Is Sex Within Marriage Sinful?

Is Sex Within Marriage Sinful? September 8, 2019

Or sin. Love, or sex equals sin exactly how?

We’ve talked about sex this week so much I’m beginning to feel like a burgeoning sexologist. But it’s only fitting considering how much in Quiverfull, Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism that boils down to sex. Sex is the subtle secret subtext in religion, tangled up with power and control.

People in religion have all sorts of odd ideas about sex too. Religion just complicates the matter so much, wrecking marriages, throwing guilt and shame on that which is blameless.

I remember back during my years in Quiverfull going to a woman’s conference where sex turned out to be a major topic. It started when one of the ladies we were riding to the conference with asked our group for advice. Her husband wanted sex daily, she did not, so he had been masturbating every morning and had come to her to tell her he thought masturbation was a sin. He was demanding daily sex to keep from the sin of masturbation.

At that time I kept quiet, saying nothing about believing masturbation was no sin. But the other ladies chimed in with suggestions, and stories from their own lives. Later my best friend pulled me aside to tell me how shocked she was that we all loved sex with our husbands. She’d merely tolerated it.

We talked, and I encouraged her to be more open to it, to think differently about sex, about the intimacy, closeness and bonding that occurs when you are open and vulnerable to your husband. She had problems  because she’s suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a loved one. Things did improve for her, thankfully, because being married and thinking sex is a sinful chore would be about the worst thing I could imagine.

Then several days ago we were discussing Larry Solomon of Biblical Gender Roles ideas on finding a bride, and choosing self love while you wait. This comment popped up and I thought for sure, at first, that this must be a sarcastic parody of fundytown. Until I looked at the commenter’s profile and discovered she was a conservative Christian and it looks likely she was deadly serious about every word. If this lady is a troll, and she may well be, she’s cleverly got the fundy-speak down perfectly.

Sex was created by God for procreation only. I did my good Christian duty and gave my husband three beautiful children but thankfully never had any wicked sinful pleasure while doing the filthy dirty deed. Anybody who masturbates must be killed. Praise Jesus!

Some of her comments on Breitbart and other conservative websites are chilling. But that’s not what we are concerned with. It’s this notion that all sex and sexual pleasure are evil and for procreation only. This likely kills more marriages in Evangelicalism than anything but money fights.

Even if it turns to be a clever troll this is something we must talk about because you know somewhere out there someone does think this way.

That’s not even what the Bible has to say about sex at all. If you read Solomon’s Song of Songs in the Bible it is clear that this is about two lovers, which is in reality what married couples should be, lovers and friends, someone you cannot wait to be with sexually, at least some of the time.

Solomon’s Song of Songs.


Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
    for your love is more delightful than wine.
Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
    your name is like perfume poured out.
    No wonder the young women love you!
Take me away with you—let us hurry!
    Let the king bring me into his chambers.

Does this sound like ‘man on top, lights off, get it over with quick’ sex strictly for procreation? It’s beautiful poetry, sure, but it speaks of a reality between lovers.

It hints at the mutual pleasures, shared intimacies and a deepening bond. It shows an example of what mutual passions and great sex looks like.

Even conservative and traditional Christian organizations like Got recognize the need of couples to have mutually pleasurable sex lives.

Most men want their partners to have as much pleasure in bed as they are. There is nothing more of an ego boost for a man than knowing you desire him in bed, and that he can give you oceans of pleasure.  If marriage is a sacred bond, like many claim, then how much more tight of a bond will there be with great sex?

Another point I have to agree with sad sick Larry on. A man getting no sex at all might be tempted to stray. In relationships where there is little bond, or sexual contact, a man will turn to other things, and sometimes other people to fulfill that need. Porn, internet emotional affairs, and sometimes real affairs. Not always, but I think a  lack of a decent sex life in marriage sets you up for these temptations, which can lead to even bigger problems.

I’m not talking about those normal times when you might refrain from sex, when you are ill, exhausted or going through a tough time. I’m talking the every day walk that is marriage. Great sex is going to make what’s good even better.

Killing people who indulge in Onanism just means the majority of the world’s population would be executed, and nobody wants that!

Please do  not settle for this, gentle commenter! There are good counselors and books out there that will help. Please don’t short yourself from one of the greatest shared experiences out there, mutually satisfying sex. Talk to your partner about this too! Get his input, you might be surprised to find that he does not feel like your sex life is good either, and longs to have the intimacy and closeness of a mutual encounter. Be your husband’s lover.

Don’t settle for pity sex either! Lori Alexander of The Transformed Wife advises ladies to do ten minutes and lube when the husband wants sex, with no thought or mention of pleasure. How sad for her that she also does not experience pleasure.

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NLQ Recommended Reading …

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce

I Fired God by Jocelyn Zichtermann

13:24 A Dark Thriller by M Dolon Hickmon

About Suzanne Titkemeyer
Suzanne Titkemeyer went from a childhood in Louisiana to a life lived in the shadow of Washington D.C. For many years she worked in the field of social work, from national licensure to working hands on in a children's residential treatment center. Suzanne has been involved with helping the plights of women and children' in religious bondage. She is a ordained Stephen's Minister with many years of counseling experience. Now she's retired to be a full time beach bum in Tamarindo, Costa Rica with the monkeys and iguanas. She is also a thalassophile. She also left behind years in a Quiverfull church and loves to chronicle the worst abuses of that particular theology. She has been happily married to her best friend for the last 33 years. You can read more about the author here.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • SAO

    I’ve known some people with fertility problems who were told to have sex on a schedule. Many of them said that duty sex on fertile days harmed their sex lives. One woman told me, we looked at each other and thought, we don’t have to. It took quite some time to get back to the physically passionate relationship they’d had when mutual pleasure and love was all that mattered. My take is duty sex kills desire.

    It’s particularly important for women to keep sex great as they get older, as menopause reduces desire. You need that muscle memory.

  • lady_black

    I’m glad you addressed this. That comment from that women on the other thread still bothers me.

  • Friend

    As always, everyone’s mileage varies. Some infertile couples find it fun or k1nky that the serious guy in the lab coat is telling them to get it on right after dinner on Tuesday. I’m sure that more than one hubby has been secretly thrilled to be forced to view p0rn1 in the doctor’s office, too.

  • GShelley

    Is there a standard view on non procreative sex? Is it less a sin for the wife to be the one who performs the mastabatory act than the husband (are hand jobs ok?) . If he wants sex, but is tired (or whatever) is oral2 sex acceptable?

  • Jim Jones

    >. she’s cleverly got the fundy-speak down perfectly

    She has indeed. /sarcasm

  • SAO

    If the couple had a good sex life before, then the problem is one or the other might not be turned on at peak fertility when sex is scheduled. Further, they are supposed to forgo sex before the right days, so hubby is at peak sperm. Thus, when they are in the mood, they don’t. Thus, desire gets divorced from sex.

    Sure, people’s mileage varies, but many couples report duty sex kills desire.

  • Friend

    Agreed, the whole infertility treatment process can be grueling and disappointing. I don’t want to deny that. At the same time, the process can bring couples closer together as they talk about the deepest meaning of the marriage, their most tender hopes and wishes.

    Everybody in this situation should have one or two backup plans. How much treatment can you tolerate medically, ethically, psychologically, financially? Are you open to caring for a foster child or starting the adoption process? What will strengthen your love over the long haul? What role does sex1 play in all of this?

  • Jennifer

    Excellent article, Suzanne. There are many things we should take note of from God: He could have given us food as nothing more than fuel, but He gave us numerous tastes as well. He could have made 1sex2 like machinery, but He gave us the ability to supremely enjoy it. And as my mom first pointed out, He could have just made leaves fall from the trees in autumn, but He made them bloom in fiery colors before dying. In short, He loves beauty, joy, enriching life and we’re fools if we deprive ourselves or tell ourselves the opposite. That poor 3sick4 woman is the most dangerous kind of fool, if she’s for real.

  • AFo

    All this hand wringing over something that is literally none of their business. If a couple chooses to have sex2 purely for pleasure, the only opinions that matter are those of the participants. It really does seem to drive the fundies crazy that there are people who actually enjoy sex2. Maybe they need something to distract from their miserable lives, but worrying about what strangers are doing in the privacy of their bedrooms is a bridge too far.

  • There are two kinds of people in this world, people who masturbate2 and people who lie and claim they don’t.

  • frostysnowman

    I love your mom’s way of looking at things!

  • Friend

    hand wringing

    Uh, point of information, your honor, that’s not a hand… 😉

  • John Do’h

    People are really f!c#ed up about sex. Really, in society the only “good” respectful way is to own or use the other person.

    I’m kinda autistic so I look at society from an outside viewpoint and humans lie so much about sexual things. Men use women, and women use men. Are they having joint fun? Is this love? I’ve seen so many marriages where the couple do not even appear to be friends, some even from the start. Marriage has not really been based on love throughout history. Many men cheat if they can, if they are not cheating it is because they can’t cheat. Men used to use prostitutes much more in the supposedly “moral” past, the “addiction” to prn is not a modern immorality. Same sex contacts with men is much more common than they admit. Women want more security, and are willing to put up a lot for that financial security, but many will still cheat if they can. Society is ugly beneath the surface.

  • Mel

    Personally, I did find having timing of sex dictated by when I was ovulating to be tedious. I enjoy sex – but being at the point where my OPKs would tell me to start having sex….and then having the “ovulating” smiley face appear….I remember having a few times where I was happy the ovulating smiley appeared because that meant we’d only have to have sex daily for another few days.

    I conceived the Spawn in three months of trying – which was pretty fast.

  • otrame

    One small nitpick. I know it has been traditional for a long time to call masturbation2 “Onanism,” but Onan did not masturbate2. His sin was refusing to impregnate his brother’s widow, as was the tradition, so a son could be raised up as if he were the brother’s son, to inherit the brother’s goods and his place in the social hierarchy.

    Onan wasn’t, for whatever reason, having it, so he pulled out and “spilled his seed on the ground”. God struck him dead for disobedience.

    It’s all part of a long and completely craycray soap opera involving a woman named Tamar, who I have always thought she was pretty cool. She tried to play by the rules, but when no one else was playing by the rules and she was repeatedly lied to, she took care of the situation her way. Hilarious story. NOT what the naive expect to see in the Holy Bible.

  • Mel

    What kills me is the Bible is silent on masturbation2. The sin of Onan wasn’t that he masturbated; it wasn’t even that he practiced a rudimentary form of withdrawal birth control. Onan’s sin was that he refused to have reproductive sex with his levirate wife and therefore refused to give her a son who would protect and care for her in a patriarchal society.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    I know, I just ran out of non-dirty ways to describe spanking the monkey2.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    You have a point.

  • Jenn H

    Before marriage, it is a terrible sin. After marriage it is a moral obligation. Whether or not you are ever allowed to enjoy it depends on denomination.

    I can see how this attitude can seriously mess people up. Add to that the culture wide madonna-wh*** complex and a total lack of s*x education and you can see why they have so many problems.

  • True. My ex wanted it daily. It got to the point where I didn’t. It was a chore, not a pleasure.

    My husband asks and wants consent. I don’t often say no, because he knows what he’s doing and it’s incredibly fulfilling. And it’s not a blasted chore.

  • Ruthitchka

    Does your husband have a single brother? ( o ;

  • persephone

    Exactly. A son would have received the inheritance that Onan wanted. It was selfishness, not masturbation2, that got Onan killed.

  • persephone

    Cho king the chicken.
    Visiting Mrs. Rosy Palm and her five daughters.

  • Michael Inglis

    I think Augustine of Hippo thought that sex was evil and that one should only descend into it for procreation. This is also the view of the Hare Krishnas – they are only allowed to have sex for procreation.