Every Tuesday we post something about strengthening or rebuilding marriages. Hope it helps.
“What About —”
— watching porn together? Fantasy role playing? Oral sex? “Sexting”? (Sending each other graphic messages via text) Are these things OK for married couples?”
Inquiring minds, especially of the married sort, want to know. And in response, people are tackling some very spicy issues in their sermons and writings.
Case in point, Pastor Mark Driscoll, leader of the Seattle mega-church Mars Hill, whose recent book Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship and Life Together (2012 Thomas Nelson) has hit the bestseller lists, landing him on interviews ranging from the ladies of The View to Pierce Morgan, and generating a predictable level of controversy. My review of the book and its more notable points appears in this month’s Christian Research Institute magazine The Journal, which can be purchased here under the title Defiling the Undefiled by Joe Dallas.
But for now, let me offer a few ideas in response to the “What About —?” questions married Christians often ask, questions usually coming from a genuine desire to honor God in the most intimate of martial relations, while also maximizing their enjoyment.
Many will answer the question by utilizing Paul’s remarks to the Corinthians: “All things are lawful to me, but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful to me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (I Corinthians 6:12)
Good start, and from it Driscoll, in his book, address a variety of practices, ranging from (Warning: The Following Contains Adult Material) masturbation to sex toys to virtually all forms of erotic interactions, both common and uncommon.
Discerning readers are likely to experience queasiness when reading his advice on these matters, objecting viscerally to them, but uncertain if the objections come from prudishness or genuine concerns. There are, after all, no Bible verses answering Thou Shalt Not to certain practices between married couples. But a primary concern, to my thinking, should not be whether or not a thing is forbidden or allowed, but if it properly address the concept of marital union as an ordained physical expression of God’s relationship to His people.
For a fuller run down on what practices fall within or outside this grid, please get a copy of the article by clicking here under the title Defiling the Undefiled by Joe Dallas.
But for the sake of full disclosure, let me at least plainly say I take no prohibitive view of oral sex or sexy lingerie, provided both parties enjoy and are comfortable with them. Conversely, I feel there’s no possible legitimate place for the use of pornography in a Christian marriage (or by a Christian individual, or a non-Christian for that matter, but don’t get me started) or for sexting, role playing, or masturbation, none of which in my opinion enhance genuine intimacy between a couple.
Since Paul declared that we’re to glorify God in our bodies (I Corinthians 6:20) and that marriage is an expression of Christ’s relation to His church (Ephesians 5:32) and since the concept of marital oneness representing God’s union with His people runs throughout scripture (Isaiah 54:5, Jeremiah 3:8, Revelation 19:7 and 21:2) then the inescapable conclusion – and, in fact, the context and standard by which marital practices should be regarded – is that the sexual union within marriage should glorify God by accurately representing His union with His people. That’s a union meant to represent Christ and His church, so sexual activities within marriage, to my thinking, should be judged by the oneness they enhance, not the just intensity they deliver.
Mind you, I’m no critic of intensity per se. In fact, I’m more from the “Go ahead and swing from the chandelier if you’re up to it” school of thought, in that I fully believe the marriage bed is, as the author of Hebrews said, undefiled (Hebrews 13:4) and a couple ought to celebrate their oneness as vigorously as they wish. But always, and only, with the understanding that the fact something delivers high impact is of little importance at all, if it does not also bring a couple genuinely closer.
But when true intimacy is expressed and celebrated, no gadgets or fantasies involved, then the physical, emotional and spiritual come together joyously in what is a foretaste of the final consummation, when we see Him face to face and bride and Bridegroom are finally and eternally united. The God who created marriage as surely as He created humanity is not anti-sex, after all. He is, in fact, its author and prime champion, having established it from the beginning and provided guidance for its maximum benefit and, yes, its enjoyment. So we commend any effort to strengthen what God has called Good but, in so doing, let what is undefiled remain that way.