A Healthy Marriage Does NOT Require Sex

Updated: Jan 3, 2020

A healthy marriage does not require sex.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy sex and I acknowledge that it is a wonderful gift from God. However, I want to dispel what I call the myth of "the requirement of sex". In pretty much every Christian marriage book, there will be at least one chapter talking about the importance of sexual intimacy for a healthy marriage. After all, one of the most common struggles in Christian marriages are the expectations of how often a husband and wife should be having sex.

I will say that without the initial consummation, the marriage relationship is incomplete as God says, "the two shall become one flesh." We also know from Ephesians 5 that the "one-flesh" relationship between a man and a woman is to give us a picture of the unity of Christ and His church. So in a way, a healthy marriage DOES require sex in order to complete the symbolism of marriage. If a husband and wife were to NEVER have sex, then it is physically impossible for them to experience the unique bond that a man and a woman can only experience through sexual intercourse.

However, as a marriage continues after the relationship is initially consummated, an ongoing sexual relationship is not required in order for that marriage to be healthy and glorify God.

One of the major flaws I see in most Christian marriage books, blogs, and seminars,is that they never address the reality that there are several legitimate reasons why sex may be absent from a marriage , such as: chronic illness/pain, disabilities,age, past sexual trauma, and injury. Despite these  obstacles to having a desired sex life, none of them are reasonable excuses for someone to not love their spouse the way that the Bible commands husbands and wives to love each other.

Most of the time it is the husband that is desiring more sex than the wife, but there are also many cases where it is the opposite. For the purposes of this blog entry, I am going to focus on the husbands who tend to want sex more often than their wives do.

Probably the most quoted verse in the Bible when it comes to discussions about how often married couples should have sex is 1 Corinthians 7:5:

“Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self- control.”

Husbands will often point to this verse to tell their wives not to deprive them sexually or else they will fall into temptation and sin sexually, whether it be through masturbation, pornography, or even physical adultery with another woman. As a result, this verse has also been used many times to instill fear and guilt in those wives that if they don’t put out sexually to their husbands as much as they want, then they will be the cause of the downfall of their marriages.


               Here are a few things those husbands forget to consider:

1) The “lack of self-control” is a bad thing

The reason the Apostle Paul is urging the Corinthians to not neglect one another is because sexual immorality is already very prominent among them, and they are lacking self-control. Lacking self-control is not an excuse, but rather it is a deficiency in the Christian life that needs to become more and more evident as one matures in their faith. Galatians 5:22 spells it out very clearly that self-control should be something that Christians are constantly growing in, and that sensuality (a lack of sexual boundaries) in Galatians 5:21 is something to steer away from.

Husbands should not be content in their lack of self-control or be using that as a reason why they feel they need to have sex a certain number of times per week or month (or per day!). To lack self-control is a bad thing, and to be continually growing in self-control is evidence of a mature Christian.

2)“Love” is one of God’s purposes of sex

To bring this back to God’s four purposes of sex (Pleasure, Love, Unity, Multiplying), Husbands should never rely on guilt to convince their wives to have sex with them. If a wife is having sex out of guilt and not out of feeling dearly loved and valued by their husband, then the husband needs to think of a different strategy. Dr. Eggerichs, author of Love and Respect, mentioned in his podcast how he has counseled many women who regularly are secretly in tears just moments before having sex with their husbands, all because of the overwhelming guilt they experience from their husbands demanding sex from them.

In Ephesians 5:25-29, husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the church when He gave Himself up for her by dying on the cross for our sins. Selflessness and servanthood are two main characteristics of the love of Jesus, and this same love needs to be shown in the area of sex in marriage. Husbands, if you need guilt and shame to talk your wife into having sex with you, then you’re doing it wrong!

By the way, this is one of the reasons why make-up sex tends to be some of the most exhilarating and satisfying sex in marriage, because of the renewed sense of love and unity that is experienced leading up to it that brings a couple back together physically and emotionally after feeling distant from one another.

3) Sex is not a “need”, but rather another way for God’s image to be properly reflected in marriages

In Matthew 19, after Jesus had given His teaching on divorce, the disciples responded by saying, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.”

Jesus then replied back, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”

In other words, Jesus is saying that men don’t need sex in order to live a godly life. After all, Jesus lived as a sinless human being for 33 years as a single man, and was tempted in every way we are yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Even the Apostle Paul encourages other men to live as he did as a single man, so that their devotion to God would not be challenged (1 Corinthians 7). However, Paul also says that the single lifestyle is not for everyone, but only those who are chosen for it.

The bottom line is sex is not a physical need for men or women in order to live an obedient lifestyle to God. Men who fear of falling into sexual temptation because of not having sex as frequent as they desire need to grow in their self-control and evaluate the accountability they have in their life to help them avoid sinning sexually.

God gave us sex as another way to properly understand and reflect His perfect image. When sex is enjoyed according to its four Biblical purposes: the pleasure God has in redeeming His people from their sin, the unconditional love He shows to His people, the unbreakable-eternal relationship between God and His people (Christ and the church), and God’s desire to grow His kingdom, they work together to protect the sanctity of God's design so that it might not be used in a selfish manner.

Intimacy in marriage involves much more than just sexual intercourse. In the absence of sex, there are still so many other ways for a husband and wife to enjoy the exclusivity of their physical relationship. Husbands and wives have the privilege and joy to be able to look at and touch their spouse's in ways that would be sinful to do with anyone else. This is in line with the pleasure-purpose of sex in that husbands and wives are able to enjoy the mutual pleasure of the giving of their bodies to one another, which ultimately reflects the mutual pleasure that God has in redeeming repentant sinners, and the pleasure of salvation that those sinners have through faith in Jesus Christ.

I encourage all husbands and wives to consider using PLUM as a standard of how they go about their sex lives, and experience how using sex according to Pleasure, Love, Unity, and Multiplying can bless their lives and marriages in growing them in their faith in Jesus Christ.

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