What does the Bible say about foreplay and sex in marriage?
One of most intimate and enjoyable experiences that a husband and wife can experience together is foreplay, sexual intercourse and the climax called orgasm. Sexual activity is defined in the following discussion as including foreplay, sexual intercourse and orgasm. You will discover in the following discussion what the Bible says about sexual activity between a husband and wife and the loving friendship that should exist.
God Created Sexual Activity For Marriage
In the first chapter of the Bible, we are told that God created the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. They were created on the sixth day (Genesis 1:26-28). Genesis 1 describes when they were created and Genesis 2 describes how they were created.
Since Adam was alone, God created the woman from the man. Genesis 2:18 states that the woman would be “suitable” for him. The Hebrew word for suitable has the sense of someone who would correspond to him. She would fit with or complement him as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle fit one another. Together they complete a picture. For more information the study “God’s Purpose For Marriage” is recommended.
The following passage tells us how God created the woman. The passage says God caused Adam to go to sleep. We could say that God gave him divine anesthesia.
So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.
The man said,
“ This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:21-24
This passage reveals that marriage was God’s idea. He was the designer of the male and female genitals and of the female breasts. God made the man and women to respond to sexual stimulation by his or her partner so that sexual intercourse could eventually occur with enjoyment resulting in orgasm for both. The resulting orgasm would often result in pregnancy. In verse 24 God told them are to join themselves together and become one flesh. This means more than sexual activity and orgasm. Becoming one flesh includes oneness in the fullest possible sense. Again, the study “God’s Purpose For Marriage” is recommended. In summary, God designed our genitals for sexual activity to draw a husband and wife together and procreate.
God Commands Couples To Have Babies
Genesis 1:26-31 tells us when God created the first man and woman. In Genesis 1:27-28 God told Adam and Eve to have children and fill the earth.
God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1: 27-28 (NASB)
This means that God planned for married couples to engage in sexual activity in order to have babies and populate the world. Sexual activity was God’s idea. Notice the phrase “be fruitful and multiply.” The Hebrew word for “fruitful” is para which means to bear fruit or produce children. The Hebrew word for “multiply” is raba and it means “great, many or numerous.” That requires foreplay and sexual intercourse that results in orgasms in order to procreate or have children.
Once again this reveals that God created husbands with male genitals and the wives with female genitals, otherwise, they could not have babies. This means God’s concept of marriage occurs when a biological male and biological female marry. Also, notice that God did not make multiple wives for Adam. God created one wife for Adam. God also designed marriage for the purpose of producing children. Couples who do not want children are in disobedience with God’s plan. Couples who cannot have children after repeated attempts should not feel guilty because the Old Testament states at times God prevented some couples from having children (Genesis 20:18; 1 Samuel 1:5-6). In summary, the purpose of the marriage was friendship, commitment (Malachi 2;14) and included procreation or having children (Genesis 1: 27-28).
God Designed Sexual Activity To Be Frequent
Some teach that sexual activity should only occur for the purpose of having babies. But this is contrary to the teaching of the Old and New Testaments.
In the Old Testament, the Song of Solomon describes the love relationship of a couple from courtship to the wedding night and then into married life. In the first three chapters, we are told that the groom is King Solomon and the bride is a Shulammite woman. At the end of chapter three, the wedding ceremony is briefly mentioned. Then the wedding night is described in the fourth chapter. A careful reading reveals that the entire chapter of sixteen verses describes how the couple “made love” on that wedding night. The description is extremely sensuous and symbolically very descriptive of foreplay and intercourse, culminating in orgasms for both spouses. The fourth chapter of Song of Solomon is completely devoted to “how to make love” and also describes their emotional responses.
The remaining chapters of the book describe two more sexual encounters culminating in orgasms. This reveals two very important principles. First, God approves of sexual intercourse between and a husband and wife, that is, between a married biological male and biological female. Second, He encourages husbands and wives to engage in sexual activity. Third, God designed sexual activity to be extremely enjoyable.
In the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 strongly teaches that God has intended sexual activity to be regular and enjoyable.
The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 (NASB)
Here God tells a husband and wife that they should not deny the other spouse sexual activity, except for brief periods of time. Then they are to come back together. For more information about times when couples can avoid sexual activity please read “Can a person make love when fasting?”
In situations where one spouse declines to engage in sexual activity, notice that God says this should only occur “by agreement.” That is, both spouses are to reach agreement together. This should eliminate one spouse denying to meet the other’s sexual needs. This verse also implies that the spouse who wants to delay that sexual activity should agree when the couple can again engage in sexual activity. The passage teaches that the delay must be very short. This does not mean that sexual activity should be delayed for weeks or repeatedly delayed. Some may think that this places a high demand or expectation on wives and argue that men are the ones who always want sexual activity. But such comments are not informed viewpoints and ignores the fact that many women enjoy and desire sexual activity too! Counselors report that it is not uncommon to find wives who want sexual activity more than their husbands do. Notice, that God does not single out women as the ones who decline to engage in sexual activity. That is, some men may actually decline more than women.
Dave Harvey writes in his book, When Sinners Say, “I do,”
Marital sex (which glorifies God, honors marriage, and satisfies spouses) exists in part to prevent adultery (which insults God, betrays marriage, and debases spouses). When we deprive our spouse of the adventure of sexual devotion, we leave him or her unprotected, open to physical and emotional temptations that can leave marriage vulnerable to destructive actions and habits. In our culture of self-fulfillment this protective aspect of sexual intimacy has been obscured by a focus on sexual pleasure. But the Bible doesn’t separate protection from pleasure. Both are expressed in the wisdom of sexual relationship in marriage.
. . . marriage becomes an adventure by underscoring the other-centered nature of our union. Marriage means that our bodies are now claimed by God for the pleasure and service of another. Our connection is so comprehensive that God gives our spouse a claim over our body. It’s a remarkable picture of the total scope of “the two becoming one flesh.” We are called by God to become devoted to sexually satisfying our spouse.
If spouses are committed to one another’s pleasure, nobody goes to sleep disappointed. I don’t have to be concerned with getting mine, because my spouse is thinking of adventurous ways to enjoy what God has given us. And when someone is intent on getting their delight by being a delight . . . well, it just doesn’t get much better than that!
In summary, God designed sexual adventures to be frequent between husbands and wives. Both spouses should seek creative ways to provide unique adventures as an expression of love and friendship for her husband or his wife. The joy of marriage is selflessly giving to your spouse.
God Designed Sexual Activity To Be Enjoyable
A number of passages in the book of Proverbs reveals that God also designed sexual activity to be extremely enjoyable. The first is Proverbs 5:18-19.
Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice in the wife of your youth.
As a loving hind and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
Be exhilarated always with her love. Proverbs 5:18-19 (NASB)
Sexual activity is implied by “your fountain” and “her breasts.” “Your fountain” is a figurative description of the husband’s penis and “her breasts” is an obvious sensuous reference to the wife. The passage is very sensuous and sexual activity is implied. But notice that God encourages the couple to enjoy and even to be exhilarated with the sexual activity. This is a high point of pleasure.
In Song of Solomon 4 while King Solomon and the Shulammite wife are engaged in sexual activity, the king makes this comment to his wife,
You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride;
You have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes,
With a single strand of your necklace.
How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!
How much better is your love than wine,
And the fragrance of your oils
Than all kinds of spices!
Your lips, my bride, drip honey;
Honey and milk are under your tongue . . .
Song of Solomon 4:9-11a
Notice his fast heart rate at the beginning of the passage and the “French Kiss” at the end of the passage. Actually, it is a “Jewish Kiss” in this scenario! But in the middle of the passage, he refers to her love as better than wine. The message is simple. Both of them are enjoying the sexual activity.
In summary, God designed sexual activity to be extremely enjoyable. It is a gift given by our God to husbands and wives. It helps to bond a couple together into one flesh.
God Prohibits Immoral Sexual Activity
Contrary to the habits of most couples today, including many Christian couples, premarital sexual activity is prohibited by God. Our schools and media teach that sexual activity is just biological – no different than eating, drinking and sleeping. Listen to God’s warning in 1 Corinthians 6:13, 18.
Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body . . . Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. 1 Corinthians 6:13, 18 (NASB)
In these two verses God warns married couples to not commit immorality. The Greek word for immorality is porneia. It refers to a wide range of sexual behaviors that are sin: premarital sex, incest, homosexual behaviors and bestiality. That is, any sexual activity prior to marriage and outside of marriage is prohibited. The consequences of violating God’s standard is that the individual “sins against their own body.”
God Has Given Married Couples Sexual Freedom
Yet, Hebrews 13:4 teaches us that God has given married couples great freedom in sexual activity.
Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Hebrews 13:4 (NASB)
In this verse God warns married couples to not defile the marriage bed, then immediately gives examples of how couples defile their marriage bed. In this passage, it is clear that the Bible uses fornication to refer to sexual activity before marriage. Here adultery includes sexual activity with anyone who is not your spouse. The message is that fornication and adultery defile the marriage bed, but other sexual activities do not.
This means that there are is a range of sexual activities that are okay for a husband and wife to enjoy. Therefore, married couples are free to try various sexual positions and other many other sensual activities as long as both the husband and wife are in agreement. No partner should be forced to engage in an activity with which they are uncomfortable. When a spouse feels forced to engage in a sexual activity a loving environment is not created. However, spouses should be open to at least try a new adventure if requested. For questions about oral sex, anal sex and masturbation, please see the following Q&A:
We close this section with the following quote from Song of Solomon 7:10-12. The Shulammite wife is speaking to her husband, King Solomon.
I am my beloved’s,
And his desire is for me.
Come, my beloved, let us go out into the country,
Let us spend the night in the villages.
Let us rise early and go to the vineyards;
Let us see whether the vine has budded
And its blossoms have opened,
And whether the pomegranates have bloomed.
There I will give you my love.
Song of Solomon 7:10-12 (NASB)
It is important to remember that a successful marriage requires that a husband loves his wife (Ephesians 5:25), a wife loves her husband (Titus 2:4) and both of them submit to the principles that God has established for a successful marriage. Marriage is much more than a string of thrilling sexual experiences. Almost every divorce occurs because God’s principles for a successful marriage are ignored. Malachi 2:14 describes marriage as friendship and commitment. The reader is encouraged to listen or read through the study on marriage titled, “Marriage In Splendor.” It will provide the principles necessary for a happy marriage. We pray that God will use these principles in your marriage.
1. Dave Harvey. When Sinners Say, “I Do.” Shepherd Press.2007. p.156.
2. Ibid., p. 157.
3. Ibid. p. 160.
Suggested Links:God’s Purpose For Marriage
Can a person make love when fasting?
What is the correct meaning of fornication in the Bible?
Is oral sex within marriage wrong?
What does the Bible say about anal sex in marriage?
Is masturbation a sin if I control my thoughts?
Sex, Seduction, and Saints
Can a person make love when fasting?
Porneia Definition — What is the meaning of the Greek word porneia in the Bible?
Marriage In Splendor