Some of the stories on Marriage Heat are periodically criticized for their language. I believe these criticisms come from well-intentioned, God-loving fellow believers – and that their motives are good. The main criticism is that certain kinds of words are not consistent with the Christian faith.
I am glad there are those who care enough about the gospel and our Christian testimony – to take the time to write. I think it is a loving and good thing to do. I agree that there is a lot of language in this world that is used in a bad, distasteful, wrong, and sinful way. This article is not a defense in any way for using language in a way that is condemned in Ephesians 5:4. It says,
“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”
The word for “filthiness” means obscenity, filthy talk, foul talk, coarse talk. We need to take notice that this is further qualified in the passage by saying “which are out of place”. There are words that are out of place. There are right places and wrong places for certain kinds of speech. It is fine to indiscriminately yell “fire” underwater in a swimming pool or alone in your car. No one is hurt. Yet, it is “out of place” to yell “fire” in a crowded theater.
It would be filthy talk to address the president of the United States by the name of a female sex organ (“pussy”) during a press conference. It would also be out of place. Yet, that same word would not be filthy or out of place if it was addressed to my wife during sex. It would fit the moment and context. It is the right place.
If my wife told me “lick my pussy” during sex, it would be totally appropriate. The same word that would be out of place in a presidential press conference is not out of place in the marriage bed. Same word – yet different contexts show whether or not it is appropriate or out of place.
An anatomy book labels her pussy as a “vagina.” There are probably people who think that the only words that should be used during sex are: vagina, penis, breasts, intercourse, relations, and ejaculation.
Please know that I am not trying to be disrespectful in what I’m about to ask! But – Is the only godly way, to have a husband talk to his wife during sex like this? – “Honey, I am having sexual impulses. Are you? I have a desire to lay you flat on your back and put my penis inside your vagina and have intercourse. I hope to touch your breast tissue and end with an ejaculation in your vagina. Are you feeling stimulated for that activity tonight?” Perhaps others might think the purest form of sex is to have absolute silence.
I’m trying to make a point: Most Christians are already more expansive with their language than that sample conversation.
So, what do we see in Scripture? We see in Song of Songs an expansion of sexual language. Some descriptive words of anatomy are used – as well as euphemisms. Vineyard, her breasts, his fruit, her garden, his garden, a garden fountain, honeycomb, wine, milk, palm tree, and more. Proverbs and Song of Songs calls the woman’s breasts “fawns”. At the very least, this makes the point that there is not just one word for vagina (vagina – and nothing else) and penis (penis – and nothing else). God is creative and He made us creative in His image.
So, Ephesians 5:4 makes clear that there is a “right place” for words; and there are words that can be “out of place” in certain contexts. Wisdom will lead us to use language in the ways that please the Lord and build up one another. Which leads to the next point. Ephesians 4:29 (also Colossians 3:8) says,
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Corrupting talk does not build up or edify others. Notice: We are to use words that “fit the occasion”. It is the using of “edifying” words, at the right occasion – that “give grace” to those we talk to.
Let’s apply this in the sexual realm between a husband and wife on their marriage bed. Corrupting talk would be language that would tear down or demean your spouse. Or to speak sexually to your spouse in front of a crowd – would not be fitting for the occasion. It would not necessarily give grace to those who hear. Yet, on the marriage bed, or in private foreplay leading up to sex throughout the day – it would edify my wife for me to tell her what I’m going to do to her that night.
How would it build my wife up? By her being ignited by my passion for her. By her knowing that I’m thinking about her and in love with her. It fits the occasion because we are married. Sex is a big part of our lives together. The “occasion” is ongoing for us. We find ways to bring sexiness into our interactions all through the day and night. It gives her grace, in that she knows she is the object of my affections. This continually encourages her. And she does the same back to me.
So, what is the debate about language? I think in some ways that it comes down to synonyms. We need to realize that sexy words the world has turned into trash in the streets – are not owned by the world. Just because people use “fuck” in ways that I detest – doesn’t take away that beautiful word from our lovemaking.
The issue for Christians is using language with Scripture-informed wisdom. Proverbs 10:31 says, The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but the perverse tongue will be cut off.
What we witness so often in the world are people using language in foolish and even perverse ways. We hear people constantly using the word ‘fuck’ as an adjective (‘my fucking car’, ‘my fucking boss’). What are they doing? They are mad at their car that broke down; or are upset with their boss at work. And they use a word that describes sexual intercourse for the purpose of describing and accentuating their anger. The question is: Is there a law that says ‘if a word gets hijacked out in the world in a negative way – then Christians can never use it’? Of course not! If that was true then who is the word police? No, it takes wisdom from God to use language.
So, what should we aim at? We should use speech that accomplishes the goal of building up others. This brings glory to God. The words we choose are going to change depending on the setting and context. There are times when words of judgment are appropriate. At other times those same words would be harsh.
It is partly a person’s perception of what a word means that should guide us in choosing our words. We can’t be perfect in this regard. Some people think certain words are out of bounds – while others don’t. Just like some people think putting your elbow on the kitchen table is impolite – others are not offended by it at all. The speaker needs to exercise wisdom in this regard. We are to aim to use words that build others up in Christ.
The Bible doesn’t tell us what the perfect list of words we can use is. It doesn’t tell us all the words that are off the table. Ra Mclaughlin, who is very helpful in this area of study and has been a blessing to me. He writes,
“In fact, “vulgar” does not describe a word as “bad” or “evil,” but rather “common” or “low class.” “Profane” does not mean “evil” or “gross,” but simply “worldly” or “non-sacred.” The “bad words” are the ones that cultured society does not use, but which lower class people (or by association, the “bad people”) do use…Over time, in our society these words began to cause negative reactions in some people because they considered them to be offensive. However, there is nothing magical/spiritual in the sounds or meanings of the words themselves that caused this association. Rather, it was the contexts in which these words were generally used. For nearly every profane word usage, there is another non-profane way to say the same thing that does not cause the same negative reactions in those who are more sensitive to profanity. But this does not mean that the words themselves are somehow evil sounds.”
Knowing what words mean and using them that way is important. I can’t just say a word means something to me that doesn’t mean that for everyone else. Language would be chaos if we all chose to just have our own vocabularies.
But, should Christians use words that some people think are profane? To answer that question, we need to look at how the Bible uses language. Scripture promises to equip us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17) – which includes sexy talk with our spouse. In light of this, we have examples of the Bible using words that many would consider profane, common or low class. In Philippians 3:8, Paul uses a word translated as “rubbish” or “garbage”.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
This word for “rubbish” is thought by many to be profane. It literally refers to “dung” or “excrement.” The word was used in ancient graffiti. Paul used this word in Scripture to describe how he now saw his former works that he confidently did by the power of the flesh. Does this mean that Paul was loose with language? No! He was accurately describing what his works before faith in Christ gained him – Nothing! They all amounted to a pile of excrement.
So, the Bible also uses language in ways that some might think is profane. Thus, it could not be ruled as totally inappropriate language. Is that the only example? No.
Another example is found in 2 Chronicles 10:10. It says, “And the young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Thus shall you speak to the people who said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you lighten it for us’; thus shall you say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s thighs.”
The young men told Rehoboam to tell Jeroboam that his “little finger” was thicker than his father’s loins were. In that text, “little finger” is a euphemism for his penis. Bible commentators point out that when Rehoboam actually confronted Jeroboam, Rehoboam omitted that phrase – probably indicating that the phrase was considered inappropriate. But, there it is in the Bible.
Ezekiel 23:20 speaks of Jerusalem acting like a whore – saying “she lusted after her lovers there (in Egypt), whose members were like those of donkeys, and whose issue was like that of horses.” The Bible here is describing the penises of those they were adulterous with as being like the penis of a donkey – and the ejaculation of the penis like that of a horse. This was a disparaging phrase for sexual potency since the sexual heat of these animals was well known. If you read all of Ezekiel 23, you see highly sexualized language that some in churches might be uncomfortable with.
2nd Kings 18:27 uses language that most people around the world would find offensive by saying, “But the Rabshakeh said to them, “Has my master sent me to speak these words to your master and to you, and not to the men sitting on the wall, who are doomed with you to eat their own dung and to drink their own urine?” These words were meant to threaten Judah, by saying the Assyrians would bring them to such deplorable times in their history – so that dung and urine would be what they would have to eat and drink. This was shocking language. Again, it is in the Bible.
So, there is language even in the Bible that can offend. This doesn’t mean that we would be wise to use it without wisdom – if at all. As we’ve already seen in the New Testament, there is a proper place and context for the use of words. So, how do we practically decide what is appropriate and inappropriate for us? We certainly should not aim to be offensive to anyone. That would not be loving. Yet, we don’t always know what will offend. We are to live with a kind of carefulness. We want our intentions to be right. Thankfully, we learn over time and gain wisdom in how we are to talk. Our vocabulary is something that grows. God is gracious.
I have never been one who “cusses” in my life. I am very sensitive to the way I use the Lord’s name. When I stub my toe, I say “ouch” – and pretty much leave it at that. When I’ve spoken in anger, I have not resorted to profanity. My wife and children are known to do the same. By God’s grace, this typifies our family’s speech.
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How does all of this apply to words we use with our spouse concerning sex? I’ll mention four applications: 1) We are to aim to build up our spouse up with our language. 2) We are not to aim at offending them with our words. 3) We are not to use words that are out of place for the context of sex with our spouse. 4) In knowing our spouse, we are to refrain from words that will offend.
Let me amplify these four (4) points of application in a personal way:
1) In the context of my marriage – my wife and I find many sexual words very satisfying in our relationship. We have found them to be very encouraging in stimulating each other. This encouragement is consistent with building one another up. We don’t let how others wrongly or hurtfully use them (out of place, not fitting the occasion) in the street make them taboo for us in bed or in sexual conversation during the day.
So, for us – the words and phrases that we find satisfying and erotic together include: sex, fuck, intercourse, pound your pussy, ride your cock, pump, titty fuck, finger fuck, tongue fuck, face fuck, butt fuck, boobs, tits, fawns, rack, breasts, pussy, pussy lips, labia, vulva, cunt, fuck hole, vagina, garden, cherry, clit, cock, dick, boner, erection, hard-on, rod, weiner, penis, butt, butthole, ass, asshole, balls, nuts, fruit, testicles, blow job, giving head, cum, semen, seed, white milk, sperm, load, orgasm, ejaculate, oral sex, 69, eat me out, lick my ass, tongue my asshole, finger my asshole, deep throating, kiss, french kiss, masturbate, mutual masturbation, beat off, jerk off, hand job, fingering, hot, horny, sex machine, frisky, lustful, kinky, juicy, wet, aroused, bulging, humping, juice, cunt juice, pussy nectar, pussy cum, quickie, marathon, doggy style – and more. As you can see, there is quite a variety that helps keep the narrative fresh.
2) We also have words that we choose not to use. We receive them in a way that does not build us up. We don’t necessarily think these words must necessarily offend other couples. If they don’t offend others in their marriages, good for them. For us, we choose not to use words like whore, bitch, slut, shit, damn, and bastard. We personally don’t associate those terms with love and endearment. That is who we are.
3) We find ourselves talking sexually to one another mostly in the bedroom. Yet, our foreplay can begin early in the day sometimes – and our communication. Yet, we are careful to use our sexual communication when it would be out of place. Thus, we are mindful of who is around us. This actually makes our sexual communication something very special and erotic. It is for us. It is our communication. My wife doesn’t hear me saying one of our sexual words when I’m disappointed with the outcome of a ballgame on TV. I don’t take our sexual language in vain! Nor when I stub my toe. It is our “in the right place with thanksgiving” sexual communication.” And it is spicy to the hilt!!
4) My wife and I are not clones about everything sexual. I am heartened to see that other couples on MH are not clones either. Though we are not clones – we are very compatible on this subject of sexual communication. Yet, I am aware of certain phrases that my wife likes more than others. I refrain from what she would not prefer to hear. Though, we both have expanded in this over time – while still maintaining a sexual language ethic that only builds up.
In conclusion, I want to leave you encouraged. We need to have a handle on what our freedoms are and are not in regards to language in general. We are not to take the Lord’s name in vain. We are not to use words in a context that is out of place. We are not to tear our spouse down with our words. We are not to aim at offending.
In the sexual realm, we see that the Bible doesn’t just call breasts – only “breasts.” They are fawns, too (Song of Songs 4:5, 7:3). A woman’s vagina is also a garden (Song of Songs 4:12, 16). It is not a surprise that over time – the people made in the image of their Creator God – are also creative! In our creativity, there has been a whole bunch of other sexual phrases that have come to be used. Let’s celebrate them and use them with wisdom. They have power to incite great erotic passion!
Have fun and be creative with your covenant spouse. Let your sexual speech be enjoyed – as you use it in the right context and the right place. What your ears hear – will work with what your eyes are seeing – and what your body is feeling – and perhaps even with what your mouth is tasting! It is a beautiful mixture. God has given us a variety. Use it with wisdom and aim for His glory. God bless you!