Getting Married For Sex

One time in college I was meeting with this older gentleman who I looked up to and as we were talking the subject of relationships and marriage came up.  We were talking about a couple of relationships of people we knew as well as one I had just gotten out of.  Now this guy had gotten married really young and had been married for a long time.

The conversation turned toward the decision to get married.  He said, “I always tell people this – don’t get married for sex.”  Now I was young and arrogant so I nodded knowingly but I really had no idea what he meant.  Ha.  He went on to explain it basically saying that desire to have sex was not a good reason to marry.  I think he was wrong.

I would maybe say that sex shouldn’t be the only reason you get married.

But actually, sex is part of the reason.  God created us with a sex drive.  Again this is pre-sin.  Adam and Eve have sex – heck they are commanded to – before the fall.  God did not create our sex drive so that we could sit around and not use it.  And, as is fairly obvious in the whole of scripture (more on this soon) sex is to be enjoyed (key word) in the context of marriage.  In fact one of the functions of sex is to bond the two together in marriage (hence the whole becoming one flesh thing).

One of the reasons that we have more single people than ever in history (49% of adults in the U.S.) is that we have separated sex and marriage.  

Sex is an industry in our country.  It is readily available in one form or another every day. This really screws up single people.  For one thing, almost everyone has had sex before marriage.  If you haven’t that is great but it’s not the norm at this point.  So if you are having or have had sex, it makes marriage less urgent.  If I can have sex, oral sex, and/or meet my own sexual needs through a constant stream of porn and masturbation without marriage – then there is less of a pull to get married.  This is not rocket science.

Even worse, once you have sinned sexually you can allow the guilt and shame of that to drive you.  It can drive you to continue doing it, or only date people that also have, among other things. It can make you feel like you’ve messed it up so you now can’t have it the right way.

On the flip side, and this isn’t talked about much, delaying marriage is one of the big reasons that people end up seeking sexual fulfillment outside of marriage.  Even just 50 years ago in 1960 (not exactly ancient times) 59% of those aged 18-29 were married.  That number is now 20%.  So basically 60 years ago you started thinking about sex in your early teenage years and you waited 4-10 years.  Now you wait 10-20.  That is no joke.  It’s hard to do.

Add to this the fact that a lot of religious people have turned sex itself into the bad guy, which leads to all sorts of problems, not the least of which is married people still feeling bad about sex. This is why it is so important to do more than tell single people to not have sex – it can mess up both singleness and marriage.

Here’s the point.  Sex should be part of the reason you get married.  

This is one of things Paul talks about this in 1st Corinthians 7. He is speaking to a group of people trying to navigate marriage and sex in a completely crazy society (sound familiar?).  He says it straight up – if you are going to have sex – get married. In a way, Paul is saying, part of the way to avoid sexual immorality is to enjoy sex in the context of marriage. Paul says some have the calling to be single, but if you don’t, get married and have some sex.

This is so important.  There are no easy fixes here in our context, but one of the things we have to do is get two things clearly in our heads.  The first is we need a solid biblical view of sex (that it is good, from God, and part of marriage).  The second is that it is indeed a part of the reason we get married – God intended it that way.

I’ve joked with friends before that if it weren’t for sex, would anyone get married?  Look, there is way, way more to marriage obviously.  And, obviously just wanting sex with someone is not a stand alone reason to get married.  However, it is a part of the driving force – and that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.

19 thoughts on “Getting Married For Sex

  1. I dig your theology, Justin, and how real and refreshing your presentation of these largely unpopular ideas are (among non-Christians). I’ve sat through several church services in the last year that have basically communicated the same message, with the same Bible backing, even going as far as to quote Paul’s mantra that you mentioned (some people are single; if you are not called to it, get married, etc). Reading that makes things more clear.

    Whatever this subculture is that I (we?) belong to, single Christians trying to do it right, most of us trying to keep our heads above water in a world of sex and bad relationships…it seems to be very small, but it feels so big and endless, like a desert. It feels infinitely complex confusing for many of us who dwell here. I’ve learned to completely shut up about what I go through because non-Christian friends (all of my friends) can’t possibly understand why I make it so complicated. I just say because it is, and I feel that I deal with more factors than they do. I’m told that I create all of the confusion myself, but honestly I’d rather it not be easy. I think relationships and sex are too important to be easy.

    This post helps simplify the process just a little bit, taking the edge off, making what should seem obvious feel more obvious. and I’m grateful that you wrote it.

    • Luke – you bring up a great side point here that I hadn’t really thought a lot about. That being the non-christian friend thing. That really is true. Now in fairness they are often just as complicated in different ways but when it comes to sex, and who to date, etc it is less complicated. Great thought – I need to think more about that. What’s interesting is one of our biggest witnesses in this culture is that we do handle this stuff differently.

  2. Seems like an odd thing for the ‘older gentleman’ to say. Wonder what his answer would have been if you asked him why not? Maybe he was struggling in that area personally.

  3. Actually I think the older gentlemen seems to have given a wise and standard answer. It’s what I assumed this post would be about when I read the title, a warning to steer clear of any sexual motivation for marriage. I think it’s a common message, partially correct but incomplete, which is why I appreciate what is being said here. Justin is making a cogent and somewhat risky point that maybe all of these feelings work together and none–including sex–should be ignored or brushed off. Maybe we can include sex as an acceptable reason as any for motivation to marry, as long as we’re sure to not neglect all the other important reasons. It’s a refreshing viewpoint that made me not want to punch my computer screen like usual.

  4. It seems that when a person is in certain situation for a long period of time (marriage, singleness, parenting, career, etc) they develop definitive statements of advice. Sometimes this advice is inspired wisdom that is beneficial to someone without that long-term experience. Sometimes the advice is based on how the person has made the situation “work” regardless of intentional development and improvement. Longevity is not THE source of wisdom. What I’m saying is that it is good to question advice, especially if it seems to contradict scripture. If the person is right and has the right intentions, their advice can only be strengthened by questions.

  5. I think that the gentleman was doing both. I think in the context of our conversation there was SOME wisdom in what he shared. But I also think, looking back, that he was actually really struggling at the time in his own story and that added to the emphasis of his advice. I have definitely been guilty of that myself.

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  14. Hey! I really enjoyed this article. I read a few of your others and it has brought me some peace. I’m a teen living for God, but I have a fear that I will never get married. I don’t want to be single for my whole life! I have a desire to get married when I get older and find the one for me and grow in Jesus. I don’t know why I have this fear? Is there any more uplifting words you could give me? I want to get over this and I am seeking prayer and help to do so because as silly as it may sound it causes a lot of anxiety. Thanks!

    • Ann. Fear is never from God. I know that sounds trite, but you have to start there. More important, most likely right now you can’t get married anyway. Do my thought would be to relax. When you get out of high school, start to be intentional about it. In the mean time, don’t put yourself in situations that take you away from following Jesus. Right now, you need to just submit that desire to Him.

  15. I appreciate this article and most of what I’ve seen so far since discovering your blog. Thank you for shedding light on what so many Christians do not understand or are too scared to address.

  16. I don’t think anyone would get married without sex. At least I wouldn’t. I agree that a marriage should be centered around Christ. Keeping the marriage centered around Christ is the number one priority in marriage, and having a faith in Christ is the number one criteria in choosing who to marry. But when it comes to GETTING married, I actually think sex is the main reason; perhaps the only reason.

    While a husband and wife should grow closer in Christ together, people should strive to be more Christ-like regardless of marital status. So despite being the biggest responsibility in marriage, I don’t think that that’s the biggest reason or “point” of getting married. If a man and a woman wanted to, they could maintain a Christ-centered, marriage-like relationship in which they bear all their respective responsibilities, roles, burdens, and commitments, but not live together and not have sex. I wouldn’t want that.

    People often say that when it comes to marriage, sex is just icing on the cake. I disagree. I think sex is the whole cake. Marriage, and all of the responsibilities and commitments therein – the not so sweet aspects – are the “platter” on which the “cake” should be served. And Jesus is the One Who should be holding the platter and serving it all up. What good would it do to have a restaurant full of waiters carrying around plates and platters, but with no food on them to serve? Who would pay to go to a restaurant like that?

    Likewise, I agree with you that sex is a driving force for getting married. I also agree with the sentiment (one I’ve heard expressed elsewhere) that God reserves sex for marriage for our own good. But in addition to that, I also think He knows what He’s doing. He’s creating incentive for a man and a woman to commit to one each other, just as restaurants need to serve good food to give people incentive to spend their money on them instead of someone else.

    God Bless.

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