marriage bed symbol

marriage bed symbol

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Do Your Sexual Practices Defile Something Sacred?

The following is a response to an email that was sent to me by one of my readers:

My name is Austin and my wife and I are students and BYU-I.

In a family foundations class the topic of what was "legal" to do with your wife and I  stumbled upon your blog when I was doing some research via Google.

I read your post about oral sex and completely agree and is exactly the way I interpreted it. I was under the understanding that as long as it was consensual it was okay. Now I am finding quite a few of references to the letter that was written to the leaders of the church. I had no idea that so many members believed that oral sex was doctrinally wrong.

I thought I remembered a talk during one of the General Conferences that either Gordon B. Hinckley said something to the effect that with the four walls of a married couples bedroom as long as it was consensual it was between them and God. Do you know what talk i am thinking about? If so, do you know exactly who said it and when? Anyway, thank you for your time and I await a response."

Hi Austin,

I am excited that you read my articles and I can appreciate your question.

This is an area of some significant disagreement among members, mostly because the General Authorities do not directly comment on it, General Authorities give “general” counsel that each couple must pray about and then apply to their specific situation.

If you’d like more background on where some of these beliefs come from, I would recommend my blog called “The Sexual Spectrum.” I give a bit of history on different cultural beliefs about sex in society and the gospel.

I searched through the church archives and (unfortunately) was unable to find anything by President Hinckley or any other general authority that said anything specifically about consensual sexual activity between a husband and wife.

That would be a pretty good one if he did say that. I'll keep searching though and let you know if I find that phrase or anything close to it.

This is what I did find and I hope you will find it helpful.

Spencer W. Kimball said "There is nothing unholy or degrading about sexuality in itself, for by that means men and women join in a process of creation and in an expression of love’... (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 311)

The Bishop's Handbook instructs them that the church cannot tell a husband and wife what they can or cannot do sexually within the bonds of marriage. Your bishop would have to show you where that is at in his book. It's not something that is publicly distributed and is updated periodically.

I found that the General Authorities are pretty vague when they talk about sexual practices in marriage. Their main point seems to be to remind us not to forget to bear children while we are bonding with each other and gratifying each other sexually. All three functions are necessary and holy in marriage.

This article I found may help to put what the Presidents of the church want us to know about sexual practices in marriage - see "What Prophets and Apostles Teach about Chastity and Fidelity Ensign » 1998 » October" 

I believe that the key to knowing what is okay to do sexually in marriage (whether it be oral sex, anal sex, petting, necking, mutual masturbation, the use of sex toys, etc...) is understanding what the definition of "unholy practice" is.

The Topical Guide in the Bible tells me that to make something holy means to treat it as special, sacred, and protected from those that would mock or defile/profane it. The opposite would then be true of making something unholy. Unholy would then be to make something ordinary, common, not special, and irrelevant. 

When it comes to sexual practices in marriage (whatever that practice may be), as suggested by the article I linked above, what the prophets and the Lord seem to want to impress on our minds is to keep it holy.

My understanding is that when we accept doing sexual practices outside of marriage, we’re defiling something that should be guarded as sacred and holy. 

We keep sexual practices (whatever they may be) holy when a husband and wife only practice and discuss their sexual activities between each other.  Think of it in terms of what we learn and do in the Temple as your model. We would also be keeping our married sex sacred by discussing only with those who the couple can judiciously trust to also treat it with reverence.

If there is any “abstain from” for sexual practices in marriage, it’s profane erotica and coercion. 

“Pornographic or erotic stories and pictures are worse than filthy or polluted food. The body has defenses to rid itself of unwholesome food. With a few fatal exceptions, bad food will only make you sick but do no permanent harm. In contrast, a person who feasts upon filthy stories or pornographic or erotic pictures and literature records them in this marvelous retrieval system we call a brain. The brain won’t vomit back filth. Once recorded, it will always remain subject to recall, flashing its perverted images across your mind and drawing you away from the wholesome things in life.” 1
Here, brethren, I must tell you that our bishops and our professional counselors are seeing an increasing number of men involved with pornography, and many of those are active members. Some involved in pornography apparently minimize its seriousness and continue to exercise the priesthood of God because they think no one will know of their involvement. But the user knows, brethren, and so does the Lord…
The scriptures repeatedly teach that the Spirit of the Lord will not dwell in an unclean tabernacle. When we worthily partake of the sacrament, we are promised that we will “always have his Spirit to be with [us].” To qualify for that promise we covenant that we will “always remember him” (D&C 20:77). Those who seek out and use pornography for sexual stimulation obviously violate that covenant. They also violate a sacred covenant to refrain from unholy and impure practices. They cannot have the Spirit of the Lord to be with them.” (Elder Dallin H. Oaks “Pornography” Ensign » 2005 » May )
I’d like to also add that pornographers take sexual practices that should be holy and sacred in marriage and present them as ordinary and not special. Their films are edited in such a way as to not show the reality, but to instead create a powerful impression on the subconscious mind that any sexual practices are okay to be performed between anyone, anywhere, at any time – with little consequence and only with a pleasurable outcome. We in the Church are taught that sexual activity and gratification belongs in the bounds of marriage and nowhere else and for no one else.

If you’re practicing oral sex with your wife as a foreplay and it strengthens your bond as a married couple, and you’re not doing it to the exclusion of having children, keep doing it and keep it sacred.