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Today’s Question: Does a married couple have to still try to have sex even if it may hurt really bad? There are Christians that say you “have to” have sex because you chose to be married. But what if it’s not possible for all people? What if a couple is 70 and 65 years old and just tying the knot and has never been married? Are they sinning if they choose not to have sex because of their age? And yes, I would love to have sex when I marry someday, but I don’t want to do it because I feel like I “have to” or else I’m not a “good wife” or I’m a “bad Christian”. I want to enjoy it and have sex because I want to have it. Also is having children a requirement for marriage? A lot of Christians love to use 1 Corinthians 7 3-5 and beat people up with those verses and use it to guilt someone into sex, and I don’t want to deal with that. But I believe verses 1-2 and 6 matter too. I believe Verse 6 goes with the first 5 verses but it’s open to interpretation.
Answer: I’ve thought a lot about your question since you posted it on the blog. Here’s what I hear throughout your question. “Do I have to have sex even if it hurts? Even if I’m old? Even if I don’t want to or don’t enjoy it? Do I have to have children just because I’m married. Even if I don’t want them? Etc.”
The biggest phrase that repeats itself throughout your question is, “Do I have to?” And my answer is No, you don’t “have to” do anything you don’t want to. That response may surprise you. But God created human beings with free will, and that includes your no. If God didn’t want you to have a choice, he would have created robots. Instead, he made you with a brain and a chooser. There are over 200 Bible verses that talk about you deciding which way you want to go. Here are three:
Proverbs 3:5,6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart (you chose to). Do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
Joshua 24:15 “But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. …”
Deuteronomy 30: 18. “Now listen! Today I’m giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster.”….
Christian teaching has often missed the mark in helping individuals grow into full maturity by continuing to treat them as children, especially women. Strong personalities and Christian leaders often tell women what to do rather than teaching them how to make good decisions on their own. Decisions that come from one’s highest self and Biblical truth, not temporary emotions.
God promises to give you wisdom so that you will learn to know good from bad, right from wrong, and wise from foolish (James 1:5; Hebrews 5:14). At the end of the day, after all is said and done, you get to decide. The Bible also warns you that with each decision there are consequences (Galatians 6:7,8).
When you make wise choices, that does not automatically guarantee everything will turn out right. However, it is more likely. For example, if you choose to eat healthily, it’s more likely you will be at a good weight, have better test results and live longer than if you eat a steady diet of processed fast food and drink a lot of alcohol or sugar drinks. But you get to decide every day what you put into your mouth.
The Bible also warns you not to blame God when you make poor choices or don’t listen to his wisdom, especially when we experience the negative outcome of our own choices (Proverbs 5:11-14).
When someone is thinking about getting married, most people don’t ask themselves “Do I have to have sex”. Or “Do I have to have kids?” They usually think, “Wow, now I get to have sex and I can’t wait to have children.” It’s part of the perks and benefits of marriage. That does not mean if you’re married you lose your right to say no to sex or children. There are times within a marriage when having sex or having children may not be wise, helpful, or nourishing for both. And the operative word here is for “both” husband and wife.
For example, the sexual relationship is designed by God to be an intimate and enjoyable act done within the safety and trust of a loving and committed relationship. When the marriage is destructive, abusive, or experiencing repeated breaks in trust, then a mutually enjoyable and/or safe sex life may not be possible. When one is ill or old, or disabled, a limited sex life may be the outcome. If there are health or mental health issues, having children may not be wise, even if you are married.
If marriage or having children is not appealing to you, then you should consider the reality that marriage and family life may not be what you want for your life. That’s fine. It is your choice. The apostle Paul was single and encouraged singleness because then one is unencumbered and undistracted from serving God. (Read the latter part of 1 Corinthians 7).
I’d encourage you to take a bit of time to differentiate between what you want (or don’t want), and what you feel like doing (or not doing). They are not always the same. For example, you want to be an honest person, but when you do something stupid, you feel like blaming others or telling a lie. Or you want to eat healthily, but you feel like eating that whole bag of chips right now. Or, you want to have children, but you feel lazy or selfish, or scared. Or you want to be intimate, but you feel shame, or fear, or have experienced physical pain or bad memories in the past so you’re reluctant to try again.
When you deeply desire something but feel resistance coming up, pay attention to that resistance. I remember when I wanted to serve God in a bigger way, I felt scared of rejection and failure. If I let my feelings decide my next steps forward, I would have never started this blog or my ministry. Feelings are great informants, but terrible decision-makers.
So, friend, I’d encourage you to drop the sentence or thought from your mindset, “Do I have to”?
Instead, play around with these words. “I get to…” or “I want to”…or “I don’t want to.” You are allowed to make personal choices in your own life. Remember, all choices have some sort of consequence – big or little, good or harmful so you pick. You get to choose what’s most important now and what you want most.
Friend, have you found yourself stuck in the mindset of “I have to” instead of taking ownership of your own decisions? How did you break free?
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