Just as a warning, there will be discussion of sex in this article (hope you caught onto that already). As I like to say, I’m not going to say who should read this because I don’t know who this would benefit or hurt.
If discussion of sex causes issues for you, don’t read further. Otherwise, let’s dive in. In interacting with dozens of married and unmarried Christians, I’ve seen some major issues with the way the Church presents and teaches on sex. So I wanted to talk through 5 main things, I think, could make a difference for young people who are getting married someday.
God created sex. Let’s say that one more time. God created sex. Sex is good. We do not put aside our holiness to engage in carnal desires. Sexual attraction, being horny, wanting to have sex is not the result of sin. If God calls you to marriage He wants you to have sex. Your sexuality is part of your nature.
Too often I hear married couples say they struggled on the wedding night (if they made it that far) with allowing themselves to be sexual. For the unmarried among us, sex is taught as wrong. It’s bad. That’s it. Don’t do it. Don’t even think about it. If you can, never look at your own genitals (I exaggerate). But then your wedding day comes. Over the course of a few words sex goes from bad to good.
But that’s not true!
Sex is inherently good. God created sex for a specific purpose. That purpose lies within a marriage covenant. So sex doesn’t suddenly become good, sex was always good. What changes is the fact that you are now in the relationship that God created sex for. Is that still a hard transition? Certainly. You do all you can to avoid sexual contact for your whole dating and engaged life. Then you get home from the wedding and strip naked without shame, at least that’s the goal.
And to clarify, if you have sex outside of marriage, it doesn’t make you dirty either. We are all equally sinful, and as Christians, equally forgiven. You’re not a ripped up rose, chewed up gum, or whatever other nasty metaphor some youth pastor used. But that begs the question, why did God design sex for marriage?
Often times, before getting married, we picture marriage as sex. You have a quickie in the morning. Go to work. Eat dinner naked. Then get to it once again. Nothing wrong with that, but sex isn’t the goal of marriage. Sex is a fulfillment of a good, healthy marriage.
A good sex life requires honesty, vulnerability, communication, trust, and all the other things required in marriage. Those things aren’t built in the marriage bed though. Those things are built in the months and years building up to marriage. And they are grown and developed throughout your marriage. If you go to have sex but you can’t be yourself around your partner, there will be issues. If you can’t communicate what you enjoy, there will be issues. If you don’t put your partner first, there will be issues.
Sex is the result of a healthy, intimate relationship, centered in God. Any married couple will tell you that the way their spouse acts outside of the bedroom affects the sex life. Oh you snapped at me today? Oh you didn’t clean up after yourself? Oh you let handle the kids all by myself while you just watched TV? Those things all affect your sex life. You don’t leave your relationship at the door. Sex carries with it all the aspects of marriage you’ve built into it.
So why does God call us to wait for marriage? Because it takes a lot of work to build a relationship where sex can healthy and beneficial. But what does sex actually look like in a marriage?
Every person is unique. Even more, every couple, the combination of two unique people, is unique. Should I say unique one more time?
The best marriage for you is however marriage works best for you. The best sex life for you is however sex works best for you. Are there some general trends and universal advice? Sure! But there is so much to sex that is up to you. And that can change over the years.
I’ve talked to a lot of newlyweds. You know how often they have sex? It totally depends! I’ve talked to couples that have sex twice a day. I’ve talked to other couples that have sex once a week. Why? Work schedules. Levels of desire. Kids. All sorts of things.
Some people prefer the man taking control. Some the woman. Some couples like having a schedule. Some like it spontaneous. Some do it only in the bedroom. Some couples explore in every room of the house (or outside the house)
People want hard, fast rules. But there just aren’t any. It takes time to figure out what works and what you like. Sex might be terrible at first, but then you can learn and grow. You might have too much or not enough at the start. You might be all serious, all the time. Light the candles, play the music, set the mood. You may just have fun with it and make jokes the whole time.
Or any combination of any of these and more. Too often we compare ourselves to everyone else. And this is true of sex as well. But the best sex life for you is the one that is fulfilling for you. But are there limits on what sex can be?
God gives us only a few requirements around sex. It’s to be within marriage. It’s to only be between the two married people. It’s to be consensual. You aren’t to deprive your spouse. And that’s about it. Obviously we can draw other conclusions from other aspects of Christianity. We shouldn’t be harming one another, emotionally or physically. We aren’t to do it in a way to cause others to stumble. We shouldn’t be breaking the law or whatever else.
But in general, sex can be what you and your partner want. Do you want to do missionary for the rest of your life and that’s it? Sure. Personally, I would say you might get bored, but it’s your choice. Do you want to try every single position you can find? Go for it. I might encourage you to find some standard go-tos you know will get you off everytime, however.
And here’s where we get a little crazy. Do you want to use toys? Yeah, you can do that. If you’re both consenting and not being harmed, it’s up to you. Will you necessarily like them? No. But you can try them. And chances are some of your friends, family (gross), even pastors have even tried them.
I could obviously list lots of other things to try, but hopefully you get the idea. The marriage bed is sacred. You and your spouse can try whatever you want. (Though you don’t have to try everything.) You just need to make sure your spouse is comfortable with it. And also, you don’t have to tell anyone about it. You don’t have to like everything you try. And it’s okay to try things that make you uncomfortable, if you want to, of course. That being said, what if even after trying all you can think of, it’s just not working?
Marriage is amazing. It’s the best choice I’ve ever made. But as I’m sure you’ve heard, it’s hard. Do people say it too much? Yes, but it’s true. It takes work. Your sex life is part of that. For some people it will come utterly naturally. Everything fits nicely. Your desires match up. It’s all good.
For other, sex is a real struggle. Maybe you’ve experienced abuse. Obviously that will change how you view sex. Maybe you come from an ultra conservative church that hammered shame into you when anything remotely sexual comes up. Sex is an emotional act, a vulnerable act. Your mental state matters. And whether it’s your own mental state or your partner’s, you need to be patient and understanding. You may even need counseling. That’s totally okay and normal. Marriage counseling is a wonderful thing. My wife and I make it a point to go on a somewhat regular basis even without issues. There are also sex counselors. If there are communication issues, mental issues, etc., they can help.
Sex is, hopefully you know this by now, also a physical act. All of our physical bodies are different. Penises come in different lengths, widths, curves, etc. That can affect sex. Vaginas also come in different lengths, widths, angles, etc. The combination of the two can make sex physically difficult, uncomfortable, or even painful (which is why ever newlywed should use lube). You may need advice from a friend. You may need to try different positions until you find some that work for you. You may need to talk to your doctor to get medical help. That’s all totally normal.
Just like anything else, if you haven’t done it before, you’re probably not good at it. Beethoven didn’t write his 9th symphony on the first day of music lessons. It was the culmination of a life of music. You certainly won’t make the sweetest music of your life on the first try either. That doesn’t mean it will be bad. Even bad sex can lead to intimacy and a sronger relationship. But it means that you might need to grow, and that’s okay. The Christian walk is about growth. We all start from where we start with our eyes fixed on Christ. Sex is much the same. We start where we start. And ultimately, one day, you and your partner are in sync with one another, understanding every part of their body, knowing just what they like, holding nothing back. And isn’t that such a beautiful reflection of the relationship we will have with God someday in Heaven?
Christian Sex Talk (@christians3xtalk) is run by a married couple that wants to open up the conversation around sex as Christians, asking any and all questions but always coming back to the Bible.