Bible Question:

Is oral sex within marriage wrong? Does the Bible say anything against oral sex?

Bible Answer:

The Bible never discusses oral sex directly, but there are some hints that oral sex may have been practiced.

God Encourages Spouses to Enjoy Sexual Activity

The Bible has a lot to say about sex. Sometimes God warns us to not engage in certain sexual activities, and on other occasions He encourages us to enjoy sexual romps with one’s spouse. For example, in Proverbs 6:23-26 we are warned to avoid having sex with someone who is not our husband or wife. Then in 2 Timothy 2:22, we are warned to flee all other kinds of sexual sins. Sexual activity outside of marriage is forbidden.

But within marriage, God encourages a husband and wife to have sex. Genesis 1:28 is a great example.

And God said to them,  “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth . . . ”  Genesis 1:28  (NASB)

Here God commands Adam and Eve to engage in sexual activity including intercourse in order to populate the earth. This command has never been revoked. In fact, it was repeated in Genesis 8:17and 9:1, 7. Sexual activity culminating in intercourse was God’s idea.

The Song of Solomon is the most sensuous and sexually explicit book in the Bible. Chapter four of the book describes sexual foreplay and intercourse between a husband and wife. There are no negative statements in the book. There are no commands to pray before having sex. There are no warnings. Imagine an entire book of the Bible given to expressions of love between a husband and wife, including sexual touching which ends in intercourse. Imagine an entire chapter describing a love symphony!

Let the Marriage Bed Be Honorable

God designed sexual activity and He encourages us to enjoy it with our spouse and no one else. But what kind of sexual activity is okay? Are all kinds acceptable? The answer is found in Hebrews 13:4.

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. (NASB) Hebrews 13:4

Here we discover that the marriage bed has great freedom, but it also implies that a husband and wife can defile the marriage bed. That is, they can commit a sexual sin and bring dishonor to their bed. The passage tells us that there are only two types of sexual sin which dishonor the marriage bed: fornication and adultery. The Greek word that is translated as fornication is porneia and it includes pre-marital sex, adultery, incest, homosexuality/lesbianism, and bestiality.[1, 2, 3, 4] These sins are to be avoided. Adultery is sexual sin with someone who is not your spouse. It is important to notice that porneia does not include oral sex.

Since the marriage bed is only defiled by fornication and adultery, that implies a husband and wife are free to experiment.  That is, all other activities are acceptable, except fornication and adultery. This would seem to imply that oral sex is okay.

Claim – Oral Sex Occurred In Song 2:3

Oral sexual activity may have occurred in the book of Song of Solomon between King Solomon and his new wife (Song of Solomon 3:9-11) since it appears that on several occasions his future wife was daydreaming about having oral sex. The first passage that seems to suggest she is looking forward to experiencing oral sex is Song of Solomon 2:3. It is important to understand that this book is written in poetic language and uses much imagery.

As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. Song of Solomon 2:3  (NASB)

This passage, starting with Song of Solomon 2:1, is a very sensual passage. Their marriage has not yet occurred but Solomon’s prospective wife is daydreaming. A casual reading of the verse could seem to imply that she had been sitting down while he was standing. Some have interpreted the verse to mean that she had daydreamed that while he was standing, oral sex occurred and she tasted his semen.[5] In verse 4, she thinks about his love for her. In verse 5 she apparently has eaten raisin cakes and apple, which were considered to be aphrodisiacs. In verse 6, she is daydreaming about him caressing and hugging her. Verse 6 seems to suggest that she daydreams about them laying down and while he places his left hand under her head, then he uses his right to “embrace her.” The Hebrew word for “embrace” is chabaq.[6]  It is used in Proverbs 5:20 to refer to embracing the bosom of an adulteress.  It seems to suggest she daydreams about her future husband being engaged in sexual foreplay. So, was she thinking about oral sex in verse 3 and then sexual intercourse in verse 6 as the climax?

The decision is difficult for several reasons. First, the word “shadow” in verse 3 is sometimes simply translated as “protection.”[7,8] That is, she was rejoicing because of his protection and provision for her. Is that the message of verses 4 and 5? Research has discovered that wives value affection, conversation, honesty and financial security above sexual activity.[9] The research was unnecessary since the Bible already teaches these principles (Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 3:19; 1 Peter 3:7; 1 Timothy 5:8; 1 Corinthians 7:2-5). But is that the essence of her daydream? Maybe she is just saying that she is enjoying the food that he had ordered to be provided in the banquet hall. Today men take their future wives out for a romantic dinner. Is that all that is being described? But where else would a king bring his future wife, but to his palace?

Second, to conclude that “fruit” refers to semen is a stretch, since the root Hebrew word for fruit is peri and it usually means fruit in the Old Testament. It can refer to the fruit of the womb.[10] In Proverbs 18:20 peri refers to the fruit of a man’s mouth. This reveals that the word can refer to anything produced by a person. But the normal Hebrew word for semen is zera and it does not occur in this verse.[11]

Third, the Hebrew word “taste” is chek. and it “often includes the lips, teeth, and the whole mouth.”[12] For examples, read Job 33:2; Psalm 137:6 and Hosea 8:1. This could be interpreted to mean that she was not daydreaming about tasting his semen but feeling him in her mouth.

Clearly, verses 3 through 6 are highly sexual in tone, but what is being described? It is very symbolical.  Consequently, we must be careful to not be dogmatic by claiming that this is an allusion to oral sex. We must be careful to not force meaning into scripture to make it mean what we hope it means. Therefore, verse 3 may or may not be referring to the king’s future wife daydreaming about oral sex and then sexual intercourse as the climax. Objectively, it is a difficult decision.

Claim – Oral Sex Occurred In Song 4:16

In chapter four, verse 16 we read,

. . . a garden fountain, a well of living water, and flowing streams from Lebanon. Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon my garden, let its spices flow. Let my beloved come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits. I came to my garden, my sister, my bride, I gathered my myrrh with my spice, I ate my honeycomb with my honey, I drank my wine with my milk. Eat, friends, drink, and be drunk with love! Song of Solomon 4:15-5:1 (NASB)

Some say that the phrase “eat its choicest fruits” refers to oral sex performed by the king on his new wife since the word “eat” is included in the verse. But the context suggests otherwise. It is important to notice that the wedding occurred in Song of Solomon 3:11 and Song of Solomon 4:1 is the wedding night. That is, chapter four describes “lovemaking.” For example, in Song of Solomon 4:1 he refers to her beautiful eyes and her black hair. Then he refers to her mouth (v. 3), her neck (v. 4) and her breasts (v. 5). In verse 9 he says his heart is beating faster. In verse 11 he describes French kissing. Then in verse 12 the king hints that his wife is not ready for sexual intercourse when he says, “A rock garden locked, a spring sealed up.” That is, she is not lubricated yet. If one reads the entire chapter, it is obvious that the couple is engaged in foreplay up to this point.

In verse 15 he says that streams are flowing, “You are a garden spring.”  That is, she is ready for sexual intercourse. Then in verse 16, she speaks for the first time in the chapter,

Make my garden breathe out fragrance,
Let its spices be wafted abroad.
May my beloved come into his garden
And eat its choice fruits!   Song of Solomon 4:16 (NASB)

First, it appears that she asked him to make her orgasm. Then she asked him to enter her when she says, “May my beloved come into his garden.”[13] The Hebrew word for “come” is used in Genesis 38:8, 16 to refer to sexual intercourse.  She says he has the right to enter her when she says “his garden.” She belongs to him. 1 Corinthians 7:4-5 teaches us that the wife’s body belongs to her husband and the husband’s body belongs to the wife.  Then the king says, “I came to my garden” referring to sexual intercourse having occurred. The phrase “eat its choicest fruits” refers to his orgasm that followed. That is the goal or climax of the sexual activity.[14]

Therefore, we conclude that the context reveals that chapter 4 describes foreplay culminating in orgasm. The reason for explaining this chapter is to reveal that the symbolic phrase “eat its choice fruits” in verse 16, does not refer to oral sex. The phrase, in this context, is simply an invitation to enjoy her. This passage cannot be used to teach that the Bible supports oral sex.

Claim – Oral Sex Occurred In Song 7:8

Some claim that oral sex is also described in Song of Solomon 7:8.

I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its fruit. Oh may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the scent of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine!  Song of Solomon 7:8 (ESV)

The palm tree is not the king’s male organ and she is not holding it. It is important to note that the king is speaking. She is not speaking. He says that he will climb the palm tree in order to grab some fruit. He could be speaking figuratively about climbing a palm tree. Since climbing a tall palm tree is a difficult task, his wife was supposed to understand that he desperately wants to grab some fruit – her breasts. This is highly suggestive. Another view is that she is the palm tree and he wants to “climb” her.[15] He alludes to some sexual activity with her, and since his next statement is about her breasts, she was supposed to understand that the fruit of the palm tree symbolized her breasts.[16] He equates her breasts to fruit. His desire for foreplay culminating in sexual intercourse is being described. One can imagine what he wanted to do. Then he adds that he wants to kiss her mouth. Those who claim that this refers to oral sex have ignored the obvious.

A Word of Caution

This brief study in Song of Solomon reveals that we need to be careful in jumping to conclusions that Song of Solomon 2:3; 4:16 and 7:8 refer to oral sex. The passages use highly figurative language and alternate interpretations are highly plausible.

Yet, God has given a husband and wife great freedom in the area of sexual activity. Scripture does not prohibit oral sex and Hebrews 13:4 leaves the door wide open for a husband and wife to enjoy oral sex. But it is not likely that examples of oral sex exist in scripture.

Someone may read this and think that this is great news for husbands who want their wives to perform oral sex. But surveys reveal there are wives who want oral sex more than their husbands. Consequently, some wives will rejoice that oral sex is okay between a husband and wife. Some wives enjoy the taste of semen and others do not. Some wives enjoy oral sex but do not want their husbands to orgasm while in their mouths. Also, there are husbands and wives where both do not enjoy oral sex.

Therefore, a warning must be given. God never intended for the marriage bed to be a bed of abuse. Both partners need to be in agreement about the type of sexual activity. God has commanded a husband to love and honor his wife (Ephesians 5:25-26; 1 Peter 3:7) and God has commanded the wife to love her husband (Titus 2:4). If we submit to the Lord’s command, we will avoid unloving behavior within marriage.

Medical Research Discoveries

Finally, a warning is important. Recently the American Cancer Society Chief Medical Officer, Otis Brawley, MD. has reported that a link has been discovered between oral sex and throat cancer.[17,18] WebMD cautions us with,

Several sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV, herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea, HPV, and viral hepatitis can be passed on through oral sex. [19]

On January 14, 2018, it was reported that,

Experts are calling on dentists to discuss oral sex with their patients, highlighting the risk of mouth and throat cancers related to the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV).

HPV is transmitted to the mouth and throat mostly by performing oral sex. The infection reportedly causes about 70 percent of cancers at the back of the throat, base of the tongue or tonsils.[20]

Further, it is reported that one in nine men have the HPV virus.[21]

Conclusion:

Some have taught that passages in the book of Song of Solomon give support for oral sex in marriage, but the support is extremely weak. One must be careful to not conclude that there are specific biblical passages that describe oral sexual activity and then use those passages to claim that oral sex is approved by God. The only scriptural support for oral sex in marriage comes from Hebrews 13:4 which indicates that marriage has great freedom. Just keep the marriage bed undefiled.

If a husband and wife desire to engage in oral sex, it is recommended that it not become the predominant activity in sexual foreplay or the habitual means to orgasm since God designed a husband and wife to have sexual intercourse. That is, God biologically designed the male and female genitals to fit together perfectly for the purpose of reproduction and sexual enjoyment. The slope of the female genitals assumes the spouses are facing one another.

It is also recommended that a husband and wife read Song of Solomon 4 and rejoice in the truth that God included one entire chapter in the Bible about sexual activity. It is actually a how-to-enjoy and a how-to-do chapter on the subject.

 

References:

1. Balz and Schneider. Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. Eerdmans Publishing Com. 1993. pp. 137-139
2. Kittel and Bromiley. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Eerdmans Publishing Com. 1968. VI, pp. 579-959.
3. Bromiley, Geoffrey W. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Eerdmans Publishing Com. 1985. VI, pp. 918-921
4. Achtmeir, Paul J. “Fornication.” Harper’s Bible Dictionary. Harper & Row & Society of Biblical Literature. 1985, p. 319.
5. Joseph C Dillow. Solomon on Sex. Thomas Nelson Publishing. 1977. p. 31. (It should be noted that the author states, “In extra-biblical literature, “fruit” is sometimes equated with the male genitals or with semen” so it is possible that here we have a faint and delicate reference to an oral genital caress.”).
6. Harris, Archer & Waltke. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Moody Press. 1980. vol 1. p. 259.
7. Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
8. John F. Walvoord and Roy B Zuck. Song of Solomon. The Bible Knowledge Commentary. ChariotVictor Publishing. 1985. p. 1014.
9.Willard Hurley. His Needs, Her Needs. Reveal Company. 1978. p. 10.
10. Harris, Archer & Waltke. Ibid., p. 1810.
11. Harris, Archer & Waltke. Ibid., pp. 581-582.
12. G. Lloyd Carr. The Song of Solomon. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Inter-Varsity Press. 1984. p. 90.
13. Psychologists and counselors report that very few women experience an orgasm during sexual intercourse. (see Michael Castleman. “Why So Many Women Don’t Have Orgasms.” Psychology Today. Feb. 1, 2016. and Laurie J Watson. “6 Myths About Pleasing a Woman in Bed.” Psychology Today. June 18, 2016. She states that only about 15-20 percent of all women can climax during sexual intercourse.)
14.  Tremper Longman III. Song of Songs. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2001. p. 158.
15. Ibid., pp. 197.
16. Ibid., pp. 197-198.
17. Cancer.org. “What Are the Risk Factors for Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancers?”
18. WebMD. 4 Things You Didn’t Know About Oral Sex.
19. Ibid.
20. FoxNews (www.foxnews.com/health/2018/01/12/dont-be-shocked-if-your-dentist-asks-about-your-sex-life.html)

21. Time (time.com/4983675/human-papillomavirus-oral-hpv/)

Reference Links:

Marriage In Splendor - God's View
Is masturbation a sin if I control my thoughts?
Is premarital sex any worse than other sins?
What does the Bible say about anal sex in marriage?