In Ephesians 5:24 the Bible commands that wives are to submit to their husbands in “everything”. Does “everything” include anal sex? Or does this fall under the exception clause to all earthly submission that “We ought to obey God rather than men.”(Acts 5:29)?
Beyond submission – what if the woman wants anal sex? Is it ok for a Christian couple to engage in anal sex?
Some Christians would give a quick response of “No way – anal sex is sodomy and sodomy is condemned in the Bible!”
However the word “sodomy” never occurs in the Bible. That is a word made up in the English language. Most people today when they hear the word sodomy think of one of two things – homosexual acts especially between two or more men or anal sex. But the definition of sodomy in English is broader than this and includes oral sex or anal sex even between a man and woman.
This is the definition of “sodomy”:
“anal or oral copulation with a member of the same or opposite sex;”
The Roots of “Sodomy”
Now while “Sodomy” is never used in the Bible the roots for this English word can be seen in the story of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis chapter 19. Previously Abraham’s nephew Lot had moved with his family to the city of Sodom and Abraham had received angels from God that told him God would destroy Sodom for its wickedness. Abraham asked for God to spare Lot and his family so the angels went there to get them.
The men of Sodom surrounded Lot’s house and demanded that he would send out the two angels so they could have sex with them.
So Biblically speaking what would “Sodomy” be? If we look at Genesis 19 it is when one man forcibly has anal sex with another man.
What about the word “sodomite”?
The word “sodomite” is used in these passages of the King James translation of the Bible:
“There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.”
“And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.”
1 Kings 14:24 (KJV)
“And he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made.”
1 Kings 15:12 (KJV)
“And the remnant of the sodomites, which remained in the days of his father Asa, he took out of the land.”
1 Kings 22:46 (KJV)
“And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the Lord, where the women wove hangings for the grove.”
2 Kings 23:7 (KJV)
I love the KJV and I quote from it regularly as it is often has the most literal English renderings of phrases from the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures. However from time to time even the KJV translators would take liberties with certain phrases and this unfortunately is one of those cases. The word that they are translating as “sodomite” is a translation of the Hebrew word “Qadesh” which literally means “male temple prostitute” and it has absolutely no connection to the Hebrew word for Sodom which is “Sedom”. The original meaning of “Sedom” is unknown but eventually it came to mean “burning” in reference to God’s fiery judgment on the city of Sodom.
A “Qadesh” was man who sold himself for sex and the money used to pay him would go to the pagan temple with which he was associated. Often these were not just prostitutes but they were in fact male sex slaves. Would it be true that often times these men did engage in homosexual sex acts with other men? Absolutely. But they could also engage in sex acts with wealthy women as well so in the truest sense their activities were bisexual in nature.
The point about the word “Qadesh” (which was wrongly translated as “sodomite” in the KJV) is that it does not refer specifically to anal sex, but instead it refers to male temple prostitutes.
Now the argument I have just made is one that many advocates of homosexuality make to discount Biblical prohibitions against homosexuality. But just because the Hebrew words behind Sodom and Sodomite do not specifically refer to homosexual acts this does not mean the Bible does not clearly condemn homosexual acts. Make no mistake that it does.
God condemns homosexual acts between men in the book of Leviticus:
“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”
Leviticus 18:22 (KJV)
God condemns homosexual acts between men and women in Paul’s letter to the Romans:
“26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.”
Romans 1:26-27 (KJV)
But here is my point about the words Sodomy, Sodom and Sodomite.
Sodomy is never found in the Bible and even if the roots of this English word refers to the wickedness of Sodom it does not refer simply to anal sex. Instead it would refer to men forcibly having anal sex with other men – in other words one man raping another man. In a broader sense Sodomy might refer to all types of wickedness that were practice in Sodom including homosexuality, whoremongering, prostitution and rape.
The word Sodom refers to the name of a Biblical city and has nothing specifically to do with sexual sins.
The word Sodomite is a mistranslation of the Hebrew word for male temple prostitute and while these prostitutes may have engaged in anal sex they also engaged in many other sex acts including normal sexual intercourse.
So if someone wants to say anal sex is condemned because the Bible condemns sodomites they would be incorrect in that connection. The Bible in these cases is condemning the rape of men and men being prostitutes.
So is anal sex ok for Christian married couples to engage in?
Up to this point you might think I am arguing that anal sex is ok because I have just shown that the Bible’s condemnation of sodomites is not a specific prohibition against anal sex but rather a prohibition against raping men and men being prostitutes.
But this is not the case. I believe there is a Biblical case to be made against Christian couples engaging in anal sex whether it is because the woman wants to, the man wants to or they both want to. But we cannot build that case on the Bible’s condemnation of the acts of Sodom or the use of the word “sodomites” in the KJV.
Also I just want to say that anyone who knows me and has read my writings knows that I try to be very careful not to add to the law of God. We should not add rules for things as many Christians do just because we find these things to be “icky”.
For instance I am one of the few Bible believing Christian bloggers online that takes the position that the use of porn is not always sinful and can in fact be helpful to Christian men and women in many ways if used correctly. Even though there is no specific passage of Scripture that condemns the production of nude images or the use of porn (contrary to those who try and use Matthew 5:28 to condemn it) many Christians see “Thou shalt not use porn” as the 11th commandment.
So I am sensitive to the fact that when I say I believe anal sex is wrong I could be accused of doing exactly the same thing that I say Christian opponents of porn are doing.
So with all that being said as an introduction to the topic of anal sex let me now show you why I believe the Scripture condemn anal sex as a practice even between a husband and wife within the bounds of marriage.
Where does the Bible condemn anal sex?
If you want to find a passage that says “thou shalt not have anal sex” there is no such passage.
But you won’t find Scripture passages for some of these things either:
You won’t find a Bible verse that says “thou shalt not punch thy wife and beat her to a bloody pulp whenever you get angry with her”.
You won’t find a Bible verse that says “thou shalt not punch thy children and beat them to a bloody pulp whenever you get angry with them.”
You won’t find a Bible verse that says “thou shalt not break the speed limit while driving.”
I could go on but you get my point. There are many things where we do not have a passage of Scripture that speaks to that specific activity yet we know that God did not just “forget” about it. Some of these wicked activities are condemned by broader condemnations and by broader Biblical principles.
We know we should not break the speed limit not because of some specific Bible command against it but because of the broader teaching of passages like this one from I Peter 2:
“13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.”
I Peter 2:13-14 (KJV)
So we need to follow the speed limit as it is an ordinance of man and speed limits do not step outside the authority that God has given local government nor does a speed limit require us to go against the laws of God.
The Bible does give the right and responsibility for parents to use corporal punishment on their children:
“Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.”
Proverbs 13:24 (KJV)
But it does not allow the abuse of children – our discipline is to be not supposed to be some sort of revenge but it is for our child’s good. We discipline our children out of love for them and looking out for their wellbeing:
“6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.”
Hebrews 12:6-8 (KJV)
When it comes to wives and discipline God shows that he disciplined his wife Israel and later disobedient churches in Revelation:
“And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.”
Amos 4:6 (KJV)
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”
Revelation 3:19 (KJV)
But while husbands are called to discipline their wives – they are also called to love their wives as their own bodies by protecting them and caring for their needs:
“28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church”
Ephesians 5:28-29 (KJV)
When a man beats his wife as abusive husbands do this is by definition an act of hatred against his wife and it is clearly condemn by the principles set forth in Ephesians 5:28-29 (KJV)
In other posts I have argued that if a man physically abuses his wife she is allowed to be freed from him just as a slave was to be freed from their master if they were physically abused by their master as seen here in Exodus:
“26 And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye’s sake. 27 And if he smite out his manservant’s tooth, or his maidservant’s tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth’s sake.”
Exodus 21:26-27 (KJV)
The right not to be physically abused by those in authority over us is a basic human right that God gives to all human beings from the lowest social casts to highest social casts. No child, no wife, no human being is called by God to endure physical abuse simply because the person is in authority.
Some say a wife should just take physical abuse based on passages like this:
“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
Matthew 5:39 (KJV)
But this is talking about persecution for the sake of the Gospel. This is not talking about a wife enduring bloody beatings from her husband because he comes home angry and wants a punching bag. It also does not forbid Christians from fleeing persecution even for the Gospel when they can:
“Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.”
John 8:59 (KJV)
“32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: 33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.”
II Corinthians 11:32-33 (KJV)
My point in all this is that just because the Bible does not specifically talk about things like physically abusing your wife or children or breaking the speed limit does not mean it does not condemn these activities. In the same way I believe that while the Bible does not specifically mention anal sex there are Biblical principles that would in fact condemn anal sex.
What Biblical principles condemn anal sex?
Some Christians make an argument against anal sex based on the health risks it presents. Some of these health risks are laid out in this article from WebMD:
“The anus lacks the natural lubrication the vagina has. Penetration can tear the tissue inside the anus, allowing bacteria and viruses to enter the bloodstream. This can result in the spread of sexually transmitted infections including HIV. Studies have suggested that anal exposure to HIV poses 30 times more risk for the receptive partner than vaginal exposure. Exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV) may also lead to the development of anal warts and anal cancer. Using lubricants can help some, but doesn’t completely prevent tearing.
The tissue inside the anus is not as well protected as the skin outside the anus. Our external tissue has layers of dead cells that serve as a protective barrier against infection. The tissue inside the anus does not have this natural protection, which leaves it vulnerable to tearing and the spread of infection.
The anus was designed to hold in feces. The anus is surrounded with a ring-like muscle, called the anal sphincter, which tightens after we defecate. When the muscle is tight, anal penetration can be painful and difficult. Repetitive anal sex may lead to weakening of the anal sphincter, making it difficult to hold in feces until you can get to the toilet. However, Kegel exercises to strengthen the sphincter may help prevent this problem or correct it.
The anus is full of bacteria. Even if both partners do not have a sexually-transmitted infection or disease, bacteria normally in the anus can potentially infect the giving partner. Practicing vaginal sex after anal sex can also lead to vaginal and urinary tract infections.”
So the argument of some Christians is that because of these health risks Christians should not engage in this activity as our bodies are called the temple of God and we are to care for them and not abuse them.
The Bible speaks of our bodies belonging to God:
“19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
I Corinthians 6:19-20 (KJV)
Some might respond to the health risks of anal sex like a recent commenter on my blog who goes by the name of Jonadab-the-Rechabite:
“Your argument that anal sex is dangerous I think is also overstated. It is an activity less dangerous than motorcycle riding, and like motorcycle riding there are prudent measures that can mitigate the risks and make the activity safer and enjoyable. Is it a sin for a husband to want his wife to ride on the back of his motorcycle? The other ditch is to ignore those risks altogether, refusing prudent measures, this is loveless concern on the part of the husband. The same risks could be said about consuming pork. Pork could be dangerous if not properly cooked, it makes many people uncomfortable to eat an unclean animal and has been associated with health risks like heart disease.”
So should we not do things only because they are risky? Of course not. If a husband asks his wife to do something and she does not want to do it simply because it has any kind of risk is she ok refusing? No – I don’t think risk alone gives a wife the right to refuse.
In fact I don’t think risk alone should stop a couple from doing something together like anal sex simply because of the risk. What if a couple wants to go skydiving? That certainly is risky? So I agree with Jonadab that simply because something is risky that does not make that activity wrong.
The argument I make against anal sex goes beyond the risk factor – it goes to the heart of the issue which is design.
Anal sex violates God’s design of the body
I talk about design on this blog all the time. I marvel at the beautiful and distinctive ways in which God made men and women for their distinctive roles in his creation.
Design is why most women could never be a fire fighter and why few women could ever pass the vigorous tests of being a Navy seal. It is why men typically excel over women at heavy labor jobs and why men are less prone to physical injury than women.
Design is why most women can so naturally care for the needs of an infant and intuitively know what that child needs where most men would struggle in this area.
Design is why most women need to feel beautiful and why most men could care less about their outward appearance.
Design is why most men love vigorous competitions of all kinds while most women simplify love to talk and share their feelings with their friends.
So this then begs the question – “Is anal sex a natural use of the anus?”
“26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.”
Romans 1:26-27 (KJV)
God is very much concerned that we use our bodies in the way he designed them to be used. He did not design the male body for sex with another male body and he did not design the female body for sex with another female body. When men have sex with men they are going against the natural design of their bodies and when women have sex with women they are going against the natural design of their bodies. But when a man has sex with a woman – he and this woman are now using their bodies in ways that God designed them to be used.
But even when a man has sexual relations with a woman I do not believe that anyone can make an argument from a medical and biological perspective that God designed the anus for penetration during sexual relations. Everything about the anus shows us that it is designed as an “exit only” orifice of the body. Unlike the much tougher linings of the mouth and the vagina the anus has a very thin lining that is easily torn and can bleed and become infected.
Over long lengths of time regular anal sex can stretch the anal sphincter and lead to an inability to hold one’s feces.
The pain of anal sex
Anal sex is naturally painful – even with lubrication because the anus was NOT meant for penetration.
Now just because something is painful does not mean it is necessarily a bad thing to do that thing.
When a person lifts weights or does any type of strenuous exercise (or hard labor) often their muscles ache because the muscles are torn and stretched by that exercise. When the muscles heal from this tearing they become stronger.
When a mother gives birth it is certainly painful.
“Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”
Genesis 3:16 (KJV)
Notice the key word in Genesis 3:16 which is “multiply”. Even before sin God did not design child birth to a painless process any more than he designed people exercising (and thus tearing and stretching their muscles) to be a painless exercise.
No one would argue that the pain from exercise, hard labor or child birth means these activities are wrong to do.
But then there is another type of pain. This type of pain is a pain that acts as warning to us.
Many of us when we were children experienced one type of this “warning pain” when our parents spanked us:
“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”
Hebrews 12:11 (KJV)
The pain of our parents spanking us warned us that what we were doing was wrong and that we needed to not do that thing we were doing anymore.
Besides our parents spanking us though – we have another natural type of “warning pain” that God gives us. As small children we may have touched something that was hot only to have it burn our fingers. This served to warn us that our skin is not made for touching things with high temperatures.
In same way people often experience internal pains which tells them something is wrong. Often times a person’s life can be saved when they are sensitive to pain and report it to a doctor so they can help them.
It is this warning type of pain that a person experiences when they allow their anus to be penetrated. The pain we experience as human beings when our anus is penetrated cannot be compared to the pain a person experiences when they exercise, do hard labor, when a woman loses her virginity or when a woman has a baby. These types of pains are not meant as warnings but they serve as part of God’s natural design.
But when we touch a hot stove with our hand or when a woman feels pain when her anus is penetrated these are warning pains that God gave us to tell us that our skin was not designed for extreme heat and that our anus was not designed for penetration.
The argument for anal sex from existence of dual purpose body parts
Now that we have addressed the issue of the design of the anus not be fitting for penetration for intercourse both from a functional perspective as well as from a pain perspective we will lastly address the argument that anal sex is ok because it may serve a dual purpose as other body parts do.
Jonadab-the-Rechabite said this about God’s design of our bodies:
“God has designed many parts of the body with a primary function and many secondary as well. For instance, the mouth is used for many functions such as eating speaking, breathing etc. If I said that the mouth was designed for eating so you should not kiss with it, you would probably disagree. It is fallacious to say the anus was designed to eliminate waste so it can serve no other function. The very same argument of teleology or design was used by fundamentalists against oral sex just a couple of decades ago. We are not free to add to the law or assume the exhaustive purposes of God when He has not revealed such.”
Yes some body parts have duel purposes – agreed. We can use our mouth to eat, to breathe, to kiss and to give sexual pleasure to our spouses. We can use our hands to hold things, to work, to paint, to play sports and to give our partners sexual pleasure.
A man’s penis used both to urinate and to give himself and his wife sexual pleasure. A woman’s vagina is used both to give her husband and herself sexual pleasure as well as bear children.
I might agree with Jonadab that the anus could have been designed with a dual purpose as a secondary way of giving a husband sexual pleasure from his wife as her mouth does IF these things were true of anal sex:
- The lining of the anus was as thick and tough as the skin in the mouth or the vagina.
- The anus had a natural expansion mechanism for things to enter it as the vagina and mouth do.
- The anus did not give off warning pains when it is penetrated each time.
- The practice of regular anal sex over many months or years did not have a strong possibility of causing issues with feces not be able to be held and other health injuries.
But the fact is none the things I just mentioned are true of anal sex and therefore there is no way that we can conclude that the anus is a dual purpose body part on a woman that is meant for sexual pleasure in the same way her mouth and hands can be.
Some have tried to argue(and still do today) as Jonadab has pointed out that oral sex or hand jobs or any sex outside of vaginal intercourse is sinful and wrong. They argue that God designed sex between a man and woman to only consist of vaginal intercourse.
But there is a huge difference between these other types of sex and anal sex. A woman’s hand does not burn and hurt simply because she rubs her husband’s penis with it. A woman’s mouth does not hurt just from the fact that her husband places his penis in it. Now could a woman’s hand or mouth begin to get sore from prolonged sexual relations? Sure. But so could her vagina.
But my point is that the intial contact with these areas of the body and moderate use of them during sex does not normally or naturally cause pain in the way that anal sex will cause pain whether from prolonged use or moderate use.
There is no warning pain from any of these other types of sex besides anal sex. In fact we can find allusions to these other types of sexual activity in the Song of Solomon. So trying to compare anal sex to oral sex or other types of manual sex is a comparison of apples to oranges.
A woman may experience pain during vaginal sex for reasons other than prolonged sexual intercourse. But God did not design vaginal sex to be painful. If a woman were to go to the doctor and explain that she is having painful vaginal intercourse the doctor will tell her that is not normal and they need to look into reasons why that is happening. But if that same woman were to tell the doctor she has painful anal intercourse the doctor is going to say – “well that is because the anus is not designed for sex”. Now yes you can find ways to reduce that pain but the fact is it is completely normal for anal sex to be painful because it is warning from your body that you are not supposed to be doing that!
The fact is that regular and prolonged penetration of the vagina, oral sex or other manual types of sex when practiced in a committed marriage relationship present absolutely no health problems and do not cause warning pains because these practices are using our bodies in ways in which God designed them to be used.
However regular penetration of the anus will over time cause stretching and damage to the anus and the ability for one to hold in their feces. It also causes warning pains to the woman telling her that God did not design her anus to be used for sexual penetration by her husband.
It is for these reasons that Christian couples should reject anal sex as part of their sex life – God did not design the anus as a dual purpose body part for sexual pleasure. Instead this body part was designed for one purpose and one purpose alone – the release of gas from the body and the release of waste from the body. That is it.
And as to the question that is the title of this article “Do Christian wives have to submit to requests for anal sex by their husbands?”
While it is true that a woman’s body belongs to her husband it is equally true that he does not have a right to sinfully abuse her body that God has given him. So it is for this reason I believe the answer is NO a wife does not have to submit to this type of sinful request based on the Biblical principle that “We ought to obey God rather than men.”(Acts 5:29).