Sex in Orthodoxy. What is possible and what is not?

Communicating closely and often with students, I have to constantly answer questions related to the intimate life of men and women; to talk about how the Orthodox Church looks at sexual relations – what allows, what prohibits, and what leaves the spouses themselves to choose piously. 

For the reason that there are many unreasonable prohibitions and simply superstitions on this issue, I decided to write an article that will briefly highlight the attitude of the Holy Church to the intimate life of people.

In the canons of Orthodoxy, the sexual life of spouses is not regulated in any way. In general, it will be difficult to imagine how respected elderly theologians sit at some Ecumenical Council and discuss whether it is possible to have oral sex or not. Moreover, most of the theologians were usually monks, that is, they had no experience of family relationships.  

But despite the fact that in the Church’s rules there is no mention of sexual relations, certain frameworks and norms established since ancient times exist. I will try to describe these norms in simple words (so that there is no ambiguity). 

It is strictly forbidden:

1. The church prohibits any sexual relationship outside of marriage. This postulate is unquestioned; and until the man and woman have tied the knot, their sexual relationship (if any) is considered fornication.

2. The church strictly prohibits anal sex (previously this sin was called – womanhood). The Church recognizes such sexual intercourse as unnatural. 

3. The church, of course, negatively refers to the joint depraved kindling of spouses – viewing pornography, participating in orgies , etc.  

4. The church strictly prohibits evasion of intimate life against the will of one of the spouses . This is forbidden by the apostolic rule of the Apostolic Council of 51 years. In simple words: if a wife wants sex, the husband has no right to refuse her. If he refuses her, then for this sin the Church punishes him with excommunication from Holy Communion until complete correction (by the way, the clergyman is deprived of his dignity). This also applies to fasting days. To deviate from an intimate life against the will of one of the spouses even in fasting is a grave sin.   

There are certain days when the Orthodox cannot enter into intimacy. But I must say right away that marital fasting is possible only by mutual agreement. This is directly written in the epistle by the apostle Paul.


Everything else: role-playing games, mutual pleasures and various caresses, the duration of the process itself , etc., depend on the piety of the spouses. From their moral principles, personal choices, opinions and decisions. Any prohibitions are possible only by mutual agreement; and if one of the spouses is not ready to endure any prohibitions or restrictions, then his half is obliged to meet him.   


So that it would not seem to anyone that I say “gag”, I will write here what all Orthodox family people should base their opinions on.

Apostle Paul :

“Husband give wife due favor; like a wife to a husband. The wife does not have power over her body, but the husband; equally, the husband does not have power over his body, but the wife. Do not shy away from each other, unless by consent for a while, for the exercise in fasting and prayer, and then be together again so that Satan does not tempt you with your temperance. ” (Corinthians)

4 rule of St. Dionysius of Alexandria :

“Those who marry themselves must be butting judges. For they heard Paul writing, as it was appropriate to abstain from each other, by agreement, until the time, in order to practice prayer, and then packs the being of life. ”

St. John Chrysostom :

“The wife should not, she says, abstain against the will of the husband, and the husband should not abstain against the will of the wife. Why? Because from this abstinence comes a great evil; this often included adultery, fornication and domestic upset. ”


The church never established laws prohibiting the marriage bed of spouses; the maximum that we find in Scripture and rules is advice and calls for piety. 

But if someone tells you that on such a day the Church forbids marital intimacy, then you can safely tell a person about his mistake. The Church does not prohibit, the Church only advises to have abstinence, sometimes by mutual agreement.  

God bless all!

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