What did Ellen White say about sex in marriage?

What are the “multitude of sins practiced in the marriage relation”? Frequency? Perversions? Both?

I can only guess, but that guess would be “both.” Excessive frequency increased the risk of pregnancy, and Mrs. White believed that having a great many children was not healthful physically or, in some respects, spiritually (tied down to home, reduced chance to witness, and even to feed one’s own spiritual needs, etc.). She may also have been concerned about female diseases being caused or encouraged by frequent sexual relations. This may have been related to the difficulty of keeping clean in locations where good facilities for doing so were rare. This might be the cause of what she referred to as wearing out the female organs.

What would be considered a perversion?

I don’t know that Mrs. White ever explained what she may have had in mind along this line. I believe she would call excessive frequency a perversion. But she seems to have had other concerns in mind as well. We can only guess what they might have been. Sadomasochism? Sodomy? Whatever they were, she seems to have objected on the grounds that they were corrupting—morally perverse.

Some of the Seventh-day Adventist literature I have read does not take a strong stance on any style of sexual behavior in marriage as being sinful. All I want to know is what the Lord really says on the matter. I don’t want to misinterpret what the Spirit of Prophecy says by falling short of God’s ideals or raising an unreasonable standard.

This is a worthy goal. But if you are looking for someone—even Mrs. White—to tell you definitively what is approved and what is not, you may be disappointed. Or you may find someone to tell you—someone who has no more authority than you or the next person. You may need to work this out between you and the Lord in prayer and on the basis of larger principles.

God created sex. But just as we may take His good gifts of food and overindulge in them, so may we misuse this gift. However, we may also obsess in the other direction, trying to be too careful. In the food arena, such obsessions may manifest themselves as anorexia or even as a “salvation by strictness in diet” mentality. Similarly, one may become so fixated on trying to resolve all these questions about sex that one forgets that God wants His married children to show love and tenderness to each other, including in their sexual relations. They should be concerned with honoring, building up, and ministering to the joys and needs of the other, in harmony with honoring God. Beyond these basics, I don’t feel qualified to tell another what Mrs. White meant or precisely what their duty may be in these matters.