If ever there was a blog post where I had to lead with some disclaimers, it’s this one.
Over the years in my speaking engagements and through my online platforms, I have received various versions of the question, “Is anal sex permissible?”
It’s a valid question, and just because it can be an uncomfortable topic doesn’t mean we shouldn’t discuss it. People are asking, because they genuinely want some insight on it.
My goal isn’t just to share my insights. My deeper hope is that through this blog post, I would encourage husbands and wives to have respectful conversations with each other about anal sex. If your spouse has shown interest in anal sex, strive to not shame them for that interest. Instead, see it as a topic the two of you need to maturely discuss.
The first disclaimer I would offer is actually one I say about any sexual act other than penis-in-vagina (PIV) sexual intercourse. While there is overwhelming agreement among Christians that PIV sexual intercourse is not only permissible but also expected in marriage, there are varying degrees of agreement on nearly all other sexual acts or experiences in marriage.
For example, Christians do not always agree that oral sex is biblically acceptable. Or masturbation. Or use of sex toys. Or role play.
As far as degrees of agreement, I think of it as a spectrum.
On one end of the spectrum are sexual acts that more Christians believe are acceptable in marriage. Not all Christians, of course, but if you asked a broad group of Christians, the vast majority would say, “Yes, that’s acceptable from a biblical standpoint.” For example, oral sex would be on this end of the spectrum. In all my reading and writing and discussing, there is general consensus that oral sex is permissible for a husband and wife in the exclusivity of their relationship.
On the other end of the spectrum are sexual acts where Christians overwhelmingly say something is not acceptable. Sure, you will find some Christians who say those acts are permissible, but the vast majority would say, “No, that’s not acceptable from a biblical standpoint.” For example, BDSM would be on this end of the spectrum. The B stands for bondage, D for discipline or dominance, S for submission or sadochism, and M for masochism. Generally speaking, most Christians associate BDSM with fringe behavior and believe it does not honor the marriage covenant.
Across the spectrum you will find other sexual acts or behaviors that have varying levels of agreement among Christians about what is acceptable. I don’t want to debate the spectrum of what Christians believe is permissible; I merely want to point out it exists.
Where anal sex falls on such a spectrum depends on whom you ask. I would generally say, though, that it falls more toward what Christians would believe is not permissible than toward what Christians believe is permissible.
All of the above is my long-winded disclaimer to say if you are looking for definitive agreement among Christians and theologians about the biblical permissibility of anal sex, you will never find it. It’s a controversial topic.
The other disclaimer I offer before I dig in is that you and your spouse make decisions for your marriage. I as a speaker and writer on sexual intimacy in marriage can give you my opinions and insights, but they are simply that—my opinions and insights.
You and your spouse together have to determine what is right for your marriage.
I, of course, encourage you to pray, seek God’s Word, discuss and arrive at a decision that you believe reflects scripture as you interpret it, as well as takes into consideration your specific marriage and what you believe would be positive for your marriage.
As I often have said, sexual intimacy should draw a husband and wife together, not create an environment of division, selfishness or coercion. In my opinion, even a sex act that many Christians view as permissible would not be permissible for your marriage if experiencing it happens only because one of you is coercing or guilting the other one into participating.
For example, I believe oral sex is permissible in marriage, but if a spouse experienced past abuse that included oral sex, that may be too big of a negative trigger for that marriage. Oral sex in that marriage may not be a sex act that would draw them together, and one spouse coercing the other into doing it would certainly not be loving. Another marriage, on the other hand, may not have that negative trigger, and the couple may absolutely love what oral sex brings to their sexual intimacy.
The foundation of marriage and sex within marriage must always be love. How we carry ourselves sexually should reflect the love we have for our spouse.
Wow! Such lengthy disclaimers. I know. But that’s because I am trying to create a safe space to discuss this topic and I want you to know I don’t take the topic lightly. So in that light, here goes…
Do I think anal sex is permissible in a Christian marriage?
I do. That’s my short answer. But I have a slew of caveats on which you need to hear my heart. So even if you disagree with me (which is fine. lots of people disagree with me on various aspects of sex), please keep reading.
Two aspects behind my reasoning…
1. Sexual freedom in marriage
I have long maintained that God gives a married couple tremendous sexual freedom within the exclusivity and love of their marriage.
What a husband and wife do sexually is to be kept just between the two of them. No third parties can be involved, meaning no other people actually participating in your sexual intimacy, no one watching you and your spouse have sex, no involvement of someone else visually depicted (pornography), and no fantasies about people other than your spouse.
And sex should be a place of love. It is not loving to force, coerce or manipulate your spouse into doing a sexual act they don’t want to do. If there is not heartfelt agreement between the two of you that anal sex is something you want to try, then it’s off limits. You can’t expect your spouse to participate in anal sex in the same way that you can reasonably expect them to have sexual intercourse with you. Apples and oranges, my friends. Apples and oranges.
You can’t lose sight of the spectrum I talked about earlier. All sexual acts do not fall on the same spot on that spectrum, and as such, each couple needs to determine what is right for their specific marriage.
Considering the context of exclusivity and love, I think a married couple has tremendous sexual freedom, including anal sex if they so choose. A married couple may decide they want to try anal sex. They may decide they both like it and want to incorporate it into their repertoire of lovemaking experiences.
They also may decide after trying it that it’s not something they want to continue.
And that brings me to my next important point…
As with any sexual act, even if the two of you agree to try anal sex, you each still retain the freedom to change your mind. Just as it is not loving to force your spouse to do a specific sexual act, it also is not loving to insist they keep doing it if they have determined it isn’t right for them.
Anal sex by its very nature requires a tremendous amount of trust and vulnerability. In most instances, when people are asking me about anal sex, they are talking about a husband inserting his penis in his wife’s anus. Sometimes anal play can involve the wife using a sexual toy or her fingers to enter her husband’s anus, particularly to stimulate the prostate internally, but that’s usually not what people think of when they hear the term “anal sex.” Most people think of a penis in an anus.
During anal sex, the wife is the one who has the greatest risk of pain and/or injury. I will talk more on that in a moment. The wife has to be able to trust that if she tells her husband to slow down or stop, that he indeed will slow down or stop. This can include stopping the act altogether midway through if she finds it to be too painful or uncomfortable. If you are going to try anal sex, you have to have this level of trust in each other.
This may surprise you, but I have heard from Christian married couples and read of Christian married couples who do genuinely enjoy anal sex. It’s not something they do every time, but there are times when they desire it and enjoy the stimulation it brings to both of them.
In those cases where a husband and wife have mutually agreed anal sex is an enjoyable aspect of their intimacy, I cannot reasonably argue against it. I see it as something they have determined falls within the sexual playground God has given them.
Christians who argue anal sex is scripturally wrong often point to Genesis 19. This is where we get the account of men from the city of Sodom coming to the home of Lot and insisting the men Lot is housing (who actually are angels of the Lord who have taken on the appearance of men) be brought out so the men of the city can have sex with them.
This is where we get the term sodomy to refer to anal intercourse. Though the instance in Genesis 19 refers to sex between men, many Christians and theologians have interpreted this on a broader scale to say all anal intercourse is detestable in the eyes of the Lord.
I hold the view that the issue of concern described in Genesis 19 was men having sex with men. And the men Lot was housing were angels of the Lord, so that could be a factor as well—that these are heavenly beings with the appearance of men, and it would have been detestable for the men of the city to do something sexual with these heavenly beings. I believe God designed sex for a husband and a wife, so regardless of what kind of sex (anal, oral, a hand job, etc.) would have been happening in this specific Sodom setting, it wouldn’t have been sexual intimacy between a husband and a wife.
Lot quickly tries to offer up his daughters to the men of the city, which would have been detestable as well, because those daughters were not married to any of those men. Lot panicked, and fortunately his house guests (the Lord’s messengers) intervened, pulled Lot back into the house and inflicted blindness on the men of the city.
While I can respect people interpret this scripture differently than I do, I don’t waver in how I interpret it. I don’t think this is a blanket declaration that anal sex is always wrong. I think the contextual factors in the setting make it wrong in this instance.
What about other scripture? Even if some Christians don’t believe the above scripture prohibits anal sex specifically, they would maintain a married couple shouldn’t experience anal sex because of what we read in 1 Corinthians 10:23:
“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.” (NKJV)
While I respect people may use this scripture to say anal sex is wrong, I don’t share that interpretation. Some couples could indeed read the same scripture and decide for their marriage anal sex is indeed lawful and helpful in nurturing their oneness and intimacy.
Some Christians may point to additional scriptures that don’t say anything specific about anal sex, but they contend such scriptures show God would not approve of the sex act. In the same vein, some Christians may do the same thing to support anal sex—interpret a scripture that they see as giving sexual liberty that would encompass anal sex.
How we interpret scripture and apply it to our lives matters. And it is deeply personal.
Two people can read the exact same piece of scripture and arrive at different conclusions. Thus is the nature of sinful humans (that’s all of us) striving to understand and follow a perfect God.
When it comes to anal sex, Christians are not going to universally agree on the interpretation of scripture—as is the case with a long list of other aspects of life as well. This is why if you are wondering if anal sex would be appropriate for your marriage, I encourage you and your spouse to dig into scripture, pray and reach conclusions you believe are right for your marriage.
In addition to the question about permissibility, below are some other questions I get:
If we want to try anal sex, what are some precautions we should consider?
Unlike many other sexual acts, anal sex is unique in that it carries a higher risk from a physiological standpoint for injury and infection. For example, there is greater risk of tissue tearing in the anus if a couple is not careful in the rate and depth of thrusting. For this reason, lubrication is essential, either saliva or an artificial lubricant. And as I mentioned earlier, a wife needs to be able to trust that her husband will slow down or stop if she expresses that’s what she needs in that moment.
I also would recommend the husband use a condom to minimize the spread of fecal bacteria, particularly to the husband. If using a condom, be sure to use a water-based or silicone lubricant as to maintain the integrity of the condom.
And if you try anal sex, be certain to not switch back and forth between anal sex and vaginal intercourse, as there is the risk of fecal bacteria spreading to the wife.
This probably seems obvious, but it is worth mentioning. A wife’s anal cavity should be empty or close to empty. As a wife, you need to communicate clearly if the timing would be right.
What if we don’t want to try anal sex, but we want some of those sensations?
Two things I want to explore in my answer to this question. First is in regard to the tightness on the penis. Not surprisingly, a husband may find anal sex appealing because of the tightness the sphincter muscle of his wife’s anus would put on his penis. The anus is tight, and for a husband, this sensation may feel incredible.
If you don’t want to try anal sex, there are other ways to create this tightness sensation for a husband. Oral sex would be one way. Another way would be a hand job. During intercourse, a couple may try different positions and/or a wife may tighten her pelvic floor muscles (doing Kegels), and thus create a tightness around the penis. Side note: Contracting her pelvic floor muscles during sex may also increase her pleasure and orgasm intensity.
Another way to increase tightness is while a husband is thrusting, a wife may be able to insert a few of her own fingers in her vagina just under his penis, thus reducing the looseness of the vagina around the penis.
Suffice to say, anal sex is not the only way to create tightness around the penis.
The second aspect I want to highlight is that the area right around the anus has many nerve endings. If you and your spouse don’t want to try anal sex, you may still find it sexually arousing to caress the rim of the anal opening. This is considered anal play, and many couples incorporate it into foreplay because of how stimulating it can be. Some people also may find it arousing during sexual intercourse to simultaneously caress their spouse’s rear end and anal area.
As for prostate stimulation, internal penetration through the husband’s anus is not the only way to stimulate the prostate. A wife can massage his prostate externally by firmly massaging and/or pressing in the area between the testicles and the anal opening.
Regardless of what type of anal play you want to enjoy, be sure to take hygiene into consideration by coming to bed completely clean and being conscientious of how fecal bacteria could spread.
Is anal sex something every married couple should at least try?
Hear my heart on this. Just because I don’t think anal sex is forbidden in marriage doesn’t mean I think it’s right for every married couple. It likely isn’t for the vast majority of married couples for various reasons and preferences, and that’s fine.
Anal sex doesn’t make a couple more sexually enlightened or progressive. A married couple could choose to never have anal sex and still have a sexual connection that is vibrant, creative, intensely pleasurable and authentic.
For more commentary on anal sex in a Christian marriage, I highly encourage you read the following blog posts.
These are all from people I deeply respect. Even where we disagree on some points, I value greatly their willingness to be voices in the discussion.
I recognize that you may agree or disagree with me on this topic of anal sex. I welcome healthy disagreement. What none of us need, though, is vile or hateful comments.
So whether you agree or disagree, feel free to comment. Just know that I won’t approve comments that are vicious in tone. I’ve tried to be respectful in my post, and I ask the same of you in any comments.
Thank you so much for the privilege to write on something that is controversial, yet deeply personal and intimate. I think it’s a topic we have to be willing to talk about as a body of believers.
Copyright 2020, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.