Questions From Readers
● Recently in the news was a court decision ruling that oral copulation by adults is no longer punishable by law in a certain state. Would such practice therefore be solely a matter for individual conscience if engaged in by a Christian couple within the marriage arrangement?—U.S.A.
It is not the purpose of this magazine to discuss all the intimate aspects of marital relations. Nonetheless, practices like those involved in this court case have become quite common and have received considerable publicity. Even young children in certain schools are being informed of these things in sex education courses. We would therefore be remiss as regards our responsibility if we held back Scriptural counsel that could aid sincere Christians in their efforts to follow a course of purity calling forth the Creator’s blessing. Unusual sexual practices were being carried on in the apostle Paul’s day and he did not remain silent about them, as can be seen in reading Romans 1:18-27. We are therefore only following his good example in considering this question here.
In discussing sexual practices, the apostle provides us a principle that helps us to reach a right conclusion. He refers to “the natural use of the female,” which some were abandoning in favor of what is “contrary to nature,” thus satisfying “disgraceful sexual appetites” and “working what is obscene.” The apostle specifically deals with homosexual practices, condemning such. But the principle stated—that the satisfying of sexual desires can be “natural” or can be “contrary to nature”—applies just as well to the question under consideration.—See also Leviticus 18:22, 23.
The natural way for a married couple to have sexual relations is quite apparent from the very design given their respective organs by the Creator, and it should not be necessary to describe here how these organs complement each other in normal sexual copulation. We believe that, aside from those who have been indoctrinated with the view that ‘in marriage anything goes,’ the vast majority of persons would normally reject as repugnant the practice of oral copulation, as also anal copulation. If these forms of intercourse are not “contrary to nature,” then what is? That those practicing such acts do so by mutual consent as married persons would not thereby make these acts natural or not “obscene.” Are we being ‘narrow’ or ‘extreme’ in taking such position?
No, as seen by the fact that several states of the United States have for long had laws against precisely such practices, classifying them as forms of “sodomy”—even though those engaging in them are married. Because of this legal usage, Webster’s Third New International Dictionary includes in its definition of “sodomy” this: “carnal copulation with a member of the same sex or with an animal or unnatural carnal copulation with a member of the opposite sex; specif: the penetration of the male organ into the mouth or anus of another.” Of course, dictionaries and state laws differ but our position is based primarily upon God’s Word the Bible. Yet such worldly evidence serves a certain purpose, one corresponding in principle to what the apostle said at 1 Corinthians 5:1. There he showed that the sexual relations of one member in the Corinthian congregation were of a kind condemned even by people of the pagan nations. So, the application of the term “sodomy” in modern times to the mentioned forms of copulation shows that we are not unreasonable in saying they are not only “unnatural” but grossly so.
However, since marriage is of divine origin, our conscientious stand on marital relations is not founded on or ruled by worldly views. Therefore the overruling of some state law and the declaring of oral copulation (or similar unnatural copulation) as ‘legal’ does not alter our Bible-based position. In a world of decaying morals we can expect that some law courts may succumb in varying degrees to the growing trend toward sexual perversion, just as some of the clergy and doctors have done.
It is not our purpose to attempt to draw a precise line as to where what is “natural” ends and what is “unnatural” begins. But we believe that, by meditating on Bible principles, a Christian should at least be able to discern what is grossly unnatural. In other areas, the Christian’s individual conscience will have to guide, and this includes questions regarding caresses and ‘love play’ prior to intercourse. (Compare Proverbs 5:18, 19.) But even here the Christian who wants to produce the fruits of God’s holy spirit will wisely avoid practices that approach, or could easily lead one to fall into, unnatural forms of copulation.
What if certain married couples in the congregation in the past or even in recent times have engaged in practices such as those just described, not appreciating till now the gravity of the wrong? Then they can seek God’s forgiveness in prayer and prove their sincere repentance by desisting from such gross unnatural acts.
It is certainly not the responsibility of elders or any others in a Christian congregation to search into the private lives of married couples. Nevertheless, if future cases of gross unnatural conduct, such as the practice of oral or anal copulation, are brought to their attention, the elders should act to try to correct the situation before further harm results, as they would do with any other serious wrong. Their concern is, of course, to try to help those who go astray and are ‘caught in the snare of the Devil.’ (2 Tim. 2:26) But if persons willfully show disrespect for Jehovah God’s marital arrangements, then it becomes necessary to remove them from the congregation as dangerous “leaven” that could contaminate others.—1 Cor. 5:6, 11-13.
What of Christian women married to unbelievers and whose mates insist on their sharing in such grossly unnatural acts? Does the apostle’s statement that “the wife does not exercise authority over her own body, but her husband does” give a wife the basis for submitting to these demands? (1 Cor. 7:4) No, for such husbandly authority is only relative. God’s authority remains always supreme. (1 Cor. 11:3; Acts 5:29) The apostle, furthermore, was speaking of normal sexual relations, as the context indicates. True, refusal to engage in unholy acts may bring hardship or even persecution on a wife, but the situation is the same as if her husband demanded that she engage in some form of idolatry, in misuse of blood, dishonesty or other such wrong.
Millions of married couples throughout the earth, both in the past and in the present, have found that unselfish love brings joy and full satisfaction, for both partners, in marital relations, without resorting to perverted methods. Realizing that a corrupt world is soon to be wiped away, we can think on the words of the apostle Peter, who wrote: “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah.” Yes, this is not the time to be slipping into, or letting others beguile or pressure us into, unholy practices just to satisfy selfish passion. Not if we truly cherish our hope of living in the fresh, clean new order now so near. (2 Pet. 3:11, 12; Jude 7) So, Christian married couples can keep ‘the marriage bed without defilement,’ not only by refraining from fornication and adultery, but also by avoiding defiling, unnatural practices.—Heb. 13:4.