Friday Q&A: Is Withholding Sex from My Husband a Sin? Day 9

Today’s Readers Question: Is withholding sex from my husband a sin?

Editor’s Note: This post is my highest frequently viewed on my blog. Because of this, I frequently get new comments. I recently updated my policies, and I feel the need to post this on this post too. Please don’t send me emails/comments if you are a man whose wife has been refusing him sex or having sex less frequently than desired. These kinds of comments will never be published. This blog is not designed for you nor is the BHE community a place for you to vent about your situation. Please refrain from commenting if this description fits you.

1 Corinthians 7 was terrifying for me as a newlywed bride. Adam had made a point to read Bible verses about marriage during our honeymoon and when we got to this one, I remember cringing. Do I really have to give my husband sex anytime he wants? Are prayer and fasting the only excuse for passing on sex tonight? 

Reading 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 in the Message version actually helped me to understand the passage better.

First, Is it a good thing to have sexual relations? Certainly—but only within a certain context. It’s good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out. Abstaining from sex is permissible for a period of time if you both agree to it, and if it’s for the purposes of prayer and fasting—but only for such times. Then come back together again. Satan has an ingenious way of tempting us when we least expect it.

The Corinthians believed that it was the highest form of spirituality to forgo all earthly, sensual pleasures, even to the extreme of abstaining from sex within marriage. Paul corrects their misconception. Verse 2 says each man should “have” (sexually) his own wife and each woman “have” (sexually) her own husband. God created us as sexual beings, to enjoy the pleasures of the body. Keith Krell in his sermon A Touchy Issue, writes, “The Lord’s provision for sexual immorality is to get married and have frequent sex. Marriage is the answer to immorality of all kinds. Satisfy and protect your spouse.

Doesn’t sound very romantic, hmm? Marriage is the answer to immorality. But don’t dwell on that thought – focus on the second half: satisfy and protect your spouse. You can’t expect your husband to be satisfied and protected against temptation if you aren’t fulfilling his sexual needs.

Krell writes, “[Paul] clearly elevates women and also declares them to be sexual creatures that have desires and needs.” This is contrary to Roman society where the husband lorded over the wife. It is an honor to satisfy your husband’s sexual needs.

While women need to feel loved in order to have sex, men commonly feel most loved through physical contact and through sex. Ladies, don’t neglect this. Your man won’t feel respected and loved if you don’t have sex with him. I love what Krell writes about this,

Ladies, whatever your husband wants that is not immoral or illegal, give it to him. Make sure that your marriage bed is so hot that your husband will not ever go looking elsewhere! There is nothing dirty about this; it is entirely biblical. Why should the world have the greatest sex? The greatest sex should be among married couples who are devoted to Christ.”

You’ve been given Biblical license to please your husband and enjoy him fully in the bedroom. You have the freedom to “heat” things up in the bedroom because this is where your husband and you will receive sexual satisfaction and fulfillment. Embrace it!

Satisfy and Protect

Every couple will define sexual needs differently. That’s a conversation you should have with your husband, but there are some general “duties” you should incorporate in your marriage- touching frequently (i.e. embraces, kisses, holding hands, etc), stimulating his sexual organs, being naked with one another, and sexual intercourse.

Exercise: Communicate with your husband and let him know what turns you on, what turns you off. Then ask him to do the same with you. Ask your husband these questions regularly (once a week): What am I doing that satisfies you? What could I be doing to satisfy you?  Don’t take it as an affront if you’re not satisfying him. Talk it through together to see what areas you could work on together.  Pick one thing this week to improve on.

While sex is a delight, it is also a duty. Once married, you two only have each other to fulfill each other’s sexual needs. When couples have sex frequently, they guard against sexual temptation, starting with letting the eyes wander to impure sexual fantasies to looking at porn to a full-blown affair. Paul warns that Satan will use anything and everything to trip you up in your marriage.

Ladies, we are called to protect our husbands, not because they are weak or because we’re responsible for their sin, but because God has given us this delightful duty as a way to honor our husbands. By giving him sex frequently, you protect your husband’s mind from impure thoughts (as he’ll be thinking about you and how you please him and how to please you), and you protect your husband’s heart from disappointment and frustration (as he knows and trusts your love because you are making him feel loved when you make love regularly).

Is Withholding Sex a Sin?

Yes, if you are withholding sex…

…to threaten or punish your husband

…to bribe him

…without giving him a reason at all

What if I’m too tired? What if I’m stressed or I have a headache? What if I don’t feel comfortable? What if I’m busy? 

Too tired? Remember it’s your marital duty to fulfill your husband. Yes, you will have nights where you are too tired, but if you’re “too tired” often, it’s time to reevaluate your life. Dear wife, save time and energy for sex. Throwing out the “I’m too tired” excuse is a cop-out in my opinion. If you’re overwhelming yourself with your daily duties or getting distracted by activities so that you save sex until the last minute, then you need to rework your schedule and where you’re putting your energy. No, I’m not a mom yet but I do know that juggling kids can be exhausting, especially as a new mother. But you’re married to your husband, not your kids. He needs you. Show him you love him by needing him too.

Too busy? Then un-busy! Your husband is your first priority. Everything else can wait. Talk with your husband and agree to let him pick one thing to drop off your plate. And if he comes to you first and asks you to let something go, respect him and do it. Being too busy puts too much stress on you, and doesn’t give you enough time to relax and enjoy a healthy sex life. And most importantly, it doesn’t satisfy your husband.

Too stressed/Have a headache? Endorphins released during sex have actually been proven to help headaches sometimes (but it doesn’t work for everyone). It doesn’t always work for me, but usually it temporarily alleviates or dulls the pain, long enough for me to enjoy my husband. Sex is also a great stress reliever and a way to ward off anxiety. If I’m stressed or anxious about something, asking my husband to be with me not only comforts me, but releases tension and makes him feel needed and loved.

Feel uncomfortable? A vast majority of women experience pain during intercourse or feel shy about being “sexual” and “intimate” with their husbands. It’s a vulnerable place to be in. If you are experiencing pain, seek a medical professional or opinion. There are many things you can do from exercises to positions to help alleviate pain. If you’re uncomfortable being naked in front of your husband, it’s time to face your fears. Talk to your husband about why you feel uncomfortable. Consider your sexual history (i.e. misguided teachings, abuse, guilt, shame, etc) and if you need to, seek a counselor for some guidance. Open yourself up to being vulnerable with your husband. He loves you remember? Go gently and slowly. Spend time in prayer together. There’s nothing Satan likes more than undermining a woman’s confidence and her beauty. Kick those Devil’s lies right out by asking your husband to pray over you.

If You Do Withhold Sex…

1) Pray first. Is this something you really need to do? Ask God to give you wisdom as you make your decision.

2) Talk with your husband. Ask him for his input. Make sure you two are on the same page with abstaining. Discuss how long you’re going to wait, and stick to it. (Now if you want to break your abstinence early, by all means, go for it! But if you agree on a specific period of time and that time passes, it’s time to have sex. Don’t continue without talking about it first).

3) WIVES: You can still be “intimate” without having intercourse. Touch each other frequently. Kiss. Embrace. Be naked with one another. Spend quality time together. Make your home and heart a place of respect for your husband so he still feels loved during the abstinence period.

4) HUSBANDS: Be patient and understanding. Take sexual frustrations to God before lashing out at your wife. Make your home and heart a place a love for your wife so that she will feel comfortable, safe, and ready for sex when you finish abstaining.

Further Reading: Check out this good click from Julie Sibert on Intimacy in Marriage 5 Dangers of Regularly Saying No to Sex


  1. Jasmine

    Thank you for the article. To be honest in my home the roles are reversed my husband is the sex with holder. I have tried new clothes and new make up but it seems nothing I do attracts my husband to me. Should I give up hope?

    • Hi Jasmine, thank you for visiting BHE. I can’t imagine the hurt and pain you must feel, but please don’t give up hope.
      1) Take your worries and cares before the Lord. Ask Him to give you the wisdom and insight to find the answers you need, to know what will work for your marriage, and how to speak to/approach your husband. Anyone could give you step-by-step instructions, even me, but God knows what’s best for you and you know your husband better than anyone. Filter all advice through the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit, and prayer.
      2) Know that you’re not alone. There are many women out there like you who have a higher sex drive and/or are being refused by their husbands. And God hears you and cares for you. He loves you and accepts you. Don’t give up hope. God can redeem anything and anyone.
      3) Julie Sibert, a fellow CMBA-er, on her website, Intimacy in Marriage, includes a wonderful resource of blog posts specifically targeting the issue of “Wives Who Want More Sex and Aren’t Getting It.” I highly recommend reading through them. You can find all the links here:

      I pray the Lord will bring you healing, hope, and comfort in your marriage.

  2. Keisha

    Thank you for writing this it is truly inspirational. I am having trouble in my bed I guess you could say. My husband has no desire to have sex. I have offered to take him to the doctor to have his testosterone levels checked and everything, but he refuses. I have many sleepless nights. And you are right Satan does tempt you. My question is how does this apply to me. Like not having sex is what satisfies him:(?

    • Hi Keisha, I’m sorry your comment slipped through my radar.

      Stay deep in prayer. Keep trying. Don’t give up. Your man may be embarrassed to go see a doctor and involve a third party. Let him know that you love him and you want what’s best for your marriage, and that you love connecting with him intimately and you need him sexually. Focus on loving him outside the bedroom. Make sure he knows he is safe with you.

      I shared a link in the comment response above – from Julie Sibert, author of Intimacy in Marriage, and she shares a wonderful cache of blog posts about wives who want more sex and aren’t getting any, including how to talk with your husband about potential medical issues. You can find all the links here:

  3. Wow. What do I say except that I agree wholeheartedly with your post.
    Thank you for putting your views out in the open for all to read. I think we tend to talk about this subject one on one (I know that as a minister’s wife and chaplain, I have this conversation every once in a while with young women) and it needs to be out in the open as so many tv shows glorify this type of selfish behaviour. Thanks for linking up with us at No Ordinary Blog Hop. Every blessing, Kelly

    • Thank you for visiting Kelly, and yes, it’s so true that more women need to be talking about this issue in the Church. The Church tends to be very vocal on the issues of sex before marriage and sex outside of marriage, but tends to be pretty silent on sex within marriage – and this is the greatest and biggest area that should be occupying our attention – uplifting healthy, passionate, loving sex lives and encouraging women of faith to be generous wives in the bedroom.


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