Friday, May 16, 2014


A ton of “Christian” books are being written today and many present day younger pastors are part of a popular camp of people teaching about sexuality in marriage, in a sometimes explicit manner, maybe even too explicit for some of us old-timers, that I'm a bit concerned about. Of course, there is a second Christian camp that says sex is as unmentionable as bathroom stuff and maybe even in the same category or content. They express the nefarious "No, no," and the haunted "hush, hush," that we've come to associate with this second camp that may have, in fact, given birth to the first camp. I say a plague on both camps.  

One of the claims of the first camp mentioned above appears to be that great sex makes for a successful and satisfying marriage and without great sex [usually defined by the number of times a week it is experienced by a couple or by the variety of creative methods it is enjoyed]  a great marriage can't be successfully built by any couple. If this were true, of course, then people with debilitating physical conditions might should beware of ever getting married at all, or at least be willing to accept a mediocre marriage at best. 

I'm wondering the legitimacy of such a conclusion. Especially since Jesus never addressed the necessity of or intensity and frequency of sex in a marriage. There is nothing in the four Gospels that would indicate that Jesus ever addressed the issue of sex in marriage at all, except to decry adultery which is the wrong use of sex as a married person.

While I don't believe in trying to make a good argument for or against any issue using the silence of scripture as grounds, it does bear stating that if Jesus didn’t believe it was necessary to address the sexual needs of marriages among believers AT ALL, it might be wise for Christian teachers and pastors to NOT make it of absolute primary significance in a Christian marriage today.

I'm thinking since Jesus wisely spent His time dealing with the root cause of all relational problems and issues in life, and that was the love of God and our experiencing it or failing to experience it and loving others in return, we might should do the same.  

For a long time now, I've advocated that we should remember the fact that attending church services seems to be REALLY downplayed in the New Testament. It is mentioned only the one time in Hebrews 10:25. That's where it is stated that we are not to forsake the "ASSEMBLING" of ourselves together. But notice that word is not the word ECCLESIA which refers to the people or Church of God, but is a word that is derived from the Greek word SUNAGWGH, which is where we get the word Synagogue, and it is referring to the place where the Ecclesia [people] gathers and not the people. [ECCLESIA] This is the ONLY time in scripture where the place of gathering is even mentioned. 

I find, in the same fashion, that the Word of God tends to downplay any connection between the physical pleasures of sexuality in a Christian marriage and having a Godly love towards a spouse.

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is really the only place in the NT where sex in a marriage is even considered. His advice in chapter 7 is, as one I read said, "Down to earth, basic, and fundamentally about mitigating the strong sexual urges that can build up in our fallen human bodies, including born again Christians, and the way to do that is to willingly help the other relieve and even enjoy the sexual desires of the body."

I say amen to that. Sex isn't sinful and Hugh Hefner didn't invent it, although too many Christians may think otherwise too much of the time.

I also like what one says about it when he said, "When Paul proclaims the expressions of God’s love in chapter 13, [of 1st Corinthians] sexuality is nowhere to be found. But he does write (13:5) “Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way.” And THEN we must remember that Paul had already written in chapter 7, “The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.” So being willing to give sexual pleasure to and not withholding it from your spouse by relinquishing the right of one’s body to each other is, in and of itself, an expression of God’s “agape” love, but notice it is NOT the pleasure of an orgasm ITSELF that is the over-riding significant issue at all." 

I couldn't agree more.

I'm convinced that great sex in marriage has been so emphasized and exalted by the Christian community in our day that it may very well have put an undue and even unnecessary burden on couples trying to find a level of sexual satisfaction in their marriage relationship. Of course the second camp folks have missed it as well. As I said earlier, it may be the first group I mentioned started as a counter-balance to the relational ignorance of the second group and BOTH GROUPS may be doing a disservice to the Kingdom of God. 

My wife, Mary, and I have been married for 55 years on May 28th 20014. Sex was intense and frequent in the early years of our marriage, once we discovered it wasn't a sin at all and the marriage bed is undefiled according to the writer of the book of Hebrews, and I would say it has become a very valuable, pleasurable, and often even funny, part of our marriage relationship.  [We tend to laugh about everything a little.]  

But along came children, ministry, later career changes for both of us, growing extended families, grandchildren, now even great grandchildren, and the issues of age, all of which have contributed to a natural and normal decline in the intensity and frequency [don't read "infrequent" into this] of sexual pleasure. In our seventies we STILL find much pleasure in sex, yet we both understand that it is never going to be like it was at the beginning of our marriage. But to EVER think that this could mean we can no longer enhance and grow our marriage relationship is absolute nonsense to us and we believe contrary to the true love of God. In some ways our present day marriage, with sex less frequent, less intense, still even funny sometimes, is BETTER now than it has ever been before.

My suggestion to all believers is to not EVER make ANY aspect of a marriage relationship PRIMARY except knowing the love of God and expressing that kind of love to the person to whom you're married. With that settled, do whatever is desired and pleasurable to both in the sexuality arena of your journey together, ALWAYS knowing it is love that produces sex and not vice-versa.

Paul B.


Chuck Andrews said...


I couldn't agree more.

The people in the first camp may be using sex in order to try to prove to the world that the church is not irrelevant and in so doing have run the risk of making sex irreverent. While attempting to make the Gospel real they run the risk of making sex within marriage more than what God ever intended it to be.

The people in the second camp may have reacted to the world's openness of sex by making it a "hush, hush" thing. I doing this they have risked a unspoken concept that sex is dirty. They risk making sex within marriage less than what God ever intended it to be.

Though I haven't been married as long as you and Mary, Estela and I have been married for 36 years. As someone who has suffered a critical and severe health issue we are learning that sex is absolutely NOT the determining factor to an intimate marriage. In fact, it can be a deterrent to true intimacy. I am learning that there are many more ways to "make love" than just sexual intercourse.

I heard a wise man say something to the affect that if you define human needs as being those things that we must have in order to live (water, food, covering, shelter, etc) then sex cannot be truly defined as a human need.

Within the Kingdom the marriage bed is a place of intimacy and sometimes that includes enjoyment and liberating physical sexuality.


Paul Burleson said...


It's not often I'm tempted to say that a comment surpasses the post itself, but I'm seriously resisting just such a temptation at this moment. In fact, I've just yielded to it.

Your comment surpasses this post. Well said.

Aussie John said...


What a refreshingly accurate, and wise post, as well as Chuck's comment!

Because of my wife's medical problems, sex hasn't played a part in our marriage for thirty years(we're only a year behind you, 54 years).

We are happily married, and enjoy being with each other,and when possible,being parents, grandparents, and, great-grandparents, and thank God for it!

The problem, I've found in pastoral work, is that many are more in love with the sensual than with Christ, and each other!

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

Words that tend to say it all still come from you, my friend. Thanks for saying them.