#4 The question, “what kind(s) of sexual intimacy are appropriate?” is not easy to answer.
Some general ideas:
A. Uniqueness: Every relationship and every person in the relationship is unique. Sexuality is different for each couple. Some people have physical problems that make normal sexual intercourse impossible or painful. Some individuals have varying levels of sexual drive at different times of the month or for extended seasons of their lives. Sexual activity (in these cases) is not necessary for a healthy marriage. Admittedly, sex is a gift from God so it is not wise to take or leave God’s gifts based on our own preferences. And yet at the same time, we live in a fallen and broken world. This brokenness impacts many bedrooms. We should pursue redemption, restoration, and healing, but there is no guarantee of “glorious restoration” until Christ’s glorious return.
B. Mutuality: Sexual pleasure for both husband and wife should be the goal of each sexual encounter. A husband should not demand an orgasm without committing to bring a similar pleasure to his wife (likewise for the wife). This unselfish aspect of sexuality suggests that certain practices of domination, sado-masochism, and bondage fall out of line with appropriate sexual behavior.
C. Sacrificial: Similar to what is listed above, sexual activity is not easy. Men need to be patient with regard to the amount of sexual activity, foreplay, and clitoral stimulation. Orgasms do not come as easy for the woman. Time and tenderness are necessary. It has been wisely encouraged that husbands should commit to bring their wife to full orgasm or to the brink of orgasm before moving to penetration. This will help the man stay focused since it is difficult for some men to stay engaged after orgasm. The wife should also be sacrificial, often encouraging sex more often than she feels like it. It takes sacrifice for a woman to intentionally focus her mind, heart, and body on sexual activity.
D. Pleasurable: If any part of sexual activity is painful, scary, or deemed inappropriate by one spouse, the other spouse should honor their spouse’s feelings immediately. If in time the spouse thinks the activity should be acceptable, they should discuss it with their spouse outside of the bedroom. If necessary, outside counsel should be pursued.
E. Spousal-centric: This means that arousal, passion, and mental focus should be centered on the spouse with regard to sex. The use of pornography, fantasies, or other partners (for example, orgies) goes against God’s intent for intimacy. Intimacy and attraction are to be fueled and fostered between one man and one woman. God designed the husband’s and wife’s body to work together to bring about deep unity and pleasure. Early in your marriage and at points in your marriage (illness, before/after pregnancy, etc.) you may need the help of lubricants, but beware of bringing in sex toys and other non-natural elements to the bedroom. Your spouse is enough.