marriage bed symbol

marriage bed symbol

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sexual Extremes in Marriage

WARNING: This post contains a topic of a sacred sexual nature and is intended for married couples only. The information contained is sexually graphic in nature. Reader discretion is advised.

President Kimball said, “Even though sex can be an important and satisfactory part of married life, we must remember that life is not designed just for sex. Even marriage does not make proper certain extremes in sexual indulgence…” [i]  
 What did President Kimball mean when he said “certain extremes in sexual indulgence”?

If you read the Miracle of Forgiveness completely, you’ll find that (in the context of marriage) President Kimball doesn’t give a list of any kind of what these “certain extremes” are.

I know many others may have also contemplated what he could have possibly meant by “certain extremes in sexual indulgence.” Some may say that anything other than vaginal sex is an extreme in sexual indulgence, and should not be practiced in marriage. So far, I haven't found anything to support that idea.

Because the Church leadership has made it clear that they will not enter into the bedrooms of married couples and (except in the case of pornography, sex with someone other than our spouse, exploiting/defiling the sanctity of our sexuality such as exposing it to others, or illegal sexual activities) will not tell a married couple what they can or cannot do sexually in marriage – anyone would be hard-pressed to find any sanctioned list of forbidden extremes when it comes to what a mutually consensual married couple do sexually with each other in the privacy of their sacred bed chamber..

In this blog, I would like to suggest that President Kimball gives us a clue as to what the extremes could be in his following paragraphs. He goes on to say:

“To the Ephesians, Paul begged for propriety in marriage: ‘So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.’ (Eph. 5:28).”  

And then he goes on to quote J. Rueben Clark:

“Speaking of normal and controlled sex life in marriage, President J. Reuben Clark said… You, Groom…What kind of a head of a family are you going to be? …the bride has not become your chattel by marriage to you; she is a complement of you in the family.

For that purpose, she was created, that the two of you might go forward in a life that shall answer to the commandment given to you when you were married, ‘Multiply and replenish the earth,’ one of the great commandments given to Adam in the beginning…If you will observe, you grooms, that one principle, it will tend to bring into your home more happiness and contentment and peace than any other one thing of which I can think.

How are you going to be the head of the family? You should be the head of the family in patience, in forbearance, in forgiveness, in kindness, in courtesy, in consideration, in respect and in all the other Christian virtues…”

Then President Kimball concludes with this: 

“In his comment President Clark was emphasizing the position of the husband. It goes almost without saying that the wife has responsibilities of equal importance to be a kind, considerate helpmeet to her husband.” 

From here he goes on to define sexual sin as any sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage. [ii]

From these paragraphs and the teachings of other Church leaders, what I understand President Kimball to mean  by “certain extremes in sexual indulgence” would be practices that profane or devalue the sacredness of the sex act, sexual practices that threaten the physical life and health of the body, or the use of force or coercion in the sexual relationship.

Protecting the Sacred Nature of Sex

In the Bible Dictionary the definition of holy is 

“things or a place…set apart for a sacred purpose; the opposite of holy is therefore common or profane.” [iii]

God gives us laws and standards for sexuality because he wants us to treat it as something that is holy or sacred.

Sex outside of marriage, sexual perversions in or out of marriage, coercing or forcing your spouse to do something they don’t want to do, profane erotica etc… all take something intended to be sacred and try to make it ordinary or unimportant.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught: 

“The power to create mortal life is the most exalted power God has given his children. Its use was mandated in the first commandment [given to Adam and Eve], but another important commandment was given to forbid its misuse.

The emphasis we place on the law of chastity is explained by our understanding of the purpose of our procreative powers in the accomplishment of God’s plan. The expression of our procreative powers is pleasing to God, but he has commanded that this be confined within the relationship of marriage”[iv]

Although you and your spouse are married, public exhibition of your sex, groping your spouse sexually in front of your children or others, playing games with other couples that require you to share details of your sex life, or speaking of your sex life mockingly with other people would be treating sex as something profane; unholy. It reduces it to a common and trivial thing, like washing the dog or eating an apple.

The relationship between a husband and wife is a sacred relationship – one that is for the two of them only, but Satan would have you believe otherwise. Boyd K Packer taught:

“He [Satan] is an actual being from the unseen world. He has great power. He will use it to persuade you to transgress those laws set up to protect the sacred powers of creation. In former times he was too cunning to confront one with an open invitation to be immoral, but rather, sneakingly and quietly, he would tempt young and old alike to think loosely of these sacred powers of creation, to bring down to a vulgar or to a common level that which is sacred and beautiful.

His tactics have changed now….he describes it as only as an appetite to be satisfied. He teaches, through the schools sometimes, that there are no attendant responsibilities to the use of this power. Pleasure, he will tell you, is its sole purpose.

His devilish invitations appear on billboards. They are coined into jokes and written into the lyrics of songs and sometimes, even tied to the music. They are acted out on television and at theaters. They will stare at you now from newspapers, from magazines. [I will add films, Internet sites and cable stations as well here] …it’s advertised openly: pornography, open, wicked perversions, persuasions to pervert and misuse this sacred power.”[v]

Protecting the Life and Health of the Body

“Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”[vi]
Our bodies do not belong to us. Our spouse’s bodies are not possessions, but stewardships. If we keep this concept in mind, that our bodies belong to God, hopefully we will have a greater feeling to care for them and protect them.

Sexual practices which may damage or compromise the health of the body should be well thought-out, if considered at all. There are a great variety of sexual practices that can be attempted, but some must be approached with very careful communication and attention to hygiene and physical safety.

Sadomasochism is one example.  Sadomasochism is when a person gets pleasure from inflicting physical or mental pain on him or herself or others.[vii]  This is not to be confused with sensory foreplay that may involve blindfolding or tying down your spouse or playfully spanking them as part of your sexual foreplay. Yet even these can be taken to extremes if consideration for the other’s feelings or body is not taken into account.

Some suggest that fellatio, cunnilingus, anal sex, prostate massage, G-spot stimulation, and others are inappropriate and are sexual perversions. I suggest that these activities should not replace regular vaginal intercourse. However, they can be used as foreplay and as a means of helping each other achieve a variety of wholesome God-given sexual gratification. They are both activities that can bond a couple together - if done correctly.

Anal and oral sex do require a lot of communication, consideration for hygiene, and a certain degree of education and preparation in order to keep from harming each other. If done correctly, they can provide great sexual fulfillment for both the husband and the wife.

Practices such as erotic asphyxiation (choking yourself or someone else to intensify sexual pleasure) can actually threaten the life of the body. I suggest that such practices would qualify as one of the "certain extremes".

Consideration for the Feelings and Dignity of Your Spouse

President Howard W. Hunter taught:
 “Tenderness and respect—never selfishness—must be the guiding principles in the intimate relationship between husband and wife. Each partner must be considerate and sensitive to the other’s needs and desires. Any domineering, indecent, or uncontrolled behavior in the intimate relationship between husband and wife is condemned by the Lord” [viii]
 Great sex is only great sex if done completely together as a unit. Some examples of what I believe President Hunter might have been referring to include:

  • Forcing your spouse to have sex when they don’t want to
  • Forcing your spouse to go weeks, months or years without having sex or being sexually intimate
  • Engaging in sexual activities that your spouse feels uncomfortable doing
  • Making your spouse feel guilty or evil for having sexual desires
  • Making your spouse feel guilty for lack of desire to have sex
  • Sexual groping, nudity or having sex with your spouse in public, online or in front of your children

Having sex in this way satisfies only one partner, and can ultimately leave both spouses emotionally empty in the end.

Sex is supposed to bring a couple closer together eternally. If  attitudes about sex or practices put a strain on your friendship, something is wrong and can be corrected. The atonement of the Savior even applies here and allows us as husbands and wives to learn through trial and error, that we may come to know the good from the evil and prize the good.

In a nutshell, to have a joyful and virtuous married sex life, treat it as something sacred, protect the health and life of the body and mind, and be a considerate lover to your spouse.Most importantly however, let the Holy Spirit guide.

[i] Miracle of Forgiveness Kimball, Spencer W. pp73, italics added

[ii] Miracle of Forgiveness Kimball, Spencer W. pp74
[iii] Ezekiel 22:26
[iv] Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 99; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 74

[v] Boyd K. Packer in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden Area General Conference Report, Aug. 1974, pp. 83-84

[vi] 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, KJV
[vii] “sadomasochism”, Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online. 17 Jan 2011.
[viii]Hunter, Howard W., Ensign, Nov. 1994, 51.