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May 4, 2018

Is it okay for christian couples to practice oral sex?

Hello Ernest. I have a question. I’m not sure if you have answered this in your blogs before but perhaps you could if you haven’t. My married friends and I have a couples’ fellowship. We are all born again. We were having a discussion on sexuality in marriage and the issue of oral sex came up. We seemed pretty divided on the matter. Is it acceptable for a believer to engage in it or is it unacceptable? Perhaps you could shed some light on this. I will be happy to share the insights with my group.

Thank you for the question, Beloved. I once heard John Piper of www.desiringgod.com answer this question very well on one of his weekly podcast. I will reiterate his wisdom with a few thoughts of my own. But before I do, I want to acknowledge the fact that the gift of sex is from the Maker, God himself. He commanded the man and the woman to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). But beyond the role of child-bearing, scripture affirms that sex in a marriage is also for recreational pleasure (see Proverbs 5:18-19 for the men and see Songs 1:2 for the women). God explicitly states that a married man and his wife have full discretion to pleasure one another and it is a good thing! That therefore opens couples to explore this gift and utilise it to its full potential. They have the freedom to experiment and try out new things as they grow in their marriage. When my wife and I were married without children, we experimented with sexual escapades that I could never have dreamed of or imagined. Some left me quiet with amazement at the wonderful gift of God; some left me exhilarated with vocal joy. The children have now come and our creativity has been forced to rise to new levels. In short, the married man and woman must enjoy sex without inhibition. The scriptures also say in the full exposure of nudity (and by extension lovemaking) there is no shame for the married man and woman (See Genesis 2:25). On the marriage bed, the married man and woman are free to give and receive sexual pleasure and be themselves without fear. And because there is such freedom (from God’s permission) and holiness (from God’s directive), sex is sacred. From a coy sensual glance to a mind-blowing orgasm, sex is sacred. God created sex and God is for sex. However, that said, sex is always between two sinners who fall short of God’s glory. And because of that, there are bound to be speed bumps. Adultery is sin and it ruins sex. Fornication is sin and it ruins sex. Homosexuality is sin and it ruins sex. Porn is sin and it ruins sex- it doesn’t spice it; it destroys it. These are not man-made regulations on sex; they are divine from the Creator’s word. But what about oral sex? Is this another speed bump that we simply call sin? John Piper, as I had mentioned earlier, points out a wise method to use when faced with controversial sexual practices like oral sex. I have seen this to be useful both in my marriage and to many who have asked me to shed some light on this. I call Piper’s godly wisdom on this matter the 4-U method. The 4-U method is as follows. Ask yourself:

    Is it Unbiblical?
    Is it Unnatural?
    Is it Unhealthy?
    Is it Unkind?

The working of the 4-U method is that if it fails to pass even one of these four tests, then it shouldn’t be part of the Christian life. Let me start. Permit my blatant language in explaining certain bits. I will strive to remain true to chastity and pure expression.

Is it Unbiblical?
When looking for biblical stands on moral issues, look for two things. One, look for direct imperatives (e.g. Do not… Do…). Secondly, look for the heart of God in narratives e.g. we are told in 2 Samuel 13 that Amnon raped Tamar and she was devastated. We don’t need an imperative to know that the Bible is against rape. It is clearly portrayed in the passage as something that the LORD hates. Since we believers know that sex is a gift from God for the marriage bed, His say is prime when we ask the question of oral sex. For the world, sex is reduced to an audition for dating and one’s selfish desires are prime when asking the question of oral sex. As believers, God’s word is more important than our present need for sexual gratification. God’s rich reserve for the marriage bed is clear in several scriptures. However, the scriptures do not expound in imperatives or narratives concerning oral sex. So this test alone cannot help us come to a conclusion.

Is it Unnatural?
By unnatural, we mean against the normal physiological function of the human body. Believers should not only focus on the supernatural and despise the natural. God made the natural world and all that is in it. Therefore the natural laws of this world are not enemies of Christianity but rather solid partners and even proofs of the work of God. So if you look at sex naturally, mouths can kiss because a kiss is a physiological function of a man’s mouth and a woman’s mouth. Biologically and physiologically, a man’s penis can penetrate a woman’s vagina. However the man’s organ is not made to fit inside the rear end of a woman- that is why anal sex is unnatural. The sphincter muscles of the anus can be damaged by anal sex. That can lead to a problem in holding one’s bowels. A sign of an unnatural practice is pain or disease due to incompatibility of the physical parts. Anal sex if practiced often is often followed by several severe pains and health complications. You can read an example of that here from a Christian man who went through the gay lifestyle for years (reader discretion is advised: explicit content). Another example of the natural is the breast that is sucked from childbirth. That shows that the mouth and the breast can naturally fit together. This can also be used therefore in the sexual act to stimulate and titillate. The vagina was made for the penis. The breast was also made for the mouth. But when it comes to oral sex, the mouth is not physiologically adaptive to the vagina or the penis. Even physically, the man’s penis cannot fit inside the woman’s mouth nor the man’s mouth or tongue inside the woman’s vagina. It is therefore unnatural and this offers the first argument against oral sex.

Is it Unhealthy?
According to the National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom, oral sex is the stimulation of the genitals using the mouth and tongue. The NHS affirms that it is one of the ways that sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are most frequently passed on. Doctors admit that this method of STI transmission is not a fringe example; it is a frequent method. You can catch an STI if you have just one sexual partner. However, the more partners you have, the greater the risk of catching an infection. WebMD.com affirms that oral sex is linked to throat cancer. While it isn’t the oral sex itself that gives you the cancer, the doctors affirm that it is disease contents passed on from the man’s/woman’s organ, more specifically human papillomavirus (HPV). In fact, at times some sexually transmitted diseases can lie low before they manifest. This can be trouble for the person practicing oral sex if they think their partner is clean and they are not. Some case studies exist of gonorrhoea being passed from people who practiced oral sex with infected strangers/partners to innocent people they kissed on the mouth. I can imagine the unfortunate situation of a child being kissed by an unknowingly infected mother. Even if your partner has no sexually transmitted infection, the private parts of human beings occasionally get infected with yeasty infections that are not healthy for contact with the mouth. And even without the illnesses, the natural products of sex (seminal/vaginal fluid) are not compatible with the mouth or digestive system (if swallowed intentionally or accidentally). NetDoctor.co.uk does a thorough description of the health risks of oral sex. They affirm that avoiding oral sex altogether is the only way of preventing infection by the oral route. However they also add a caveat that they think this advice is impractical since people will go ahead and practice oral sex anyway. That may be true for the world, but for you as a believer, you are guided two things: One, by the spirit of self-control (2 Tim 1:7) and two, you are guided by the wisdom of choosing freedom from being mastered by an act over accepting something simply because it is permissible (see 1 Corinthians 6:12).

Is it Unkind?
All sexual activity must be consensual for it to be kind. If we make our partners indulge in a practice they are not comfortable with, it is unkindness. The best sexual experiences start from a place of mutual consent. The worst kind start from a point of not considering one’s partner. Where there is no mutual consent, there is selfishness. Where there is selfishness, sexual pleasure cannot reach its God-given optimum and it cannot play its role as God requires. Sex for a married couple is a renewal of the marriage covenant and is meant to have focus on the spouse not on self (see 1 Corinthians 7:3-5). Many former porn stars who have come to Christ or who have simply left the industry admit that most women in porn are forced to gag men (perform oral sex) to the point of choking and tearing. The inspiration of oral sex for a great number of people comes from this frequently viewed form of porn. Many teenagers curiously look for porn hoping to only find several videos of a man and a woman simply having vaginal-penetration sex. They get worse than they hoped for. And if they get addicted, it gets more bizarre. With time, addicts of porn realise that common porn is not usual lovemaking but rather a twisted display of sexual fantasies that are very unkind, especially to the women. And don’t be fooled by the plastic smiles on porn stars. Almost without exception, all women porn stars who leave the industry admit they were treated unkindly and forced to perform acts that they were uncomfortable with- especially oral sex. I say all this because for many people, oral sex is an inspiration from some porn they viewed (whether soft porn from X or R-rated movies or hard core porn from explicit websites). And at the heart of this oral sex in porn is masochism and sadism. The porn stars themselves admit it. That is unkind, Beloved. Several men who indulge in porn often try to selfishly impose on their partners what they saw on screen. It is unkind. And if a believer’s motivation for oral sex comes from a sinful slip of watching something pornographic, then it goes without saying that often the push for it comes from fantasy. Often when something is borrowed from fantasy, it does not have your marriage partner in mind. Often with fantasy, one’s needs are placed ahead of their partner’s. It has only you at the centre of it. The focus is receiving and not giving. The core of great sex is not to receive but to give. The biblical sexual ethic is to consider your spouse before yourself (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). And if porn and fantasy are not the inspiration, it may be curiosity. And maybe a curious wife or a curious husband has heard about oral sex innocently and wishes to experiment. I believe in sexual experimentation for the pleasure of both partners. But if their spouse refuses, the curious born-again spouse would do well to be kind and not insist. And if the spouse agrees, the couple should not proceed ignorantly, but would do well to research on oral sex and consider the 4-U method afresh and make up their minds soberly and not in the heat of ignorance.

I would therefore, in light of all this, dissuade a born-again believer from its practice.