Sex. There, I said it. Glad we got that out of the way. Is everyone feeling a little more at ease now? No? Well, I can’t say I’m surprised. Although the Bible itself – yes, God’s own, inerrant Word – doesn’t shy away from this topic at all, the church generally does. Historically, perhaps the topic was avoided because it is intended by God to be an intimate, private experience between a married man and woman. Presently, it may be taboo because of the way contemporary culture has brought sex out of the marriage bed and into the public realm, recategorizing it from sacred to strictly recreational, claiming it is casual and meaningless. Intimacy has been reduced to merely a physical act, but secular society isn’t the only place where the beauty and richness that God intended for sex has been stripped away. Unfortunately, we’ve seen this holy experience reduced to an activity for sexual release within the church as well.

Within a few weeks of getting married, my husband and I were grateful to find a newlywed couples’ group in a great Bible-believing church. Early on, some great studies led to intentional conversations that were foundational to our marriage. Looking back, though, some of the things we were taught about sex are problematic. The husbands received the message that women don’t enjoy sex, but wives will do it since men “need” it. As wives, we were taught to always make ourselves available because our husbands have a physiological need for sex and that we should do it frequently to prevent our husbands from having affairs. Houston, we have a problem. Being told sex is your duty or that your partner doesn’t like it removes beauty, spirituality, and fun from this experience that God created for us to enjoy. These messages did not foster a healthy, mutually enjoyable sexual relationship between a wife and her husband. More importantly, these messages are not biblical.

What Does the Bible Say about Sex? 

The first sexual encounter recorded in the Bible takes place in Genesis 4:1, “Now Adam knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain…’” When reading this passage in our youth, we glossed over it and giggled, but this isn’t God being euphemistic because He’s embarrassed by the word itself. On the contrary, God is intentional with His word choice; the root for this Hebrew idiom for sex is the same root we see in Psalm 139:1, where David writes, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me!” God is telling us here that sex is not just a carnal action. It is a profoundly intimate experience between two people. It is a unique and deep understanding of one another, inside and out. From the beginning, God made it clear that sex was not only a physical act but also an experience of spiritual connection.

Of course, no discussion of biblical sexuality is complete without referencing the Song of Songs. While many preachers and teachers have belabored this book as an allegory, it is primarily a love poem – and an erotic one at that! The sexuality expressed in this poem, from foreplay to the pillow talk afterward, is pleasurable for both the wife and her husband. Chapter 4 is an account of their wedding night, and she is an eager participant. Also of great importance here is that the king refers to his wife as “my sister, my bride” three times in this chapter (vv. 9, 10, and 12). This is key because he acknowledges her first as a woman created by God, then as his bride. She is not merely an object of his desire or a source of sexual release; he sees and respects her humanity, recognizes her as God’s image-bearer, and appreciates the bond they share as children of the Most-High.

In 1 Corinthians chapter 7, Paul issues a series of instructions regarding sex; some Bibles title this section “principles for marriage.” Paul explains that husband and wife should give themselves to one another, and the emphasis throughout the passage is on mutuality in the sexual relationship. Both husband and wife are advised to fill one another’s needs. Paul reiterates this message to husbands in his letter to the Ephesians, saying, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church…” (Eph. 5:25, ESV). Again God reminds us that the sexual relationship between husband and wife is holy, spiritual, and sacrificial. And while Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians to “count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests…” (Phil. 3:3-4, ESV) is a general command to follow Jesus’ example of humility, the principles certainly apply to all aspects of the marriage relationship, including sex. Marital sex is meant to be a gift given generously and selflessly. A gift offered in this way lends itself to being received gratefully.

So God, the inventor of sex, says it is not merely a brief physical encounter for the purpose of release. As John Mark Comer explains, “God says sex is so much more! It’s two separate, autonomous human beings fused into one. It’s the melding of two bodies and two souls. It’s physical and spiritual, because there’s no way to bifurcate the two.” (Comer, p. 104) What a beautiful gift! And yet, as with so many of God’s good gifts, the advent of sin has tarnished it. Cultural shifts both outside and inside the church have shrouded the beauty that God intended. Many of us enter into marriage with sexual baggage, whether it be shame over past sexual activity, dissatisfaction stemming from skewed and unspoken expectations, fear and trauma spurred by sexual assault, or other issues. The question, then, is how do we reclaim sex as God intended it? How do we come to view (and experience) sex as a gift?

Reframe It 

Neither my husband nor I realized that we had come into our marriage with preconceived notions about sex based on wrong teachings in the church; presenting sex as an obligation necessarily leads to relational dysfunction. It’s important to reflect on and understand how we view intimacy (both individually and as a couple), whether or not that aligns with God’s intent, and if not, what steps we might take to change our views. Changing my mind from believing sex was my obligation as a wife to believing that God intended for me to enjoy this method of connecting with my husband made it more pleasurable and increased my desire. Likewise, shifting from a perspective that sex is purely physical to understanding it is both physical and spiritual makes a significant difference in how we experience it. Finally, rejecting societal ideas that sex has no inherent meaning and can be casually experienced, and instead accepting God’s ordination of it as the holy and unbreakable fusion of two people, will necessarily enrich the experience. Scripture says that we should “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of [our minds], that by testing [we] may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2, ESV). Let’s transform our thinking and renew our minds regarding sex, inviting God to reveal this good and perfect gift as He intended it.


When was the last time you and your spouse had a real, open conversation about your sex life? The sexual part of our relationship should be as much a part of our regular dialogue as the grocery list and the calendar – albeit a less public dialogue. What role does sex play in your marriage? What role would you like it to play? How do each of your answers differ, and what do they have in common? As with other aspects of our relationship, communication is key! The more honest we are with one another, the more likely that sex will feel like a gift.

A vital aspect of both reframing and reassessing is to acknowledge difficulties. Is sex stressful, painful, or anxiety-inducing? Is there past trauma? Please hear this: there may be circumstances in your life that make it seem impossible to view sex as a gift, much less as something to enjoy. Not everyone can simply shift their mindset to solve sexual problems within a marriage. There may be a need for professional help, be it mental, emotional, or physical. There may be significant healing and restoration that needs to happen. It’s important to recognize that there may be complicated issues affecting sex in your marriage, and it’s essential to work through these together as partners.

Another potentially difficult subject to discuss openly within your marriage is sexual dysfunction, and this isn’t only a male issue. We’ve all seen and heard the commercials aimed at helping men combat ED, but have you ever even heard of vaginismus? No? Take a moment to look it up (really!); a 2017 study found that 5-17% of women experience it, and it is a major factor in why some women desire sex less than their husbands. It may be affecting your marriage without you even knowing it. If sex isn’t enjoyable, talk about the reason.


Again, open, honest communication is key! What does each of you like about your sex life? Is there anything that either of you does not like? Has sex been better in the past, and if so, what’s different? Is sex better now than ever before? If so, what changed? Even if you’ve asked and answered these questions previously, it’s good to revisit the topic (preferences can change with time and experience). Sex with your spouse can be a time to play, laugh, explore, and express your love for one another. Remember as you rediscover that this is an opportunity to honor and serve one another. The Message expresses this beautifully in its paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 7: 4-5: “The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband…Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out.” It’s a time to connect both physically and spiritually, so talk about that connection and how you’ll foster it in your marriage.

Remember back in the book of Genesis when God created everything, and it was good? That includes sex! Despite it often being reduced to a dirty little secret or a topic to avoid, sex is something invented and designed by our good, loving, creative God. John Mark Comer writes, “…everything we call “sex.” Beauty, attraction, the desire of lovers, touch, arousal, foreplay, the joy of a kiss on your mouth, the orgasm – it’s all good. In fact, sex is very good.” (Comer, p. 82). God created these aspects of our sexuality specifically to bring us pleasure. With time spent reframing, reassessing, and rediscovering, we can reclaim sex as the gift God intended and enjoy accepting it gratefully. 

Related articles:

What Is the Best Sex?

How to View Sex as Holy without Shame

Married Sex: What Is Okay with God?


Comer, John Mark. (2014). Loveology: God. Love. Marriage. Sex. And the Never-Ending Story of Male and Female. Zondervan.

Pacik, Peter T, and Simon Geletta. “Vaginismus Treatment: Clinical Trials Follow Up 241 Patients.” Sexual medicine vol. 5,2 (2017): e114-e123. doi:10.1016/j.esxm.2017.02.002

Comer, John Mark. (2014). Loveology: God. Love. Marriage. Sex. And the Never-Ending Story of Male and Female. Zondervan.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/stefanamer

Writer Cheryl GilbertCheryl Gilbert is a loving wife, proud mom, cancer survivor, really loud laugher, sun-seeker, and – most important – Jesus follower, living in the Pacific Northwest. Cheryl has a degree in English, Writing & Rhetoric from Pepperdine University, and is a regular guest blogger at Hello Mornings. She has worked as a teacher, a personal trainer, a nutritionist, and a Youth & Children’s Ministry assistant, all while remaining passionate about the written Word and using her gifts for God’s glory. When she’s not writing, you can find Cheryl skiing with her husband, baking with her daughter, watching Star Wars & Marvel movies with her son, or exploring local parks and trails with her dog.