Oral & Anal Sex in Marriage
The Watchtower defines fornication to include oral and anal sex. As such, Jehovah's Witnesses are not to participate in oral or anal sex, even if married and both parties consent.
If found out, the couple will be stripped of any privileges they hold in the congregation. They can be disfellowshipped for these practices if they refuse to stop participating in them. Though hard to imagine, Witnesses do admit to such practices due to being told to confess such "sins".
Oral or anal sex between married couples was classified as;
- a disfellowshipping offence 1974
- no longer a disfellowshipping offence 1978
- once again a disfellowshipping offence 1983
- Since 2011 vague
Since 2007, Watchtower has been silent on whether these practices are forbidden in marriage, making reference to them only when discussing unmarried people.
"What is sexual immorality?
The Bible tells us that “those who are sexually immoral . . . will not inherit God’s Kingdom.” (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) Bible writers who wrote in Greek used the word por·neia to describe sexual immorality. That word includes (1) sexual relations* between people who are not married to each other, (2) homosexuality, and (3) bestiality. We please Jehovah and benefit ourselves when we “abstain from sexual immorality.”—1 Thessalonians 4:3.
* These disapproved relations include a variety of acts such as sexual intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, and fondling another person’s genitals in a sexual way." Enjoy Life Forever! — An Interactive Bible Course January 2022
The 2011 Elder's handbook, Shepherd the Flock of God uses wording that could be taken two ways, but seems to imply that porneia includes oral and anal sex between unmarried people.
Shepherd the Flock of God p.59
It seems Watchtower wants to let this topic go away without being specific on the leadership's opinion.
A disfellowshipping offence
Watchtower 2007 Oct 15 p.27
"Hebrews 13:4 and 1 Corinthians 6:9 establish that God disapproves of both adultery and fornication (Greek, porneia). What does the latter include? The Greek term involves the use of the genital organs in either a natural or a perverted way with lewd intent. It includes all forms of illicit sexual relations outside of Scriptural marriage. So it includes oral sex, despite the fact that many teenagers around the world have been told or have come to the conclusion that oral sex is acceptable. True Christians do not guide their thinking and actions by the opinions of profitless talkers, and deceivers of the mind. (Titus 1:10) They hold to the higher standard of the Holy Scriptures. Rather than try to make excuses for oral sex, they understand that Scripturally it is fornication, porneia, and they train their conscience accordingly."
Correspondence Guidelines 2007 (revised 2011)
"Married Christians are included in the admonition to avoid "covetous sexual appetite." (1 Thess. 4:4-8) This involves showing proper restraint even during sexual relations, not resorting to unclean acts. Christians should always have a hatred for all perverted practices - homosexuality, lesbianism, bestiality, oral or anal sex, and the like."
Watchtower 1983 Mar 15 p.31
"What, though, if one mate wants or even demands to share with his or her partner in what is clearly a perverted sex practice? The above-presented facts show that porneia involves unlawful sexual conduct outside the marital arrangement. Thus, a mates enforcing perverted acts, such as oral or anal sex, within the marriage would not constitute a Scriptural basis for a divorce that would free either for remarriage. Even though a believing mate is distressed by the situation, yet that ones endeavor to hold to Scriptural principles will result in a blessing from Jehovah. In such cases it may be helpful for the couple to discuss the problem frankly, bearing in mind especially that sexual relations should be honorable, wholesome, an expression of tender love. This certainly should exclude anything that might distress or harm ones mate.Ephesians 5:28-30; 1 Peter 3:1, 7.
As already stated, it is not for elders to police the private marital matters of couples in the congregation. However, if it becomes known that a member of the congregation is practicing or openly advocating perverted sex relations within the marriage bond, that one certainly would not be irreprehensible, and so would not be acceptable for special privileges, such as serving as an elder , a ministerial servant or a pioneer. Such practice and advocacy could even lead to expulsion from the congregation. Why?
Galatians 5:19-21 lists many vices that are not classed as porneia, and which could lead to ones being disqualified from Gods Kingdom. Among them are uncleanness (Greek, akatharsia, signifying filthiness, depravity, lewdness) and loose conduct (Greek, aselgeia, signifying licentiousness, wantonness, shameless conduct). Like porneia, these vices, when they become gross, can be grounds for disfellowshipping from the Christian congregation, but not for obtaining a Scriptural divorce. A person who brazenly advocates shocking and repulsive sexual activities would be guilty of loose conduct. Of course, a person with that attitude might even sink to committing porneia; then there would be a basis for a Scriptural divorce. How concerned all devoted Christians should be to avoid and war against all such works of the flesh!Galatians 5:24, 25."
True Peace (1986) p.150
"The inspired Bible writer did not have to explain the natural way in which the reproductive organs of husband and wife complement each other. Homosexual relations obviously cannot follow this natural way. So, male and female homosexuals employ other forms of intercourse in what the apostle refers to as "disgraceful sexual appetites" and "obscene" practices. (Romans 1:24-32) Could married couples imitate such homosexual forms of intercourse in their own marriage and still be free in God's eyes from expressing "disgraceful sexual appetites" or "hurtful desire"?"
Watchtower 2000 Nov 1 p.8
"What is meant by the word fornication? It comes from the Greek word porneia, which is sometimes used to apply to sexual relations between unmarried people. (1 Corinthians 6:9) Elsewhere, such as at Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9, the term is broader in meaning and refers additionally to adultery, incest, and bestiality. Other sexual practices between individuals not married to each other, such as oral and anal sex and the sexual manipulation of another persons genitalia, can also be designated as porneia. All such practices are condemned either explicitly or by implication in God's Word."
Not a disfellowshipping offence
Watchtower 1978 Feb 15 pp.30-32
"Beyond these basic guidelines the Scriptures do not go and, hence, we cannot do more than counsel in harmony with what the Bible does say. In the past some comments have appeared in this magazine in connection with certain unusual sex practices, such as oral sex, within marriage and these were equated with gross sexual immorality. On this basis the conclusion was reached that those engaging in such sex practices were subject to disfellowshiping if unrepentant. The view was taken that it was within the authority of congregational elders to investigate and act in a judicial capacity regarding such practices in the conjugal relationship. A careful further weighing of this matter, however, convinces us that, in view of the absence of clear Scriptural instruction, these are matters for which the married couple themselves must bear the responsibility before God and that these marital intimacies do not come within the province of the congregational elders to attempt to control nor to take disfellowshiping action with such matters as the sole basis. Of course, if any person chooses to approach an elder for counsel he or she may do so and the elder can consider Scriptural principles with such a one, acting as a shepherd but not attempting to, in effect, police the marital life of the one inquiring."
A disfellowshipping offence
Watchtower 1976 February 15 pp.122-3
Unnatural practices in connection with sex in marriage, such as oral and anal copulation, have caused some of God's people to become impure in his eyes. But The Watchtower kept above this morass of filth by alerting married couples to God's thinking on the matter.
Watchtower 1974 Nov 15 p.704
"Do lewd practices on the part of a married person toward that ones own mate constitute a Scriptural basis for the offended mate to get a divorce? There are times when lewd practices within the marriage arrangement would provide a basis for a Scriptural divorce. Of course, the Holy Scriptures do not encourage divorce nor do they command the innocent party to divorce a mate who engages in adultery or gross sexual perversion. Regarding divorce, Jesus Christ stated: Whoever divorces his wife, except on the ground of fornication, and marries another commits adultery. (Matt. 19:9) Everyone divorcing his wife, except on account of fornication, makes her a subject for adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.Matt. 5:32. Thus fornication is set forth as the only ground for divorce. In the common Greek in which Jesus words are recorded, the term fornication is pornei'a, which designates all forms of immoral sexual relations, perversions and lewd practices such as might be carried on in a house of prostitution, including oral and anal copulation. As to Jesus statements about divorce, they do not specify with whom the fornication or pornei'a is practiced. They leave the matter open. That pornei'a can rightly be considered as including perversions within the marriage arrangement is seen in that the man who forces his wife to have unnatural sex relations with him in effect prostitutes or debauches her. This makes him guilty of pornei'a, for the related Greek verb porneu'o means to prostitute, debauch. Hence, circumstances could arise that would make lewd practices of a married person toward that ones marriage mate a Scriptural basis for divorce. For example, a wife may do what she reasonably can to prevent her husband from forcing upon her perversions such as are carried on in a brothel. Yet, due to his greater strength, he might overpower her and use her for perverted sex. So as not to be prostituted in this way at another time, a Chrstian wife may decide to get a divorce. She could establish with the congregation that the real reason for this is pornei'a and then proceed to get a legal divorce on any truthful grounds acceptable to the courts of the land. If, on the other hand, the lewd practices were engaged in by mutual consent, neither mate would have a basis for claiming pornei'a as a Scriptural ground for divorce. This is so because neither party is innocent and seeking freedom from a mate guilty of pornei'a. Both marriage partners are guilty. Such a case, if brought to the attention of elders in the congregation, would be handled like any other serious wrongdoing. "
Watchtower 1969 12/15 pp.765-766
Some have contended, however, that absolutely anything done between husband and wife is permissible. However, that view is not supported in the Bible. In Romans 1:24-32, where it speaks of both men and women who participated in immoral sex practices, including lesbian and sodomite acts, the Bible mentions a “natural use of the female.” Thus it shows that to indulge in such perverted use of the reproductive organs so as to satisfy a covetous desire for sexual excitement is not approved by God. This would also be true in connection with married couples; they should not pervert this “natural use of the female.” In many places even the law of the land backs this up, making certain acts between husband and wife illegal. For example, speaking about the United States, Time of August 8, 1969, observed: “Sodomy is illegal in nearly every state, even between spouses.”
Latest update July 2022