3 minute read

Marriage Is Not the Answer to Your Desire for Sex

Last Updated: March 12, 2019

Noah Filipiak
Noah Filipiak

Noah Filipiak is a pastor and the author of Beyond the Battle: A Man's Guide to his Identity in Christ in an Oversexualized World (Zondervan)He also hosts The Flip Side Podcast. If you desire to be free from lust, porn, and fantasy, you can join Noah and his team in an online small group at Beyond the Battle, or get the leader guide to run your own group.

It’s a line often heard in well-intentioned lessons on sexual purity:

God created sex. It’s His. Pornography and premarital sex are just distortions of what God made that is good: sex within marriage. Those sexual desires you feel are good, you just need to channel them into marriage. (Or as often said, “toward your wife.”)

All of the above is true and I have taught most of it myself in bits and pieces. But there are some major shortfalls to this type of teaching and mindset.

Channeling Your Sexual Desires Toward Marriage?

First and foremost, if you’re single, this advice doesn’t help you at all. Except to be told, “Go get married!” Which, for obvious reasons, can’t exactly be done this afternoon.

The second and more subtle shortfall in this well-intentioned, and mostly true, teaching is it points to sex as the answer to our desire for sex. But what I really mean by that is it points to a human being as the answer to our desire to be desired.

This might be the most revolutionary thing you’ve ever heard about sex, so prepare yourself.

Let me take you to John 4 and the famous passage of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well. This woman has had five husbands, and the man she is currently sleeping with is not her husband. She’s thirsty. But what is she thirsty for? Is she thirsty for sex? Is she thirsty for body parts?

No. If she were thirsty for these things, she’d be more than satisfied by this point.

The solution to her deepest desires was not sex, body parts, or marriage. Yet, in the vast majority of Christian sexual purity talks that I hear, the solutions that are offered are sex, body parts, and marriage. Specifically: getting your body-part-fix within the confines of marriage.

Symptoms of a Deeper Illness

Jesus saw through all of this. He saw what many pastors and Christian sexual purity leaders fail to see. He saw that this woman’s desire for sex and for marriage were symptoms of a deeper illness. John 4:13 says,

 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

If Jesus had been a leading sexual purity author of his day, he likely would have had the woman repent of her infidelity, then poof, he would have given her a ruggedly handsome, God-loving, husband whom she could live happily ever after with. Isn’t that what most woman are hoping for when they pray that God would help them in their sexual temptations? With men hoping for the same thing in a beautiful, God-loving wife? These prayers are virtually identical for married and single folks. Singles praying for the perfect spouse, while married folks praying that their spouse would become perfect.

These prayers will never be answered.

Because a perfect spouse doesn’t exist.

A spouse that will satisfy your deepest desire to be desired doesn’t exist.

Jesus could have provided this band-aid-on-cancer for the Samaritan woman in John 4, but he didn’t. He didn’t give her a husband.  He didn’t give her our go-to solution for sexual sin.

He gave her himself.

He gave her the unlimited treasure of the gospel.

He gave her love, acceptance, value, approval, comfort, and desire, all from him and all for her.

Satisfying Our Deepest Desire for Intimacy

For all we know, the Samaritan woman may have never married again. This woman whose whole life revolved around desiring sex and desiring the perfect man may have finished her days single and celibate, yet having her life’s prayer answered and satisfied in the deepest and most meaningful way possible. How can this be so?

It can be so because sex and marriage are metaphors of the deeper and truer reality of the intimacy God desires to have with us. We’ll never find that intimacy fully in a human being and in fact, marriage folks will continue to long for this intimacy if they don’t have the depths of their life’s foundation grounded in who Jesus says they are.

I’m not saying marriage is bad.

I’m not saying sex is bad.

If you’re married, use your entire marriage to try to symbolize the intimacy God has with his Church, just as Ephesians 5 instructs us to do. But don’t get a symbol confused with the real thing.

Sex and marriage are both good and created by God, just as the hypothetical teaching given to us at the beginning of this article. But both are very poor substitutes for God.

What I’m saying is that beneath your desire for sex is a deeper desire. And just like the woman at the well, Jesus’ top priority is to satisfy that deepest desire and he knows he’s the only one who can.

  • Comments on: Marriage Is Not the Answer to Your Desire for Sex
    1. MKC_3712 on

      Some good points with a deceptive title. It should say “Marriage is not the answer to the desires you have that are deeper than your desire for sex.” Not as catchy but far more accurate to the point of the article.

      As far as the legitimate God-created desire for sex, marriage IS the answer. I think we have a lot of disinformation among young people that it is important to wait to marry until you are “ready”. Readiness includes finishing college, getting a job, buying a car, having had several previous relationships, being in your late 20s or early 30s, etc.

      That means a lot of young people with sexual desires are wrongly being told to wait when they should be getting ready for marriage and pursuing members of the opposite sex with a high degree of intentionality.

      Pastor Doug Wilson argues that young men should marry before the age of 23:

      https://dougwils.com/books-and-culture/s7-engaging-the-culture/7-reasons-young-men-marry-23rd-birthday.html

      So yes, we should pursue our deepest desires in our relationship to Jesus. But Jesus commands that we pursue our sexual desires within marriage.

      Reply
    2. RickyB on

      Marriage is, biblically speaking, absolutely the answer to your desire for sex. The title is only provocative because it is blatantly false.

      What you are actually talking about is the problem of idolatry, which is seeking to fill your need for God using sex or anything else that isn’t God. Money, power, status, relationships, food, etc.

      Food is definitely the answer for hunger or malnutrition. Water is the solution to thirst. When Jesus was talking to the Samaritan woman, he was pointing to living water as something that quenches a thirst for things beyond the physical. He wasn’t saying “Water won’t quench your thirst.” He was saying that we all have a thirst for something deeper than water and for that Jesus is the answer.

      So a lot of what is said here is true about our deepest needs for intimacy. It is just unfortunate that the title is deceptive.

      Reply
    3. Brian on

      This article makes some good points. I would only add that there is in fact a biblical basis for channeling sexual desire into marriage — 1 Corinthians 7:1–2 (ESV): Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

      Reply
    4. Andrew Kasten on

      Good post. Sex is temporary, no sex in heaven – Matt 22:30. Rather, we will all be the bride of Christ. Seems we need to find something that sastifies more than sex.

      Reply
    5. Matt on

      Concur with some others here: marriage absolutely IS the answer for your desire for sex.

      But not JUST sex.

      To be forward, if God were ALL we needed, He Himself would never have said, in the Garden, BEFORE the fall, “It is NOT good that the man is alone; I will make a support for him.”

      Wait. The man wasn’t alone. He had JESUS, didn’t he? Well…not AS Jesus, but you get the point: God Himself declared that the man was alone and this wasn’t good. If all that was needed was just another human being, He could have created fishing buddy Steve. But God’s answer to fill the woman-shaped hole in Adam’s heart was…a woman. Not Himself. God doesn’t do what He designed women to do and women don’t do what God does by nature.

      This is meant to be complementary, by the way. I get that marriage won’t solve your innermost longings, but it is the proper context for one that affects us all–unless we’re gifted differently than the majority who will likely marry (or who are meant to be so).

      Reply
    6. Godspeach on

      As the first female poster here, I’m not surprised that men would rush to rescue their “right” to get married and have sex. Least you think I’m a woman who doesn’t love sex within marriage I don’t. I loved the article.
      The thing I don’t love is this entitlement theory that many Christian Men have about sex within marriage.
      They seem to see it as a divine birthright with no consideration towards their wives. They don’t consider it isn’t the glue that holds marriage together, but love is. A woman needs to know that you love and respect her as a human being. If she takes herself of the market, so to speak, she is giving everything she has to you.
      You’d be surprised at the women who are forced to become their Christian husbands’ personal temple “prostitutes” blackmailed by ungodly “four day” sex rules that have become the eleventh commandment!
      Some are groped constantly and can’t be physically affectionate without being forced into sex. This is disgusting and is nothing other than marital rape!
      What if entitled men would surrender their so called “rights” for a homemade concubine and start loving and giving themselves for their wives as the Word says??
      There are too many sexually broken, scared, terrified women in the world today for Christian men to keep treating sex as something they deserve at the expense of their wives self respect or sanity and oftentimes both.
      I know all men aren’t entitled jerks about sex and some are married to women who treat them with unearned bitterness and hate. But, from what I’ve seen, those poor souls seem to be in the minority.
      Dear Brothers, prove Me wrong. Prove those hordes of hurting Women wrong about you as Christians. Prove to us that you love US and not just our physical bodies and what they can do for YOU.

      Reply
      • RickyB on

        You said you don’t love sex in marriage? Or is that a typo? by the way- the sexual entitlement within marriage is established biblically in 1 Corinthians 7 and extends to wives as well as husbands. That means that you have exactly the same entitlement to regular and satisfying sex as your husband has. It is a mutual right to be sexually fulfilled so if your husband is failing to do this then he is sinning against you.

      • Mitch on

        If Godspeach was a man writing about women in a similar bigoted and hateful way, the comment would be censored in moderation and the keepers of this blog would consider Godspeach a horrible misogynist. But with the sexes reversed, the comment gets printed in all of its misandrist, exaggerated and incendiary glory. In fact, my rebuke of Godspeach’s sexist rant will be censored because women are given free reign to make hateful stereotypical comments about men and sex with no pushback. Nice to be you, sucks to be me.

      • Mitch on

        “I know all men aren’t entitled jerks about sex and some are married to women who treat them with unearned bitterness and hate.”

        Your generous concession is much appreciated by us men who are the opposite of entitled jerks. In fact, some of us are so well trained that we are totally okay with sex whenever our wives decide they want it no matter how many months it takes. We’re content to just cuddle every once and a while and would never think of imposing our horrible awful sexual desires on our hard working wives. Why that is positively barbaric. We understand our wives are beautifully and wonderfully made and definitely our “better halves.”

        The hordes of hurting women need to know there are super cool sweet guys out there who just want to hold hands and take long walks along the beach. We have no desire to rub our privates together with you and will only treat you with the utmost deference and civility. And thanks to anti-androgens, we can stay that way for as long as you ladies want us that way.

      • Jay on

        I’m new here thanks to a link from another blog.
        After Godspeach’s comment, I must say I’m speechless. I didn’t know much about covenant eyes before today. I had always thought they were the producers of a great software to help men stay away from porn. I never knew they ran a propaganda campaign against men. After only reading two articles here I just realized they have very little interest in helping men in their battles but rather make them feel sorry they were ever born as a man.
        And who in their right mind even allows a comment like Godspeach to appear on their blog?
        Maybe I got it wrong!? Maybe the software is for men and the blog for women?

      • Moriah Dufrin on

        Hi Jay,

        Thank you for sharing your concerns. Our software and blog are for men and women alike. However, we approve comments like the one you mentioned above, because we welcome those who share different opinions and want them to consider the opinions of other readers and those shared in our blog posts. In no way do we ever intend to make men feel sorry that they were born. Each of us is born a sinner and can fall into the temptation of watching pornography.

        I hope you will continue to read our blog in the future!
        Blessings,
        Moriah

      • Daniel on

        nr 1 -who hurt you ? nr 2- sot it out! you’re a grown woman not a teenager anymore nr 3 – learn about men- we are visual and physical and we like beauty; that is why we are attracted to women otherwise another man would have done the job just fine. nr 4 – women like that men want, desire and chase after them. i am not excusing any dim witted men that know nothing about charm and don’t want to learn.. nr 5 – teach your husband about attraction ; what you find attractive and sexually stimulating. nr 6 – learn from him as well what he finds sexually stimulating and attractive. if its that red dress, wear it! nr 7 – a man is not a mule or a pet, he’s a human being: the same level of need you have emotionally and psychologically are represented physically for a man at the same level of intensity. it’s just the way it is.

        Now this being said, Along side Mitch and Jay i am curious as to what miss Moriah Dufrin is going to do about my own personal opinion posted on this blog (protected not only by the second amendment in the USA but also through the Human Rights Act of 1998, article 10). How bigoted is it going to be considered and how much of a consideration to a personal view will it obtain.

        As for Mr RickyB….. dear Sir, I am so so sorry for what you are going through. You are a true model for me especially because from what i can read in the comments you are still married to your wife. Sir i wish i could comfort you in some sort of way. I just pray that things get better for you. God bless you!

    7. Mitch on

      “we approve comments like the one you mentioned above, because we welcome those who share different opinions and want them to consider the opinions of other readers and those shared in our blog posts”

      I have no objection to that as stated. The problem is not that Godspeach posts a comment that is shown. The real problem is that when another person wants to rebut or counter instances of male-bashing, they are more often than not censored right out of existence. I can count on a lot of fingers the number of times my comments haven’t seen the light of day since the censors, in all their infinite wisdom, have decided that my comments are not appreciated and they absolutely have no interest having other readers consider my opinions.

      Male bashing is a big problem on this blog and I have pointed out numerous times in other comment threads. But then nothing. Weeks go by and no sign my comments were received and never any explanation about what was wrong with them. Not that what I say is without error or that there might be something I am missing. My comments are censored and it is as if I never wrote them in the first place.

      That’s where the real double standard exists.

      Reply
    8. RickyB on

      The title of this article ironically is true based on my own experience. I got married many years ago hoping to have a very active and robust sex life after being a virgin. After 3 kids and my wife shutting down sexually because of her 2 abortions from long ago, my marriage became sexless. So I guess I should take from Noah’s article that if I had a desire for sex, I shouldn’t have gotten married since that is not the answer.

      Reply
      • Moriah Dufrin on

        Hi Ricky,

        I think you may have mistaken what Noah is saying. If you desire sex, the answer is not marriage. Marriage is so much more than just sex. Now – marriage does encourage sex, but it should not be our sole reason for wanting to get married. Marriage is not perfect, and neither is sex within marriage.

        Have you and your wife pursued counseling? It may be a helpful tool to talk through the reasons behind your struggles.
        Blessings,
        Moriah

      • RickyB on

        “If you desire sex, the answer is not marriage” and “Marriage is so much more than just sex” are non sequiturs. I have absolutely no problem saying that marriage is, contrary to Noah, absolutely the answer to your desire for sex as well as the answer for your desire for companionship, intimacy, child bearing, and whole lot of other stuff. But if is very definitely the answer to your desire for sex. If marriage is not, then what is? What IS the answer to my desire for sex?

        But not only is this the fallacy of the non sequitur, it is also the fallacy of the forced alternative. If X then not Y. You either get married for sex OR you get married for other more legitimate reasons. Au contraire. Marriage is God’s way to fulfill our innate desire for sex as he has said numerous times in scripture. I don’t have to quote the verses because I am sure you know them. But to suggest that I married JUST for sex is so idiotic it is insulting. But don’t worry. You’re not the first person to say something like that. My wife and I did, in fact, go to counseling where I was informed by the counselor that I didn’t “need” sex because I wasn’t going to die without it.

        But who goes to marriage counseling to hear about physical survival? Sure, if I was taking wilderness survival training, sex would only be a need if my wife and I were the last human beings on earth and the survival of the human race depended on us.

        But this is marriage counseling. We talk about what is a need in the context of the marriage relationship. Would you or any counselor tell my wife that she doesn’t need tenderness or affection in the marriage? That she’s not going to die without those either? No counselor would ever keep their practice saying stuff like that to wives.

        But as the husband, I am so sick of people telling me that “marriage is about more than sex.” I am raising 3 children, holding down a very difficult job, dealing with in-law problems, financial stresses and a whole host of issues that have nothing to do with sex. I think I kinda figured out a while ago that there was a lot more to marriage and I did no go into marriage thinking it was going to be one big festival of physical pleasure.

        But somewhere between a festival of physical pleasure and a basic, minimal and reasonable sexual frequency is where my expectations were. And I think it was not only reasonable but highly moral that I saved myself for marriage and then expected to have a sex life that was basic and reasonable. Too much to ask for?

        So instead of lecturing the sexless husbands of how marriage is about a whole lot more, why not start telling wives that their husbands are not just paychecks, co-parents, and assistant housekeepers? Why not tell wives that, while marriage may not be ENTIRELY about sex, it is in fact the only relationship we will ever have that includes sex. And that doesn’t mean I have to have sex every day. But it also doesn’t mean my wife gets to treat sex like it is totally irrelevant and if I want sex at least once a month then I must be some kind of pervert.

        Coming from an anti-porn web site, I would think you guys would bend over backwards to encourage married men to actively pursue regular sexual relations with their wives and stress the importance of regular and frequent married sex. 1 Corinthians 7 does connect regular sexual relations with defending against the devil’s temptations. Or do you now think that Covenant Eyes software is a suitable replacement for married sex?

    9. Linhsan on

      I would like to answer to RickyB after reading his legit “outcry”. I am a woman, happily married. We both have chosen Natural Family Planning ( to stay abstain during my fertile time). It was not easy but St. Paul was right, I can do all things through Christ who has strengthened me. You and your wife seem to be God fearing people, try to live your life, raise your family and love each other. I pray, right now, that you have not divorced your wife since your post was back in September 2019 and now is end of January 2020. The marriage counselor, who told you and your wife that none of you would die without sex, should be fired. Find another one, a Christian and knowledgeable counselor who knows the Bible and what God intends for a married couple, sex is a very important part, a wonderful gift He gave mankind. As a woman, I suspect that your wife’s wound somehow did not heal or/and she is in need of great help for some other issues. If she fells that there is any chance you are unfaithful to her because of lacking sex in marriage, she will just stay away from you and it will harm your marriage. I have full compassion for you, I am asking you, as a sister in Christ, to give your wife a bit more grace. Searching for godly women who can help her, guide her, encourage her to fight for her marriage, your marriage. Bring her to visit Nancy Wilson. I do not know Nancy personally but I am feeling that a person like Nancy (through reading her writings) can give your wife guidance. Please do not give up on your marriage. Do not think that your wife is no longer loving you because she does not have sex with you. I strongly believe that once she comes out of this stage, she will appreciate you more for your patience and grace. Your marriage is on trial and Satan is testing you both. He knows what irks you and the more you are angry at your wife, the more you will resent her and she will just stay deep in her depression.

      Reply
      • RickyB on

        I’m guess you are referring to Nancy Wilson the wife of Pastor Doug Wilson of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho not the lead guitarist of the Canadian rock group Heart. I’m sure Kay Bruner will have very little good to say about her given that she is associated with the “Christian Patriarchy Movement.”

        That counselor who told us we wouldn’t die without sex is gone and started a consulting company that teaches corporations how to leverage the power of happiness to improve productivity. In hindsight, going to him was one of the worst mistakes of my marriage. It completely soured my attitude towards Christian counseling.

        It has been years now and the sexual issues have never been resolved. My disappointment is deep and long lasting but for the sake of our family, I direct my anger at those who cavalierly dismiss the importance of sex within marriage because they are over reacting to the complaints of wives whose husbands pressure them for it too much or turn to porn. I guess I should realize by now that Covenant Eyes is the wrong blog to get sympathy for sexless marriage.

    10. D on

      Can we not call him deceptive? This was his interpretation and he slipped up it wasn’t intentional so it wasn’t deceptive because MARRIAGE IS NOT THE ANSWER to your desire for sex. So people could be seeking to get married only to hate their partners? No, as God said makes sure we’re equally yoked with our partners. So it means keep a clear conscious and don’t aim to marry soley for sex but if your desire is THAT strong then go ahead and marry.

      Meaning go and find your wife.

      Not go marry the next attractive person you see and I believe that’s what he was addressing.
      Personally speaking as an ex-fornicator and now celibate for a year, sex does not make you feel good especially when you haven’t choosen a partner you are suitable with. It can be soul crushing, hence the high divorce rate…people getting married for odd reasons like attraction and “love” better known as infatuation.

      Anyways he made a great point because this is something I had to come to terms with in order to accept the journey of celibacy. And in it I am definitely getting closer to our Lord God.

      Reply
    11. Thomas Hoehner on

      I’m with Jesus…..From the beginning it was not so

      Reply
    12. keith fuller on

      i agree with so much of the above comments,and as a counselor and sexologist i daily see how The Word reflects even bio physical facts that most Christian couples may not know or utilize.

      Reply

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