Spiritually-Mixed Marriages= Bad Sex

I haven’t posted in nearly two years but it is with good cause. I was in the thick of my PhD coursework but now I’m out, actually I’m just done with coursework. I’m currently studying for my comprehensive exams which are the exams PhD students take to demonstrate intellectual proficiency and prowess in their discipline and research and the test that, once we pass, we become conversant members of our guild. My core discipline is Ethics with a focus on Women, Gender, and (Sex)uality, thus my reading for exams spans those areas as well as Catholic Social Teachings because, hey, I’m Catholic now (more on that later). Nevertheless I hope to share a little of what I’m reading and thinking as I study over the next few months. The quote below is from True Sexual Morality: Recovering Biblical Standards for a Culture in Crisis by Daniel R. Heimbach. This book isn’t on my exam list–though I’m considering adding it–I am considering using a chapter out of the book for a Sexual Ethics class I’ll be teaching for a group of high school students. The class will be a brief survey of sexual ethics on the spectrum–meaning students will study ethicists who theorize on sex from conservative, moderate, and liberal perspectives. I’m using Stanley Grenz’s Sexual Ethics: An Evangelical Perspective as our conservative sexual ethics text but Heimbach’s book goes the extra mile–and an extra 200 pages or so–to provide a thorough view of biblical sexual morality. The quote below jumped out at me while I was looking for a chapter to read with class. Check it out:

God’s general prohibition against spiritually mixed marriage is consistent with his interest in guarding the positive value of complexity, intimacy, and complementarity in sexual relationships. Spiritually mixed marriage weakens the complexity of sex by trying to construct relationships that do not include the spiritual dimension. Since sex remains spiritual no matter how we try leaving it out, relationships that ignore the spiritual dimension are doomed to failure because of what couples try pretending is not there.

The prohibition guards the value of sexual intimacy as well. The spiritual dimension of sex is not just unavoidable but is the most important dimension, and spiritually mixed marriage leaves a vacuum at the deepest level of sexual intimacy. So long as the vacuum is there, sex will never reach the potential for intimacy that God intends it to have. Nothing else in a relationship goes as deep as the spiritual dimension, and nothing else can take its place.

Finally, the prohibition against spiritually mixed marriage protects the value of complementarity in God’s design for sex. If a Christian marries a non-Christian, the two may be able to complement each other physically, emotionally, and psychologically, but they cannot complement each other spiritually. Daniel R. Heimbach, True Sexual Morality, 211

Simply put, an unequally yoked marriage will impact your sex life because you will be unable to reach the intimacy God intends in loving relationships. There can be no intimacy between two people with differing spiritualities.

This is fascinating.

I know those within Christian traditions are well aware of the prohibitions against unequally yoked relationships and marriages, but have you ever heard of the prohibition against it for this reason? Do you purchase the claim that a spiritually mixed marriage can impact sex life? If you do believe sex is spiritual, do you believe that your partner must share the same spiritual and religious practice as you do? And a more fundamental question, does shared spirituality come from shared religion?

It has been a longtime but let’s talk about sex.


  1. wilredmond08 says:

    Given the context of high school, though, I wonder if the idea of being “unequally yoked” in other matters is a possible answer to the question of does shared spirituality come from shared religion. For instance, High school girl and high school guy get together and date. Both are equally ambivalent about their religion, but “unequally yoked” around, say, academics, or after school clubs, or working after school. The potential for unrest and mismatch their is one thing, for sure, that can’t be dismissed. But, after reading about how our search for a marriage partner has shifted from functional ompanion to soulmate in Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance, I wonder if our perception of that spiritual connection looks like in a partner is more important than having a system of religion that both partners share.


    • Those are good points although I should clarify that this is not the chapter I’m using with the high school students, I’m more interested in this for adult pairing and relationships. I’ve been wondering about the matter of being unequally yoked and the impact it could have on a relationship and this shed an entirely new light on it. I do think it is important to understand how spiritual and religious connections work in the discerning of being equally yoked or not. I haven’t read the whole book but I’d be interested in how he arrives at a couple being spiritually mixed because it feels like something of a void. Although, because he is Southern Baptist, I could follow the argument if he is thinking something along the lines of what’s at stake for a Christian and a non-Christian in marriage, two people with divergent perspectives on what spirituality and religious relationship is for. If I want a soulmate and souls are important but you don’t even believe in the soul, then what? I think there are as many ways to see this as an underlying issue as there is to just call this theory preposterous.


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