Should Christians get Married to Have Sex?

In Advice and Encouragement, Dating, Marriage, Relationships, Single by Debra Fileta20 Comments

Misconception #4: Christians should get married so they can have sex rather than struggle with temptation.

I knew a girl in college who had recently gotten married.  She was pretty young at the time, just barely out of her teen years.  But, according to her, she had met the love of her life.  They hadn’t dated for very long, but the chemistry between them was out of this world, she said.  They just had to get married, because they were burning with passion. In fact, now that they were married- they were having crazy, hot sex like 5 times a day.  She was just gushing about this new relationship, and this young man who had swept her off her feet.

On one hand, I was trying to wrap my brain around this relationship that had happened so fast– how well did they actually know each other?  How committed was this guy?  How did things progress to the point of marriage so fast?  But on the other hand, part of me was a little jealous.  This passionate relationship of hers was one that I longed for…from my perspective as a 20-year-old virgin, crazy hot sex sounded pretty darn good!

I lost touch with my friend for a while, but when we reconnected years after college she was in a far different place than the last time I had saw her.  This time, she was divorced.  Her life had taken a turn for the worse, and her relationship with the “love of her life” had ended in infidelity, heart-break, and a whole lot of pain.

My heart went out to her, and still does.  Though she is now picking the pieces of her life back together- the prospect of finding true love came at a high cost.  The truth of the matter is that everyone reading this post probably knows of someone who has gone through a similar sort of situation.  Sadly, we all know of a couple whose marriage has lost its love.

Passion has turned to passivity.

Romance has turned into rage.

Commitment has turned into criticism.

Love…is no longer love at all.

My heart breaks when I hear stories like this, and especially among followers of Christ.  It breaks because of the realization that sometimes, we go into this thing called marriage so extremely ill-prepared. In fact, at Christian college, I so often heard people talk of a couple’s marriage plans in terms of “how long can they wait to have sex”- as though that was the determining point of when to get married, rather than the bigger picture of creating a healthy, nourished, God-honoring relationship that would stand the test of a life-long commitment.

When it comes to pursuing true love, so many times our focus as Christian young adults is caught up in the romance, the sex, the chemistry that we’re looking to one day have…while neglecting the things that really matter most at the end of the day; while forgetting the ingredients that make up a really incredible marriage.

I often hear the verse in 1 Corinthians 7:9 misinterpreted to mean that if you can’t control your sexual desires, just go ahead and get married so that you can channel your sex drive into your marriage. But what a partial interpretation that is- because there is so much more to the story. Marriage is about so much more than having sex. John Piper puts it this way:

‘When a person seeks to be married, knowing that as a single he or she would “burn with passion,” it doesn’t have to mean that marriage becomes a mere channel for the sex drive. Paul would never mean that in view of Ephesians 5.

Instead when a person marries…he takes his sexual desire, and he does the same thing with it that we must all do with all our physical desires if we would make them means of worship—1) he brings it into conformity to God’s word; 2) he subordinates it to a higher pattern of love and care; 3) he transposes the music of physical pleasure into the music of spiritual worship, 4) he listens for the echoes of God’s goodness in every nerve; 5) he seeks to double his pleasure by making her joy his joy; and 6) he gives thanks to God from the bottom of his heart because he knows and he feels that he never deserved one minute of this pleasure.’

Losing your virginity is but a speck in the picture of true marriage, because marriage is a call to LOSE YOUR ENTIRE LIFE for the sake of another.

The truth is, sex is the easy part.

A strong marriage is built on foundation of love, service, and grace- in essence, a list of actions that speak so much louder than words.  Real marriage is not simply based on crazy hot sex, no, it is based on so much more.  It is rooted in the tiny little decisions made in the day to day.  It is rooted in forgiveness and letting go of wrongs.  It is founded in encouragement, edification, and lifting each other up.  It is grounded in humility and respect.  It is built on qualities that reflect nothing less than the heart of God- loving His bride to the point of giving away His very life.

It is a love that gives all, but asks for nothing less than all in return.  It is a love that is built on choice- in the easy moments, and more so, choice in the really hard moments.

Don’t sell yourself short on the picture of what a real marriage is.  Choose to engage in a relationship that reflects love on every single level.

What’s been your experience with this topic? Leave your comment below!

For more on the topic of dealing with desires while single, check out this 40 minute audio lesson called “Sex and the Single Life: What to do with Desires While You Wait!”. 

sex-single-life

Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life21 Days to Jump Start Your Love Life, and 21 Days to Pray For Your Love Life – where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. You may also recognize her voice from her 150+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog!  Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter or book a session with her today!

Comments

  1. Wow! Grabbed this one fresh off the oven. Great work once again Deb.

    I like the clarification on 1 Corinthians 7:9, that scripture has been subjected to lots and lots of abuse, am glad that its now clear.

    For the singles like me who are preparing for the next level, this was really an enlightening article. God bless and keep it up.

    1. Alvin, I truly agree with you 100%. That scripture was one that a few of my single friends including myself misinterpreted. Deb I thank you for your wisdom and the love for God’s word.

  2. Thank you. Truly heartbreaking stories. And your sincerity shines through your words, Debra. The complexities of marital life is why I’ve always believed that, before marriage, there should be a time in our lives where we study the purpose/meaning of marriage, find more of ourselves, and allow the Holy Spirit to help us grow as people so we can be more of what He wants us to be — in marriage or in other relationships. For many of us, that time is blessedly known as singleness.

  3. Great article. I enjoyed the way you brought it back to the bigger picture. The bigger picture is that sex is only a small portion of the bigger picture, which is love. Love for your spouse, love for your friends, and love for God. That is the main thing.

    Part of the problems that the church is facing is as you have written is that no one talk about these issues. The closest thing to a discussion is found in Theology of the Body, written by Pope John Paul II. What the church needs to do is to explain what exactly love is. Love is more than biological urges that the world calls. It is willful and sacrificial. It requires a commitment.

    1. You are overthinking marriage and making it way too complicated. In the Bible, Paul stated if you burn, you should to marry. No one should get stuck in prolonged unwanted singleness. Trying to glam it up and call it the gift of singleness because Christian men will not readily pursue Christian women is promoting a lie and designed to distract women from the real reason. Smart women won’t buy this 21st Century invention! He never provided spouses in the Bible times either. Churches, families, friends, and communities supported it and tried to encourage it to take place. I want to see the pulpits exalt the God who created this good blessing. We do not have to wait around for his signal to seek it. He already ordained it. We should seek Christian singles and those truly committed to marriages. No more to hear such bad comments as “marriage won’t complete you” and admonishing those strongly wanting marriage by accusing them of making an “idol” of it. Say how great it is! Stop emphasizing the problems and uncertainties of it! It is not nor will it ever be a foolproof undertaking, but the joy, comfort, human connection, and blessings derived were God’s gifts to enjoy while serving him. Remember that marriage shows obedience to God’s will and brings glory to him who created marriage in the beginning! Praise him for it!

  4. The reason is the same, same as it always was. At least for the immature and self indulging. Sex is seen too often as receiving instead of fulfilling the others desire.
    Sex is a first fruit, it is good, God ordained, and it is to be kept within the holy union of a man and woman.
    Problem is most people are focused on what they can get from a marriage instead of what they have to offer and can give. If they don’t receive the ‘fruit’ of marriage when they feel they ought to have it, emotions give way to resentment. Anger boils and the enemy uses that to begin the cracks of separation, not only in the physical but spiritual.

  5. “3) he transposes the music of physical pleasure into the music of spiritual worship”

    Yes, I understand what Mr. Piper is trying to say–emphasis on trying–but I always choke on vague, fluffy Christianese statements like this, especially coming from someone who himself was married at the young age of 22 (born 1946, married 1968):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Piper_%28theologian%29

    He has no clue what being single for an extended period of time is like; what struggles and challenges there are with passion and sex drive.

    1. Greg,

      Me too! I choke on vague as well!

      That’s a good way to put it. Glad I’m not the only one who feels that vagueness from Piper’s statement there. That’s one of the things I don’t like about Piper at times is that he can be vague on how to handle situations like these in a practical, Christian manner. Christians need practical advice to applying theology in their lives, especially for an area as sensitive as the topic of sex.

      What is “music” supposed to mean? When do we know it becomes “music” in our marital sex life? How do we make it “musical”? It’s not specific.

      For “he transposes the music of physical pleasure into the music of spiritual worship”, that sounds almost the same thing as a Christian man obeying God by marrying the person first and then having sex to consummate the marriage the way God intended it in Genesis.

      As I learned from one of Dr. James Dobson’s radio messages on “Focus on the Family”, sex when done in marriage is an act of worship to God and we worship God by marrying first and then sex. I get the point where the article is going telling Christians not to let sex be the only motivator to marry another Christian, but I believe the article could be slightly rephrased by saying sex can be “a motivation” just not “the only motivation”, that’s why God created a sex drive. Laying down your life for the other person and desiring to put that person first in your life before yourself (like Christ did for us on the Cross) should be the main motivator amongst other motivations like a longing for intimacy and sex.

      Alright, venting done lol.

  6. This is an excellent and on time piece! Thank you and I will be applying this wisdom and sharing it!

  7. Its hard when im a single 34 year old who feels most days im not worthy enough for a women.i have a huge issue with sex and want it everyday.but im learning to except being single and love myself and god bcs its whats best.ive also found most women arent even worth my time and i dont settle for just anyone.been there done that and want know more.my i hope is to keep praying to god

  8. I’m a guy, and five times a day is way too much to be safe. Not only is it draining your energy for useful labor, and draining the substances the body needs to function properly (like zinc) but it sets up the way for infidelity because it is unprincipled.

    I’ve read a book by a little old woman named Ellen White speaking about this topic in the 1800s. While she was pro sex in the marriage covenant she was against immorality and using each other as sex objects as opposed to simply and humbly loving each other. Being unprincipled about sex in the marriage will lead to being unprincipled about sex outside of the marriage, as we saw here.

    The Bible principle is that immorality breeds immorality. We need to, as John Piper said, render our full obedience to God and submit our passions Him. When I get married, I want to use this gift for my wife’s pleasure, not my own. And if that is the case, if I seek my wife’s pleasure above mine, I will never want to do anything to hurt her, or make her feel gross.

  9. Heather Lindsey and her husband Cornelius Lindsey discuss this a great deal. Heather Lindsey has several books on this subject. As you stated Debra, if sex is the driving purpose behind why your marrying your spouse, your relationship will end up being either no different than a “friends with benefits” relationship, with the exception of you having the title of marriage, or it will inevitably fail because the foundation began for all the wrong reasons. It actually pains me to see so many married couples having so many issues revolving around sex in their marriages. If you get married for the right reasons, and together, you and your spouse are serving God, and others, and your glorifying God through your marriage, then sex should be the least of your worries. Not that it’s not important, but it should never ever become the “be all and end all” of any marriage. No marriage should ever end because of sex. A coworker told me this recently – A marriage between a man and a woman, should mirror our relationship with God. What we have with God is in a way a “marriage.” God made a covenant and promise to us, and he committed to us, he sacrifices for us, and loves us unconditionally, and everlasting. He provide Everything that we ever want and need. He keeps his promise to us, and he expects that we keep our promises to him, and love him and one another as he loves us. When we commit to God, and accept his proposal and his covenant, there are worldly things that we must sacrifice also. Even though we must exist and live in the world, we should never conform to be of the world, because we belong to the most high God.

  10. Stay patient and prayerful Anthony. When your wants and needs line up with what God wants and needs for you, and when you wait on God, you will be blessed. *smile*

  11. I mean technically, ‘get married to have sex’ is the correct interpretation of those verses…at that time marriage was really different, it required different considerations than it does today. We can’t directly apply these things. And I agree with Greg, the very vague, gnostic statements of John Piper are especially irritating when he has no idea what it’s like (he’s not the only one…plenty of Christian leaders who say these things got married between 18-22. As I always say, it’s not hard to wait until marriage if you get married at 18).

  12. Your comments are spot on. Maybe the real question should be asked is:
    Should Christian singles of all ages have
    sex when they are want marriage but are unable to get married and as a result experiencing unwanted prolonged singleness and unwanted celibacy? Today the majority of evangelical singles
    are having sex outside of and before marriage. That is a fact. Trying to minimize the importance of sex to singles is unhelpful. They won’t buy it. Besides, it is disengenious. God made it a very powerful desire in us. So powerful that the majority cannot refrain. The Christian church is completely tolerant of divorce and society makes it easy to attain . Broken promises do not matter in the church or society even though the
    pain and destruction of divorce are well known. Maybe marriage needs to become desirable again by the majority.
    Christain Women are told not to pursue but wait on men even though single Christian men are not attending or pursuing them either. Many are against marriage as a bad deal for men. While worrying about being able to marry does
    help, it is certainly a valid concern as marriage rates continue to drop. People have always married for a variety of reasons, even to have sex. But they managed to hold the marriage together anyway. Today it easy to marry and really easy to discard it and move on.
    These are some areas where Christian attitudes need to change.

  13. I wholeheartedly agree with this article. Growing up in the church this seems to be commonplace, but most if not all of the marriages I witnessed have ended in divorce including my own marriage. This topic deserves to be discussed especially in a church group setting.

  14. Perhaps we need to accept that we will ‘All Never’ get married. As much as this is painful to accept, it is however the harsh reality we face as Christians. It doesn’t mean that just because we have prayed for spouses, we will get spouses, God never promised that. I feel that the church is not teaching enough about this and we are often told that when you pray and confess, you will get what you have prayed about/confessed. This is not true. There are single men and woman of God who have longed and prayed for marriage and some have even died without experiencing it. So what is it then that they didn’t do right? This is how most Christians would answer (perhaps they did not pray enough, maybe they changed their confessing along the way, ohh maybe they are dealing with sin in their lives and that’s why God did not bring them a spouse, maybe they were not ready yet even though they thought they were ready, maybe they were not faithful in their walk with God……) their reasons are endless. Yet no one talks about that perhaps it was never the Will of God for them to get married.

    Perhaps the church should teach us how to deal with persistent sexual desires if marriage does not come. Because prayer alone is certainly not enough, if it was, we wouldn’t be having these kind of topics teaching us how to channel our sexual desires into worship….right?

    @ Greg and Parker, well said. I agree with you.

    Blessings!

  15. .Mama, here you’re at it again. ” A strong marriage is built on foundation of love , service and Grace in essence , a list of actions that speak so much louder than words!” I love that. Thank you Mama.

  16. This is my biggest beef with the church toward singles.

    Given what most stats say and the fact that we have to go to websites just to find people to date, I’d say the Church needs to be more responsible in how they treat singles. If they’re going to preach purity and abstinence before marriage to teens and young adults, then they need to help those young adults get married. Because that same advice doesn’t work really well by the time you hit your thirties.

    Yes, I know what the Bible says. But the Bible was also written in a time when people married at fifteen. We don’t do that anymore. I’m not saying we should marry at fifteen, but we should marry when while we’re young and don’t have to endure temptation longer than we should.

    The current situation is like what the Church would probably do if it went the same way with our pro-life views. It would be like if they always promoted life over abortion but then practically refused to help pregnant women in difficult circumstances.

  17. Thanks Debra for the article and all those who made thought provoking comments – all of your thoughts put the brakes on my romantic fantasy that will severely disappoint should I continue to indulge in it!!!

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