Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sex, Romance, Lies and Responsibility

{Written by Ken}

Recently Lori showed me a top Christian psychologist's blog post giving an excellent summary of the ideals for romance and sex within a godly Christian marriage. God’s ideal for sex within a Christian marriage is that it would be reasonable in what is done in the marriage bed, spicy hot at times, but remain within God’s clear instructions where both partners feel safe and secure as they show their vulnerability and love to each other. When married couples have a great sex life it often becomes the glue that bonds their hearts and minds with a deep and abiding intimacy. And of course, God knew all of this when he created this wonderful gift for humankind.

The issue I have with a discussion on sex is that it often gets quickly unbiblical when ideals of romance are given by well-intentioned Christian relationship coaches, yet it no longer matches up with plain teaching of the scriptures. Much of what they write aims for an idealistic romantic love, but fails to keep it real to life, or the Bible. Most of us don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to be able to create a romantic mood every time we want sex. Schedules have to be met, stresses dealt with, kids are crying, pots and pans have to be cleaned, and not everyone has a budget for date night three times a week. Does God's Word say anything about the need to create romance before sex? Certainly I am not against this ideal in any way, but when Christian relationship coaches sound like it is a prerequisite to love making it makes me write to try "to speak the truth in love."  

Imagine the apostle Paul teaching about marriage oneness and throwing in a few verses on how a husband needs to help create the right mood so that sex always comes within the context of romance, affection and love. No, the apostle instead said it very plainly, knowing that most of mankind will never experience one date night in their lifetime, let alone hundreds of them. Straight shooting Paul just says it like it is under the inspiration of God Himself, keeping it real by saying very plainly:

The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.  The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.  Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. {I Corinthians 7:3-5}

Whoa!  That does not sound like any modern-day relationship teaching whatsoever! Didn’t God know that women would be given freedom over their own bodies, not just to withhold sex from their husbands when they don’t feel like it, but to have sex outside of marriage at 15 and run and get an abortion without their parents even knowing about it? 

If God says your body is not your own when it comes to sex with your spouse it’s because He knows what is best for you and your marriage. Just like all things in life, when we decide we know better than God we start going way off track and mess it all up.  Instead, if we will trust that God says what He means and means what He says, we can experience many of His greatest blessings.

Ok, I can hear the detractors now. “What about the wife who is married to a jerk, or the wife who it hurts when she has sex? What about when a wife has a headache, or she just prefers to only have sex once a week, or once a month? What about the poor girl who had some sort of sexual interferences that make it so she doesn’t enjoy sex much?” All part of the exceptions intended to throw up a smoke screen over the rule that, "your body is not yours alone."

I am not saying that there is never a reason a spouse can't say, "Please not today." and expect some understanding when such times happen. I have been married to a wife who has probably had more sick or pain-filled days than pain-free in our 35 years of marriage. Patience, compassion and understanding must be the watch words of every loving husband. What I am saying is that our society has filled our modern minds with many lies, and it is hard to cut through them all, yet there is one way to do so!  Trust God at His Word and obey Him so you may see what blessings He will give you by your obedience to the duty of love He commands.

Lori and I were laughing over an interaction about the wife who might ration sex out to her husband. “Honey, I only want sex twice a month and you seem to want it every day, so let’s compromise at once a week. Ok?” “Umm…” mumbles the husband, “can we maybe compromise at twice a week?”

Our laughter came when we changed the illustration to something similar. “Honey, as the main bread winner in the family, I think we should only eat once a day. That is going to save on the budget and keep us from being overweight. I mean think about, aren’t we going to love eating when we ration it, instead of eating all the time?” “Umm…” mumbles the wife, “can we maybe compromise at eating twice a day?”

Regular and frequent sex is a basic bodily need for most men and some women. Can it be controlled and should it?  You bet, but God in His wisdom tells us not to not deprive our spouse, which probably means when they ask we should not be the one deciding when we are going to have sex. How many times have we heard how about tomorrow and yet tomorrow comes and goes and no fulfillment of the promise? Something else came up again. 

When your spouse gives you that smile, wink, or the nod, or gently takes your hand and starts up to the bedroom, what are we supposed to do? Joyfully follow knowing that it is for our own good even when we don’t feel like it. How often has your “don’t feel like it” turned into the best choice you made that day? A lot. Science tells us of many fabulous benefits to a healthy sex life, and psychology concurs. Regular sex is great medicine for the heart, mind, body and marriage.  

If there are compromises in sex, it should not be with the frequency, but instead with the timing, and the time spent. Quick sex may not be as enjoyable as having long romantic date nights, followed by candlelight and burning incense, with thirty minutes of teasing and foreplay, but it completely fulfills God’s admonition. Of course, God knows that a woman is a crock pot and a man a microwave when it comes to sex. We are built differently, and when a wife desires romantic crockpot sex a husband should try to oblige, just as she should meet his need for frequency. Instant coffee can taste really good, compared to no coffee at all.

How frequent? Guess who God says gets to decide? And trust me, one of the main reasons why many husbands seem like they want sex every day is because many wives are not readily available to them. Rationed sex will keep a husband hungry just as rationed food will keep a stomach hungry. Once availability is freely given, most husbands are happy with every other day, or less. But if you married a spouse who wants the intimacy of sex almost every day, find a way to meet that need with them, instead of having them looking for love in all the wrong places. Self-control, or any lack thereof, is on them, but when you can help by fulfilling your God given role, be there for them.

If you don’t enjoy sex that often, that’s OK. Try to learn to enjoy having the person you say you love the most in the whole world enjoy you, and the body God gave to you share with him freely as a gift to your marriage. After all, there are many responsibilities we don’t enjoy doing in life, but we sure love the benefits that come when we are faithful to our duties.

Even during times when our marriage was struggling for intimacy, we generally had a healthy sex life because we knew this important principle of the scriptures. One early morning Lori hopped back in bed and said to me, “I was just listening to this couple on Focus on the Family and they said it only takes five minutes a day to please your man. I can give you five minutes so long as it is in the mornings.” Wow!  That was music to my ears.

Remember, this was long before the arguing stopped and the desire to be submissive found its way into Lori’s heart. This was pure obedience to the Word, coupled with love and understanding, which may have become the glue that helped hold a difficult marriage together. We still did date nights, but the regular sex was one of the healthiest gifts that a wife can give to a stressed out husband who is battling the world to feed his family and get them the very best things of life.

In conclusion, I am all for romantic, spicy hot, and some reasonable fantasy fulfilling sex, but when one spouse wants more frequency then such weekly or monthly events can provide, it is time to develop a new approach to spicy hot sex that takes five minutes or less; maybe ten some days. Figure out how to please your spouse by keeping the love flame lit all day long by creating a fun sexual tension that wants to be fulfilled by both spouses regularly. Fun, intimate, private sexual teasing throughout the day can keep the flames blazing, so long warm up times are unnecessary. Why is it that affairs often take minutes, but relationship coaches keep perpetuating this idea that loving husbands must continually romance their wives to put them in the mood for sex; and of course the best romantic move is doing the dishes? An idealism that often leads to disappointments instead of the teaching of God's Word. 

If you want to keep your spouse happy do just a few simple things: Smile at them when they enter the room; be kind to them; keep arguing to a minimum, and have a lifelong passionate affair with the one you married. Begin with these things and build towards an intimate oneflesh marriage that honors the Lord and honors your spouse. After all, your body is not your own.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20