Can We Do That?

Marriage

Having taught the content of this book around the world, we have been asked thousands of sex-related questions.

The questions today are different, and if people don’t get answers from pastors and parents, they will find them in dark, depraved places. The truth is that almost every married couple has a list of questions regarding what they can and cannot do.

We will ask the following questions in relation to specific sexual questions:

Question 1: Is it lawful? With this question we seek to ascertain whether or not something is in violation of the laws of the government in the culture or the laws of God in Scripture.

Question 2: Is it helpful? With this question we seek to ascertain whether or not something pulls a couple together as one or pushes them apart as two.

Question 3: Is it enslaving? With this question we seek to ascertain whether or not an act could become obsessive, out of control, or addictive in an unhealthy and concerning way-what the Bible calls slavery.

The Bible often gives more freedom than our consciences can accept, and we then choose not to use all our freedoms. This is true of us (Mark and Grace); we do not do everything that is mentioned in this book or the ensuing chapters, although we are free in Christ to do so if our consciences should ever change.

Masturbation
Both men and women of all ages masturbate, with men masturbating more than women, and younger people masturbating more than older people.

Question 1: Is it lawful?
The Bible does not forbid masturbation. Some Christians wish that it did. Unable to find any verses that condemn masturbation, they have used the story of Onan in Genesis 38:6-10 as their proof text. But the story of Onan says nothing of masturbation.

Question 2: Is it helpful?
This is a very difficult and complex question. If a person is masturbating alone, without the knowledge of his or her spouse and includes pornography or lustful thoughts about anyone other than a spouse, then it is sinful. Since sex is given for such purposes as oneness, intimate knowledge, and comfort, having sex with yourself seems to miss some of the significant biblical reasons for sexual intimacy, though that does not make it inherently sinful. At the very least, frequent solo masturbation is not ideal within a marriage.

According to a biophysicist who has studied the effects of sexual stimulation on the brain, “masturbation is playing with neurochemical fire. It affects one emotionally and neurologically. . . . You will be bound to something, because that is what it does neurologically-it associates the orgasm with something.

A common practice is masturbating oneself in the presence of and with the approval of a spouse, and it can be beneficial under a number of circumstances. Some spouses are very visual and enjoy seeing their spouse’s do this before finishing their time together with sexual intercourse.

At times when a couple cannot be together because of such things as distance, sickness, injury, or the six or seven weeks of abstention a woman’s body requires after the birth of a child, masturbation can be an acceptable and helpful form of relief until normal sexual relations can be resumed.

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Question 3: Is it enslaving?
There are a number of circumstances under which masturbation is not beneficial. If it is done out of laziness, then it is a sin. We should be giving to our spouses in the bedroom, making the effort to undress and be together, serving each other as an act of love.

If masturbation begins to be the normative sex act in your relationship and replaces regular intercourse, then it is becoming the center of the sexual relationship and therefore a problem.

Obviously this is an issue that will require a great deal of honest and gracious conversation between you and your spouse.

Oral Sex
Oral sex is using one’s mouth and tongue to pleasure a partner’s genitals.

Question 1: Is it lawful?
Oral sex is lawful both culturally and biblically. Despite being three thousand years old and written in a highly conservative Eastern religious culture, the biblical book Song of Songs speaks of oral sex in a positive and poetic fashion.

Question 2: Is it helpful?
Yes. Many husbands and wives enjoy oral sex.For the husband, it is enjoyable foreplay, and most will find this to be a much-appreciated act of love by their wives.

For the wife, if the husband is patient and takes her counsel during the act on how to please her best, he can bring her to a heightened state of passion.

Question 3: Is it enslaving?
If oral sex becomes a frequent substitute for normal intercourse, then it is becoming a problem.

Cybersex
Question 1: Is it lawful?
Cybersex is when a couple communicates sexually through technology, including phone, photo, video, text, e-mail, chat, and video conferencing. Often included in cybersex is masturbation. Cybersex with anyone other than your spouse, and cybersex that includes seeing or discussing anyone other than your spouse sexually, is a sin of lust and heart adultery. But cybersex with one’s spouse is permissible.

Question 2: Is it helpful?
There are reasons that cybersex may be beneficial to your marriage. It allows a couple to remain in intimate contact throughout the course of a day when they are separated because of such things as work, or to continue some semblance of a sex life when they cannot be physically together, such as during a business trip or military deployment.

Question 3: Is it enslaving?
There are also reasons why cybersex may be too risky for some couples. If someone has a history of sinning sexually in this manner, he or she may be spiritually “weak” in this area and as a result be best served by simply abstaining.

Adapted from Real Marriage

Copyright © 2012 by Mark & Grace Driscoll. All rights reserved. Published by Thomas Nelson, used with permission.

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