This topic occurred to me while listening to a talk radio show last week. They weren’t addressing this specifically, but I decided to see what the internet had to say…
First, although our title says “Sunday” I thought if anyone has an opinion on this, the Seventh Day Adventists may be more schooled than most in the area of “Sabbath” and found this article:
…There are two schools of thought:
1) The Sabbath is a holy day of rest onto the Lord and one should not engaged in sex on the Sabbath: Those who hold to this view, argue primarily from Isaiah’s warned against finding one’s own pleasure on the Sabbath:
“If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:” Isa 58:13 They conclude that Sabbath is not the day for sex because sex is finding one’s own pleasure.
2) Sabbath is a holy day and Marriage is a holy institution therefore sex can be done on the Sabbath: The supporters of this view contend that both the Sabbath and Marriage were instituted by God and as such sex is definately sacred, especially since God only sanctioned sex in the institution of marriage. They further argue that the Apostle Paul gave strong support for sex on the Sabbath when he said: “Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency” 1 Cor 7:5. The argument is that couples are not required to fast and pray every Sabbath. Some even go as far as to say that since Adam and Eve were married on the sixth day, God would not require them to wait that long before consummating their marriage.
Next stop — and the internet is filled with articles that can prove a distraction on this, so be discerning — was an article on whether or not it is appropriate to have sex during Lent. I figured that was timely so after a good explanation of what Lent is, there was a longer answer on whether a couple could have sex during days of fasting:
…I think we often fail to focus on the one time it is permissible to mutually decide not to have sex: When you have decided to devote yourself to prayer and fasting, for a time, you MAY decide, mutually, to also refrain from sex. To deprive each other, again, mutually. This doesn’t mean you can say to your spouse “well, I’m praying and fasting, so no sex”.
So, if you cannot unilaterally decide that you cannot deprive your spouse of sex, but you may unilaterally decide that you, yourself, are going to pray and fast, then by simple logic, it must be that a couple can pray and fast, and still have sex. So, should Christians have sex while fasting? It’s up to you, together. No one gets veto rights. You have to both agree to not have sex, or else it’s back to business as God intended: frequent and awesome.
But, I want to bring up another point: I think there is a reason why this is the only acceptable time to decide, together, not to have sex. I’ve done some fasting in the past. I once did a 16-day water fast (nothing but water). The most startling thing I noticed: I had absolutely no sex drive half way through it. Seriously, it was gone. I was shocked. I’ve never not had a strong sex drive, for as long as I could remember. In fact, I wrote about it in this post. I think Paul must have known about this. Why else say that every other time that you deprive each other, you are leaving them open to temptation, but during prayer AND fasting, it’s okay? From my perspective, it’s obvious: you’re not as tempted when fasting because your body goes into survival mode. It’s not interested in sex, it’s more interested in surviving until the next day.
So, in the end, I think you have to decide as a couple. If you are praying AND fasting, have the conversation about what to do with sex.
The article linked in the above excerpt is from Ministry Magazine and offers a lengthy, historical discussion on this topic:
There is no textual evidence to indicate that sex was forbidden on the Sabbath or the Day of Atonement. Rene Gehring argues that in the Hebrew Bible, sexual intercourse within marriage is not ritually defiling at all.
The next stop was a Jewish perspective, sourced at Yahoo Forums:
Under Jewish tradition, sex is advised on the sabbath.
In Jewish law, sex is not considered shameful, sinful or obscene. Sex is not thought of as a necessary evil for the sole purpose of procreation. Although sexual desire comes from the yetzer ra (the evil impulse), it is no more evil than hunger or thirst, which also come from the yetzer ra. Like hunger, thirst or other basic instincts, sexual desire must be controlled and channeled, satisfied at the proper time, place and manner. But when sexual desire is satisfied between a husband and wife at the proper time, out of mutual love and desire, sex is a mitzvah.
Probably the most interesting answer came from Nigeria. I’ll include the question from a pastor’s wife (implied) and the answer that was given:
[Q.] What is your take on a couple having sex before going to church. For instance, I discover my hubby doesn’t like having sex any time we have to go to church or the Saturday before Sunday because he feels it would reduce his anointing. I am not finding this funny at all and it is beginning to look as if I am sent to destroy his ministry by trying to have sex with him. Please what is your take on this matter sir?
[A.] Thanks for your question and the trust you have in us at TheCable to be able to do justice to this issue. I wouldn’t know the paradigm your man is operating with but I have met a number of people with the same beliefs. It is quite common among some religious leaders and it could have been part of the ministerial ethics that they were taught from the Bible school or it could have been borne out of personal revelation.
I tried to get a Catholic perspective, but the site containing the “Sex after Mass” article wasn’t loading, but apparently the sex before going to church is a theme in some marriages; though this question was a bit too graphic to quote here.
I would probably put the greatest weight on the first two responses, but unless I was completely out to lunch with search terms, I was surprised there weren’t one or two more articles on this subject. Feel free to mention something in the comments, I might amend the article later. (See also yesterday’s post here for something possibly somewhat related.)
So a general answer today would be, yes.
Update: After posting this and re-reading the responses I collected, I was surprised that given the preponderance of Christian marriage resources, there was so little mainstream Evangelical answers on this question. Perhaps this just isn’t a concern, or perhaps I didn’t dig deep enough.