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7 Spiritual Principles About Sex That Married Couples Should Never Forget

Sex is spiritual. Here's why.

Marriage

When you're a writer, you learn to avoid living for the comments. The main reason why is because you don't want to get cocky off of praise or beat down by criticism (which is a huge part of the reason why I don't do social media). That doesn't mean there aren't times when I don't tiptoe on in because, well, I am human and humans are curious creatures. Anyway, back when I wrote the article, "7 Signs You're Spiritually Compatible With Someone", a comment that truly moved me was a woman who basically said that she was hesitant to read it at first because she thought that it was gonna be super religious; however, she was pleasantly surprised to see that it wasn't. Because of that, she could receive what was being said.

Unfortunately, a lot of us think that being spiritual is the same thing as being religious when that's not quite the case. While it is possible to be both (check out "What's The Difference Between Being 'Religious' And Being 'Spiritual', Anyway?"), when I speak of being spiritual, I'm coming from the angle of how our spirit is our internal life source. I also appreciate a literal definition of the word—"to encourage; urge on or stir up, as to action".

That's the mindset I'd like you to be in as we tackle this topic. A principle is a fundamental rule or personal basis of conduct. So, when I speak spiritual principles of sex within marriage, I'm talking about the rules and conduct that sex brings in order to stir up (sexual) action in order to bring life—growth, soul, energy, enthusiasm and vigor—into that type of union. Here are the seven that I think are paramount in any marital relationship.

SEXUAL PRINCIPLE #1: Both People Should Have a Healthy View of Sex

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If you're a single person who is looking in on this, I can't stress how important this is. As someone who grew up in the Church and then became cool with a lot of Christian marriage counselors as an adult, I know for a fact that the Church, overall, does a pretty horrific job when it comes to addressing the topic of sex overall, let alone someone's sexual history and personal perspectives on sex prior to getting married. Yet knowing what someone's experiences and feelings are about it is so critical. What were they taught about sex? If they weren't a virgin going into marriage (because yes, wedding night virgins do still exist), what was their first experience like? Was there any sexual trauma that they had to endure and, if so, did they get any therapy for it? What are their expectations for sex? What do they think the purpose of sex is? Have they even stopped to consider that sex is a spiritual act and not just a physical one? These are just some of the questions and concerns that are extremely valid and relevant.

And what if you're already married and you never really discussed these things with your spouse before? There is no time like the present because, the reality is, it's really difficult to have a thriving sex life if you don't have a healthy view of sex and you're not approaching it with your partner in a holistically beneficial kind of way. It takes a lot of self-introspection and emotional maturity to get that good sex isn't just about having a physical level of compatibility; it's also making sure that you're mentally and emotionally sound too. Mutually understanding each other's understanding of sex is so important. Have that discussion as soon as possible, if you haven't already.

SEXUAL PRINCIPLE #2: Sex Transcends the Physical

On the heels of what I just said, I have shared, more than once, that one of my favorite Scriptures on sex is the Message Version of I Corinthians 6:16-20. It starts off by saying, "There's more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, 'The two become one.'" Pay special attention to the part that is bold and underlined.

Sex isn't just a physical fact because there are spiritual mysteries that transpire when it happens as well. A mystery? A mystery is a secret. You know what else a mystery is? It's a divine revelation. Something that's divine is sacred.

This is a huge part of the reason why I think the term "casual sex" is such an oxymoron. Whether people choose to acknowledge it or not, because sex isn't just about body parts clacking away, there is more to it than the physical pleasure that it brings. You're sacred and so is your partner. This reason alone is why, oftentimes, there are profound insights that transpire during the act itself.

This is also why I constantly encourage married couples to be intentional about cultivating a healthy sexual relationship with one another. The reality is when you're single and sexually active and you take that mentality into your marital union, it can make you a very selfish lover (more on that in a second). It can also cause you to overlook all of the ways that sex helps to strengthen your bond with your partner on levels that truly transcend the physical. So yeah, if you want to maintain a powerful emotional connection with your partner, seeing sex through spiritual eyes is paramount.

SEXUAL PRINCIPLE #3: Sex Isn’t Just About You

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Remember how I said that "single sex" can make people selfish? To be selfish is to be self-consumed and when you're single—which to me means until your tax relational status switches over from "single" to "married"—selfish is what a lot of us are on the sexual tip. While we enjoy the act of sex with someone else, we're not consistently focused on our partner's holistic sexual needs as much as our own. Yet when we're married, a part of what that means is we made the conscious effort to exchange the "me" for "we". This means that our spouse's wants and needs matter just as much as our own. And what that means is we can't have the "single mentality" and make everything about sex be solely about our own views and desires.

Actually, that's one of the most beautiful things about married sex and honestly, marriage, in general. If people are approaching this kind of relationship from a mature standpoint, they are using the union to teach them how to be less selfish. How to learn to truly care about someone else, not just when they "feel like it" but all of the time. How to seek out what their partner needs, both in and out of the bedroom, and how to make a daily decision to acknowledge their spouse's needs until death parts them.

One of the biggest spiritual principles surrounding sex is it's to show you how to stop being so into yourself as your partner learns to do the same. How are you and yours doing in this area right about now? The answer to this one question can reveal a lot about where you are spiritually when it comes to your sexual relationship.

SEXUAL PRINCIPLE #4: Sex Should Be Creative

If I may, let me circle on back to the Bible, just one more time. The Message Version of Galatians 6:1&5 tells us, "Live creatively, friends…Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life." The operative word in there?

Creative. To be spiritual is to be creative. To be creative is to be spiritual. And since sex is a spiritual act, I'm pretty sure you can see where I'm going with all of this, right? A creative person does original things. A creative person is imaginative. A creative person is a visionary who comes up with inventive, clever and stimulating ideas.

I can't tell you how many couples have sat across from me (usually after about seven years into their marriage) and one (or both) of them is irritated like a mug and it's all because they are bored out of their mind when it comes to their sex life. It truly can't be emphasized enough that you're not functioning fully as a spiritual being if you're not tapping into your creative side. Your sex life is not exempt here. Not at all.

SEXUAL PRINCIPLE #5: Orgasms Are a Benefit, Not the Purpose of Sex

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One of my favorite quotes is by Aristotle. He once said that the excess of a virtue is a vice; in an interesting way, this applies to this particular point. The musician Jim Morrison once said, "Whoever controls the media, controls the mind" and, unfortunately—tragically, really—the media has worked overtime to program people into believing that sex is a base-level act and humans are to respond to it as no more than being a dog in heat, when that couldn't be further from the truth. I write about sex on this platform literally all the time and while I am a huge fan of folks getting as many orgasms as they possibly can, I absolutely do not think that climaxing is the purpose of sex. Orgasms are a benefit yet it's not the reason why sex was designed; not from a spiritual standpoint, anyway.

And before some of you roll your eyes and assume that where I'm going with this is sex is to procreate, while I definitely think that is one purpose, it's not the top one on my list either (many married folks have sex and don't desire or cannot have children). Sex is about manifesting oneness. It's about bonding. It's about sharing yourself with someone in a way that no other act will allow you to do. It's about cultivating interdependence.

Any married couple who keeps the purpose of sex in mind will be able to find physical pleasure a lot easier to achieve than the ones who leave this out. Because again, while orgasms are bomb, when you're seeking the close-to-miraculous- closeness that sexual activity manifests, that leaves you satisfied in many ways; especially spiritually.

SEXUAL PRINCIPLE #6: The Spirit Is Selfless

While it might seem like I've already addressed this point, humor me for a sec. Humans are made of flesh and the flesh can be flawed in so many ways. That's why it's so dope that we have a spiritual side to us. It's what reminds us that there is more to life than what we see and what we want. That's why I'm gonna forever be an advocate of marriage being a spiritual union. It's designed to elevate us on a higher spiritual plain (why do you think it comes with so much warfare? Real talk). Well, while I have already touched on the fact that marital sex should make us less selfish, another spiritual principle surrounding marital sex is that it should make you more spiritual, period.

Just like it's pretty difficult to remain angry during the act of sex (especially when it'sreally good sex), whether husbands and wives realize it or not, it's close to impossible to not tap into the spirit realm, period, when the act is going down. And the more you engage in something that is spiritual, the less you are consumed with your physical side. This means that you ultimately become a more spiritual being which makes you a more selfless person overall. And the more selfless you are, the more you are able to thrive in every facet of your life.

I recently read a study that said orgasms in sex are as potent as painkillers that treat migraines (so much for that "I've got a headache" excuse). Give thanks. I've also read that an orgasm gets us as close to a heavenly experience as possible on this side of heaven itself. Who doesn't want to experience that? And beyond this point, who doesn't want to do something that can ultimately make them a better person? Sex is spiritual. Being spiritual makes you more selfless. Being more selfless makes you a next level kind of being. Just one more reason to want to "engage" as much as possible. Right?

SEXUAL PRINCIPLE #7: SEX. IS. LIFE.

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When a sperm and egg come together, it creates new. All of us are here because of this very fact. Hmph. I wonder how many marital sexual experiences would go to another level if they looked at their energy exchanges in a similar fashion—if they recognized that every time they had sex, LIFE came forth. I'm not talking about a little human. I'm referring to all of the ways that I defined life earlier in this article.

Again, synonyms for life include growth, soul, energy, enthusiasm and vigor. When you have sex with your spouse, the two of you are causing things to grow. The two of you are truly becoming soul mates. The two of you are sharing each other's energy (energy is power). The two of you are igniting a level of enthusiasm in a way that only sex can create. And the two of you are bringing strength to one another. When I said sex is life, I meant it.

It can't be said enough that a clear distinction between a marital union and the kind of relationship that people have with others is you should definitely be having sex with your spouse. And when you really take in how much of a privilege it is to partake in something that is so spiritual, how could you not want to share that experience with them as much as possible. SEX. IS. LIFE. Remember that. 'Til death do you part.

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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