Pulling Back the Sheets: Genuine Dialogue Among Christians about Oral S.ex

Here’s a question. When was the last time you were in your small group or out to breakfast after church, and someone casually offered up this as a conversation starter: “What do you all think about oral sex?”  Let me guess. Never, right?

It’s not that the topic of oral sex isn’t a worthy one to explore.  It’s just that the thought of such a discussion creates not only extreme discomfort, but also a spectrum of opinions.  It touches upon something incredibly personal. If we are honest, we recognize that even within individual marriages, opinions often differ, sometimes to the point of tremendous discord.  Call it deeply-engrained human nature, but we tend to not run with enthusiasm into contentious (or potentially embarrassing)  conversations.  So, oral sex remains a rarely-discussed topic among Christians.

Then there’s me, a Christan gal who actually wants to generate dialogue on controversial sexual topics. (I know. I’m a freak of nature).  I just want to keep it real (even if it means I’ll get spam-listed, relegated to hang out in people’s email junk folders).

In all seriousness, I believe that the questions we fervently avoid will undoubtedly torment us — either in our own minds or within our marriages.  I don’t know about you, but I’ll take some uncomfortable out loud dialogue any day over silent isolation.  I don’t want to talk about oral sex in a disrespectful way, but rather in a way that gets at the heart of bewilderment causing angst within marriages.

Is Oral Sex Okay in God’s Eyes?

Before we dig into that question, let’s first try to get on the same discussion page.

As the term implies, “oral sex” is indeed sex, contrary to the opinion of some singles (particularly teenagers) who try desperately to convince themselves otherwise.  Search all we want on the relational landscape for a way to experience and/or give sexual pleasure and still “technically” abstain, and we will always arrive at the same reality:  Human-derived “technicalities” will never give us a God-approved pass on sin.  Never.  Oral sex is sex, and sex outside of marriage is a sin.

(I find it a little ironic that there is even a debate over whether oral sex is really sex.   Any act that is described with the word “sex” is… uh… sex).

So let’s talk about if it is okay in marriage. That is the lens I am peering through: Is it permissble for a married couple within the privacy and exclusivity of their marital intimacy to give and receive oral sex?  (For definition purposes, oral sex is a husband stimulating his wife’s vagina and clitoris with his tongue and mouth, and a wife stimulating her husband’s penis and testicles with her tongue and mouth, sometimes to the point of orgasm, but not always).

Is Oral Sex Okay Biblically?

Christians collectively will never definitively agree on this.  Bum deal.  No clearly-spelled out command exists in the Bible regarding oral sex, which means we are left to our own prayerful interpretation. I am not opposed to oral sex within marriage, but I simultaneously respect that some people do not share my sentiments. That’s cool.  We can all be friends on the playground.  No hard feelings. (I personally believe it’s okay to baptize babies too, and none of my “by- immersion-only-when-you-can-proclaim-faith-on-your-own” friends have banned me from their barbecues.)

As theological and spiritual debates linger about oral sex, here are some points to consider:

Some argue that oral sex is not permissible because it cannot create a baby.  I think this is a weak argument, because…sorry to state the obvious… but we often have sex when there is no possibility of creating a baby.  In fact, the vast majority of our sexual encounters in marriage do not create a baby.

If sex could only happen when a life could be created, then we wouldn’t have sex during pregnancy, or when we are not ovulating, or if we are infertile, or after menopause and so on.  Yet, we have sex during all of those circumstances (as well as many others).  We have sex because it is about so much more than procreation.  And we know this.

Some would argue that the book of Song of Songs in the Bible (nestled between Ecclesiastes and Isaiah) is the strongest scriptural support of oral sex.  Most Christians believe that one interpretation of this book is a beautiful depiction of marital intimacy. It is within this book of the Bible that we find verses that some people believe celebrate oral sex as a valid sexual expression in marriage (Song of Songs  2:3, 4:16, 5:1, 6:2-3 and 8:2).  The book itself is not a lengthy read, and Christian authors have written commentaries on it, if you want to dig deeper into it.

Regardless, though, on whether someone feels Song of Songs supports oral sex, I think another barometer offers even better clarification.  If we can rationalize that it is allowable to kiss and be kissed other places besides the lips, then how do we arbitrarily draw a line where no visual line exists?

Here’s what I mean — if we feel it is okay for a husband to kiss his wife’s neck…or her breasts…or her hand…or her navel…or her forehead… then how can we rationalize that her entire body is not permissible ground (and vice versa for her expressing herself orally with him)?  How close is “too close” when the mouth nears the genital region?  There is nothing that would indicate such a line exists.  Sex is much more of a full-body (and heart and soul) experience than it is a compartmentalized experience. One need to look no further than the role of foreplay in our sexual encounters to know that sex is rarely about the simple physical act of intercourse. This is especially true when sex is a valued and nurtured part of a marriage.

Yes, I have both feet firmly planted in the camp of oral sex being permissible within marriage.  Even so, I do think wisdom is in order.  I believe adamantly that sexual intimacy that honors God to the fullest is built upon a foundation of sacred covenant love, trust, respect and kindness.  That being said, if one spouse is forcing another to perform or receive oral sex despite their reservations or convictions, then the foundation is crumbling badly.  Healthy intimacy is not about forcing anything sexually. Ever.

Some readers have asked me about oral sex beyond the biblical angle, wondering about the physical aspects.

Is Oral Sex Okay Medically? Can It Hurt You?

I’ll begin this with a disclaimer that I am not a doctor, so don’t take any of this as official medical advice.  I do feel at liberty, though, to offer some common sense insights.  As for whether oral sex is harmful physically, obviously it is harmful if sexually transmitted diseases are involved.  Oral sex involves the exchange of bodily fluids and close skin contact, which is often how sexual diseases are transmitted.  Speak extensively to your doctor about any concerns you have that oral sex could cause you or your spouse physical harm.

Also, it is extremely important that a husband not blow into the vagina, particularly if his wife is pregnant.

When disease does not exist, is semen harmful if swallowed and are the fluids and bacteria within the vagina harmful if swallowed?  I’ve yet to read or hear anything from a medical professional that would even remotely suggest that it is harmful to ingest semen or vaginal secretions (when no disease exists mind you).  Semen is essentially made up of proteins, enzymes, vitamans, sugar and sperm.    Sure, it’s not a pina colada, but it’s not liquid acid either. It is harmless if swallowed.

Why is Oral Sex Such a Difficult Topic in Some Marriages?

In my conversations with many wives, the debate happening in most marriages about oral sex usually is not a moral one.  Most wives aren’t wondering, “Is it okay in God’s eyes for me to do this?”  Most who have reservations are thinking, “Do I really want to do this?”  Or, they have already made up their minds that they “definitely don’t want to do this.”

Husbands, on the other hand, generally are in the camp of wanting oral sex — receiving and giving.   I haven’t read any studies as to why this is, but I am guessing it is because husbands who have experienced oral sex generally enjoy it (or they have heard it feels good and want to experience it).  And, if you talk to wives who enjoy receiving it as well, it’s usually because their spouse has figured out how to do it in a way that is incredibly pleasurable.

Which brings me to another point.  If a couple determines oral sex is a welcome aspect of their sexual intimacy, are there suggestions on what can make it enjoyable?  Here are some ideas worth pondering:

  • Shower before hand (maybe even shower together, which is fun).  Concerns about cleanliness and odors of the genital area can quickly be resolved by coming to bed clean.
  • Ask for and give feedback.  As simple as oral sex seems in theory, in practice the intensity of pleasure can vary greatly depending on how oral sex is performed.  Unfortunately, husbands and wives don’t intuitively come into marriage knowing what their partner is going to prefer sexually.  You don’t need to run out and buy Cosmo to figure out how to give pleasure.  You and your spouse simply need to specifically and lovingly guide each other and communicate.  “I like it when you ____________” or “It feels really good when you ___________.”  The key is to be specific.  The clitoris and the head of the penis sometimes need more pressure and stimulation than we realize. (Some Christian sex books actually address in detail how to give oral sex).

Finally, my last suggestion is that oral sex not become the only form of sexual intimacy in a marriage. There is something tenderly unifying about a husband’s penis within his wife’s vagina, so to completely toss such encounters aside would be foolish in my book.

I believe God has granted us tremendous freedom for creativity within our marital sexual intimacy.  As long as no third parties are involved and neither spouse is being hurt (physically, emotionally or spiritually), then I think God delights in a couple fully embracing their sexual experience, going to sacred depths of vulnerability, love and pleasure.

For more reading on oral sex, there is a great page over at Paul and Lori Byerly’s site.  It addresses oral sex and a wide variety of other topics that compel couples to ask “What’s Okay? What’s Not?”  The Byerlys are really forerunners in talking openly and thoroughly to Christians about sex.

I also really like how Marla Taviano talks about oral sex in her book “Is That All He Thinks About” (one of my favorite Christian sex books, by the way. Just to clarify — Taviano talks about all aspects of sexual intimacy, not just oral sex).  Nearly all of the other Christian sex books also address it, so you are not lacking for resources.

As with any controversial topic, there are not easy solutions.  If the issue of oral sex is a source of contention in your marriage, I encourage you and your husband to seek God’s wisdom, to pray, and to honestly discuss how you each feel.  I’m not saying this is a guarantee that you will arrive at a place of unity on it, but I do think your odds are greater when you press into God’s heart and Word.

Let’s be about shedding light and generating dialogue, even when the conversations get uncomfortable.

Copyright 2010. Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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69 thoughts on “Pulling Back the Sheets: Genuine Dialogue Among Christians about Oral S.ex

  1. A says:

    Rosa ; You tell a story of such deep pain that is something I understand. We were married 25 years before the dam broke in our marriage. I was so hurt by her not being interested in anything sexual. She never got it till about 7 years ago. I had to literally suppress my sexual desire for her to keep the peace. Some people think it’s wrong to share these very sensitive topics. It’s different for every couple but it has a common tread that needs to be broken. In my case I never wanted to demand something I was convinced was wrong only to later realize we both loved sexual things together and no wrong can be done if we are both willing partners.

  2. Anonymous says:

    @ Rosa,
    I believe you make some very good points.

    For me as a woman, there is a very fine line between feeling wanted and feeling wanted for sex.
    I have also experienced the “I give a little, he wants more” syndrome. That I believe is an element of the male sex drive. I cannot wrap my head around how some kinky act makes my husband feel loved by me, when it makes me often feel used by him. I think that may be one factor in why some women just lose interest, they begin to feel “sexually unsafe”.

    My husband’s sex drive does not necessarily make me feel loved, though many men feel that their desire for sex should make their wives feel just that.
    I find it only one form of expression of love that can be shared but the drive for sex isn’t only driven by love.
    What happens when a man takes blood pressure meds or becomes stressed and experiences a drop in his libido? Does that mean he loves his wife less because he’s not as interested in sex?

    It’s all so confusing.

    What I find the saddest is that so many people have come to define how they feel loved by their partner primarily through their partners desire to have sex with them. Sex drive’s are dynamic and affected by so many different things, it seems crazy to rely on someone else’s interest in sex to define your self worth and lovability. What a way to set yourself up for disappointment.

  3. Larry B says:

    @ Anonymous:

    “I find it only one form of expression of love that can be shared but the drive for sex isn’t only driven by love.”

    Yes, sex (in any form) is not the only expression of love within the marriage. If the couple works on their relationship outside the bedroom that can help them in the bedroom with sexual intimacy. The reverse also proves to be true for many couples – that by improving their sexual intimacy their loving relationship outside the bedroom is strengthened and deepened.

    Yes, the drive for sex is not only driven by love. Here, wives should note that husbands (especially young men) do need frequent physical release. If the wife too often refuses sex, that can and does build frustration and then resentment in her husband. Do not think of your husband as necessarily being selfish here. Try to understand that his needs differ from yours, and that you, as his wife, can help to satisfy his needs.

    “. . . it seems crazy to rely on someone else’s interest in sex to define your self worth and lovability.”

    I think that this statement misses the point of the article. In the context of marriage, especially Christian marriage, there is a purpose and role for sexual intimacy (in addition to procreation). To be sure, the loving marriage relationship is about more than sexual intimacy and sexual fulfillment. That said, couples ought to work for a mutually fulfilling sexual intimacy in their marriage. Sometimes, that means doing things for and with your spouse (such as giving oral sex) that may not be that enjoyable for one’s self but give much joy and satisfaction to one’s spouse.

  4. Karen says:

    My husband doesn’t like to give oral.
    He gags every time he tries. I’ve decided no more. I cannot relax and enjoy the moment knowing he is somewhat repulsed by the act even though he is willing to try to please me.
    It seems selfish to request something that brings one pleasure while the other is turned off. Where’s the fun in that? It completely ruins the moment, it’s just not worth it. I don’t care if it is “ok”. I get more satisfaction doing things we both enjoy 🙂
    Not all men like to give oral.

  5. Anonymous says:

    @ Larry,

    “Here, wives should note that husbands (especially young men) do need frequent physical release”

    How were those needs met before they got married?

    “That said, couples ought to work for a mutually fulfilling sexual intimacy in their marriage.”

    How does asking your spouse to perform an intimate sexual act they don’t enjoy or may even be averse to, constitute “mutually fulfilling sexual intimacy?”
    Seems to me if a partner is being asked to do something they don’t find palatable very often, they may actually come to not look forward to sexual intimacy at all. Which is not the definition of ‘mutually fulfilling”.

    “the loving marriage relationship is about more than sexual intimacy and sexual fulfillment.”

    Then why is it so important that one partners sexual preference trumps the other persons feelings about that preference?

  6. A says:

    OK I’m a little old fashion. My wife and I married some 32 years ago. The marriage was never an agreement about real good sex!! If it was we would of had a dysfunction family and our children if they would of been conceived under this kind of thinking? No we had a terrible sex life but a good marriage. It was a marriage based on commitment before God. Hard times can come in many forms including a misqued sex life. So sex was never really the issue. But it was an unnecessary pain for me mostly. My wife thought she could do with just enough sex to make some beautiful babies. My penis was so big it hurt both of us. Oral sex was the solution. She finds out after 25 years she’s actually a women with a real high sex drive once she learned a few things. And me as well. For one there is more to sex then making babies. Foreplay is fun for both. Intense orgasms that are stretched by teasing each other are beautiful. Gods Ok with what we do in private. (not a soul needs to know I answer these questions) When one of us gets sick and can’t have sex any more then we can look back on all the things that built character and all the things we enjoyed together. Rosa I believe you and hubby need to come to terms with things together. Maybe even learn to enjoy pleasing without holding out for rewards.

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  8. Elizabeth says:

    @anonymous

    How were those needs met? I think you got it wrong, it’s not a need but a desire, and some men satisfy their desire through porn, which is a bad thing. While others have more self-control. The desire for six is a God-given sex drive, that’s how men were made by God, you can’t do anything about it.

    Does he needs sex all the time? Definitely not. But God calls us to be a cheerful giver, and your husband is part of you, for both of you are one flesh. We should satisfy each other desires.

    In my case, my marriage used to be a sexless marriage, I used to have sex with my husband once a month. My husband used to resent me for that and once he snapped and told me the truth.

    He told me that I wasn’t being a selfless partner, that I shouldn’t be neglecting his desires. He said that I wasn’t giving my maximum in our sex life and that really hurts him.

    He gave me an example, he said that he could also do the same with our marriage life by giving only his minimum, such as not washing the dishes, not showering the kids and putting them to sleep. (Do note that I am a housewife, and he is the sole breadwinner) He said that if he was giving only his minimum, then he wouldn’t even bother giving me a monthly allowance of $2k for me to use to doll myself up or showing affection to me. He could just come home from work and seat on the couch and watch TV.

    From that point on, I gained a new insight that I shouldn’t be complacent and that I should be giving my maximum too. Just like how my husband does all of this even if he isn’t in the mood for it, I should also try to warm up to sex even if I am not in the mood for it. From then on, I realised what it means to be selfless and a cheerful giver.

  9. ugo says:

    And ‘true during pregnancy does not procreate so you would think that oral sex is permitted. But no, because it eliminates the side of procreation in both sides but in the relationship during pregnancy remains the unitive, which in oral sex is not there, it procreative and unitive neither. What is allowed is the oral stimulation but not the oral report is meant as a final orgasm.

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  12. William says:

    I find it interesting that many Christians say oral sex is not to be found in the Bible. It seems to me Song of Solomon 2:3 is clearly a metaphor for fellatio. There are other verses that are metaphors for cunnilingus. Far from not mentioning oral sex, the Bible seems to recommend and encourage oral sex in marriage. I think some American Christians are still stuck in the Victorian age

  13. Andre says:

    There is nothing that shows her love for me more than her willingness to do oral sex and her attitude doing it, not just being a chore

  14. Texas Guy says:

    There is likely no chance that Edward would see this but to any that would read his comment, please note that he is absolutely, completely, totally and utterly WRONG. This is the rhetoric that was used by preachers from 50 years ago plus. They personally felt it was wrong and labeled certain things sinful even though there was no scriptural background. If I can kiss my wife’s lips, hands, neck, and shoulders; why can’t I kiss her breasts and vagina? Her body is mine and my body is hers; we are one flesh. Plus, Edward clearly never read Song of Solomon. I guarantee you that if you took the text from Song of Solomon and put it in a book outside the Bible and labeled it “The Honeymooner’s Tales” he would have put it in the same category as pornography. Oral sex is fantastic and helps many couples in marriage. Don’t listen to people who twist the message of God in any way.

  15. Feeling abused says:

    The only thing my husband wants is oral sex. AND he prefers to receive DAILY if I would AND NEVER EVER TOUCH ME WHAT SO EVER. I’m not in my 20’s any more BUT I do all I can to look good! I’m not fat but to me I am cause I have 5-10 bls I’d like to not have being I was in the fitness industry for yrs I don’t like it. I take great care of my health my skin aLL over my body. Plus I do many things to keep my face looking as good as possible outside of surgery. For yrs now he refuses to kiss me before sex even though I’ve told him kissing is foreplay to me he wants nothing to do with it. IF he ever does touch me sexual it’s right to get the end result so he can get what he wants! 🙁 Never ever does he take time to touch me other places and make it a wonderful experience. I feel like I’m an un paid hooked and I can’t do it so we’ve had no contact for months and to him it’s all my fault cause he tris to get ONLY what he wants without RESOONDING to my desires. I honestly think he is sexton online when I’m at church Wens nights for AWANA cause that is ALWAYS the night he showers and rarely ever showers any other time:-(…… No I can’t talk to him cause he refuses to I try. He just screams n yells to shut me up. So, what do I do?

  16. Julie Sibert says:

    @Feeling abused… I’m so sorry to hear how your husband is treating you. He does sound abusive. I encourage you to find a safe mature female Christian confidante who you can talk to who may also be able to guide you on how to address the abuse. Also, some books that may give you good insights: “How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong” by Leslie Vernick, “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage” by Leslie Vernick; and “10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages” by Karla Downing.

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  18. Running Deeper says:

    I couldn’t agree more with your statement: Oral sex is sex!
    I have learnt to become a student of my wife’s body. It is incredibly made! I simply stand in awe in God made her body the way He did. I never want to stop learning and oral sex has been a beautiful way to discover more and more of her sexual being.
    Why did God give women a clitoris when it has absolutely nothing to do with making babies? All it seems to be there for is to provide women with an incredible well of sexual pleasure. I urge all you women, communicate with your husband about the wonders of your clit, allow him to discover how he can rock your world. Men, forget about your own urges/needs and begin to tend to your wife’s sexual pleasures which begin to boil when you spend time getting to know her clit. You’ll be amazed at the incredible sex you can both experience if you share the journey together.
    Thanks for you post Julie. I’m a relative newcomer to your blogs but I’m grateful for your contribution already. We’ve been married 39yrs and it took me more than 10yrs before I had the “guts” to head south. Communication was virtually non-existent back then so I bravely and fearfully made my journey. To my delight, she loved it! We haven’t looked back since and are learning to communicate better with each passing year. It’s really only been in the last 10yrs that we have really started open, honest communication and it is literally changing the way we enjoy sex together.

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