This topic was raised at a bible study last week. They weren’t addressing this specifically, but I decided to see what the internet had to say. A participant raised an issue: “I am struggling with a sin,” he confessed. “I am tempted to have sex with my wife on the Lord’s Day.” Another member said “I feel guilty going to church after having sex, so is having sex before going to church godly or ungodly?”.
The topic is not uncommon, and it raises a diversity of opinions, although little has been published. The word sex is not found in the Bible. The numerous mentions of the word in society, and the world’s tendency to sneer, have given the word a certain amount of notoriety. But God never intended it to be a dirty word.
What does the Bible say on the subject? First, although our title says “Sunday” I thought if anyone has an opinion on this, the Seventh Day Adventists may be more schooled than most in the area of “Sabbath” and found this article:
”¦There are a couple of schools of thought:
(1) Yes it is a sin.
The leading argument against engaging in sex on Sabbath is based on Isaiah 58:13: “If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day” (KJV). Since sex is pleasurable, scriptural injunction against engaging in intercourse on Sabbath is seen as obvious.3
Another significant argument against sex on Sabbath is that it is distracting. For this reason, some ministers boast that they sleep in separate beds from their spouse on Friday nights.
Another is that the Bible also says in Exodus 20:8 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
(2) No it’s not a sin.
Social Psychologist and Seventh-day Adventist Preacher Philip C. Willis gives us the answer in detail. Willis say’s:
It would appear that somebody is misapplying Isaiah 58:13 & 14. They take one text and forget Mark 2:28.
Philip C. Willis then say’s:
The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath!
Now get this. Who made sex? God made male and female and then he told them Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth. And on which day did he say this on. At the end of the sixth day and the sixth day is what day? Friday!
So they went into the Sabbath on their honeymoon! And the Bible says they were naked and they were not ashamed. Shame only came with sin. You forget that God made sex for you to enjoy.
You need to understand what God did when he gave us the Sabbath. You need to understand because some of us haven’t learned it yet and we have people who’ve been around for a long time and they don’t know what it is to really enjoy the Sabbath like God wants us to enjoy it.
God says I want your undivided attention so since you’re meeting the king of the universe I want you prepared an hour before sundown. I want all your work done. House cleaning put aside. I want to meet with you. Everybody’s ready to welcome in the Sabbath. You’re there with your Bible and your worship book and the children are singing and everybody’s happy and your wife is looking good and the husband is alert.
The supporters of this view contend that both the Sabbath and Marriage were instituted by God and as such sex is definitely sacred, especially since God only sanctioned sex in the institution of marriage. They further argue that since Adam and Eve were married on the sixth day, God would not require them to wait a whole day before consummating their marriage. A whole book (the Song of Solomon) celebrates the sensuality of erotic love. He understands how it works and knows exactly what it’s good for. He tells us how to use it–and how not to.
Next stop – and the internet is filled with arguments against whether or not it is appropriate to have sex during Lent? However, there was a longer answer on whether a couple could have sex during days of fasting:
“”¦I think we often fail to focus on the one time it is permissible to mutually decide not to have sex: When you have decided to devote yourself to prayer and fasting, for a time, you MAY decide, mutually, to also refrain from sex. To deprive each other, again, mutually. This doesn’t mean you can say to your spouse “well, I’m praying and fasting, so no sex”.
So, if you cannot unilaterally decide that you cannot deprive your spouse of sex, but you may unilaterally decide that you, yourself, are going to pray and fast, then by simple logic, it must be that a couple can pray and fast, and still have sex. So, should Christians have sex while fasting? It’s up to you, together. No one gets veto rights. You have to both agree to not have sex, or else it’s back to business as God intended: frequent and awesome.
But, I want to bring up another point: I think there is a reason why this is the only acceptable time to decide, together, not to have sex. I’ve done some fasting in the past. I once did a 16-day water fast (nothing but water). The most startling thing I noticed: I had absolutely no sex drive half way through it. Seriously, it was gone. I was shocked. I’ve never not had a strong sex drive, for as long as I could remember. In fact, I wrote about it in this post. I think Paul must have known about this. Why else say that every other time that you deprive each other, you are leaving them open to temptation, but during prayer AND fasting, it’s okay? From my perspective, it’s obvious: you’re not as tempted when fasting because your body goes into survival mode. It’s not interested in sex, it’s more interested in surviving until the next day.”
So, in the end, I think you have to decide as a couple. If you are praying AND fasting, have the conversation about what to do with sex.
The article linked in the above excerpt is from Ministry Magazine and offers a lengthy, historical discussion on this topic:
The next stop was a Jewish perspective, sourced at Yahoo Forums:
There is no textual evidence to indicate that sex was forbidden on the Sabbath or the Day of Atonement. Rene Gehring argues that in the Hebrew Bible, sexual intercourse within marriage is not ritually defiling at all.
In Jewish law, sex is not considered shameful, sinful or obscene. Sex is not thought of as a necessary evil for the sole purpose of procreation. Although sexual desire comes from the yetzer ra (the evil impulse), it is no more evil than hunger or thirst, which also come from the yetzer ra. Like hunger, thirst or other basic instincts, sexual desire must be controlled and channeled, satisfied at the proper time, place and manner. But when sexual desire is satisfied between a husband and wife at the proper time, out of mutual love and desire, sex is a mitzvah.
Sex is permissible only within the context of a marriage. In Judaism, sex is not merely a way of experiencing physical pleasure. It is an act of immense significance, which requires commitment and responsibility. The requirement of marriage before sex ensures that sense of commitment and responsibility. Jewish law also forbids sexual contact short of intercourse outside of the context of marriage, recognizing that such contact will inevitably lead to intercourse.
The primary purpose of sex is to reinforce the loving marital bond between husband and wife. The first and foremost purpose of marriage is companionship, and sexual relations play an important role. Procreation is also a reason for sex, but it is not the only reason. Sex between husband and wife is permitted (even recommended) at times when conception is impossible, such as when the woman is pregnant, after menopause, or when the woman is using a permissible form of contraception.
Probably the most interesting answer came from Nigeria. I’ll include the question from a pastor’s wife (implied) and the answer that was given:
What is your take on a couple having sex before going to church. For instance, I discover my hubby doesn’t like having sex any time we have to go to church or the Saturday before Sunday because he feels it would reduce his anointing. I am not finding this funny at all and it is beginning to look as if I am sent to destroy his ministry by trying to have sex with him. Please what is your take on this matter sir?
Sesi A — Ghana
Thanks for your question and the trust you have in us at TheCable to be able to do justice to this issue. I wouldn’t know the paradigm your man is operating with but I have met a number of people with the same beliefs. It is quite common among some religious leaders and it could have been part of the ministerial ethics that they were taught from the Bible school or it could have been borne out of personal revelation.
As a professional counsellor, there is no justification for a spouse’s inability to have sex with his wife except the two of them have come to an agreement to abstain for some time. I am not also sure I have read any passage of the Bible to back up his action.
Having said that, however, I would also want to believe he must have his reasons and since he is a minister as explained by you my humble suggestion is for you to allow him be. If he claims sex before ministration negatively affects his performance on the pulpit would you rather insist he engages in sex and performs poorly?
People are doing the best they can with what they know and until he catches a new revelation you may not be able to change the present one. I’d worry if you had said he starves you of sex but it is looking like the only time he is asking for space is before his spiritual exercise and I’d advice you let him be as long as he is willing to adequately service you after his ministration.
There are several religious taboos that people have and I have learnt to respect people’s choices and decisions because I am not in their shoes and couldn’t have known the motive and the revelation behind some of these decisions. I know pastors who never talk to anyone before they preach because they believe talking drains the anointing. So let’s learn to respect other people’s model of the world so that we can all experience peace. If you can discuss it once again with him to know if there are other reasons behind his abstinence from sex before preaching but should he insist it is a personal revelation I would advise you allow peace reign.
God bless and do let us know about your progress.
I tried to get a Catholic perspective and apparently the sex before going to church is a theme in some marriages.
Interestingly a recent survey conducted in the UK asked 2,000 adults when they were most likely to get busy. Their results, reported by the Daily Mail, suggest that the most popular time to get down and have sex is 9am on a Sunday morning, which gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘easy like Sunday morning’!
The topic of sex on Sabbath is a deeply personal decision that should be prayerfully discussed between a husband and wife. But a general answer to this question would be, yes. It is fine to have sex on the Lords Day (within Marriage). It only becomes sin if it is out of wedlock or before marriage. The very fact that God created humanity as “male and female” reveals that we are created as sexual beings. And God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply” cannot be fulfilled without sex (Genesis 1:28). Sex is a God-given mandate, so there is no way that sex is a sin if done with one’s lifelong marriage partner of the opposite sex. The Song of Solomon follows a loving relationship between a husband and his wife through the betrothal period, wedding night, and beyond. The description of the husband and wife’s pleasure in chapter 4 is discreet yet unmistakable in its meaning. That description is followed in 5:3 with God’s approval: “Eat, friends, and drink; drink your fill of love.”
Why marriage? Isn’t a really committed relationship close enough? Nope. According to the Bible, only the commitment a man and a woman make in the ceremony of marriage counts. Marriage is the only place to experience truly committed love, love that echoes our relationship with God.
That’s the ideal, the dream, as the Bible sees it: total nakedness, total unity, total love, total sexual satisfaction within marriage. Plenty of marital problems parade the pages of Scripture–God is no fool. But the ideal stands above the failures.