The Sexual Sin No One Will Talk About

sinI once heard someone say that when a married couple mutually values and nurtures sexual intimacy, then sex is really not an “issue” in the marriage.

In other words, healthy sexual intimacy is so woven into the fabric of how they do life that they barely notice it as a separate entity.

The positive effects of all that great sex seem to show up throughout the marriage, yet a couple wouldn’t necessarily be able to pinpoint such benefits.   The marriage is simply characterized by a shared sense of  being on the “same page” and the “same team,” often with a fair amount of joy and grace.

On the other hand, if sex is rarely or never happening, it usually is a big issue. A very big issue.

The lack of sex permeates every aspect of the marriage, tarnishing even the simplest of interactions with disdain and resentment.

“I don’t really want to take out the garbage or do anything for you.  I am so tired of being your roommate. I am so tired of feeling rejected.”

The rejected spouse doesn’t necessarily speak out loud those sentiments (or any resemblance of them), yet the marriage is characterized by the weight of disillusionment and disappointment.  The lack of sex affects everything.

What does this have to do with sin?

More often than not, when we think of sexual sin, particularly in the context of marriage, what comes to mind?  Pornography and adultery, right?

If we lined up 100 people and asked each to name a sexual sin that gravely impacts marriage, I would bet my last dollar that the majority would say either pornography or adultery (or both).

Would anyone mention the sin of ongoing sexual refusal?

We are incredibly quick to identify pornography and adultery as sexual sins that damage and, in some cases, destroy marriages.

We are painfully slow, though, to identify sexual refusal as a sin. Yet we know… we know… that this sin too damages and, in some cases, destroys marriages.

We need look no further than our own marriages (if sex is not mutually valued) or those of people we know.  We need to look no further than the advice column that shows up in our local newspaper, or in the conclusions and research that spill forth from the counseling industry (Christian and secular).

When sex is rarely or never happening in a marriage, it causes division, discouragement and, in some cases, divorce.  It’s a serious issue, to say the least.

And more than being an issue, ongoing sexual refusal is a sin.

God clearly tells (and reminds) married couples to have sex… and not just to have it, but to have it often.   He gives no other biblical options for a married person to seek sex except with their spouse.

“Have it often with your spouse and don’t have it with other people” is a mantra that permeates all corners of the Bible.

Is it more or less serious than pornography or adultery?  In God’s book, sin is sin is sin.

I definitely think sexual refusal is more subtle than pornography or adultery.  But its subtlety does not make it any less severe.  And it doesn’t make it any less painful.

Ironically, though, this sin of sexual refusal — rather than grieving our Christian hearts — commonly is fodder for comedy.  Girlfriends gather for wine night or Bunco and laugh at each other’s sarcastic remarks about their husbands always wanting it.

Or we flip on nightly sitcoms, where marital sex inevitably is pigeonholed into a predictable scene of a goof-ball panting husband wanting sex and his oh-so-much-more-mature wife rolling her eyes, annoyed with what she sees as nothing more than his animalistic and unrefined desires.

Now, far be it from me to say that this sin of sexual refusal is an easy one to acknowledge, repent of and correct.  It’s not easy.  Maybe not any easier than repenting of pornography or infidelity.

And I’m not one to throw stones.

In my first marriage, I was the one carelessly not nurturing our sexual intimacy, and I have no doubt such carelessness is what compelled my then husband to march us into divorce court.  Sure, it would have been nice if he would have found it in his heart to stop at a counselor’s office long before that, but he didn’t.  And at that point, my pleading fell on deaf ears.

The damage was done.

So, suffice to say, I am intimately aware of some of the costs of sexual refusal.

I learned a lot from that pain and regret, which is probably why sex in my current marriage is happening often and enjoyed immensely by both of us.  (In case you were wondering, I still did repent of my careless ways and apologized to my ex-husband, even though I was already remarried).

If you are married and the sin of sexual refusal is laying claim to your marriage, why not humbly and courageously give repentance a shot before you’re facing regrets?  There are countless couples who have been where you are, and have found that on the other side of repentance is tenacious and God-filled hope.

God is about healing brokenness and making all things new.

But He won’t do it for us.  We have to partner with Him in that.

For the sake of marriages, Christians have a tremendous opportunity (and responsibility) to stop ignoring (collectively and individually) this sin of sexual refusal.

We have nothing to lose and much to gain through honest dialogue about sex — and what it means to protect it, savor it, nurture it and pursue it in our marriages.

For more great reading on sexual refusal, check out Paul Byerly’s post The Sin the Church Ignores.

Copyright 2013, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.

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177 thoughts on “The Sexual Sin No One Will Talk About

  1. D says:

    To Maria and Lilian I m so sorry and again I feel like I need to apologize for your husbands, I feel like I am in the same boat except I’m the husband, and I wish my wife had just a little of your desire you both have for your husbands, I would love to be intamate with her just to hear her rise in pleasure and knowing that it’s because of me wow I haven’t felt that in years, I think that you are both good wives GodBless you both n GodBless all of us that are having issues in our marriages

  2. MJ says:

    I am dealing with a different issue but similar to that aspect of refusing sex. I am the husband and have withheld sexy from my wife for a few months. This was because other things in the relationship had me checked out mentally, physically, and emotionally. Namely centering from control. Now we are going through a divorce and I feel bad that I held out from her so we have been hooking up lately and part of it is because I felt bad for holding out. The other part is that all the fighting was gone and we got close again but at the wrong time. The reason I held out is because she uses sex as a control and it was my way of protecting myself in a way. Nobody talks about this but I know it happens so wanted to see what others thought.

  3. Shattered heart says:

    Well…after 14 years of being rejected and ignored on every level, and only being communicated with when my wife wants money or a favor…has made me pretty worthless. I’ve done everything to try and win her love, but the reality is she only married me to be a “wife”, to be “married” and to have kids. She’s even admitted that she only sticks around for the financial support. This truth has killed my soul and will to care or love. Now that I lost my job. I truly am worthless and have nothing more to say or do. The rejection of being unwanted and pain of loneliness has become unbearable. I do not live, I just exist to provide for someone that cares nothing for me. I’ve been miserable for many years. I haven’t felt joy or even smiled in years. God lied! This is more than more than I can handle. I’m checking out. I’m sorry kids, but my misery only brings you down too. Hopefully mommy finds a better husband and a better father for you because I’ll never be good enough to be loved. What is so damn wrong with me?

  4. D says:

    Listen to me shattered heart Please don’t do anything extreme! I can relate to you I’ve been married over 35 years after the 6th year she told me she had been abused as a child so you can imagine the lack of intamacy in this house, then just 3 years ago I was diagnosed with cancer in my throat but dr was able to take it out, then soon after that I was bleeding whenever I would stool I was diagnosed with colon cancer dr was able to cut out a length of intestine, then a year later while at work I fell about 9 feet onto my back on concrete from a ladder I’ve had 3 surgeries and am now fused from L/3-S/1 and they now want to fuse both my SI joints I am in constant pain, my point is my wife works and I don’t although my job is retiring me medically and I’m on SSDI I’m making more than my wife still while being disabled but I feel like she doesn’t respect me like she did when I was making more money plus she isn’t interested in sex with me at all it’s been several years, so I know how you feel because sometimes I feel like a failure but I’m not neither are you if our wives don’t except us and what has happened to us not by our fault its their failure not ours! We just need to move on make new friends and keep going and Please don’t blame our God we don’t have the comprehension to know what his plan is for us just know that it’s for good and not to harm us always give thanks and praise to him because this life is short but what comes next is eternal and it’s beautiful so please don’t give up please, he loves you and there is always someone who cares for you

  5. TJ says:

    Dear Shattered Heart, I’m so sorry for the pain you are going through. I hope you come back to read this. Do not give up! Pray over your wife and for her. It is never too late. God will restore everything that has been stolen from you. It will not be easy, but remind yourself over and over again of God’s promises and His faithfulness over your life. Trust Him and give him freedom to take the reins and make you and your spouse one again. And it is not true that you are not good enough to be loved. You were first loved by our Lord, and He has not forgotten you. In fact, He is pursuing you with an all-consuming love. It is not impossible for His love to rekindle your marriage. I will be praying for you and your wife.

  6. Mary says:

    I am a wife who has suffered from depression for many years. I get help and meds. My sex drive has always been higher than my husband’s. As he developed a health ailment, he had some ED issues and desire issues. I understood it. However, instead of asking his doctor for different meds (which caused the ED), he mostly blamed my yelling and overall bossiness as why he wasn’t interested in sex. I admit I’m a big pain in the butt, however, 9 years of my life were spent asking him for sex and getting rejected more a huge percentage of the time. He didn’t even offer to please me. I found tons of porn on his computer. I have a very hard time forgiving him, even though we’ve been to therapy together about 6 sessions. He hasn’t had ED in years, but his desire is still not too high. I told him if he can’t give me more sex I need to move on. I felt so betrayed, ugly, useless all the times we didn’t have sex. He doesn’t seem to understand how his refusals and rejection has affected me. He just said he felt terrible but didn’t mean to hurt me. I thought I forgave him, but as the same sex issues resurface, I realize I am so angry and bitter. We’ve been married for 23 years, and I fear I’ll always be unwanted, and pushing him just to want me. I want him to desire me and initiate sex for once.

  7. Yusuf says:

    Life really looked and felt good when I got married at 22 years old , I am 37 now and my wedding day still haunts me.Intimicy for this last 15 years with my wife was all about her checking up according to her test if I was sleeping around.To my wedding day , father in law never came to the wedding because of the church I belonged to and he has made my life a living hell by convincing my wife never to trust a man!My kids have not been baptised neither can they attend church with me.Sex in the marriage and O I am married to a nurse and she says that once a month I must have sex with her to see how much sperm I have that is her test to see if I am sleeping around! Is that intimacy nope that is like being sent to hell once a month.I do everything I work , I cook , I clean and take my kids to school even iron everyones clothes everyday.I have given up on life to be treated like a lab rat.Sometimes I wonder would I be better of just not being around anymore.

  8. KK says:

    I have been married for a year and a half. I unexpectedly became pregnant about 3 months after our wedding. Getting a time to be intimate is difficult with a 6month old and with his work schedule. But he has refused me since our son was born. He maybe does once a month if that. Yesterday he told me he was bisexual and also he didn’t want another baby popping out. I have tried foreplay and dressing sexy for him as well as offering to try anything he wishes, but he doesn’t want it. I’ve begged him to do anything intimate, and I am stilled refused. I know he likes to watch porn and I don’t know that has something to do with. I have express how unhappy and asked if we could go get some help, but he doesn’t want to and thinks there is no issue. I don’t know what to do.

  9. Distraught says:

    I love my wife. My wife is all I want sexually. My wife doesn’t feel the same. Everything is an excuse to not be intimate, bad day, too busy, tired, depressed, the sun has set, the cat meows too much, etc.etc.etc.etc. I work, I go to graduate school, I clean the house for her, I wash the dishes, I cook dinner, I send her flowers, I text her loving notes, I show up at her work with candy and a book she wants, I ask her about her day, I’m a shoulder for her to cry on, I love her, and I feel bad that her lack of intimacy crushes my soul. I just want my wife back. I miss the hand holding, her rubbing my arm, her making me feel wanted. I find myself doing things I’ve never done; appreciating the beauty of other women, the pull to pornography to fulfill my needs, and then the roller coaster of struggle with my sinful desires. My wife is all I need and she refuses me. I know I’m responsible for what I do but it is difficult to stay the course when she doesn’t care, when I’m 5th or 6th on her list of important things in life. I’m tired of being rejected, I’m tired of loving unconditionally when I question how important I am to my wife. I pray for all the husbands and wives going through this. God help us.

  10. Aditya says:

    We met on an chat portal. I’m single due to a bad breakup & she has been in a dysfunctional marriage since past 5yrs. She has been married over a decade now but complains her husband neglects her sexual needs. I don’t wanna do it with a married female but my sex drive is way too high and being single for a long time has taken its toll on me but am considering being just friends with her if it’s a sin. Awaiting your replies

  11. Clara says:

    One widowed woman’s perspective:

    For many, many years: Sex was for HIM, him working out how he was going to fulfill HIS ideas of sex — HIS fantasies. I was to be “thrilled” to just be the object of his interest and his massive penis was supposed to automatically “send me to waves of rapturous joy.” But it didn’t. Also, I was to be responsive whenever HE wanted sex, but he could routinely turn me down and rejected any ideas that I had with absolute consistency. I was to figure out how to have a good time on my own. It was extremely boring and depressing.

    When it finally dawned on him that he was being a selfish pig… a clunky, tedious, boring husband and lover, it was like a lightening bolt revelation to him and things did get much, much better. But that revelation was damned slow in coming about — YEARS in the making. Tons of wasted time.

    I’m widowed now. Single. NOT sexually active. Although I am an extremely passionate person, I don’t miss sex much because I have other things I do that are much more fulfilling and interesting. Furthermore, because of my experiences, I am fully aware of the difficulties in “meshing” sexually. For men, it would seem, it’s SEX. Just sex. For women, it’s the universe. It’s the expanse and depth of relationship. That word: RELATIONSHIP. Without the right relationship, for me, sex is a mind numbing, boring waste of time (and in my opinion: turns a woman into a virtual prostitute.) And having that “right” relationship is no easy feat.

    Frankly, I don’t have enough years left in my life to fritter away waiting and struggling with this kind of crap. A man doesn’t come “made to fit right off the rack” and since the limits of time and energy kind of demand that, I’m thinking I’m better off developing myself and finding fulfillment that way. I’m not closed to the idea of a new husband… but the realities of life make it unlikely.

  12. Michelle Green says:

    My husband and i have been together for almost 17 years …but we have not had ANY kind of intimacy in over 10 YEARS!!!
    I used to work full time and really didnt have time to think about the lack there of i guess,. But now…i have had several medical issues enhance which have caused me unable to work so am on disability. I have several autoimmune diseases which have caused me to gain Alot of weight…i also have Lupus so No energy to excercize. But i am Not a invalid!
    I guess since i have so much time on my hands and we are home together All the time (he is retired)…i have plenty of time to listen to sermons, pray and think.
    It really has been on my heart HEAVY that we have not been together in such along period of time, so i brought it up in conversation….his comment…”you are too BIG”!
    I ballled..that night and MANY nights since…he also has said to me..”I love you and i want this marriage to work, But…i am Not remotely attracted to you””!!
    Yes…we both are christians. He says something is wrong with me because that is NOT what marriage is about. And he refers to it simply as SEX!
    I cannot believe THIS IS MY LIFE! I guess my questions are 1) Is thede scripture that specifically states his refusal of intimacy is a sin ? And 2) Would. Divorce be acceptable under these circumstances?
    Also i have suggested we talk to someone…he said he doesnt need help. But he believes i Do!
    My heart HURTS! I have prayed and prayed for God to work in this marriage…..WHY????? WHY WONT HE??

  13. brent says:

    i know how you suffer. life without sexual passion and fufillment is very lonely depreesing.many nights i have desired death just to en the lifestyle

  14. Anonymous says:

    My experience is similar to that of Shatteried Heart. So so tired of being a mere utility for my loveless, sexless wife. What a con job. She parades around the house like she is the second coming of Moses and Paul combined, while withholding even simple basic approval, let alone sexual intamacy. Expensive counseling, meeting with our pastor, and she pretends she didn’t know she was supposed to have sex with her husband.

    What a wasted life. Many times I have thought to kill myself, but my kids need me. I dismiss those feelings quickly, so don’t worry.

    She had deprived me of basic respect, cooperation, agreement, companionship, financial sanity and of course, intamacy. She justifies it all, her being such a mature Christian woman…makes me sick.

    I often just plain Hate her. What is left, I tried for so many years, tried just to get some basic respect, and someone to talk to. She won’t have it. I so so burnt out. My marriage checkbook is so very very overdrawn… I feel bankrupt, but of course she has nearly financially bankrupted us despite the fact i have made six figures for years.

    I made all the $, changed half the diapers, did 90% of the dishes (with the kids), did far more than my share of the chores, did the grocery shopping, and actually drove her around for years because she refused to drive. All the while she complained about my driving. I do not know how I made it.

    My pastor rebuked me for complaining about her. Sheesh. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. We had an appointment to discuss problems in the marriage, and then he slammed me for mentioning the problems. Now she uses that against me. She, of course, has no memory of him telling her that I was the authority in some household matters. BTW- my pastor is well known and leads a church with global ministries. I feel set up.

    Expensive marriage counselor made her worse and more aloof. My ‘guy’ counselor basically told me his wife is bat shit crazy too. Great help.

    Oldest and youngest kids ok. Middle kids very messed up. I should have taken them from her 10 years ago. She had a habit of non stop complaining, and starting fights with the kids.

    My oldest son handled it quite well. He told her a few times a day he loved her and hugged her, the ignored virtually everything she said.

    My younger kidd have not been able to handle it as well.

    Last year or so she pretends not to get my texts or calls and mostly refuses to acknowledge my communication attempts.

    She disagrees with virtually everything I do, and takes pleasure in letting me know.

    Outside of the marriage I have a successful business with hundreds of clients who are friends many of which have been with me for 20 years. I am not a loser, I’m a winner. I just married a woman who turned into some despicable creature.

    I wish my church would have taken up this message 10 years ago 20 years ago. They won’t though cuz the church employs many women in the school in the various Ministries and they have jobs and they tithe so they are untouchable. It is sick. If my kids didn’t have so many friends there I would leave.

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  16. Jamie says:

    You hit the nail on the head in this post. It goes both ways. No wife or husband should ever hold back or refuse to take part in what God made to be so awesome in marriage. Yes I can relate to this article. Not really going into the issues in my own life but I’m praying hard that all challenges can be over come with the Lord’s help!

  17. Anonymous says:

    I very much enjoy this article and 100% believe it to be true. But I want to interject, as some may have.. I’m not sure as I have not read all of the comments, but it’s not necessarily just the absence of sex, it’s the absence of sexual intimacy. For a time my wife and I were having sex regularly, but it was empty. She disconnected … always! … without fail… no kissing no touching, nothing that promotes intimacy … There I was “getting sex” and sometimes even some favors that were *just for me*. However there was no meaning behind her acts with me. She was completely void of emotion or passion our conversation or any window or flirtatiousness nothing… and never promoted the idea of Oneness through sexual intimacy. Do you know how hard it is for a man who is “getting sex” to tell his wife he feels like he is being neglected sexually? I did indeed have that conversation. It was very difficult. She had admitted that she reduced sex to something merely physical that I needed a release with. She had no desire to actually be sexually intimate because she did not want to be vulnerable … she isolated herself from me on many levels. There is a lot behind the motives, most are from prior to our marriage, but we are indeed working through it, sometimes anger on both our parts comes through. Especially as she tries to reshape her preferences, and learn what is truly a preference verses her old mode of disconnecting. But, we are both committed to our marriage and the God’s plan for Oneness. So, we are very very fortunate that we both have the same God looking out after our growth.

    The whole point of my post is simply to ensure that readers understand that sexual neglect often comes from the emotional neglect during the act, along with the act of not having sex.

  18. A says:

    Before we decided to enjoy sex our marriage was sometimes very cool and thoughtless. Even though from a distance it may of seemed good. Without other couples knowing now we can tell who has sexual fun. I’m sure every couple needs to understand the uniqueness of their desires and body types. Sex takes time and practice.

  19. A says:

    By the way we love oral sex as a mutual pleasure. My wife knows how much I enjoy her eagerness to please but also to lay back and just enjoy being enjoyed.

  20. Susan says:

    Reading this, because I’m engaged to the man of my dreams, he is a great father, great man, provides for us im on disability . I have a huge issue hoping for feed back , he has e.d issues, which im being understanding, because I love him, and want to marry him, but im very sexual, we have sex maybe once a week, i definitely want more, and im the one asking, i want to feel wanted, and have him make a move sometimes, i dont want to throw away our relationship because of sex, what should i do?

  21. Kr says:

    I to have the same situation married for 34 years but still disire to love and be loved by my wife in every way that a married couple should have in a life given by the grace of God..I cook.clean.wash clothes.dishes even give her a massage with the best oils..there is sex but flat with no excitement like no spark help help

  22. LiveByTruth says:

    The Bible is very clear on sex, when, how often, its benefits. The gift of giving of sex to our spouses even when we dont desire it is designed by God to teach us man/woman to be more like Christ / Bride of Christ. Lead selflessly, follow after him.

    Lovingly reminding a spouse that is truly saved, that to deny their husbands or wives sex is direct disobedience to Gods word, will definitely get their attention.

    Beyond sex, Gods word also requires us men to not deny our spouses the loving affection (none sexual attention) she is due.

    To the men: Lead your family as christ did. Boldly, and confident in the Truth. Be steadfast on what the holy spirit leads you to do.

    To the women: Pray for your husbands, show him Honor, be submissive to how he wants to lead your family. encourage him, as learns to lead.

    Honor God by living out your marriage as he designed it be. Which includes alot of sex with your spouse. Our lives are to be a living sacrifice holy and pleasing to him

    Ask your spouse to read Gods word and pray with you, and then ask them if they will forgive you for any past transgressions that may be hardening their heart towards you.

    We must not complain in the flesh hoping for a change. God will not be mocked if we leave our spouses or commit adultery because we cannot stay the course.

    Be encouraged, read the word.

  23. Frank says:

    More than frustrated We have been married for over 40 years but only 25 not counting after our divorce she is a victim of sexual abuse and trauma in her child hood nothing surfaced until after 15 years of marriage and birth of our second son a difficult birth then all down hill from there she is officially diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and personality disorder it’s been 29 years now and nothing no intimacy at all nothing notta no hand holding no kissing except for she allows kiss on cheek nothing more has been in therapy all these years we have done couples counseling and all to no avail she says she don’t want anything to do with sex or sexually in our relationship I just don’t see it surviving much longer she won’t even talk about anything I see my own therapist but just don’t want to or care anymore very resentful and also holding in many things and feelings of anger so any advice

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