You might be wondering, in case you are single, if this is an article you want to read past the title; in itself already fairly provoking. Yes, you want to read this to the very final line. I have taken great care, knowing the sensitivity of the matter at hand, to not leave you at an awkward position that leaves you struggling rather than helped.
If married, you obviously will find this helpful; whether the thought of sharing nude photos of each other has ever crossed your minds or not. There could be many differing opinions on this subject, and that makes it an even more uncomfortable topic to tackle. Feathers might get ruffled, but am okay with that. For the sake of the many my spirit believes struggle with the question, married and unmarried alike, I find it worth going through the trouble.
There’s many a conflict within hearts concerning marriage, especially the sexual aspect, that often remain unaddressed. They are treated like King Solomon’s mines; a place no one dares go to unless they are intrepid enough to risk death. They feel uncomfortable talking about, and our ‘shame – honor’ culture makes it even harder to dare ask. Even in a pre-marital class one would still struggle. The thought of every eye rolling towards your direction with an accusing look would scare your question back to your heart.
There are two reasons that lead to certain sexual discussions being treated like a taboo. First, there is always an assumption that ‘anyone should know that that is wrong’. But nothing could be as inaccurate. The fact that no one talks about it doesn’t mean that no one struggles with it. The fact that people may have some knowledge that a particular sexual perversion is wrong doesn’t mean no one feels the temptation to engage in it.
A random example would be oral sex. Do we ever hear of many young people who ask if oral sex will be okay in marriage? Not many. But trust me it’s a question in more hearts than you could count. A good portion of individuals who have been exposed to porn at some stage are predisposed to thinking it is okay. Christian or not, any earlier exposure to porn must leave one with a distorted idea of what pleasurable sex is. Because the man and woman on screen seem to be having fun, someone will easily think sex cannot be fun unless you do what you watched.
The positions and all manner of wild things you watched cease to be just images, but morph into desires you cannot wait to fulfill when you finally are married and have every right to your spouse’s body – 1 Corinthians 7:1-5. What many forget is that we are not given rights to each other’s bodies to degrade them but rather to satisfy them and “present them as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – see Romans 12:1. Sex should never end with a partner feeling used. The goal is to leave your mate feeling served!
The Bible might not give any practical directions on how to have honorable sex, but the Spirit does guide. The only problem is that few ever see this as an area to seek His guidance concerning. But God is never shy about helping us know how to enjoy sex in a manner that honors Him. He is more concerned than we would ever think. Oral sex is sinful for the clear reason that it “exchanges natural sexual relations for unnatural ones” – Romans 1:26. Even though this scripture addresses homosexuality, it still serves the purpose when heterosexuality goes beyond the limits God set for it. There is a clear design for body functioning evident in how God created each organ to serve its purpose, and oral sex is a violation of that.
“Pleasure is not the ultimate goal of sex, offering love is”
Homosexuals may rebel against God by altering His design on whom to engage in sex with, while oral sex rebels by rejecting His design for what to have sex with. Any kind of sexual perversion stems from the misguided desire to have pleasure as the ultimate goal. Even though sex contains pleasure, that should never be ultimate. The ultimate goal should be to express love. It should be to give, and that brings more fulfilment than being only after receiving. Pursuing pleasure will still demand more despite your partner feeling worn out; but love will stop at the slightest sign of discomfort from your partner.
I know that young Christians looking forward to marriage always try their best to keep purity. But there is an aspect of purity many are obscured from. I call it the marital sexual purity. It is without a doubt the most neglected aspect of sexual purity. Few Christians are helped to understand that purity doesn’t end with waiting until marriage to have sex with your partner, but it also includes having God honoring sex with that lawfully wedded spouse. Keeping other people from your bed is not everything there is to honoring a marriage bed – Hebrews 13:4. The marriage bed is honored by keeping sin from it. And it is very possible for a couple to defile their marriage bed without the help of a third party.
Feeling shameful is the other reason for treating such subjects as this as taboo. If the world isn’t apologetic about distorting God’s design for sex, why would we be any coy about speaking up for what we believe is God’s righteous stand on sex? We should draw our inspiration from God’s Word; which calls sin what it is – see Romans 1.
That said, is it okay for a married couple to send each other nude photos of themselves? Perhaps one spouse is away and they’ve missed each other terribly. Would it be okay to compensate for the absence with at least a visual reminder of what awaits when one gets back home?
There could be many differing opinions, but I will quickly give two reasons why I believe sharing such photos is not only inappropriate, but also ungodly.
You shall not have any other husband/wife before me
One of the days when my wife and I were still courting, she sent me this photo of hers in a dress she had bought for some event. I had asked to see if it fit well, so she generously had her neighbor and best friend take a few shots for hubby-to-be. When I received the images on my phone, I just quickly looked, sent back my reviews and went on with this series I was watching.
But when I would go to lie on my bed for the night, I picked my phone and went through the images again. As if suddenly hooked by something, I found myself going through them again and again. That went on for three days! It wasn’t her beautiful face that kept me glued. It was a little dressing oversight that had me seeing more than I should have. And now I was fanciful, turned into a slave by an image of my fiancée.
Then a quickening from God’s Holy Spirit would ask me to delete the images from my phone and explain to Isla why. The reasoning was; I was slowly turning her image into some tool of sexual fulfilment. There was a possibility over time it would come to replace her!
When God in Deuteronomy 5:8-9 commands the children of Israel “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them ….” He knew how it would innocently begin. It would be perhaps because they wanted a God they could see, feel and interact with more ‘personally’. They wanted a representation of Him.
But we know how it always ended. Each time the Israelites sought to have any self-created representation of God they wound up worshiping it as opposed to Him through it. The golden calf for example became their god, and they bowed to it – see Exodus 32. It is the same thing with a couple sharing nude photos. At whichever point that that photo becomes the source of your sexual pleasure in place of your husband/wife you will hardly realize.
Human sexuality works in a similar way to worship; in the sense that whatever it is continually fed becomes the thing it will increasingly crave. If a single look works the one night a husband is away from the wife on a work trip, it will soon graduate into seven other longer looks the next time he is away for a week. Without him knowing, his body just might begin finding more fulfilment in the nude wife’s image than it does in the real wife. Though the image may successfully (and this only momentarily) keep his mind away from other women when he’s away from the wife, it will gradually keep his emotions from his wife.
Also, sexual emotions are never meant to be simply aroused and left unattended. It’s why any kind of arousal has to only happen when there is someone to meet it; and a wife’s or husband’s nude photo cannot serve that purpose. It can only evoke sexual feelings but it will never offer sex. That only leads to more harm than good, as the person might be left with two options to pick from; either masturbate, or find a real human being (obviously not their spouse as he/she is far away) to sleep with.
Another pitfall is the doorway it creates for porn. A nude photo is a nude photo, regardless of whether it is your wife’s or another woman’s. Your vigilance to guard against nudity the world propagates through phones, for instance photos or videos you accidentally stumble upon on social media, slowly fades with every familiarity you grow with observing your spouse’s nudity on phone. Your mind is not just growing accustomed to images of your wife/husband undressed. It is growing inured to images of a woman/man undressed.
What do you stand to gain?
People like to ask ‘What is the worst that could happen?’. If none of the consequences above were possible, would I still discourage against a couple sharing nude photos? Yes, I would. I don’t think it would be worth the risk of photos leaking out on the internet for example. That has happened to some people, and believe me they too thought they had every loophole sealed. But somehow, without them understanding how, their images were making rounds on the internet.
Or sometimes, however careful we may be, there are just moments we forget. Think of the child or teenager who innocently asks for your phone to play a game and unsuspectingly clicks on your gallery. Would it be fair to leave them with images that will trouble them for many years or even start them on a path of destruction because of a single instant of carelessness?
Even if you had all that covered, the question is not “What is the worst that could happen?”. The question we all should be asking is “What is the one thing that you would gain from keeping a nude photo of your spouse on your phone?”. I personally can’t think of any.