When we marry someone, we commit to unconditionally giving ourselves to that person.
We promise to be there for them from an emotional and physical standpoint.
We commit to supporting them in living the best life we can together. However, for some, physically giving oneself to another person can be daunting.
Therefore, it is not unreasonable to find yourself in a sexless marriage.
For those who come from a biblical background, though, the concept of a sexless marriage can go against the teachings of the Bible.
So, is a sexless marriage biblical grounds for divorce?
Let us take a look at what the general wisdom is here so that, in the future, you can feel more comfortable overcoming these challenges.
There are lots of different perspectives on this topic out there, and it is important to understand what your situation is.
If you feel like your marriage is not thorough enough from a sexual perspective, it will likely cause a schism.
Sexless marriages are challenging, as it is rare that both members of the relationship are happy with this arrangement.
Most of the time, at least one member feels like they are not quite getting what they agreed to from their marriage.
Indeed, anyone who has frequently read the Bible will understand that some passages within the Bible itself discuss the topic of a sexless marriage – and the prospect of divorce in such a matter.
While you might not recall your wedding vows detailing your sexual future, sections of your marriage vows provide a ‘pledge’ to have a sexual relationship consistently.
Where Do Sexless Marriages Being Biblical Grounds For Divorce Come From?
Before we go any further, let us quickly explore where the idea that a sexless marriage is a biblically sound reason for divorce comes from.
If you read the Bible enough, you will find one verse in particular that stands out: Genesis 2:24 – “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”
In this verse, it is made clear that marriage means being together ‘in every way.’
This means giving yourself to your partner emotionally. It also means providing them with mental support, financial support, and, yes, physical support!
Therefore, in the eyes of some, a sexless marriage breaks this agreement quite significantly.
Other parts of the Bible, too, talk about no longer being apart as individuals but instead “one flesh.” To many, this interprets again the importance of a strong physical side to your marriage.
However, this is somewhat contradicted by parts of Genesis and Corinthians.
These parts state that divorce is not strictly possible in the eyes of Jesus.
If God has brought two people together, then, in the words of Jesus, “let not man separate” – so what does that mean?
It is argued that divorce itself is a sin.
So, it is hard to find biblical grounds for divorce that will actually pass muster.
While some ministers might agree that sexless marriages break the rules of marriage in the first place, others will argue that getting divorced breaks even more rules set out by scripture!
Another important question, though, comes down to modern legality.
Removing the biblical side of things for a moment, are there any legitimate legal grounds for making sex a part of your marriage?
How would a divorce attorney take your statement if you gave ‘sexlessness’ as a reason for wanting a divorce?
Is Sex A Legal Requirement In Marriage?
In the modern world, determining what is and is not suitable grounds for a divorce can be challenging.
When you combine this with your faith, it becomes increasingly more common.
It is pretty clear in the Bible that very few forms of divorce are acceptable. Even then, someone divorced is unlikely to receive divine blessing again for marriage.
Remarriage after divorce is, after all, considered a ‘perpetual sin’ in the eyes of many people of religious faith.
Many people who are seeking divorce do so because they are unhappy.
They know they are not compatible with the person they have married.
Explaining this to a priest is unlikely to elicit much sympathy.
Most of the time, you will more or less be asked: did you not think of this before you got married?
The confusion also stems from the fact that a priest is likely to be more understanding of a sexless marriage than a lawyer would be.
Go to an attorney and ask them to proceed with your divorce, and you will be asked why you wish to get divorced.
If you explain that your marriage is sexless, it is more or less impossible for a lawyer to push the divorce on those grounds alone.
No modern marriage proposal will have a timetable or agreement for sex.
While you might find it easier to receive a blessing from a priest or minister on getting divorced for this reason, it would not be seen as suitable grounds in many parts of the legal world.
Some reasons can make annulling a marriage very easy; a lack of sex is, legally, not one of them.
For many religious people, then, there is a challenge here.
When it comes to getting divorced, ask yourself this: Do you satisfy the legal requirements, or do you satisfy the biblical requirements?
What Are ‘Biblical Grounds’ For Divorce?
The Bible makes clear that splitting apart from one’s wife/husband is not a path that should be recommended.
However, as we all know, not every marriage or relationship works out.
While the Bible strongly focuses on staying together through any challenges faced, it is also pretty clear that divorce can – and should – be considered in some cases.
For example, according to Exodus 21:7-11, a divorce could be granted if a husband could not provide food, clothing, and sexual relief. Women who felt sexually unsatisfied could take their complaints to local elders, who could then push the husband to accept a divorce as the best way forward.
Therefore, the priesthood of the day had a defined range of what was seen as fair. For example, an unemployed man was expected to provide his wife with sexual intercourse daily.
Standard workers were expected to find time twice per week, while the likes of sailors would be expected to provide sexual intimacy once every six months.
The Jewish biblical tradition recognized that sex is a deeply important part of the martial construct.
Therefore, it was seen as one of the ‘duties’ of marriage – as important to sustaining that marriage as providing clothing, care, and similar expected benefits.
So, in the past, someone could wish to receive a divorce from their partner due to a lack of sexual interaction together.
There was even a historical process where fines could be provided to individuals who failed to meet the sexual side of the relationship.
While to many in the modern world, this would seem insane, there are still some cultures where the biblical grounds for divorce can be brought into play.
As such, individuals should focus on how they portray these rules and regulations from a biblical context.
What About Modern Religion?
We have mentioned mostly the rules that were put in place on the Jewish side of biblical thinking.
When it comes to the New Testament, what exists?
Some sections of the New Testament lay out some differing views.
Most of these views are not as extreme as mentioned above, but there are still some suggestions that, within the New Testament, you can ‘escape’ a sexless marriage via divorce.
The biggest problem, of course, comes down to what comes next.
If you divorce someone in a sexless marriage, what does that mean for your future?
Can you re-marry?
Can you find genuine love again?
In the eyes of many ministers, no. However, it can be argued that if your marriage is entirely sexless, there might be an opportunity to divorce.
If you have plans of being with someone else, you might find it hard to have a minister or priest bless your second marriage.
It has been noted that the term “to have” – is similar to the marriage view of “to have and to hold.”
So, in the eyes of some, this pairs well with the biblical expectation that sexual relations should be robust and prominent among husband and wife.
As part of Exodus 21:10-11, it is noted that “The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.”
Thus, there are various similar sentiments put forward via the New Testament that there is an expectation within marriage that there will be consistent and regular sexual intercourse.
To some, though, there can be a disconnect between discussing sex and involving religion and biblical text.
It is not uncommon for someone with such biblical teachings to find the idea of discussing sex in such an open way to be a daunting process.
The New Testament contains similar content that focuses on the importance of ensuring that both marriage members are happy sexually.
While sex can often feel like a taboo topic within biblical circles, this makes it extremely clear that religion understands the value of strong sexual relationships in a marriage.
What we need to discuss now is whether or not you could legitimately seek a divorce on the grounds of a sexless marriage today.
The Challenge With Biblical Divorce
Given the wording that is used within marriage, it is clear that divorce is not something that should be on the table.
For many, marriage is supposed to be a lasting bond until death, if not even afterwards.
Therefore, being able to exit a marriage is something that, to many biblically minded people, is anathema. It is giving up and a sign of someone not truly committed to following the path set out for them.
As such, this can make many people of a biblical background feel uncomfortable considering a divorce.
The challenge is ensuring that someone can feel comfortable understanding what the Bible lays out as potentially suitable grounds for divorce.
The challenge, of course, is ensuring that the person is comfortable with going through a divorce in the first place.
Can the sexless aspects not be challenged and corrected instead of ending the marriage entirely?
Why Is A Sexless Marriage So Damaging?
A sexless marriage can be brutal for someone’s emotional well-being and state of self-belief.
At the same time, we are only human – we are all victims of a desire to chase vices and to commit sin.
As such, marriages are built on healthy sexual habits because it can ensure that individuals do not feel the temptation to stray. If sex is not on offer, it is easy for men – and women – to look at other people in a more covetous way.
Naturally, this goes against every biblical teaching that exists!
Unless there is a mutual agreement between the couples, withholding sexual engagement from one another could be grounds for a biblical divorce.
Married people are together and together only with one another: by losing out on the vital cog of sex in turning the wheel of marriage, though, risks exist.
This can lead to people looking for sexual gratification from another person.
If these desires are not being fulfilled on either part, then it can lead to people having more interest in finding their sexual release elsewhere.
Naturally, this breaks the sanctity of marriage and could significantly impact how someone in biblical teaching feels about themselves.
Marriage is a commitment to one another to ensure that both parties are happy and fulfilled and have their needs met regularly.
It is a commitment to caring for one another – and yes, sex is part of that care.
The biblical plan for marriage is for the two individuals involved to care for one another and to make each other happy.
If a crucial aspect of a relationship is not being fulfilled, like sex, it could be an issue.
Final Thoughts: Could A Sexless Marriage Be Reasonable For Asking For A Divorce?
People of biblical teaching will not simply go to the lawyer’s office and get a divorce.
They will speak with members of their church community and look for support.
They will want biblical justification for their actions to understand that their actions are right for them and their partner.
The Bible makes withholding oneself from your spouse go against the Bible’s teachings.
Therefore, many people in a sexless marriage can find that they are permitted biblical teachings to pursue a divorce.
The Bible has very few reasons to justify divorcing someone, but a sexless marriage is made clear to be one of the issues.
From Corinthians to Genesis 2:24, various passages in the Bible make it clear that sexual intercourse is a vital part of a happy marriage. Therefore, when this intercourse is not provided, there are justified reasons to consider going down the divorce route.
So, is a sexless marriage biblical grounds for divorce? It certainly can be. If the problems are so sustained that they cannot be resolved together, it might be worth investigating your options.