The way people talk in our age, you get the impression that sex is both a human right and need. But is it? Do You Need Sex?
Recently in an online forum I’m a part of concerning men who are recovering from sexual addictions, a woman asked if she could expect her husband to be faithful even if she wasn’t having sex with him. For context, no one on the forum knew her husband, so she wasn’t asking for an opinion about his integrity or progress in recovery. Rather, she was asking more generally if a husband’s faithfulness is dependent on a wife’s willingness to keep him sexually satisfied.
Some Christian marriage advice prescribes sex a certain number of times per week as an antidote to sexual temptation.
One Christian book recommends sex the night before a husband leaves on a business trip so he will be adequately satisfied while away.
In many dating relationships, one partner may worry that if she is not ready or willing to have sex, her partner will leave.
One Christian man committed to abstinence until marriage told me his girlfriend felt he must not truly love her, because she believed if he did, he wouldn’t be able to keep his hands off her sexually.
Under all these is the toxic falsehood that everybody needs sex all the time. Or, more times than not, the lie is that all men need sex, and if they don’t get it, they’ll go elsewhere.
Here’s the reality: You don’t need sex. You never have and you never will. I mean, stop and think for a moment: If you don’t have water, you’ll die after only a matter of days. If your oxygen supply cuts off, your brain will be irreversibly damaged within five to ten minutes. But if you don’t have sex, what happens? At worst, you’ll feel an intense desire for sex. If you’re a man, you may eventually experience a nocturnal emission. What else? Eventually the intensity of your desire will dissipate. That’s all.
Sex within marriage is a wonderful gift, designed for procreation, unity, and joy, but this does not mean that a person can’t live without it.
In fact, I’d like to suggest that if you believe you need sex, you will never be able to be a truly good lover.
Because love is about self-giving, and you cannot give yourself fully while you’re grasping for what you “need.”
Someone might argue, “But isn’t sex about mutual self-giving? Can’t two people give to each other at the same time?”
Absolutely, yes! I believe this is what sex is meant to be, and this vision sets before us a goal to which every married couple can aspire. But if one or both partners are approaching sex from a posture of “I need this from you,” then they will not be able to offer themselves fully to each other as gift. Again, you cannot offer someone a gift freely while grasping for what you need from them.
At the end of the day, believing sex is an individual right and need reduces people to animals and sex to an animalistic instinct that must be obeyed.
God made us for more than this. He made us for greater freedom than this, greater singleness, greater love, greater marriage, and yes, greater sex than this.
Understanding that you don’t need sex is not prudish or “sex negative.” Rather, it means you can honor your own desire for faithfulness from your spouse, and it means you can learn to submit your own sex drive to a higher calling—the calling to love as Jesus loves—whether in singleness, celibacy, or marriage.
Question: What does this article bring up for you? Is it encouraging, discouraging, challenging, or something else?
Want to hear more this week? Check out the latest Becoming Whole podcast; Moving Beyond Marital Manipulation