Fasting and Sex

    I saw this video several years ago of this woman who got some YouTube followers after appearing on the Rachel Ray show and saying she had sex with her husband whenever he wanted it.  I thought that was a great attitude.  She made a video discussing that.  At one point, she commented on I Corinthians 7 and said something along the lines that she thought none of the women out there were declining or refusing sex with their husbands because they were fasting.  She was wrong.  Mine had done that fairly recently from the time I’d watched the video.  She’d gotten better about not requiring sex fasts, Recently here it is voluntary.

    My wife told me earlier in the month that she wanted to fast 21 days.  She did that early in the year, January or February.

    Fasting means no sex.  That’s how it has turned out in our marriage.  In her country, the Muslims fast food, water, and sex during daylight hours.  Christians did similar fasts, fasting water also.  I hadn’t thought about fasting water before I went there, so I looked through examples of fasting, and there were a couple of passages that mentioned fasting food and water, and none that mentioned fasting food only but not water like I’d seen in my church culture in the US.  There are some passages in the Old Testament about people sanctified themselves who abstained from sex, and the priest asked David if he and his men had been apart from women before eating the shewbread.  (Not sure if he had sex or menstruation in mind with that one, though I suspect it was sex.)  So I can understand why someone might think they needed to abstain from sex during fasting.

    For her, like a lot of Christians for her country, fasting can also be skipping a meal or two.  That’s what she does.  She seems to get some low blood sugar issues if she fasts too long, so she usually eats one meal late in the day to break her fast.

    In the past, this was a much bigger deal.  My wife didn’t fast as much, but she would basically unilaterally declare a fast whether I agreed with it or not.  Explaining I Corinthians 7 didn’t go anywhere.  Conversations could turn into an implication that I wasn’t spiritual enough or was too concerned with the flesh.

    When we were early in our marriage, she seemed okay with giving hand jobs while fasting, but at some point along the way she didn’t feel okay with it anymore.  I’m not as desperate after a day or two without sex (let’s be honest, a day) like I was when I was young.

    We are coming up on the end of the 21 days next week, and I am looking forward to the affection.  I don’t talk about sex much while she’s fasting.  She doesn’t initiate much, and I can mistake that for her not having desires, but I realize after a while she gets them, and I don’t want to stir up too much sexual thought to make it harder for her during fasting.

    This last fast started before we could have sex after her last period, which dragged on for what felt like 9 or ten days.  Part of me wanted  to talk her into doing 21-day fasts on days that include her period, but physically that’s probably harder on her, so this was probably better for her physically. that she did not  She also wanted to go to a Christian conference three days after the fasting stops.  The 21 days ends the day before her regular weekly fast day, but that ends at dinner, so that’s okay.  Basically, we had a three-day window for sex before her trip.  Maybe we’d have a couple of days where sex could happen before her period starts again.   I was going to tell her after the fast was over that I would like to have sex with her every night– not hand jobs, intercourse.  I don’t think we’ve had intercourse every night for three nights in a row since we conceived my daughter and before that since we were newly weds.  I got a fishnet outfit for her.

    I have only been able to get her into those sexy stretchy lingerie things once that I recall.  When I did, she said, “I look like a prostitute.”  But then she starts asking me to do all kinds of sex positions-  sex sitting on a stool, doing stuff we hadn’t tried before.  When we first got married, I thought lingerie was just something annoying to tear off so I could get to her naked body.  But that night I learned it can be a powerful thing for her attitude if I could manage to get her in it.  So I’ve been planning to get her into it on a night we had had sex the night before,.  I could ask her to try it on.

    My wife is also interested in the feasts of the Lord in the Old Testament.  I like studying such things, but she wants to celebrate them.  We did a Passover Seder with the Lord’s Supper included.  Since there was no actual animal sacrifice 🙂 I was cool with that.  I don’t feel as compelled to do these things as she does, but I see it as a good learning experience.  We are getting ready to do something with our home fellowship and family for the Feast of Trumpets– read certain passages, maybe eat apples and honey themed dishes (as a cultural thing).

    Tonight, during family devotions with the family, she told the kids we were going to fast 7 days before the feast of trumpets.  It turns out she meant before Yom Kippur, the day of atonement.  I raised an objection to that in her language, saying it was right after her fast and before her trip.  She said something about me being too concerned about my flesh.  I don’t like that kind of talk.  I feel like she’s trying to make me feel unspiritual for a legitimate marital concern.  I’m thinking of telling her fasting from sex should be done with mutual consent and I don’t consent to that.   She was thinking of the kids ‘fasting’ video games and videos, btw.  Maybe the older ones will fast a meal.

    My thinking on this is that I really need the physical connection with her.  I am thinking of the passage about the fast that pleases the Lord– giving one’s bread to the hungry.  Doing what’s right toward others is preferable to fasting.  I may talk with my wife about this tonight. But it could be tomorrow, so if you read this, please pray for wisdom and that the discussion will go well.

    If you can pray that she will grasp and accept what Paul says in I Corinthians 7 about mutual consent for the time of prayer and sex and not be judgmental about me not wanting to add another three days of her fasting intercourse plus the days she is away and her day or two of potentially grumpy PMS when she doesn’t like sex and/or  period after her trip.  I’m hoping she will appreciate me being supportive of her extended fast and her trip, buying her a ticket and all that, staying with the kids and working while she goes to her prayer conference.   I’d appreciate prayers that the Lord would speak to her heart in a way that would resolve this permanently and give her a permanent appreciate for the importance of sex with her husband.

    Also pray for me.  I want to put God’s kingdom first, too, and be supportive of my wife’s desire to draw close to the Lord, intercede in prayer, etc.

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    10 Answer(s)

      I know Christianity can look a little different in other cultures, and some of that is probably ok. But to hold oneself, and a spouse, to OT, Jewish traditions…. Paul, the self proclaimed “Jew of Jews”,  wrote just about the entire book of Galatians to address that faulty pursuit. The writer of Hebrews (likely Paul) spent a LOT of time telling Jews that directly as well. 1 Cor 7 can’t and won’t mean much to her if she can’t also see the truth written in these other books that condemn “Judaising Christians.” If this is truly a religious conviction, then your work lies much deeper than just sex. Perhaps that work should start within yourself.

      Honestly sounds like your wife’s 21 day “sex fast” is just an excuse for not having sex for a while. And if she is doing so without your blessing, then she is not honoring her husband and is risking rebellious sin against you and God according to His word.

      Nothing else really needs to be said here.

      Blanket on a secluded beach! Answered 3 days ago.

      On the 21 day fast, she did have my agreement on that.  She did not on spontaneous adding to it.  She was wanting to get the kids to fast during our sex day.  If we were going to fast as a family (for kids, fasting Internet–which is questionable if it is ‘fasting’ or not, maybe skip a meal or two for the older ones), I wouldn’t want to have them do that and not participate.

      Not judging about observing holidays should work both ways.  Jerusalem was full of believers who celebrated them, and Paul, who wrote the book, cut his hair in Cencrea for he had made a vow.  He went into the temple with other brethren who had a vow on them and paid their expenses.  He might have offered a sacrifice in the temple in connection with a Nazarite vow he might have made.  He paid the expenses of the others who had a vow on him at the request of James and the elders who requested he did so to illustrate, among other things, that he was not opposed to Jewish believers circumcising their children.  So it is possible to swing the other way and treat observing such things as a law.

      In our case, our focus is more on Bible education, learning about eschatology, potentially, and such, through reading certain passages of scripture and remembering certain things on the Jewish calendar.  We do not hope to have our sins forgiven to gain salvation through keeping feasts.  Galatians dealt with Gentiles seeking to be justified by the law, which is a different issue.

      This issue wasn’t the focus on my post.

      My wife is fasting food and praying during her fast.  It seems unlikely that her motive isn’t just about getting away from sex.  I believe she genuinely wants to pray and focus on the Lord.  I have no reason to think she would do all that to avoid sex for 21 days.  After a week or so, I think she starts craving sex a bit.  But I almost have never let her go long enough to get to that point.

      3 days ago.

      Galatians dealt with Gentiles seeking to be justified by the law, which is a different issue.

      Just how is it a different issue? If Jews wanted to keep some things as tradition, then they could. But the problem arose when those that did started judging those that didn’t.  “Judging” doesn’t always  mean “You’re going to hell!”

      I am a big proponent of the spirit of the law of liberty. Romans 14. If you’re in agreement with these fasts and such, then why are you here asking advice? Why does she want to celebrate and fast and such, based on OT law? What’s the point? Is she Hebrew by heritage?

      3 days ago.

      My wife has watched some videos of various teachers about how the feasts relate to the acts of Christ and eschatology.  It is pretty clear to see that Jesus fulfilled the Passover feast and that He is the Firstfruits.  We spent a little time going to a Messianic Assembly (in addition to another church service) years ago.  The church we went to had one service, and we went there mainly because my wife was interested in learning more.  The pastor didn’t seem to be much of a scholar of the Old Testament.  My position is we Christians, certainly not Gentile Christians, are not required to keep these feasts, etc., but I also believe we are at liberty to do so.  Again, the passage about judging regarding such things would apply either way, judging those who do or those who do not, as I understand it.  There were clearly many believers in Jerusalem who did keep various feasts when Paul wrote Galatians.

      My wife and I hold to eschatological beliefs which align more with dispensationalism.  I’m not sure I’d accept the label.  My own views are more in line with post-trib rapture.  My wife has said a few things recently that make me think she might be leading pre-wrath.  The OT predicts a day when the nations will celebrate the feast of tabernacles if they are to get any rain.  As an obligation, I see that as something that might be required

      As far as application goes, we have a family dinner or a dinner with people in our home fellowship, eat certain foods, and read certain scriptures with a certain theme, talking about how Christ is fulfilled in the OT.  We’ve done one so far, so I am talking about plans.  We plan to build a sukkah for the feast of tabernacles.  But we aren’t really hard core into the OT stuff because my wife was talking about cooking pork.  The people we have coming over aren’t Jewish.

      The Old Testament holidays were instituted by God recorded in the BIble.  Christians who complain about stores saying ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas’ shouldn’t get bent out of shape over someone fasting and praying on Yom Kippor.  God did not institute Christmas as a holiday in the Bible.

      My own view is to see this as ‘educational opportunities’ when it comes to scripture, something that might be helpful for us, too, if we spend some time in Israel in the future, something we’ve discussed a bit, and something we can do within our Christian liberty.  My wife is probably a little more enthusiastic about doing these things than I am, but I can see how learning through doing these things can help us understand the Bible better if we aren’t legalistic about it.

      I do not see observing many of the practices in the OT as sinful, as some Roman Catholics and Protestant groups have.  We aren’t sacrificing animals or even burning ritual incense.  I also notice some churches have adapted OT practices, like requiring tithes, when the OT gives specific instructions about giving them to descendants of Levi.  Some preachers use those verses as law and demand tithes of cash instead of agricultural and animal husbandry produce of the land of Israel, and require it goes into funds they have some control over.  That seems a worse use of the law, IMO, than having a dinner or fasting as something that is within our liberty to do.

      Why did I bring it up?  I did this to give a little background on the issue of fasting.  I wanted to discuss that.  My issue is a struggle between wanting to have more sex with my wife, wanting her to fulfill her I Corinthians 7 obligations (to comprehend and accept that), while also not wanting to hold her back in spiritual disciplines (fasting) while respecting her conscience about having sex during times of fasting.  That’s where the dilemma is for me.  I suppose I knew some people considered voluntarily following some OT practices, like the earliest Jewish Christians in Jerusalem did,  is a sinful thing, but that didn’t cross my mind when I wrote about this.  I suppose I also knew some Christians have a knee-jerk reaction to any fasting– not from your post– but this thread stirred that up, too.  Asking other people to fast doesn’t fit well with American church culture, and it’s something I have some reservations about myself.  I guess my OP had too much going on for other people to focus on the areas of concern.

      20 hours ago.
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        There is a lot about this that doesn’t sound right and good to me. I think there are various factors involved in your situation. Best to get some pastoral help.

        Under the stars Answered 3 days ago.
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           I had very similar thoughts as @LBD, before I even read his answer.

          Using 1 Cor. 7 will likely hold very little weight, when she doesn’t seem to live under the message of the gospel of the new covenant.   Even under the sacrificial system of the old covenant, it’s clear that God does not delight in sacrifices, but obedience, attentiveness, a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart… (1 Sam 15:22; Ps. 51:16-17)   

           

          Under the stars Answered 3 days ago.
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            This is tough. We’ve followed the feasts and the ones that are fasts or Sabbaths, but prefer to stick to those instead of coming up with our own. Especially long ones like that.
            Does she observe OT niddah/mikvah traditions too?

            King bed Answered 3 days ago.

            Regardless of theological positions on law and covenants, you should both be in agreement about fasting from sex, and it does sound like you’re not in one accord even though you agreed for her sake. Biblical fasts from sex for feasts were short, one or two days. The exceptions would be niddah laws and even then, it didn’t mean you couldn’t have sex, just that you would refrain from corporate worship if you became unclean from sex at that time.

            3 days ago.

            We don’t follow Orthodox Judaism on niddah.  The Bible says 7 days anyway.  Orthodox Judaism adds 7 days after her period is over.  I cannot see anywhere that stipulates that sex fasts should be a particular period of time.  I seem to recall 3 days in the Torah once at Sinai, but my memory is fuzzy on that.  Paul doesn’t specify a period of time,

            Maybe you are confusing niddah, which has to do with periods, with just being ceremonially unclean.

            We abstain by my choice since Leviticus 18 indicates it was a sin for Gentiles to have sex during menstruation.  I  think of that as included in the concept of ‘fornication’ in Acts 15 along with sex with animals, certain incest, and a lot of other sexual sins that aren’t specifically mentioned in the New Testament.

            My wife doesn’t observe the OT washings.  She just wants to celebrate Jewish holidays and learn from them.

            3 days ago.

            @MrMarried, understandable. I was not confusing the two, I was asking in generalities to see what her standing was. The fasting time is specified Biblically in regards to Yom Kippur.

            3 days ago.

            @MrMarried, actually I’m not sure I clearly understood what you were asking anyway. Sorry. Tapping out.

            3 days ago.
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              Uh…NO!

              Fasting in the past was different. Eating was a combination of hunting, gathering, preparation and then eating. The entire purpose for fasting was to pray during the time you would do those things, instead of eating. Sex, is not part of any fast. Just because she is from a Muslim country or area does not mean you have to accept her customs.

              Which begs the next question; did you discuss this before the marriage??? She is wrong to restrict sex for any reason other than health!

              Show me where the Bible says you HAVE TO fast as a requirement! WE ARE NOT UNDER LAW!!

              What she is doing is for her own comfort, I assume, because she is low drive and had crazy upbringing. Christianity is supposed to FREE YOU of these crazy rules and laws.

              Get a hold of things quickly. She needs to be freed from all this cultural crazy stuff.

              Fasting is for food and prayer is in the place of the meal.

              Hammock Answered 3 days ago.

              I know there are groups of Christians that allow very little place for fasting.  Jesus spoke of ‘when you fast.’  He said when the Bridegroom was taken from His disciples, then they would fast.  Peter fasted.  Paul often fasted.  It’s a good Christian discipline.  We should encourage it.  The New Testament does not prescribe a specific fasting duration.   It’s not about being ‘under the law.’

              I grew up in a church culture that believed in fasting, and it was taught on occasionally My wife’s church culture is more into pastors asking church workers or church people to fast on particular days than Americans.  Btw, why would her church culture be considered more ‘crazy’ than Americans, btw?  I think we have a more messed up church culture in the US with the acceptance of gay marriage, rampant divorce and remarriage, and leaving the cross and resurrection out of ‘gospel’ presentations followed by sinner’s prayers.  I don’t think of US church culture as the standard.

              The Bible doesn’t also say all that stuff about replacing food prep and hunting with prayer, though that would be a good practice.

              Did we discuss 21 or 40 day fasts before we got married?  No?  The topic probably had not come to mind.  My wife would fast one day a week, ending before sunset, even then.  There are probably millions of things we did not think to discuss before we got married. 

              3 days ago.

              uh!

              any cultural or procedural things I describe may be true and also NOT in the Bible does not make them less true! Jeez!!

              what do you think fasting is for? Is God a killjoy? Is god only happy with you if you suffer a fast?? Get real!

              Our above author describes his wife as someone who is frightened NOT too fast. And at the same time violating scripture direction for depriving one another.

              Is this a debate? If it is, ok.

              2 days ago.

              I said nothing about my wife being frightened not to fast.  I know her.  I don’t see that as the issue.  She wants to fast to draw closer to God, which is a good thing.  I wan’t to

              Maybe you have an emotional version to it.   The issue with my wife, as I see it, is she has a weak conscience about sexual activity during fasting.  I want to respect that and not cause her to stumble as per I Corinthians 8, 10, Romans 14, and other passages.  On the other hand, this has put some tension on our sex life, so I’m walking a tight rope.

              I don’t think you appreciate fasting as a Biblical discipline, and you need to study more.  The killjoy comment makes me think you might have an emotional aversion to the idea.  Does the idea of fasting and the idea that Jesus indicated that Christians should do so from time to time make you uncomfortable?

              My comments about her culture are just to explain where she is coming from and what the norms are for her for fasting.  I don’t know if Christians fast sex in Indonesia.  I haven’t heard it addressed, but they are probably aware that Muslims, do, and the idea of fasting sex shows up in I Corinthians and in the OT.   I shared this to explain why I think it may be an issue with her.  You also have a culture.  You response to fasting may be an expression of your laid back western cultural ideas.  

              20 hours ago.
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                Sorry to hear this. It is indeed tough.  There can be debates about exactly when 1 Corinthians 7 and the admonition against ‘depriving each other’ applies, but this sure seems to fit.

                it further seems that your wife is constructing a do-it-yourself approach to fasting and spiritual discipline, driven more by her impulses than considered reflection, longstanding tradition, or spiritual teachings. That can be okay for her, but she is clearly imposing those impulses on others – not just for you and sex but sounds like for your kids as well, ambushing them with random ‘fasts’.  That’s generally not a positive way to encourage spiritual growth in kids.

                I don’t know what to suggest and there’s clearly all sorts of extra cultural stuff going on. But have you been able to encourage her to seek guidance from an appropriate pastoral authority or some other third party, to give her some perspective on how her fasts are affecting you and your family?  She needs to move from impulsive impositions on others to a considered, mutual approach.

                Queen bed Answered 3 days ago.
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                  I would agree with some of what has been said already that it seems the fasting is not by mutual consent for the purpose of devoted prayer over some agreed on issue, but purely one sided.  And Amen to what SC said about having a broken and contrite heart vs. keeping the letter of the law. I’m pretty sure Jesus condemned that in the Pharisees.

                  Blanket on a secluded beach! Answered 3 days ago.
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                    Honestly sounds like your wife’s 21 day “sex fast” is just an excuse for not having sex for a while. And if she is doing so without your blessing, then she is not honoring her husband and is risking rebellious sin against you and God according to His word.

                    I agree with what LBD said here completely.

                    Psalm 45:10.

                    On the floor Answered 3 days ago.
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                      I spoke with my wife again didn’t address the whole idea of fasting before Yom Kippur.  The Jews fast 24 hours anyway.   But I did tell my wife when she came off of this fast, I wanted to make love to her three nights in a row before her trip.  I had told her that when we discussed the fast.  She said she basically couldn’t answer me on that.  I told her I didn’t want her to think to much about it while she’s fasting.  I just wanted to let her know.  I figured it was just better to reassert my expectations rather than debate whether to do a group fast during that time.  She might have said that the other night without thinking it through.

                      In the past, if she said she would have sex, I’d remind her of it, and maybe she’s afraid she won’t feel like it.  She doesn’t like to actually commit to sex in the past.  But she’s been growing in basically giving me sex when I need/ want it recently.

                      So my guess is we will probably have sex Monday.  I’ll probably try to get her into some sexy lingerie to turn her on Tuesday, and if I can pull it off Wednesday.  It’s hard to talk her into wearing it, but if she reacts like she did last time, she may be all over me.   I think I’ll sell the idea of the fishnet lingerie as the most beautiful outfit in the world. 🙂  i’ve got a pink one for her she never tried on for the next night.

                      California King Answered 3 days ago.
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                        Btw, I’m viewing this through the lens of I Corinthians 8 and 10 and Romans 14.  If her conscience bothers her about having sex during fasting, I want to respect her conscience in that area.

                        California King Answered 3 days ago.
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