Biblical Perspectives on Sex in Marriage

Christopher Hunt

September 22, 2023

What does God have to say about sex and marriage? Quite a lot actually. He makes his view clear right from the beginning: spouses are to “...become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24), with their intimacy such that they “were both naked, and they felt no shame” (Genesis 2:25). In the book of Song of Songs, God encourages us to “drink your fill of love" (Song of Songs 5:1), to give ourselves over to one another in passion, excitement, and joy. God’s word also sets up a variety of guardrails to protect us in the powerful physical, emotional, and spiritual union of becoming “one flesh” (Leviticus 18). God urges spouses to meet each other’s needs for sexual intimacy so we give no opening to destructive sins that can carry us away from God and each other (1 Corinthians 7:2-5).

Sadly, from the moment the serpent first deceived Adam and Eve, almost every human being has been, in some way, scarred by the world’s ideas about sex. Perhaps these messages have skewed our understanding of sex away from God’s good design, making sex seem selfish, dirty, and wrong. Or maybe we experimented with these ideas only to realize we’ve inflicted wounds upon ourselves, causing us to feel shame. Or perhaps the sexual manipulation, abuse, or violence perpetrated by another person has robbed us of any notion that sex could be beautiful, loving, or joyful. Even the good intentioned messages from people in the Church have confused and hurt some of us. This often affects our married sexual intimacy: most notably we still feel the risk of rejection when we want to initiate sex or ask to try something new or different; and sometimes even after years of marriage, we find it very difficult to communicate our needs, desires, and boundaries with each other. Still, we can take comfort: Scripture assures us God’s design for sexual intimacy is good, and there is healing through Jesus Christ.

The Family Fire articles listed below touch on several topics concerning sex in marriage. The first group unpacks God’s design for intimacy and helps us cultivate healthy, biblical sexuality in our marriages. They describe the unselfish giving and receiving of good married sex and how to set the tone in our marriages to fully enjoy it. The second group addresses common sticking points of communication, expectations, boundaries, and roadblocks. These articles aim to ease tension and open up discussion so spouses can freely meet each other’s needs.

Nurture a healthy sexual relationship

Biblical Guidelines for Sexually Healthy Relationships, by Rev. Deb Koster -- Our sexuality matters to God. God’s plan for sex is designed for our benefit, to maximize full intimacy and protect us from harm. God designed sex to be enjoyable, but he also placed limits around sexual behavior. So what do Scriptures have to say about healthy sexuality?

Cultivating Invitational Love
, by Rev. Deb Koster -- Song of Songs describes relational joy and sexual intimacy using the imagery of a garden. The lover’s invitation is a welcome to the beloved into intimacy and joy. But we don’t have to wait for an invitation; take the initiative with an offer to spend time together.

Love Your Spouse: Body and Soul
, Rev. Jason Ruis -- We often say, “I love people for who they are and not their body.” For the most part, this is a good thing. Yet, we can take it too far. Our human nature consists of a body and a soul. Deep attraction is for the whole person, body and soul.

Building an Intimate Marriage
, by Rev. Deb Koster -- When we think of romance, we often think of flowers, expensive dates, fancy restaurants, or weekend getaways. If romance is limited to these things, we miss significant opportunities to enjoy everyday romance in our relationships.

Communication and healing for marital sex

Does God Expect Our Marriage to Include Sex?, by Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra -- Illness, demands of family or work, attitudes in upbringing, and the effects of sexual trauma may cause couples to neglect sex. We need to prioritize communication and healing. God’s design for marriage is that husband and wife enjoy the depth of all forms of intimacy, including sexual intimacy.

Initiating Sex with Your Spouse
, by Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra -- Initiating sex with your spouse carries considerable meaning and can still carry tension, even years into a marriage. What we often miss are the relationship dynamics that are woven into who makes the first move.

Establishing Sexual Boundaries
, by Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra -- What if your spouse expresses a desire to experiment with a sexual activity that makes you feel uncomfortable? Or maybe it’s you that wants to try something new or different. Clear and loving communication and boundaries can help you and your spouse navigate this sensitive topic.

Is this Allowed? Guidelines for Christian Sex
, by Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra -- In marriage, God gives us a great deal of sexual freedom. But what about sexual activity that lies outside of sexual intercourse? While not always specific, the Bible does provide general guidelines about how we may – and may not – enjoy our sexuality.

Too Busy for Sex?
, by Rev. Kelly Vander Woude -- With work and projects and family and kids in the mix, busy households and work schedules make finding closeness fleeting. Too often, the last thing we have time for is intimacy with a spouse.

Sex After Kids Arrive?
, by Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra -- Making space for intimacy might seem daunting after having kids. In any case, a baby crying in the next room can really dampen the mood. Yet, reclaiming your sex life during the demanding years of child-rearing will pay great long-term rewards for your marriage.

Understanding and Help For The Sexless Marriage
, by Dr. Robert Ritzema -- If there is no longer sexual intimacy in your marriage, it's important to understand what has happened and make a plan to address the causes. Don't allow problems in the bedroom to steal the intimacy that you envisioned on your wedding day.

In marriage, God gives us the gift of sex, where we experience powerful intimacy in body, mind, and spirit. In a world that is characterized by brokenness and sin, our understanding of sexuality can become distorted. Find more Family Fire articles that explore the topic of sexuality from a biblical perspective right here.

About the author — Christopher Hunt

Christopher Hunt is the marketing communications manager for ReFrame Ministries, the parent ministry of Family Fire.

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