Your Husband’s Not a Dog and Sex is Not A Bone

I’m heartbroken to have to be writing this post. I’m not sure if it’s a generational thing, but the advice often given to younger women in the church regarding sex is not only discouraging, it’s also, I believe, sinful. I hesitate to use that word because I am very well aware of the dangerous types of legalism which are all too easy for nondenominational Christians, like myself, to be tempted by and even guilty of.

But, you know what, someone has to say something and I think that someone’s gonna be me. I can’t keep silent any longer. I am putting my foot down and making a stand because I have to.

Older women in the church keep saying the same things about sex, but what they’re saying is wrong. Someone has to let them know, gently and respectfully, that they are absolutely wrong and that what they are teaching younger women about sex is dangerous, selfish, and idolatrous.

I wouldn’t blame you if you told me to slow my roll, like, right now. The language I’m using may seem judgmental and/or disrespectful, especailly given the fact that I am technically a “younger woman.” “Who are you to point your finger at your elders and say they are wrong,” you might ask. It’s a fair question and one I’m glad you asked.

The answer is actually pretty simple: I am allowed to challenge my elders because what they are saying does not align with Scripture and what I am about to say does. I take no credit for the Truth, I only stand by it. The challenges I bring before the older women in the church are supported by God’s Word – nothing more, nothing less.

So why do I need to challenge the older women in the church? What messages about sex are they incorrectly sharing with others, especially younger women?

There are a few, but the most dangerous ones are:

  1. Women are not sexual beings, men are.
  2. Sex is not enjoyable, so learn to grin and bear it.
  3. Sex is the best way to get your husband to do what you want him to do.

Let’s address them one at a time.

First, older women in the church, including a large number of both male and female christian authors, have been saying for quite some time that women are, for the most part, non-sexual beings. We respond to sexual advances, but we generally don’t initiate or welcome them. Men are the ones with the constant urge to undress and get busy, but women have far more refined sensibilities, hardly any of which involve being naked.

In addition to having a general indifference toward and/or dislike for sex, women take F-O-R-E-V-E-R to orgasm, so much so that the effort required to have frequent, meaningful sex is more trouble than its worth.

I can’t remember which book (or joke) it was, but the analogy a male author used once was that women are like ovens and men are like microwaves. We women need to steep and stew – low and slow – in lavish amounts of relational intimacy, foreplay, and feelings of appreciation and affirmation before we will be “ready” to have sex, whereas men can go from frozen-to-hot-to-finished in less than 5 minutes.

So why is this message wrong?

First, it is clear from Scripture that women were created to desire and enjoy sex just as much as men were. Song of Solomon is a great resource women can turn to for examples of what God intended sexual arousal to look like within the bonds of marriage — for both men and women alike. Solomon’s lover is just as enamored with his body, his touch, and his lovin’ as he is with hers, and what’s more, we are given a very clear representation of longing, desire, passion, and premeditated urges from the woman’s perspective as well as the man’s. Even when they are apart, Solomon’s lover fantasizes about having sex with him, and rightly so…

Which leads me to the second lie older women in the church tell younger Christian women: sex is not enjoyable, so young Christian women need to learn to grin and bear it.

We know from 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 that sex is an expectation in marriage, whether or not one wants to have sex. That is, if we are married, we are expected to have sex. Although Paul does state that his words are not necessarily to be taken as a command, because they are inspired by God we can trust that they are aligned with God’s design for sex within marriage. So that means that sex within marriage should never be an afterthought, should be tended to as often as there is a felt need for it, and that the only reason to abstain from having sex with one’s spouse is for the purpose of serious, purposeful prayer about specific, intense issues. The idea here is that if you are married, not having sex should be the exception, not the rule.

That last paragraph needed to be written because if you are the type of woman who measures her husband’s sexual satisfaction in the frequency of sexual encounters rather than in your and his collective, overall level of sexual fulfillment, then the rule is: have sex with your husband as often as he wants it, whether or not you want to or enjoy sex.

Boy, doesn’t that sound like fun?

No, it doesn’t. And God knows that. That’s why He never intended sex to be something women do out of a sense of duty or obligation. He was wise enough to know that a rule like this needed to be written because, inevitably, women would rebel against pleasing and serving their husbands in every regard, including sex. But in much the same way that God loves a cheerful giver of money, he loves a cheerful lover as well.

God designed the female body to enjoy sex. If you don’t believe me, do a quick google search on the function of the clitoris. It serves but one function in the female anatomy: to provide pleasure and produce orgasms.

Yup. It’s true. We were designed to enjoy sex. We were created by God to feel intense pleasure and, some could argue, even more so than men because women are capable of having multiple orgasms while men are not.

God doesn’t want us having sex with our husbands grudgingly. He doesn’t want us grinning and bearing it out of a sense of duty or obligation. He didn’t design sex to be a chore or a responsibility and we know that because we can see (and feel) that He created us to experience intense pleasure with and because of our husbands.

It is true that sexual stimulation differs from one person to another and that some women take a little longer to orgasm than others. But it is a lie to say that sex is not enjoyable and it is a lie to say that the only way to survive sex in marriage is to grin and bear it.

On its best day, sex is presented to younger women in the church as a means to an end. This leads us to the third lie older women in the church tell younger women about sex: Sex is the best way to get your husband to do what you want him to do.

I cannot tell you how much this lie angers me. I can’t even tell you have often I’ve heard it because I’ve heard it too many times to count. I even heard it just last night.

“You need to give it to him in the bedroom. You have no idea how happy he’ll be to do things for you  if you make him happy in the bedroom. ” “When I have sex with my husband, he can’t wait to do things for me.” “Having sex with my husband puts a magic spell on him — he can’t wait to do things for me right after we’ve had sex.” “If he’s not doing what you asked him to do, just have sex with him.”

I could go on, but I won’t. You get the picture.

Let me be VERY clear: your husband’s not a dog and sex is not a bone.

God gifted sex to husbands and wives as a means of deriving great pleasure, unity, and joy, not as a tool for manipulation in the hands of a bossy wife.

Sex is not an obligation – something you do because you have to not because you want to. Sex is not a tool – a way to get things done. Sex is not currency – a way to pay for having things the way you want them. Sex is not a reward – something you deign to bestow on your husband when he has performed a trick to your satisfaction.

If you think sex is any of those things you have completely misunderstood God’s design for it in your marriage. Your sex life might be in shambles, you and your husband might be sexually unsatisfied, and you might be prone to believing one, two, or all of the lies presented in this post.

But why are these incorrect messages about sex damaging, idolatrous, and sinful?

Because, at their core, they greedily and perpetually worship self.

If you are told that you are not a sexual being, and you believe it, you won’t think it is a sin to withhold sex from your husband. You will think that your husband’s desire for sex is a result of him being the disgusting, insatiable animal he can’t help being, and he needs to get over the fact that he only gets sex as often as you decide he is worthy of having it. You make yourself the gatekeeper of sex in your marriage, and use what little power that fake position gives you to make your husband jump through hoops before you let him in. News flash: that’s horrible. Also, he will resent you for it if he doesn’t already.

Similarly, if you are told that sex is not enjoyable, and you believe it, you will not feel the need to work cooperatively with your husband to create a sex life that is equally enjoyable, stimulating, desirable, and unifying. You will not bother to communicate your fears, worries, disappointments, or questions about sex to your husband and you will resent having to engage in sexual intercourse when you get nothing out of it yourself. If you believe the lie that sex is not enjoyable for women or encourage other women to believe that lie, you are saying that God did not know what He was doing when He designed the female body or when he created the very act of sex. God has very clearly shown us in His Word (and in our bodies) that women should and are able to enjoy sex, so to claim otherwise is a massive lie that cannot be allowed to persist in the church.

Finally, if you have believed the lie that sex is the best way to get your husband to do what you want him to do, please, just stop. I can’t tell you how damaging this particular lie is in marriage. If you feel this way about sex or about your husband, you are debasing him, disrespecting him, dishonoring him, and insulting every noble, honest, brave, good, right, strong, motivating, loving thing that exists within him and you should be ashamed of yourself.

God did not design sex so that you could get your way. Let me say that again a little louder:

GOD DID NOT DESIGN SEX SO THAT YOU COULD GET YOUR WAY.

Sex is sacred. It’s weighty. It’s important. It’s foundational.

Your sex life matters to God. How you think about sex matters to God. How you feel about sex matters to God.

Rather than believing the lie that because you are a woman you are not a sexual being, why not learn about your body and help your husband learn about it too. Figure out how you can emulate Solomon’s lover, both in body and in mind. Figure out what feels good to you. If you don’t already, learn how to fantasize about your husband. Look at his body. Learn how to drool just thinking about it. Learn how to long for his body, for his touch. Teach him how to touch you. Tell him what feels good and gently correct him when he does something that doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to tell him you’d like to try something new. Don’t be afraid to ask him if he’d like to try something new. If both of you consent, it’s not sinful, and its not illegal, by all means – do it! Or try, I should say. It might not be all that successful at first, but try it again and again and again until it’s what you hoped it would be. And if it never pans out, try something else. You get the idea here – sex is supposed to be fun and you are supposed to enjoy it. If you don’t, find out why and figure out how to overcome whatever makes you shy away from it.

At the heart of this message, believe it or not, is hope. I hope each and every woman reading this message is able to experience the exhilarating pleasure God designed sex to produce in her marriage. I hope each and every man reading this message is encouraged to know that his wife is being encouraged to love and enjoy sex. I hope each and every wife reading this message is encouraged to see sex the way God sees it, not the way some older women in the church see it. I hope each and every husband reading this message learns how to pray for his wife in a new and more selfless way. And, if by chance you are not married and reading this message, I hope you carry it with you into your future and remember the most important thing anyone could ever tell you about anything at all: God’s design for your life is perfect, and He is good all the time.

Until Next Time My Friends,

S. Taylor

The Taylor of All Trades

 

 

 

 

 

Helpmeet Academy: Transparency in Marriage

I’ve been married to my best friend for eight years. He’s just the most amazing man on the planet. He’s the calm to my crazy, the quiet to my loud, and the anchor to my sails. Being that we serve a perfect Savior, it’s no wonder we’re perfect for each other. It’s a match made in Heaven…literally!

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But that doesn’t mean we have a perfect marriage. Not by a long shot.

The past eight years have been marked by many, MANY trails and what sometimes feels like insurmountable obstacles.

Those too are a blessing, trust me.

Of course, it doesn’t always feel that way, certainly not in the throes of conflict. And believe me, we’ve had (and continue to have) our share of those!

We’re sooooo different. Like, really, super, mega, massively different. In fact, when people meet one of us first, they are usually shocked to find out we belong to each other. That’s how different we are.

So how do two people who are vastly, vastly different make it work?

It’s kind of a hard question to answer because it’s just not that simple. But, if you forced me to choose just one answer, I’d say it boils down to transparency, which can be defined as the willingness to engage in open communication for the sake of mutual understanding, relational growth, and increased intimacy.

You see, as much as we’d love to think it’s possible, there is no real life Edward Cullen. That is, no one in existence can claim to benefit from relational telepathy. Hard as we try, much as we’d like to, there’s just no possible way to read each others’ minds.

Wouldn’t that be super helpful, though? No, actually it wouldn’t, and here’s why: having to talk about things, having to work hard to understand one another, to be honest when we’d rather avoid conflict, to listen when we’d rather speak…all of this does two things in marriage: it encourages selflessness and builds trust.

TRANSPARENCY: AN ACT OF SELFLESSNESS

Although transparency absolutely has the capacity to be riddled with selfish motivations and consequences, when applied for the sake of clarity, unity, and understanding, it is, in fact, an act of selflessness.

How much easier would it be to keep our mouths shut when we are displeased, clam up when we feel cornered, or avoid topics altogether because they make us uncomfortable?

Super easy, but not at all helpful.

Your thoughts, feelings, and perspectives are unique to you. Without expression, they have no capacity to be understood by anyone else. How you perceive a situation will go utterly unchecked if you choose not to explain that perception to someone else.

It goes without saying that keeping yourself to yourself in marriage is a recipe for disaster. Often used as a punishment, giving your spouse the silent treatment is just another way of raging against the need to be transparent with them. You’d rather punish them for not understanding you than help them understand you.

Perhaps you’ve grown weary of explaining yourself. Perhaps you feel you’ve said everything you think you should or could say on the subject. If the issue keeps coming up, though, that’s a pretty good indication of the fact that your spouse isn’t benefiting from a clear understanding of your perspective. Either that or your spouse is just plain mean, which happens too.

But for now let’s assume they don’t understand you as well as they should. It’s then that transparency, both the expression and reception of it, becomes vitally important.

Even if you’re afraid you’ll look stupid, or cry, or sound petty, or show just how selfish your little heart really is, it’s YOUR job to make sure your spouse knows who you are.

In that way, transparency is an act of selflessness because it is invitation to accountability. Your spouse is the person who spends the most time with you, sees you at your best and worst, knows things about you that no one else does, and has promised to spend the rest of his or her life with you – even though you don’t deserve it. If you can’t be honest with your spouse, who can you be honest with?

The proper response to transparency should be a willingness to engage the content and a commitment to (lovingly) challenge anything residing in the teller’s heart that doesn’t honor God.

As mentioned above, transparency involves both the sharing and receiving of unique information. To share it when you would rather keep it to yourself, and to engage it when you would rather ignore it are both acts of selflessness in marriage.

There should be nothing you don’t share with your spouse. Nothing it all. Your spouse is your first line of defense against the kinds of self-centered delusion that excuse sin and encourage quiet and/or obstinate rebellion against God.

TRANSPARENCY: THE FOUNDATION OF TRUST

Transparency plays a second key role in the marriage relationship: building trust.

To trust someone is to feel you understand the way they view themselevs, others, and the world, and to build a strong sense of predictability in your relationship with them.

That might sound utterly unromantic to you, but it’s a very important aspect of marriage. I’m sure we all know people who constantly shock us. We think they will respond one way and they respond in a totally unexpected way. It’s exhausting trying to keep up with their changing moods, fickle decisions, and self-centered defenses of childish behavior.

I don’t know about you, but being married to someone like that would kill me. In marriage, we need to be able to define and rely on our spouse’s character so that we can build a life around it. And the most effective marriages are those built on Christ-like characters. That’s why it’s so important to ever strive for Christ-likeness. The more like Christ we become, the more our spouses can trust us with the myriad decisions, challenges, victories, trails, and blessings of marriage. And transparency goes a long way in ensuring spouses can trust one another with these things.

To willingly engage in and be receptive to transparency is to offer yourself to your spouse in a way no one else can. Each time you share your thoughts, feelings, and perspectives with your spouse, you lay one more brick down in the foundation of your lives together. The more bricks you lay, the stronger the foundation. The stronger the foundation, the better able you are to withstand disaster.

An important side note about trust: there should never be anyone you seek to build more trust with than your spouse. I’m sorry if this statement seems out of place, but it needs to be said. Building a foundation of trust with anyone other than your spouse is the first step adulterers take. They either don’t like the person they’ve married and so begin confiding in someone else, or they have decided it’s just too hard to build up trust with their spouse so they start building a foundation of trust with someone who makes it easier for them to do so.

It can’t be said too many times: transparency in marriage is grueling work. Sometimes it’s exhausting, sometimes it’s painful, sometimes it’s at the heart of conflict, sometimes it just doesn’t seem worth it, but, oh my friends, it sooooo is!

Transparency – open, honest communication and gracious listening – is the foundation of any successful marriage, especially when you’ve married someone who is enormously different from you.

From joys, to fears, to sex, to parenting, to money, to conflict, to Scripture, to prayer, to fun…there should be nothing you don’t talk to your spouse about, NOTHING.

Of course, timing and tact are key components to successfully transparent interactions, but if you are hiding behind them and using them as an excuse not to engage your spouse, you’re not helping the situation. In fact, you’re doing quite the opposite.

What will you choose, transparency or selfishness? It’s you’re marriage so it’s your choice. But if you ask me, selflessness and trust in marriage seems like a pretty fair trade if all I have to do is practice the art of honesty.

Trust me, you won’t regret it!

Until Next Time My Friends,

S. Taylor

The Taylor of All Trades