Is God a Prude?

Written by Dr. Bill Strom

Does God smile on love but frown on sex?
  Does God want us to love others, but have prudish rules for how we can show it sexually?  For example the Bible teaches:

  • Run away from adolescent lust.
  • Save sex for marriage.
  • Don’t do it with your neighbor’s spouse.

We might think that God forgot that he made us sexual creatures.  Doesn’t God know we have biological needs? Don’t we have the right to pleasure ourselves as long as it’s consensual and no one gets hurt?  At least that’s what our hippy parents said, and for the most part, it works.

I guess it works if you don’t know anything better.

“Better than what?” you might ask. I think a lot of us today think sex-in-the-moment or sex-with-multiple-partners is just sex.  But I think the best sex and the most good comes within a committed and exclusive relationship.

Can I prove that? Two facts prove it for me, one regarding porn and the other infidelity.

While porn gives immediate pleasure and perhaps even orgasm, it ultimately diminishes our sexual pleasures with our real-life partner.  The evidence for this is overwhelming.

For decades now we have known of research by Dolf Zillmann at the University of Indiana and Jennings Bryant at the University of Houston who ran experiments with subjects consuming varying degrees of filmed porn.  They found that the more people watched, the more they…

  • disliked their spouse’s sexual performance
  • disliked their spouse’s affection
  • considered their spouse less attractive
  • judged their spouse as not being sexually curious
  • wondered if marriage and monogamy were worth it
  • viewed out-of-wedlock sex as common and okay

Now the push-back might be that if you are in a dumpy relationship, then perhaps your dissatisfaction is causing you to find stimulation elsewhere.  That could be the case, but not in this experiment.

The study was designed to see the effect of porn on relationships, not the other way around. It found that using porn leads to hurtful relational attitudes. 

More recently we know from brain science that regularly using porn and masturbating with it furrows neurological pathways such that sex with our partners registers as less pleasurable, not more. But without the abuse, we can train our mind towards more pleasure with our lover.

I bet this brain science stuff is no surprise to God.

Sex in a committed relationship is better than infidelity sex because commitment increases sexual responsiveness.  I know that’s not what the media depicts as characters with little history head to bed with seeming ease and explosive sensuality.  That image of sex attracts viewers and sells advertising, but it doesn’t line up with the research.

When you have an affair you have less to give at home, and it takes effort to keep up the façade. In one study the researcher asked men to indicate the degree they were faithful—not sexually faithful necessarily but things like loyal, committed, reliable, and following through on promises.  The study also asked each wife if she thought her husband supported her emotionally and if he was a good time.  The results showed that the more husbands harbored thoughts of unfaithfulness, the less wives thought him emotionally present and fun.

This makes sense.  When we are hiding an affair, we’re drained. The net effect is less happiness at home.  So if you’re into happiness, infidelity doesn’t deliver.

In related research, we know that…

  • Partners who cheat report having less romance in their marriage.
  • Partners who cheat report less marital satisfaction.
  • Partners who cheat tend to have higher rates of divorce than people who don’t.

Again, I know that a poor marriage may be a reason to get involved outside it.  But it works the other way too:  messing around makes us less able to love the one we’re with.

All this comes back to God, the prude.  In light of this research I have come to see God less like a frowning cop looking to squash my pleasure, and more like a coach who has my best interests in mind as he sets out a training schedule.  Sure the training requires sacrifice and effort, but the long-term benefits accrue appreciably.

So I’m okay with God’s stance on sex because in the end I know his shalom—that underpinning peace in relating with him, others, and myself.  Shalom yields pleasure, but goes beyond this emotion to deep contentment.  God’s plan makes sense in light of science.  Faith and facts work together.

What else does God say about love?

God’s love looks like this
Does it feel like you and God are fighting?


11 Responses to “Is God a Prude?”

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Monica, have you heard the news that China has changed its ‘1 child per family’ policy? Their social engineering experiment has created an unstable society. Because of their policy there have been very few female births which has created an unsustainable imbalance. It has created a n aging population that will be more and more unable to care for itself. No, we are not going extinct but a society that fails to replace itself will become unstable. Separating sex from its primary purpose of creating children and helping to foster a healthy environment for those children to be reared into well-balanced, contributing adults will have a negative impact on any society.

    Again, I would invite you to show any evidence of the benefit that sexual activity outside of marriage has on society? When you look at the consequences that the sexual revolution has had on families, spread of diseases, and emotional health of the society, it is clear that we have turned our back on God’s plan for us to our own detriment.

  • Monica says:

    Dear Jamie, there is over 7,000,000,000 people in the world, we are not going to extinct don’t worry, Sex is not about children, your argument that multiple sex partners is unhealthy because it doesn’t create a suitable environment is irrelevant because there is no children, no one have sexual pleasure outside his marriage with the intent of bringing children, believe me!!

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Monica, I agree that sexual intercourse is a pleasurable experience beyond the creation of a new life. But even the pleasurable part of sex builds into the development of a healthy environment for raising children. Almost exclusively, children come from a man and a woman engaging in sexual intercourse, and as I pointed out previously, children are necessary for a society to exist and flourish. But a society needs more than just procreation to thrive: those children need to grow into healthy, contributing adults who build the society. As I stated before, studies have proven over and over again that children raised in families that are centred on a committed marriage between a husband and wife, consistently produce the healthiest children. Marriages where the husband and/or wife engage in affairs have a much greater chance of dissolution which undermines the development of children. So it is in the best interest of any society to support healthy marriages.

    That totally fits with the moral imperatives given in the Bible regarding sex. It makes sense when God’s instructions to humanity is to “be fruitful and multiply” to “fill the Earth” and to “have dominion of all Creation”. In order to fulfill that calling healthy marriages need to produce healthy children who grow into healthy adults. So God is not being prudish, but He is helping to set a structure that accomplishes His call for us, and gives us the best path to be successful and happy.

    Do you have any studies that show that sex with multiple partners helps benefit society?

  • Sharon says:

    to Bunyonb I am sorry you say that God does not exist and HE does care about people I am sorry if you think that God doesn’t care for you HE does I am praying for you I pray that God will show himself powerful to you– sharon

  • Monica says:

    First, it wasn’t me who rebelled, it was adam and eve, 2 nd who said anything about children, sex can be done 4 pleasure with birth control and the agreement of both partners, where is the problem in that??

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Monica, thanks for your input. You talk about how humans are created with urges for sexual activity that is condemned as ‘immoral’ in the Bible. Your implied question, “Why would God condemn us for urges He gave us?” is a logical question. What your question fails to include, though, is the way that the Bible describes humanity’s changed nature because of our rebellion against God. Our nature no longer reflects the purity of which God originally created humanity, but reflects our selfish nature which leads us into actions that are hurtful to others, destructive to ourselves, and moves us further away from God. So while God created with with a sex drive to carry out His call on us to ‘be fruitful and multiply’ and to create intimacy between a husband and wife whose commitment to each other is the best environment to raise children, our selfish nature has morphed our sex drive into a lust for self-pleasure which breaks apart families.

    Healthy marriage is a crucial element of a healthy society because in order for societies to flourish they need healthy children. Studies have consistently shown that children develop best in committed marriages. Have you seen consistent evidence that is contrary to those studies?

  • Monica says:

    Your God is really a prude, he creates you with normal urges that if u follow will be doomed like wanting to have sex with multiple people, he could have created it in a better way where there will be no need to be coached but like I said he is a complete prude and a shy girl.

  • YoungandMarried says:

    God’s way is always the best way. I have been with my wife 7 years, we have been married 4 years. We got married when I was 19 and she was 22. We continually keep our faith in Jesus Christ. Faithful all this time and we have no erge to cheat is this normal.

  • paulo cesar moreira says:

    Adorei o site, muito gratificante e edificante. Deus abençoe vcs.

  • Redeemed says:

    God is not only real, but he is also actively working in the believers life. I have good news for you as well, he loves you enough that he’s authored a plan for your own salvation and his will is for you to find it.

    2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

    and we all are in need of repentance, because we read also in Romans 3:10

    “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one”

    He even cared enough that he gave the divine inspiration for his word to be written for us, outlining what must be done to receive salvation.

    John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

    as well as

    Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

    But God gave us free will, it’s your decision to make.

    Romans 10:17 “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

    All we can do is share the word with you and then allow you to go from there.

  • bunyonb says:

    Here is a tip. God doesn’t exist to give two [expletive removed] about anybody.

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