What you should know about fasting and sex
It’s the beginning of a new year. And as it is synonym with Churches, different denominations have either embarked or are about to embark on their fasting period.
It’s not unusual to have couples argue about how the fast affects their relations with one another. Some ignorantly “quarrel” with their spouse during the period so they can be left alone, while others resort to seeking counselling.
The major challenge is that there are so many man-made rules and guidelines concerning sex during a fast so they become confusing to the couple.
Some of these are but not limited to:
- A) Zero sex during a fast.
- B) It’s a sin to have sex while fasting.
- C) It’s okay to have sex AFTER breaking your fast in the evening.
- D) You should not/do not sleep in the same room during a fast.
Most of these rules have unfortunately aided more confusion amongst couples during the fast period. While they have also discouraged some couples from fasting, in addition; they have created in no small measure, arguments and disaffection between couples (both young and old); with couples having serious issues and differences with what the word of God says.
From observation, there are clearly two sides-those who propagate or enforce these man-made rules and those who choose to be silent and say nothing hoping that no one will ask or make a mention.
The reality in the body of Christ is that there are varied dynamics in marriages as follows:
- a) Newly wedded Couples
- B) New believing Couples
- C) Couples of different faith
- D) Those who are of the same faith but different spiritual level and understanding.
- E) Those who are both not fasting. Perhaps only one spouse is and the other is not (for varied reasons)
- F) Those who are both fasting but have a different understanding of sex and fast…..
Unfortunately, we can’t all keep quiet as lives /homes are being affected.
So what do you do when you find yourself in this position? Find out what God says!
Well, the Bible is indeed not silent on this. In both the Old and New Testament, there is nowhere that God asked married couples NOT to have sex. In fact to the contrary, Apostle Paul says “But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfil his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” 1Cor 7:2-5. Note that the only reason not to have sex is for reason of prayer BUT (there is a Big But) it has to be by mutual agreement.
The key word in the word of God is a MUTUAL AGREEMENT and even then it’s for A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME. And the twist? It’s only for a time of Prayer! No mention of a fast. Remember you can pray without fasting though should not fast without praying therefore from all scriptural reference available, God is not/has not asked anyone to refrain from sex during a fast!!! Otherwise, every spouse of a prayer warrior is doomed to a lifetime of abstinence. Remember from the scripture above, your body does not belong to you but to your spouse. That’s one of the many reasons communication is important. Do agree with one another what you can handle.
You and your spouse know your level of sex drive. While some can go for months, others can barely last two days without craving sex from their spouse. It doesn’t make one holier or better than the other. Neither does it make your spouse carnal.
So part of the discussion would definitely be “what constitutes a short time?” Is 30, 40, 50, 100 days a short time? How long can either of you hold out for?
Paul’s writings encourage an attitude of “cooperation” when it comes to sex. No withholding or using it as a bargaining chip by women nor the “take it by force” approach by men.
Degrees of sexual desire differ from one person to another. There is absolutely no way we can be fasting when we have already traumatised our spouse. I do know that there are lots of manmade rules about it-some resume sexual activities after breaking the fast by 6pm etc. It does not make your fast less valid before God.
Having said all, it’s important to mention that a couple who is sensitive to each other; will not force the spouse to do what they really want to abstain from for prayer and separation reasons. However, that should be within reasonable timings. Any timelines agreed by the couple should work as all couples are different.
In conclusion, God wants a married couple to have great sex regularly. And when they choose to abstain for praying purposes, it should be for a brief period. Whenever a spouse chooses to abstain without the consent of the other, he or she is in disobedience to God. Let’s remember
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams” 1Sam 15:22.
When that happens, what’s the point of the fast then?
May God help us all.
Written By Tinuola Agbabiaka
Certified Relationship Counsellor & Professorial Therapeutic Counsellor