The surest way to add controversy to any issue is to connect it with sex, and this makes discussions of erectile dysfunction medicines like Viagra and Cialis more difficult than they need to be. Opinions on these drugs are not merely affected by views of pharmacy but also attitudes toward sex and sexuality. In particular, there is a greater tendency to assume “sin” with respect to matters of sex than with other medical questions. However, given that sex is something God not only created but encouraged (see Genesis 1:28), there is no explicit biblical reason why a married couple cannot use such medications.
God designed Eve specifically for Adam: spiritually, emotionally, and biologically (Genesis 2:18). This design included the ability to reproduce, which requires sex (Genesis 1:28). Simply put, the suggestion that sex is inherently sinful is not only incorrect, it blatantly contradicts the Bible. In the context of a marriage between one man and one woman, sex is actually encouraged (Song of Solomon 5:1). God intends for married men and women to enjoy each other’s sexuality, only abstaining for spiritually mature reasons and on mutual agreement (1 Corinthians 7:3–5).
That context makes all the difference in how we view erectile dysfunction medications (ED meds) such as Viagra or Cialis. Persons with diabetes take insulin to restore a normal function that their bodies are failing to maintain. Persons with cancer take chemotherapy drugs to combat an abnormal function of their body’s cells. In both cases, the goal is to restore the “healthy” function of the body. Used as intended, ED medications serve the same purpose. They aid a person in restoring a function their body was specifically designed to fulfill.
This does not mean all uses of ED meds are acceptable, any more than it would be for other drugs. Many medicines meant for healthcare, such as painkillers, are abused for recreation. Others, such as steroids, are sometimes taken by someone seeking physical abilities beyond what their “natural” bodies were ever intended to do. One can rightly condemn the use of ED meds for inappropriate purposes without declaring them off-limits for their intended use.
Likewise, not all discussions of medications such as Viagra and Cialis are appropriate. Christians are right to be uneasy about the commercialization of sexuality, as many advertisements for ED medications demonstrate. And the presentation of such content in times and places where younger children may be watching is a separate but concerning issue.
The same points can be made about sex itself, of course. There has always been—and always will be—abuse of our God-given sexuality. However, the fact that some people choose promiscuity, exploitation, or immorality does not obligate everyone else to forego the correct use of sex. Nor does the fact that sex is presented in lurid ways in popular culture mean there is a problem with sex; rather, there is a problem with our attitude toward it. On the contrary, these concerns mean that celebrating and honoring the value of legitimate sex is all the more important.
Christians who consider using Viagra, Cialis, or other ED medications can do so without any particular prohibitions from Scripture. Obviously, this applies only to using such substances as intended by a doctor and for the purposes of marital sex. But those who choose to abuse these drugs for adultery or bingeing, or who obtain them illegally, are sinning.
Part of God’s design of our bodies is to enjoy sex, and husbands and wives become “one flesh” as a result (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5–6). Using medicines to restore a bodily function that God intended is perfectly acceptable.