Marriage, Oral Sex & Masturbation

Dear Renea,

Is it alright to masterbate married or unmarried? In marriage is it ok to have oral sex? Thank you.

Dear Angela,

Tricky questions. I’ll address the question about married oral sex first since that’s a bit easier. I can’t think of any reason why consensual married oral sex would be wrong or sinful. The Bible doesn’t even mention it; in fact, the Bible doesn’t get specific at all about what is “allowed” sexually in marriage. What it does say is this:

Now, getting down to the questions you asked in your letter to me. First, Is it a good thing to have sexual relations? Certainly—but only within a certain context. It’s good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. 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 not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out. Abstaining from sex is permissible for a period of time if you both agree to it, and if it’s for the purposes of prayer and fasting—but only for such times. Then come back together again. Satan has an ingenious way of tempting us when we least expect it. (1 Corinthians 7:1-6, The Message)

Masturbation, however, is not quite as straight-forward. Like oral sex, the Bible never once mentions masturbation. We are not prohibited by Scripture against masturbation, married or otherwise. The problem is, unlike the effects of married oral sex, we have seen strong patterns of relational consequences as a result of habitual masturbation, unmarried and married alike. Masturbation is done alone. Sexual satisfaction is meant to be achieved together. When people have become accustomed to satisfying themselves, it becomes difficult to make that bond with their spouses: it becomes difficult to achieve satisfaction together when you’ve gotten so good at doing it yourself; you don’t need/want your husband or wife sexually. This is not good.

Does this answer your questions? Let me know if I can be of further help.

God’s grace and peace to you.
Renea

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5 Responses to Marriage, Oral Sex & Masturbation

  1. Always so bold and wise with your words!

  2. Christine says:

    Great response. I appreciate this post!

  3. reneamac says:

    Thanks, friends. Couldn’t do it without open, biblical conversations about these things with friends like you.

  4. Masturbation is – in my experience – never as good as or even quite the same thing as sexual intercourse. There’s no replacement for the interplay between you and your spouse. Masturbation may give you a climax, but the narrative that gets you there isn’t nearly as much fun (nor, often, is the climax). But masturbation is very, very good! It is normal, natural and virtually everyone does it instinctively. It is an essential element of sexual development. It’s good for sexual health, good for reproduction (keeps high motility, healthy sperm up top), relieves sexual tension when you can’t have sex (physical problems, schedule problems, baby in the room, avoiding sex during fertile periods, etc.) and helps a person know himself/herself sexually so he or she can better communicate with their spouse about what works and what doesn’t. Also, mutual masturbation (also useful if there are physical limitations involved) is way cooler when both partners are experienced on their own. The only times I can imagine masturbation being a negative thing in marriage is when it is used to avoid sex (c.f. “American Beauty”) or is related with shame, leading to guilt, suspicion, jealousy and all that jazz. If either of those things are happening, masturbation is not the problem. The issue is with the relationship.

    • reneamac says:

      Thanks for this reply, Kevin. It brings helpful nuance. The truth is I don’t really put “mutual masturbation” in the masturbation category because, as I indicated, I consider masturbation as an activity done alone. The term mutual masturbation seems perfectly apt; I’d just never really put the alone act and the together act in the same category. All that being said, I agree with you: I’m all for married mutual masturbation.

      I also appreciate the benefits of individual masturbation you listed, and I don’t disagree; which is why I tried to distinguish the kind of habitual masturbation I believe should be avoided from the hormonally cyclical relief of sexual tension (though I realize I perhaps wasn’t very clear). While I appreciate that mutual masturbation can be “cooler when both partners are experienced on their own,” I’ve simply heard too many women complain that their husbands can’t do it as well as they can. Maybe that’s simply a communication problem between them, but I tend to think that because women’s bodies are rather complex, the learning curve can be rather steep and when women know their bodies too well in this way, it only serves to make the learning curve steeper for their husbands. And that’s not fair to either partner. Again, I’m not saying this makes it an all-or-nothing issue, just something that we need to be careful about, perhaps especially we women—I really can’t speak as expertly for men not being a man (nor being married to one).

      At any rate, this is exactly the point I was trying to make:
      “Masturbation is – in my experience – never as good as or even quite the same thing as sexual intercourse. There’s no replacement for the interplay between you and your spouse. Masturbation may give you a climax, but the narrative that gets you there isn’t nearly as much fun (nor, often, is the climax).”

      You just said it better. 🙂

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