Senior Sex

Sex is for Christians! Biblical Insights for a Lifetime of Purity and Pleasure - Chapter 14

PLEASE NOTE: This e-teaching is not appropriate for children, preadolescents, and many adolescents.

Picture of older couple in bed - Chapter 14, "Senior Sex"

Now there came to Him some of the Sadducees (who say that there is no resurrection), and they questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife, and he is childless, his brother should marry the wife and raise up children to his brother. Now there were seven brothers; and the first took a wife and died childless; and the second and the third married her; and in the same way all seven died, leaving no children. Finally the woman died also. In the resurrection therefore, which one’s wife will she be? For all seven had married her.”

Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection” (Luke 20:27-36).

Strangely, although the Jewish sect of the Sadducees in Jesus’ day did respect the Law of Moses, they didn’t believe there was an afterlife or that anyone would be resurrected. In their thinking, death was the absolute end (which is why some say they were “sad you see”).

One of their proof texts was the Mosaic Law’s regulation concerning levirate marriage, something we’ve considered in an earlier chapter. How could there be an afterlife if one woman had been repeatedly married, widowed, and remarried? In heaven, she would be married to multiple living men! Since polyandry was unthinkable, in their minds that ruled out any possibility of an afterlife. (They would, no doubt, have been OK with Solomon having 700 wives and 300 concubines forever.)

The Sadducees, however, were clinging to a few flawed assumptions. They reasoned that if there was an afterlife, those who were married prior to their deaths would still be married. Surely, they assumed, no married woman would be another man’s wife in the afterlife. Jesus revealed, however, that there will be no marriage at all in the next life. Death ends the marriage covenant, which is why Christian marriage vows generally include the words, “till death do us part.”

For those of us who are happily married, being unmarried in heaven is a sad thought. For that reason, my wife and I have already agreed to be best friends forever. Still, we wonder how heaven could be heavenly without our marriage. We can only assume that heaven holds something even better, although unimaginable. Might perfect love make possible perfect relationships with all the saints, so that we will all, in a sense, be “married”?

The Slow Down of Sex

Regarding sex, heaven is the end of that as well. Because there will be no marriage, we can safely assume there will be no sex or desire for it. Heaven is not going to be a place of sexually frustrated people.

It is also safe to assume that our disembodied spirits and resurrected bodies will be sexless, without genitalia or sexual hormones. Hard to imagine, I know.

Those of us who are in our senior years are perhaps better able to imagine sexlessness, as sexual desire does tend to diminish with age. A 2018 survey by the University of Michigan revealed what most people assume, that sexual activity declines with age. That doesn’t mean, however, that sex ends at 60. Forty-six percent of 65- to 70-year-olds reported being sexually active. And older seniors are also showing some stamina. Thirty-nine percent of 71- to 75-year-olds and 25 percent of 76- to 80-year-olds are still sexually active.

There were, of course, plenty of variables among the survey respondents, including marital status, overall marital satisfaction among the married, health and medication status and so on. I would like to believe that, if only Christian seniors were surveyed, the data would indicate more of us are still having fun, and having more of it, than unbelievers. With the Inventor of sex living in us, the love of God shed abroad in our hearts (Rom. 5:5), and decades of marital and sexual experience, it would seem Christian seniors could still be looking forward to bedtime for reasons other than sleeping. The Bible says:

The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree,
He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
Planted in the house of the Lord,
They will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still yield fruit in old age;
They shall be full of sap and very green (Psalm 92:12-14).

That’s very encouraging to us older folks!

You may recall that Zacharias was “an old man,” and his wife, Elizabeth, was “advanced in years” (Luke 1:18) and obviously past menopause when she became pregnant with John the Baptist. However, unlike the pregnancy of her much younger relative, Mary, hers did not occur without the agency of a human sperm. That means John was conceived because two old folks, Zacharias and Elizabeth, had sex. So senior sex is definitely biblical!

Still, we are all aware that, beginning sometime in our 30s, “our outer man is decaying” (2 Cor. 4:16). We may be able to delay that decay, but we can’t stop it. Sexual decline is part of the package. But God is still good. He allows our eyes to see not quite as sharply as we grow older, and it smooths out our partners’ wrinkles!

What Changes

Although everyone’s libido diminishes with age, female libido tends to decrease more than male libido, which of course can exacerbate the disparity that married couples may already have been dealing with all their married lives. In such cases, husbands need to be understanding, and wives need to be accommodating. As always, love is the answer and communication is key. Couples should talk about their sex lives with each other through every stage of life and work together to diminish any disharmony that arises. Adjustments and adaptations are to be expected.

There are, of course, always exceptions to the rules. Some women report their libido actually increasing in midlife. Perhaps that is due to being liberated from contraception, fear of pregnancy, or teenagers sleeping in the next room!

But just because frequency of sex may decline, that doesn’t mean that quality of sex must also diminish. Some seniors report enjoying their best sex of their lives, and for a number of reasons.

First, after decades of making love to the same person, they know very well how to please each other. They’ve become pros with their own signature style. Earlier hesitations and inhibitions are gone, allowing for greater variety and intimacy.

Second, as their parts age, former microwave-minutemen morph into something that is more in sync with their slow-burning wives. Older men often find it easier to “last longer,” and their wives appreciate the prolonged pleasure.

Third, with more free time and less stress in general, senior sex can be slower and more savored. No more “quickies.” Seniors don’t have to worry about children overhearing or interrupting. You may have heard the old saying, “An empty nest is best for sex.” (Actually, you probably haven’t heard it, since I just made it up.)

His Performance Pride

It can be quite a concern for older men when they first notice a downtrend in penile performance. That is when getting the soldier to stand and remain at attention isn’t as easy as it used to be. As a young man, just a daydream about his wife, or a whiff of her perfume, was enough to tighten his trousers. Over time, however, physics always trumps testosterone, and “an object at rest tends to remain at rest.” Arousal requires more stimulation than it did in younger days.

Younger men, don’t be alarmed when it happens to you. Becoming an “old softy” (now you know what that phrase actually refers to) is a component of growing older. And wives, when it happens to your husband, it isn’t because you’ve aged or that he does not find you sexually appealing. He would be facing the same phenomenon even if you regained all the sexiness of your youth. You are still beautiful.

Also, be careful not to say anything that might cut his confidence even more. You certainly don’t want to joke about what is beyond his control. That could easily add to the problem. “Performance anxiety” releases stress hormones that will narrow his blood vessels, which makes an erection even more difficult to achieve.

Rather than crushing his fragile ego with a thoughtless remark like, “Ah, I see the little guy just wants to sleep tonight,” rise to the challenge and try some sure-fire extra stimulation—vocal, visual, and tactile.[1] By the time he reaches an age where penile performance is an issue, you ought to have figured out what best arouses his attention. (If he’s really blessed, he’ll die during an orgasm, but only you will know the truth behind the words inscribed on his tombstone: “He died a happy man!”)

Her Changes

For women, the most dramatic sexual change after puberty is menopause, characterized by the cessation of her monthly menstrual cycle. Menopause affects woman differently, but for all of them, from that point on, sex has no correlation with child conception. It becomes all about intimacy and pleasure. And so it should, for both wives and their husbands. He may never say it, but from his perspective, her menopause may well be five days each month that are no longer “forbidden.”

Just as his parts likely won’t be working as well, the same is true for hers. Sex may require some additional lubrication and tenderness on his part.

As I already mentioned, her libido will likely decline even more than his. Clearly, the God who seems to have designed marriage—at least in part—to help humans learn something about unselfishness and self-denial, saves some of the most challenging lessons for our golden years. When libido disparity widens, only love can close the gap. She, by making sure he knows he is just as desirable as always, and him by pouring on the romance and thoughtfulness, as well as by understanding that some changes are beyond her control.

Husbands, at this stage of her life, more than ever, she also needs to be convinced that she is still the sexual magnet that attracts you like metal. Hopefully you delivered her long ago from the Miss Universe Contest, but culture’s infatuation with youthful female beauty is particularly hard for women as they grow older. You, more than anyone, can guard her heart from every doubt that would rob her of believing that she’s still the woman of your dreams. One of my favorite love songs, I Will be Here, composed and sung by Steven Curtis Chapman, captures these sentiments so perfectly as a godly groom promises his bride:

As sure as seasons are made for change,
Our lifetimes are made for years
So, I…I will be here
I will be here
And you can cry on my shoulder,
When the mirror tells us we’re older,
I will hold you
And I will be here
To watch you grow in beauty
And tell you all the things you are to me
I will be here

I love the line, “I will be here to watch you grow in beauty.” Even apart from Chapmen’s  masterful melody, those words are music to any woman’s ears.

You may find it hard to believe, but I tried my hand some years ago at composing some songs, including several in modern music’s most honest genre, country. One of them, titled “Growin’ Old Ain’t So Bad After All,” rose to #1 on the Never Made It chart. The lyrics, hidden in obscurity for decades until now, are an attempt to paint a positive perspective[2] on a phase of life that, from a youthful prospect, often invokes misapprehensions:

When I was young I was afraid
Of the time my hair would gray
I dreaded the day, a balding man I’d be
Now what is left is mostly grey
And what is not needs a toupee
But it’s not as bad as I’d foreseen
‘Cause I’ve gained some wisdom through the years
And now I’m less concerned with mirrors
Young pups might be real cute
But old dogs don’t give a hoot
Growin’ old ain’t so bad after all

There was a girl who stole my heart
We promised that we’d never part
Only death would quench our fire
But even then I was afraid
That those solemn vows we made
Might die like embers of our desire
But we found a love that never dies
It’s in our hearts, not just our eyes
Our love is more than kissin’
Newlyweds don’t know what they’re missin’
Growin’ old ain’t so bad after all

I used to work so hard so I could have it all
I traded priceless things for plastic toys
But the years have been a school
They have taught this hurried fool
To stop and skip some stones across the water

On supermarket magazines
We see people of our dreams
Every face seems young and beautiful
And while we wait in checkout lines
Doubts assail our older minds
Perhaps we’re not as valuable
But if that’s true please tell me why
The price of antiques is so high
The leaves of Spring and Summer are most beautiful in the Fall
Growin’ old ain’t so bad after all

Had I written those lyrics from an eternal perspective, I would have made reference to the future, glorified, immortal bodies that await all of Jesus’ people.

Regardless, when you follow Christ, every phase of life is special, including the one that brings us closer to heaven. Those golden years, especially when enjoyed with a lifelong lover, are incomparable. With a decades-old foundation of proven faithfulness, memorable shared experiences (sexual and otherwise), and hopefully a spiritual legacy, the senior years are like the capstone of a marital pyramid. I’m enjoying them myself now with the love of my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for any other time of life. Neither would I trade her for any other woman. But I need to be careful, because if I share any more detail than that, she might not fix me my chai tomorrow morning!

[1] Beyond these, there are also drugs that treat what is inappropriately referred to as “erectile dysfunction,” (as if it were something abnormal), such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra.

[2] I hope you noted that amazing alliteration…And there! It just happened again! That is how it often is when you are a poet and don’t even know it.