No sex in the Prayer Room

Back in 1999, comedian Chris Rock did a song entitled ‘No Sex in the Champagne Room’, informing listeners that, despite any claims made by a stripper, that there is no possibility that said act will actually happen. He did, incidentally, give the most accurate horoscope ever given in that song, indicating that each sign was ‘gonna die’.

Now, I’m not saying that I think couples should copulate in a church’s prayer room as a general practice. My thought goes a bit deeper. Those of you who are reading this who grew up in church, think about what most churches say about sex: “Don’t do it independent of marriage”. Now obviously, yes, that is a biblical principle that certainly should be made clear, for plenty of reasons. I don’t dispute that. Here’s the part that I find curiously – and consistently – absent in the church: the other part where married couples are unilaterally encouraged to engage in sex. The youth group is all told ‘don’t have sex’. Married couples are told…not much, because the stipulation no longer applies to them, and…they’ll figure it out, I guess?

Perhaps this is just a limitation of perspective as I’m not married myself, but why isn’t there some form of sex ed in churches with marriage ministries? It’s a cultural catch-22 because it’s both shameful for people to imagine someone having sex with their spouse, and it’s also shameful for people to know that they don’t have sex with their spouse. I’ve yet to step foot in a church that has any sort of specifically assigned ‘time and place’ to discuss sex within marriages, nor have I ever had a discussion with a married couple with regards to their sex life.

Now, the most likely thought being had here is, “but that’s private and personal, just between them!” Well, to be fair to this point, it’s certainly up to a given couple as to whether they would be okay discussing sex with someone who isn’t a part of that marriage, and due to cultural norms, it’s certainly not the kind of topic that is likely to ‘just come up’. However, I’ve somehow managed to speak with married couples about their jobs, their children’s health, their food allergies, their pre-marital dating story, their finances (including a near-foreclosure), their medical problems, their military service, their political inclinations, and in one case, their spouse’s infidelity. Somehow all of those things can ‘just come up’ over the course of a social visit or computer repair, but whether they preferred vaginal penetration or anal penetration has never once come up? Or does the fact that you probably had a response that was something to the effect of “uhm…can you tone it down a bit?” a symptom of the very matter at hand?

Find me one other blessing from God that is as socially repressed as marital sex.  Find me one other topic that is as explicitly discussed in the Bible as a God-given gift, that is as ignored by most churches as sex among their married members (and no, interdenominational doctrinal differences about whether the gifts of the Holy Spirit are still a thing doesn’t count). As the Body of Christ, we can do better. God’s wonderful gift of sex deserves better. The Body of Christ itself deserves better.

5 thoughts on “No sex in the Prayer Room

  1. Lizzy

    I’m sure it’s something that is covered during premarital counseling between a couple and the Pastor, but I don’t think that’s what you’re getting at.

    If I read this correctly, you’re looking for responses from either married couples, or church leaders to explain as to why it’s not an open topic of discussion – OR – to tell you that they do, in fact talk about it.

    Being unmarried myself, I’d have to ask around to see if I know anyone that can answer your questions, although (as you’ve stated) bringing this up may cause some raised eyebrows. We’ll see.

    1. joey

      Here’s the tl;dr version: Schools have sex ed. Churches tend to decry that sex ed takes place in school, but offers no analogue for married couples where discussions about sex can be had in an open forum. Thus, a stigma exists that should not.

  2. Chad

    Interesting article. To me it shows the diversity within the church because my experience has been different than yours. Churches I’ve been a part of have dealt with marital sex as well as fornication in proper context and setting. I would go to my Pastor directly with the question.

    Sex as God’s gift is sacred so I wouldn’t expect the church to pervert and devalue it like the rest of society does so whimsically. The bible also says to flee sexual sin (1 Corinthians 6:18) and not to pose a stumbling block for fellow believers (Romans 14:21) so care has to be given to the time, place and to what extent sex is discussed.

    My final thought is that the true gift is marriage of which sex is a part. Marriage represents Christ’s relationship to His church (Eph. 5:25-33). One can have a God honoring marriage without sex but one can not have God honoring sex without marriage.

    I think you have to approach your pastor. For example one pastor always asks unmarried couples “what are you waiting for to get married – don’t you know life is short”. I’ve also heard him say on several occasion “God wants you to have all of the sex you want. He simply says for you to get married first”.

    1. joey

      Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply, Chad. Welcome!

      I think your post rather directly illustrated the problem I wrote about. The only part of my post that wasn’t talking about marital sex was the part that essentially said, “premarital sex still needs to be addressed, but that’s not the topic at hand”…and yet there was still a need to devote an entire paragraph in your response (and arguably, the theme of another) to the fact that sex outside of marriage is sinful.

      Satan can’t create anything. He can only pervert and distort what God has given us as a blessing. Every sin can be traced back to a good creation from God that was distorted by Satan. If we can talk about love without the need for disclaimers about idolatry, if we can talk about money without the need for disclaimers about greed, and if we can talk about peace without the need for disclaimers about lethargy, then we very well should be able to talk about sex without the need for disclaimers about fornication. This is the oppression I am addressing.

      I’ll end with a response to your final paragraph. Those statements are difficult to (pun intended) marry with what I presume to be his thoughts on divorce. “Get married sooner than later because life is short” is an encouragement to make a decision in haste, whose resolution is likely to be frowned upon by that same pastor. If greed or gluttony leads someone to buy a Mercedes they can’t afford, the pastor would likely praise that person’s decision to rectify that choice by the selling of that car. If an individual was amidst a contract to produce music that was not honoring to Christ, the pastor would likely praise the individual’s choice to relieve themselves of that contract. Let’s provide a best case scenario: two people who got married at 18, out of haste, and out of lust, and a desire to have sex, because ‘life is short’. Both agree that this was the reason for it, both believe that the marriage was a bad idea and that it doesn’t honor God, both are looking to dissolve the marriage amicably, and there are no kids involved. Would the pastor be okay with them getting a divorce? If not, then there definitely needs to be some tweaking to his advice on the subject.
      Final thought: We marry in a church, in the sight of God, but divorce in a courtroom, in the site of the state. Methinks there is something…inconsistent about that.

  3. Lizzy

    I will add this to the conversation:

    I know that in my experience, growing up in church the kids/teens were simply told “it’s a sin, so just don’t do it”…. kind of like the anti-drug ads on TV, but we weren’t told much else. There were a lot of unanswered questions, and I do think more education (like in small groups) should have been done.

    But to Joey’s question – I don’t hear any ‘sex ed’ coming from the pulpit directed at married couples because (and I could be wrong) I “assumed” that it was always done during the pre-marriage counseling sessions with the church Pastor….. and perhaps even during those popular church ‘married couples retreats’. I’ve never asked any married couples if that is the case, so I guess will have to wait my turn before I find out?

    While we do need to be respectful of the act of sex (since God created it)… not being able to have open discussions at church regarding such crucial issues will only leave people with the information, opinions, and cultural norms that are being dumped on everyone by the media and such.

    It’s one thing to say that world is corrupt and twisted, but you need to also give the rest of the lesson and talk about the other side of the issue.

    Personally I think a lot of churches mostly gloss over the topic and don’t do enough to teach single young people about the sanctity of sex and marriage. You see – they need to learn it when they’re still single, so that they will carry those teachings, values, and principles into their marriages.

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