross his mind at that moment. He sees all the things that are really sexy – to him.
Each man is different, but they all enjoy looking at particulate body parts. You have those parts. He wants to see you naked. Wants to look and touch and not feel ashamed to do so.
“Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice in the wife of your youth.
Like a loving doe and a graceful mountain goat,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
Be exhilarated always with her love.” (Proverbs 5:18-19 NASB)
How Can We Get Over Our Body Image Issues
We were at a marriage conference some years ago by Drs. Les & Leslie Parrot. They said something that helped change my way of thinking about my body and sex.
“Let your husband be your mirror”
Don’t look at the mirror and believe what you see. Let your husband speak what he sees when he looks at you. And believe him.
Speak encouragement to yourself as you would another woman struggling. Remind yourself of all the ways you are beautiful. Stop looking at the flaws. Look to the inside.
- Your character is amazing.
- You are a great friend.
- No one listens better than you.
- You are a woman of honor and wisdom.
- Kindness shines through your eyes every day.
- You. Are. Beautiful.
Listen when that man tells you about your beauty. Believe him.
When the lights go down and the clothes come off and you want to hide or rush… Remind yourself that you are beautiful. He sees your beauty. Let him enjoy it. You will both enjoy sex so much more when that is your thought life.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8 NASB).
As usual, I am talking to myself today too. As often as I think this is fixed, it pops back up again. We are in this together sister.
Related Post: Sex, Body Image & Faith in a Christian Marriage
Busyness and Fatigue
You are busy. I am busy. Earlier I asked what happened to that woman who loved making out with her soon-to-be husband… life came in with a pile of bills and committees and messes that never stay clean.
The busyness of life wears me down. When I am not actually doing all the things, I am trying to veg out and stop thinking about all of the things I didn’t get done.
Then he sees me, somehow looking sexy while cleaning the toilet (no joke), and starts making his desire known. It’s not that I don’t desire him too, it’s just that I am busy and nothing about cleaning the bathroom does it for me.
I am also tired, like bone-deep tired. Sometime after age 30, fatigue took over my desire to do anything fun or pleasurable. Maybe I’m alone in this, but unless my body pushes a sexual desire on me, I am just not in the mood.
Is he wrong to desire me sexually? Nope, that is actually amazing after all these years. Am I wrong for being tired and uninterested? Nope, that is also normal after all these years.
How do we fix this sexual intimacy problem?
For me, it requires planning time to think sexual thoughts about my husband. Ug that sounds so A-type and like a complete romance kill joy… but it is all I can do in this crazy busy season of life. And it’s not perfect… but it’s what I have right now. I’d love to know how you fight this one.
Related Post: 3 Ways Fight the Busy Life and Set Biblical Priorities
Mother Minded Rather Than Wife Minded
Okay, this one may very well be the worst kind of sexual intimacy problem in marriage. Those beautiful children we dreamed of raising finally came. They came with colic and lose teeth and volleyball practice and attitude and meltdowns and more laundry than should be legal.
For most wives, we developed a mother mentality, a superpower as I like to call it. All of a sudden we can find lost items, keep tiny humans fed, cleaned, and on schedule. We can stop tears with a simple kiss or cuddle. Our lips became thermometers for goodness sake. We turned into mothers.
What happened to the hot sexy wife when the mother’s mind came? I don’t know, but it feels like she died.
I used to plan date nights and plan what kind of sexy nightgown I’d wear after. Now I schedule play dates and sweatpants are the sleepwear I prefer.But we have a deeper need than sexual intimacy. We need to find a way to balance the chaos and invest in our marriage while we have a marriage to invest in. If we don't, there will be nothing left when we finally have time and… Click To Tweet
I am not going to lie to you here, this is an ongoing battle. I am NOT a physical person. My kids require hugs and cuddles. They run at me just to crash into me. They touch and pull and tap and pat me until I want to teach them about personal space some days.
Then my husband comes home. He wants to touch me too and I just want to hide for an hour. He expects to be able to touch his wife. I expect him to be an adult and understand I am all touched out… We are both right and we are both wrong.
Here’s the truth, a truth I have to remind myself about often. Our kids will grow up and leave this house one day to start lives of their own.
Bud and I will be left alone, together, in this house. What will we have left if I only even invest in my children and expect my husband to wait until they are grown for me to want him?
I’ll have nothing. We’ll have nothing in common, no desire for each other, no interest to discuss, no relationship left to invest in.
So we are both right. We both have needs. He needs me to listen to him and touch him. I need time alone not being touched or talked at.
But we have a deeper need. We need to find a way to balance the chaos and invest in our marriage while we have a marriage to invest in. If we don’t, there will be nothing left when we finally have time and energy to invest in it.
Hurt, Unforgiveness & Bitterness
And so here we are to the heart of most of the sexual intimacy issues if we dig deeper. There has been hurt. Hurt when left unaddressed presents unforgiveness. Unforgiveness when left too long festers into bitterness and resentment.
Let me give you an example:
When our youngest was born we both felt it best if I stayed home with the kids. Daycare was too expensive, she had medical issues and we felt this calling from God to do things this way.
The life of a stay-at-home mom is crazy. From the time I wake up to the time I lay down, I am surrounded by tiny humans – selfish, dirty, loud… sweet, tender, moldable tiny humans. It is exhausting. I keep them alive, cook, clean the house, meal plan, grocery shop, keep up with the clothes, and somewhere along the line, we decided to homeschool them all… Crazy.
My husband agreed to work to support our family. It is difficult for him to keep a job. Every time he quits a job it hurts. Every time. I work through the process of forgiveness over and over again, but sometimes it overwhelms me and I choose to ignore the hurt. Unforgiveness shows itself in me through intimacy issues.
Hurt, left unforgiven, leads to bitterness which kills intimacy in marriage.
Choose To Forgive Every Day
We have talked a lot about forgiveness in this space. A lot. Forgiveness is probably the main ingredient in a healthy godly marriage. Yes, unforgiveness kills intimacy on every level, leading to withholding sex in a Christian marriage. However, daily forgiveness opens the pathways to intimacy again.
Does that sound extreme?
Daily forgiveness is how I choose to live life to be SURE I am not harboring resentment. I pray for my husband, specifically the areas where it is hard to forgive, every day. In the praying, I forgive him for not being perfect and living up to my expectations. I also release him to God – again – to let HIM grow my husband in HIS way and time. It is freeing!
Related Post: 7 Steps to Thrive Through Forgiveness in Marriage
Lack of Feeling in Love
The last two areas of sexual intimacy issues in marriage are tricky to navigate. We in western culture have a deep desire to feel “in love” like romance movies or books portray. We want tingles and butterflies and the right mood to always be there when it’s time to be sexually intimate.
That is nowhere in the Bible… well it could be argued that Solomon had some masterful romancing skills, but it is debatable as he had 1000 women.
Feelings are not what we rely on for love. Love is a choice we make every day. Every day we choose to love our spouse because we married them, stepping into a covenant relationship. For better or for worse implies we will not always feel like loving our spouse, but we do it anyway!
If you are struggling with that loving feeling I want to challenge you to dig into 1 Corinthians 13 with me in this Marriage Challenge.
Lack of Sexual Satisfaction
Maybe you’ve read through all of these and just shook your head. The issue as you see it is that there is a lack of sexual satisfaction in your Christian marriage. In fact, one wife wrote me with a title: Christian wife not sexually satisfied. My response to her is below:
In some cases, a lack of sexual satisfaction is really at its heart a result of one of the four intimacy issues above.
- Shame about our body
- Busyness, fatigue or a mind that won’t stop
- Hurt that has not been worked through
- A lack of romantic feelings
Any one of these can cause the act of sex to feel unsatisfying to us, to mean nothing to us. Be honest with yourself about things in your life and work through the list with God to find the root cause.
But maybe after a good soul search, you find you have no body image issues, you are prioritizing intimacy in your marriage, there is no hurt you know of and you feel love for your spouse… but you are not into sex or you are not sexually satisfied. I hear you.
I have always had a struggle with sexual intimacy. Part of that stems from a childhood of rape. If sexual abuse is a part of your past, it can be a struggle to feel sexual satisfaction. It has taken years of counseling and conversations with my husband to be in a place where this is no longer the issue… most of the time. Sadly, there are still moments it creeps back in.
I don’t have hard fast answers for you here, except to say, find a good Christian counselor to help you walk through the trauma. Have open conversations with your spouse about the struggles and pain. Don’t suffer in silence. There is help and though it can be tough, your spouse can help you heal and partner with you to not make this worse.
Along the lines of abuse is pornography or erotica. Where abuse connects painful memories to physical touch, these things attach shame and guilt to sexual intimacy.
Remember God’s design for healthy sex in a Christian marriage? One man with one woman. Anything outside of that distorts the blessing God intended.
One side effect of virtual infidelity is a lack of physical sexual satisfaction. This is scientifically proven. If you have viewed pornography or read sexually explicit books or anything like that it is likely interfering with your ability to enjoy your spouse.
Find help here: 11 Steps to Start Overcoming Pornography Biblically for Life
Along the same lines is premarital sex or extramarital sex. There is no such thing as Christian sex before marriage despite popular opinions. Any sex outside of marriage is sin and affects your sex life in marriage.
Another problem that comes into play is hormonal imbalances. I suffer from Autoimmune disease and can attest to the struggle with things in your body not being balanced. If you find you are rarely in the mood and none of those first four things is the problem, it wouldn’t hurt to talk to your doctor to see where your estrogen/testosterone levels are. There is help to be had if we look in the right places.
And finally, odd as it may seem, we can struggle to enjoy sexual intimacy just by virtue of being Christian. I often receive questions from readers about this.
- What is permissible in the marriage bed?
- What is sexually acceptable in a Christian marriage?
- Are Christian women allowed to enjoy sex?
Remember, we have a real enemy who seeks to steal, kill and destroy anything God means to bless us.
The marriage bed is a blessing meant to be filled with joy and pleasure. Both husband and wife are intended to enjoy sex within a healthy setting. If you are feeling religious guilt about enjoying sex in your marriage, know that is not coming from God. Spend time reading what God says about Sexual intimacy in marriage in the Bible to help you replace the lies with His truth.
How to Have Great Sex in a Christian Marriage
There are many ways to ruin sex in a Christian marriage, but there are many more ways to restore what we thought was ruined. Years ago, after I had failed with sexual purity outside of marriage a preachers wife quoted this verse to me:
“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,” (Joel 2:25 NKJV)
God is a restorer of broken, damaged, messy things. Nothing you have done is beyond the reach of our loving Father.
Maybe like me, you wasted years tearing your spouse down for wanting sex. Perhaps you denied them sexual intimacy because of body image issues, hurt, busyness, or fatigue. Maybe you have been so focused on your kids that you ignored the need to invest in your marriage in this way. Or maybe you are struggling with the very idea of sex in marriage because you don’t feel in love or you don’t feel satisfied with them sexually. These things can be fixed.
God can fix anything. I’ve seen Him do it! Work through each piece and find out what is at the heart of the issues. Commit to pray over it. Commit to seeking help to work through it. Talk about it openly together. Be honest and loving as you do.
These are all the ways to have a great sexual relationship in your marriage. In every season? No, there will be tough seasons, but hold onto hope, seasons change when we are working together to fix the issues with God at the center.
in HIS love,
Check out some of these other posts you will enjoy:
- Emotional Wellness is Important for Disciples of Christ
- True Love: 75 Verses That Prove God Loves You
- Sex, Body Image, and Faith in a Christian Marriage