I want a husband, but no sex. Is that possible?

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I want a husband, but no sex. Is that possible?

Apr 02, 2013 |Candice Watters
Question

I am a young woman that desires a companion, but not intimacy in marriage. I would be content with this and believe I would serve better and be a better missionary with a husband.

I am not financially independent and am old-fashioned in the sense that I want to work only part time and stay at home with the (adopted) kids. Would it be possible to please the Lord if I found a companion that I would care for, foster and adopt children with, but not have a sexual relationship with?

For health and personal reasons I am afraid of sex, but I wish to have a husband who would provide for me but wouldn't pressure me into having kids naturally. I know I would be faithful in the fact that I wouldn't have an affair outside of marriage. However, I dearly love children, and there are many kids needing foster homes, but I am not financially stable enough to provide for a foster or adopted child on my own. I would love to be an adoptive mom and raise children in a Christian lifestyle.

Is it possible to have such an arrangement? I'm sure there are men out there who can't have kids or perform due to various reasons who think they can't get married. But since it's such a personal issue, I'm not sure how to find such a man.

I believe in spending time with my spouse, caring for him, and attending worship together and helping out orphans. What should I do? This obviously would be an emotionally intimate relationship but not a physically intimate one. I know it's not possible with an average person who has needs, but there must be someone looking for a Christian wife who isn't looking for a physical relationship due to problems I mentioned above.

Answer

My dear friend, thank you for writing. Your question is extremely unusual — most of the unmarried readers of Boundless can't wait to get married so they can have biblically authorized sex within marriage — but it's only unusual in its extremeness. Every Christian married couple faces the desire, often or occasionally, to withhold sex from his or her spouse. That's why Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 7:3-5,

The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

The Corinthians were asking Paul about abstinence in marriage, assuming it was more spiritual to forego sex. But Paul urged them to do just the opposite (in marriage).

The 1662 Book of Common Prayer explained the purposes of marriage like this:

First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.

Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ's body.

Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined. Therefore if any man can show any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter forever hold his peace.

Sex is an essential part of God's good design for marriage (Genesis 2:18-25). It provides the opportunity for much pleasure, as well as the possible miracle of creating new life. But even more, sex is His means for uniting husband and wife uniquely. That's why, in the words of Gary Thomas, Satan is so intent on getting people to have as much sex as possible outside marriage and as little sex as possible within it. It's the physical picture of a spiritual reality: the one-flesh union.

'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:31-32).

Your desire for a companion, as well as for a father for adopted children, are both noble goals. But they are incomplete. The problem is that you want only those two goods of marriage, to the exclusion of the others: procreation and sexual intimacy. The goods of marriage are not meant to be separated. They are all of a piece. One or two without the others diminishes them all.

Please note that purposely choosing some of the goods of marriage and not others is not the same as being infertile and unable to bear biological children, nor is it the same as being unable to have sex because of injury or illness. What you're asking about is different. Couples in those situations are facing very real evidence of the fall and the brokenness of living in a Genesis 3 world. They long to bear children; they grieve their physical limitations. They know all too well the effects of the curse. What you're asking about is taking on elements of brokenness because that is the way you prefer it.

You say you want to raise children in a Christian lifestyle. By that I presume you mean in a home with a married mom and dad. That's good. But it's not enough. A marriage that refuses sexual intimacy, and the blessing of any biological children that may result from that union, is not consistent with the Christian definition of marriage. It's not marriage as the Bible reveals it to be — the way God created it.

Marriage requires giving the self wholly to another. And it's risky. When a Christian man takes a wife, he is saying he will spend himself to protect her and provide for her, and any children the Lord blesses them with, for as long as he lives. When a Christian woman unites herself in marriage to a husband, she is saying she will follow his lead and help him advance his leadership, to the glory of God. It is not for the spiritually weak or fearful. That's as true in the bedroom as it is in the family room. But in Christ, we have great hope. He conquered fear and death on the cross. If you trust Him, you are raised to life and set free from fear.

My advice to you regarding marriage is wait. Rather than trying to find a husband now who will agree to your limited terms, it would be far better to talk with your pastor about your fears and ask him to pray with you and help you understand God's design for marriage and work toward that with the support of a loving church body.

My advice regarding orphans is help. There's no reason you can't support adoption now, even though you're not yet in a position to adopt. I can think of three families in our community who are fostering to adopt (and I suspect there are many more) who would benefit greatly from the help of a Christian single woman who's willing to serve. You could support families like these with your time, your affection and your resources. Every mom of young children has more laundry than she can ever hope to finish. There are meals to be made, appointments to be met, and little ones who would be glad to have someone there to read them stories. Ask the Lord to show you needs around you in your church and your community. Start serving others who are doing what you hope to do someday. It's a great way to prepare for what the Lord may yet do in your life.

Psalm 68:6 says, "God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land" (ESV). The NIV version of that verse says, "God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land."

I pray the Lord will greatly encourage you, and whether through marriage or through membership in the family of God, you will be fruitful in the work of family.

Sincerely,
CANDICE WATTERS

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Editor's note: Boundless also recommends getting appropriate counseling to get healthy and deal with any past emotions, abuse or other contributing factors to your fear. (See Focus on the Family’s list of recommended counselors.)

Copyright 2013 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.

If you have a question you'd like us to consider for this column, please send it to editor@boundless.org. Please note that all questions we select for this column may be edited for clarity and privacy and become the property of Focus on the Family.

If you have a question you'd like us to consider for this column, please send it to editor@boundless.org. Please note that all questions we select for this column may be edited for clarity and privacy and become the property of Focus on the Family.

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