marriage bed symbol

marriage bed symbol

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Is Withholding Sex From Your Spouse Breaking The Law Of Chastity?

Here's an interesting question for everyone, and something you may want to make a point of discussion with your spouse.

Is denying, withholding, or rejecting married sexual relations with your spouse a violation of the Law of  Chastity? Could a spouse be committing a sin of omission in this regard?

 What evidence can you find that would support your argument?


Anonymous said...

Of course there are a lot of factors that have to be taken into account in each individual situation, but I'm going to go ahead and say, YES.

Specifically if one spouse is "withholding" sex as you put it. To me that word means purposefully denying the other sexual interaction for one reason or another.

I believe part of the covenant of the law of chastity is to "cleave to you spouse, to love them, to be intimate with them and none else. And if you deny your spouse these things then you are not living up to the promise you made to them and the Lord.

The tricky part of this discussion is of course "frequency." I think its safe to assume that in many marriages, one spouse would like intimacy more than the other (typically the male wanting it more, but not always the case).

If a woman really loves her husband and enjoys being intimate with him, but not very often. I would not say she is breaking the law of chastity. They probably need to work together and communicate their needs in order to have a "happy marriage" but that applies to all marriages.

However if a woman (or man) is purposefully withholding intimacy for long periods of time (more than a month in my opinion)and is not willing to make an effort to improve their marital intimacy then that spouse if breaking the promises/covenants that they made to their spouse.

Anonymous said...

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 7: 3-5 says:

3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

I think this passage this speaks eloquently to the importance of sexual intimacy within the marriage covenant, and the strong suggestion of the Apostle Paul that spouses not “defraud one another” in this regard.

On a side note: what drives me CRAZY here is the chapter heading in the LDS KJV scriptures: "Paul answers special questions about marriage among those called on missions—Paul praises self-discipline." I find very little evidence that this chapter applies only to couple missionaries, but whoever wrote this chapter heading seems to take a bizarre apologist's approach to this chapter of scripture which COULD otherwise, if used correctly, lead to a very healthy discussion about marital intimacy. That chapter heading has really caused me some deep introspection about the motivations of some of “the brethren” when it comes to marital intimacy.

I feel that the LDS church is not very helpful when it comes to marital sexuality. Essentially, the Brethren will go only as far as to say “sex is for procreation and also for bonding,” but then drop the subject like a hot potato. The Temple covenants on the Law of Chastity are so briefly and matter-of-factly stated during the Endowment ceremony, that it leaves the temple patron (in my opinion) to feel like sexuality should be repressed completely except for rare occasions in marriage when the stars align and both parties happen to accidentally succumb to it. I exaggerate slightly, but that’s the feeling I get.

A friend of mine, a member of another faith, told me that in her church, the Pastor used passages like the one mentioned above (1 Corithians 7) and others (such as the book of Song of Solomon) to lead an entire weekly adult discussion-based class on marital intimacy as it is laid out by God in the Bible. Her description of this brave ecclesiastical leader left me wishing and wanting this kind of involvement within my own (LDS) church. I mean – come on – this is in the SCRIPTURES, for heaven’s sake! Can’t we just discuss it a little? It’s not like we’re inviting the youth or the Primary to sit in on this class; it would be JUST for the adults.

The LDS Church pushes the concept of marriage and family SO hard, but falls disappointingly short on many of the specifics of how appropriate intimacy could be shared within the covenant of marriage. It’s as if the message is, “Thou shalt have the perfect marriage … but you’re on your own to figure out how.”

Zookie said...

I'm not sure if it's breaking the Law of Chastity, but it is certainly a sin of omission to be a chronic refuser, IMO. And it is certainly breaking your marriage vows, as surely as adultery is breaking your marriage vows. For one partner to shut off the other partner from sex and everything that goes with it is spousal neglect at the very least. A marriage without sex is a sham.

I believe that denying, withholding or rejecting married sexual relations with your spouse is a far worse sin than a refused spouse masturbating occasionally to relieve sexual tension. Of course, sin is sin, but the refuser would likely get a slap on the wrist, if anything, and the poor person who masturbates occasionally gets accused of being a sex addict or worse, and fears he will lose his temple recommend.

Strong Man said...

Yes. It's a violation of the law of Chastity--not just a sin of omission, an active breaking of the commandments. Sex is a commandment--in addition to, and separate from, the commandment to multiply and replenish.

Selections from my post on Sex and Scripture

Genesis 2:24
24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Mark 10:8
8And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.

And from my post Sex and Prophet Quotes

"This power is not an incidental part of the plan of happiness. It is the key—the very key.

Whether we use this power as the eternal laws require or reject its divine purpose will forever determine what we will become." (Boyd K. Packer, Ensign, November 2010)

"Husband and wife . . . are authorized, in fact they are commanded, to have proper sex when they are properly married for time and eternity." The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.312)

This is a commandment mentioned multiple times in each of our standard works. One cannot be married and chaste and not have sex. It's central to the plan of happiness.

Masturbation, on the other hand, is not mentioned or described at all in any of the standard works. Onan's sin was limiting his posterity, not self-stimulation.

Chris said...

There are so many reasons as to why one would be living in a sexless marriage.
A spouse can’t help how they feel and we simply cannot force sexual desire and feelings on someone. But communication is one of the keys towards success The Bible tells us that our body is not our own, but belongs to God and when we are married and loving each other, our spouse has given the authority over our body (providing we want to share it with them). When someone is already married to such a person, it might take a long time to overcome the problem. The book “And They Were Not Ashamed” from Laura M. Brotherson gives very good insights for helping such a distressed spouse.
Here we see once more, how important it is to have a fairly good knowledge about sex before we get married in order to find someone who sees sex with you as an honor and a gift from God as He is the one who created it.

Anonymous said...

Let's not redefine the Law of Chastity. The LofC simply states that we are to have no sexual relations with anyone except with our spouse. It says nothing about being a lesser desire spouse, or refusing to have sex.

Certainly refusing to have sex, withholding sex or using it as a tool to get what we want are not right. They go against the convenant of marriage we make when it says "do you give yourself...", but they do not have anything to do with the LofC.

Anonymous said...

CoachSam -

Thank you for your blog and insightful posts. There is a lot of relationship/sex advice out there and it is refreshing to finally find advice from an LDS perspective.

Here's my question: would you say it is a violation of the LofC or some other covenant for a wife to only give herself physically and not emotionally? My wife is willing to let me do what I want with her sexually, but it is what I would call "duty sex". She is allowing me to use her body, but she is so obviously uninterested I feel worse after we finish than before. Remarks like "I'm willing to lay here but that's it" and "can you be quick about it" are common. Even attempts at foreplay are met with "I'm not looking for anything out of this, so just do what you need to." Am I expecting too much for my wife to be an active participant in our sex life, or at least not make me feel bad for wanting to have sex with her? I feel like I am getting sex without intimacy if that makes sense. When I tell her how I feel I get the response that she can't do anything about the fact she doesn't want to do it. I feel like I do all the "right" things and still make no progress.

CoachSam said...

Dear Anon Oct. 6,

I'd like to get some more information from you so we can discuss and troubleshoot this together.

Please email this question directly to me at

There is no charge. I'm still required to Pro-Bono my services.

Anonymous said...

To 'Anonymous' who said "Let's not redefine the Law of Chastity ...":

While I TECHNICALLY agree with you, I think there is a gray area to consider - or better said, perhaps nothing that will 'get you in trouble with the Bishop, but perhaps something you are going to feel a bad about at the judgement bar ...

If I refused to feed my children adequate amounts of food to the degree that a child felt inclined to go shoplift food from a grocery store to assuage his/her hunger, I could TECHNICALLY say that shoplifting was solely the CHILD'S choice, and indeed I would share no personal legal ramifications on MY part. But I think most reasonable people, once they found out about the child's diet, would say I had a significant role in the issue, even if the LAW did not.

Yet when we apply this model to marital sexuality, not only do we expect the ignored party to "man-up," shut up and 'deal with' the sexual neglect personally, we simply assume that any 'downstream' related activities that may surface later (such as pornography use, secretive masturbation and marital infidelity) will all be assumed to have magically happened in a vacuum, and will only be due to a weakness in personal character, not desperation.

No, I am not trying to blame the 'less-interested' spouse or excuse the ones who wrongly act-out on their impulses. Indeed more often than not, such actions seem speak more to a lack of self control or an unwillingness to address the real interpersonal issues, than they do being a direct result of marital sexual neglect. But I fail to understand why we tend to think of these issues in such black-and-white terms, as if it is either one way or the other. Why can't we identify and admit that marital sexual neglect CAN predispose some to engage in these behaviors?

Again, my aim here is to open the dialogue and consider that sexual neglect CAN be a legitimate factor in violations of the Law of Chastity, and that it can not ALWAYS be totally put on the 'violator.' Perhaps I am over-sensitive to the subject, but it seems like this is a MUCH bigger problem than we ever talk about publicly, perhaps even epidemic proportions. I think when we stop trying to SOLELY BLAME one party or the other, we can actually find the social and interpersonal roots of the problem and begin to fix this issue.

Anonymous said...

This is 'Anonymous' who said "Let's not redefine the Law of Chastity ...":

I agree with what you are saying. I was just refering to the statement about refusing to have sex as breaking the LofC. It has nothing to do with the LofC. It is certainly not right, but not related to the LofC.

I totally agree that often our actions can contribute to others making wrong choices. Especially in this area, where the need for acceptance and love is being neglected by the one person in the world who convenanted to give themself to you, but then with holds physical closeness from you. This can, and often does, lead one to seek out what they are lacking from other sources.

Jerrel Mills said...

Does the temple ceremony actually say give yourself?

CoachSam said...

Hi Jerrel,

I'm not sure I understand your question.