Marital Intimate Issues – Marriage Message #34
Do you have issues that pertain to sexual intimacy with your spouse that are causing problems in your lives together? If you do, you’re not alone. The media is filled with sex talk and the many problems that couples are encountering.
Unfortunately, Christian couples are not excluded from experiencing these problems and they’re getting drawn into trying to remedy these issues in the same way the world is attempting to work on them. Some of them are good, but many of them are harmful and sinful as well!
And this is causing enormous problems within homes, churches, communities, and our world at large. Plus, it has to be breaking God’s heart! He wants better from His children! We are to be a light, poking holes in the darkness — not helping the darkness to spread further! How we pray all of us within the church will wake up!
One of the reasons we believe there is such an assault on this are of our lives is because:
“Sex is a type of worship. Did you know that? Even the heathen know it; that’s why orgies were a part of the worship ceremonies for pagan deities. But we need to remember that there is right worship and there is wrong worship. Wrong worship brought death to Aaron’s sons when they offered the wrong fire and incense before God. To look at this literally, you can say that sex outside of marriage brings about death to our spirits, as well as to our sense of well-being or esteem” (Michelle McKinney Hammond).
Let’s face it, the enemy of our faith is all for disrupting, prostituting, and eliminating any type of worship that could draw us closer to God and to each other as a godly couple. So what about how you express yourself sexually within your marriage? That’s our concern in this message. And we would like to address these concerns from different angles — with Cindy addressing wives and Steve addressing husbands.
CINDY: The concern that God has laid upon my heart is the misconceptions that women have allowed themselves to embrace in this area of marriage. I’ve been there and have done that myself, so I’m the last one to throw stones. However, praise God, I eventually woke up! (And so is my husband.)
Sadly, when I speak on this topic of married sexuality at women’s groups, I find many women have been fooled just as I was. Authors of the book Intimate Issues, Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus, said that in their travels they have found that “between 90 – 95 per cent of women don’t have God’s perspective” on this area of their marital relationship. I agree. The enemy of our faith has done too good of a job of snookering us!
Wives seem to go to two extremes. One is that many are inhibited in being very expressive sexually with their husbands (especially as they see the world taking this publicly to a wrong extreme) because it seems shameful to act in such a manner. Whether their reasoning was influenced because of the way they were raised or because of a trauma they experienced or whatever the reason —it isn’t very scriptural, not from what I read in the Bible.
The other extreme is that many wives expect their husbands to shut themselves down sexually to require less or literally nothing of them sexually for various reasons. Both of these extremes are problematic.
The first extreme is dismissed by the example of the Shulammite woman in the book of Song of Songs. She was more than expressive in the way she made love to her husband, and yet God included it in the Bible. Why? It must be that He condoned her actions. Love like this, when it is expressed within marriage between a husband and wife, is “good.” It delights God’s heart because it unites us as “one” as we enjoy each other unashamedly in every way.
However, when we take that expression outside of marriage and involve other people (whether physically or in ways delivered by various forms of media and the internet), that is when it isn’t condoned by God and shouldn’t be something we allow ourselves to participate in or entertain.
The other extreme should be viewed in the way that God created us — as man and woman. We aren’t created the same physically (which is obvious), but also in our mental and emotional tendencies. Since we’re packaged differently on the outside, what makes us think we’re designed to be the same in the way we approach life intellectually, emotionally, and sexually?
We’ve got an entire section on our web site titled “Gender Differences” which addresses this issue that I encourage you to visit, because I think you could learn a lot (as we did).
We are different in what sex means to us:
• “The male drive is generated by physical needs, accompanied by emotional needs; a woman’s drive stems from emotional needs along with physical needs” (Jack Mayall).
• “Visual stimulation is not as strong for women, but the emotional longings and cravings of our heart and soul for love, intimacy, affection and attention is just as difficult for us to deal with as the visual is for men” (Shannon Ethridge).
That is why it is cruel for a man to continually deny his wife affection and it is cruel for a woman to continually deny her husband physically. Both are very important needs that shouldn’t be overlooked. But it often is overlooked and disregarded because one or the other sees things differently.
If you’re conflicted in this area of your marriage, please, please, please get help! No matter what has been in your past, or is surrounding you in the present… seek to be whole and healthy to the glory of God (even if your husband isn’t doing his part). You aren’t accountable to God for what your husband does, but you are accountable for what you do or won’t do.
“Sex is the physical confirmation of everything that is spiritually joined together during the wedding ceremony” (Dr Walt Larimore, from the book “His Brain, Her Brain: How Divinely Designed Differences Can Strengthen Marriages”).
“The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and like-wise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (1 Corinthians 7:3-5)
As Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus point out, “if you’re ready to begin the metamorphosis and blossom into all God created you to be, the place to start enacting change is not in the bedroom but on your knees.”
I pray these will be your words (as they are mine): “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
STEVE: There is so much that needs to be said from a man’s standpoint, but this week I just want to give us men two quick thoughts to meditate on and then I will elaborate on them more next week.
These come from what I believe to be the most powerful book (other than the Bible) addressing a man’s heart and mind when it comes to sexual issues, Every Man’s Battle, by Steve Arterburn and Fred Stoeker. I highly recommend you get this book if you can. It’s subtitle says a lot too: Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time.
I’m going to ask every one of us as men, two questions. I want us to pray and ask God to reveal to us (men) what truth He wants us to come to terms with relating to them.
1) Do I look pure on the outside to everyone else -but in reality have I merely settled on a middle ground somewhere between paganism and obedience to God’s standard?
2) Do I get any sexual gratification from anyone or anything other than my wife?
Please don’t minimize the importance of how you answer these questions. As hard as it may be to come face-to-face with the truth, ask God’s Holy Spirit to break through any defensive mechanisms you may have put up so that you can come to the place of beginning to “choose to be strong and courageous and to walk in purity.”
“I have set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate; they will not cling to me” (Psalm 101:3).
“We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
“We have countless churches filled with countless men encumbered by sexual sin, weakened by low-grade sexual fevers —men happy enough to go to a Promise Keepers event, but too sickly to be promise keepers” (Fred Stoeker)
“The world has not yet seen what God can do with a man fully devoted to Him” (D. L. Moody)
We pray you will put and keep God at the center of your marriage — especially in this area because the enemy of our faith is looking for a way to tempt you to stray away from being close to each other. Please make it your mission to shame the devil, not each other, and not God.
Steve and Cindy Wright