Theologian John Piper has encouraged asexual individuals to “accept your present indifference to sexual desires” and remain open to relationships, as marriage is fundamentally based on commitment — not romantic attraction.
In an episode of “Ask Pastor John” posted to Desiring God on Monday, a listener revealed she believes she is “asexual,” someone who experiences no general sexual attraction to others.
“Am I broken? Is something wrong with me? Or do you think in a Christian’s life this would be a God-given signal that one has the permanent gift of singleness?” she asked. “And how should a currently asexual young woman proceed in thinking about singleness and marriage that embraces singleness and ministry opportunities, but leaves open the possibility of marriage in the future?”
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In response, Piper first pointed out that “the vast majority of marriages in the history of the world have not been based on romantic sexual attraction.”
“That’s a relatively modern criterion, in a way,” he contended. “It has skyrocketed to preeminence in the last couple of centuries in the West. But most of the marriages in the world have been arranged by family, or have been dictated by other relational and social circumstances.”
The theologian encouraged the listener to “be aware” that “we live in a weird time with the elevation of personal romantic affection being the be-all and end-all of how you form lifelong relationships of commitment.”
He clarified that the Bible has “lots to say” about how a male and a female human being should treat each other with respect, honor, and purity when it comes to sexual relations.
"I’m not saying those aren’t important and that God has nothing to say about it," Piper explained.
But while being in love, in the romantic sense of mutual desire, is “indeed the ideal of God’s plan,” it is “neither essential nor is it the primary means of staying married or staying happily married.”
“There are far bigger issues at stake in marriage than being or staying in love,” he said. “Marriage is about the covenant-keeping love between Christ and the church, and displaying that can happen profoundly, even where romantic affections rise and fall — maybe especially when romantic affections fall.”
Piper encouraged the reader that her “relative indifference to sex” isn’t a “flaw,” adding: “My guess is that you are closer to the norm of how women feel about sex, in general, than the sexually spring-loaded and predacious women glorified as normative in the entertainment industry.”
Still, he advised her to ask herself “knowing-yourself kinds of questions” regarding her apathy toward sex and whether or not she can imagine herself spending the rest of her life living with a “caring, mature, responsible Christian man.”
“Accept your present indifference to sexual desires,” he offered. “Just accept it.”
“Seek to love and serve people with all your gifts, be joyful in the Lord, and be mature and wise and strong and humble and honest,” Piper continued. “In other words, be a great, mature, deep sage of a woman.”
“Don’t go out of your way to make relationships happen, but if a worthy man shows an interest in you, go with it — in all purity — until it’s plain that there is or there isn’t a sense of desire or a sense of calling to spend your life with him in a growing intimacy of every kind.”
About 1 percent of the population is asexual, according to research by Anthony Bogaert, a psychology professor at Brock University in Ontario, Canada.
Previously, Piper explained that “sexual attraction doesn’t belong to the essence of marriage” and sexual pleasure “is not essential to marriage.”
“The essence of marriage is the making and keeping of a covenant between a man and a woman to be husband and wife to each other as long as they both shall live,” he said. “That is the essence of a marriage: covenant making, covenant keeping — to be a husband and a wife.”
“And to be sure, that covenant includes the promise to give one’s self to the other in sexual relations (1 Corinthians 7:3),” he added. “The husband should give his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife her husband. But there is nothing in the Bible that mandates any particular degree of physical pleasure in that relationship.”