Today we’re exploring the intersection between theology and our sex lives as married couples. These may sound like very disparate topics, but in reality what you believe about God, and what you think the Bible says about sex, will have a big impact on how much – or how little – pleasure you get from God’s great gift of sexuality.
This particular episode was recorded when Verlynda was recovering from pneumonia, so it is a conversation between Caleb Simonyi-Gindele and Jesse Schellenberg. A summary of this conversation follows below.
So what do your beliefs about God and the Bible have to do with your sex life? Well, I think a lot of couples feel like the rug has been pulled from under their feet when it comes to sex: in today’s culture everything is permissible, everything has the green light. So how do we as Christian couples respond?
A lot of Christian couples may have questions about sex, and what is and isn’t permissible: are sex toys ok? Is anal sex ok? And the general answer is that it really depends on how you feel about these things in light of what the Bible teaches generally about sexuality. The Bible does give some clear guidelines: is what you’re doing respectful? Is it honouring? Is it mutually enjoyable and physically safe? These principles will guide you towards what is healthy and helpful for your marriage and what is not..
Talk About Sexuality At Church
Overall, the Church hasn’t done a great job teaching about sexuality. For the most part it has not given people a healthy sense of sexuality. Sex is a fundamental, biological gift from God, and yet we never seem to talk about it in Church. On rare occasions, we do teach about sex, the lessons we get usually only amount to 1) don’t be gay, and 2) sex is bad if you do it before you’re married. That’s all we get. And then on your wedding night, you’re expected to just flip this switch and suddenly transform into a healthy sexual being after having denied your sexual feelings for decades. That sometimes doesn’t work so well!
So I think it’s important to start creating a more healthy dialogue about sex within the Church. We just need to start talking about it! And then we need to start referring back to the actual biblical principles about sex.
Talk About Sexuality At Home
Sometimes people are uncomfortable talking about these issues, and their objection often boils down to “I’ll have to talk about sex with my kids”. But that’s good! Have those conversations: talk to your children about this fundamental part of being human: sex. Of course, filter it to the age and understanding of your children, but these discussions should be a normal and healthy thing. Kids are smarter and more aware than you think!
What about between yourselves as a couple? Many couples find it hard to talk to each other about these issues. How can we deal with that? First, we need to attack the idea that talking about sex is dirty or taboo. This mentality is unbiblical and creates a culture of shame. We need to orient ourselves around what God says about sexuality. God could have had us make babies any way he wanted. And he chose this way and declared that it was good. And if God says that sex is good, who are we to go against that?
Our first commandment was to be fruitful and multiply. A sexual commandment. We’re made in God’s image. So that’s a rousing endorsement that sex is good! So if you want to have better sex, talk to your partner and don’t feel ashamed to do so.
Maybe you understand that, but still find it hard to talk about sex with your spouse. If that’s the case, instead maybe start by talking to your spouse about those feelings of shame around sex. Your spouse has already probably picked up on it and may have some of the same feelings. So start by talking about that issue and go from there. Sometimes “talking about talking about” something can be a good way in.
It’s also really important to create a healthy lifestyle around sex. Remember that every interaction you have with your spouse is foreplay: is the way you interact helping to create a safe and trusting relationship? Are you creating an environment of intimacy in my home where sex is a natural by-product? If affection is part of your daily life- kissing each other, talking openly, hugs- then sex naturally follows.
The biggest pitfall couples make around this is just getting busy with the kids. Maybe you have two or three kids, both working full-time jobs, so you have no time for sex and even when you do have time, you don’t have the energy. The way around this is to have that conversation and talk about making sex a priority again. Avoid blaming each other for this: before you start blaming your spouse for the lack of sex, have a good look at what you are contributing or not contributing to the marriage. Sex starts with taking the garbage out in the morning!
One thing you can even try is scheduling sex: some couples feel this takes the romance out of it and means you lose some of the spontaneity, but others come to really look forward to the times when they know they can really connect with their spouse and this anticipation can provide a boost to the sex drive.
Theology and Initiating Sex
So how does theology impact how we should initiate sex. Here’s a radical idea: ask your wife how she would like you to initiate sex! Ask her how she’d like you to put out the vibe and create that environment where you can both look forward to sex? Again, that’s a great conversation to have.
Going back to what the Bible says is acceptable, what about pornography? Can that be part of a healthy sex life? Well, the trust here is that most pornography is extremely degrading and objectifying to women: it reduces women to mere objects that men want to have sex with. Why would you want that to be a part of your relationship with your wife? Why would bringing someone else – even if it’s someone on a screen – into your sex life be honouring? That’s bound to be an interruption to the one-flesh principle that’s very clearly laid out in scripture.
Sex is very versatile: it can be used for pleasure, to relieve stress, or to connect with your spouse. It doesn’t have to be all those things all the time, but there are lots of ways you can enjoy sex. And one of those can be connecting with God. Marriage is a three-way thing between you, your spouse and God. And when we come together in sex we experience a unity that mirrors the trinity of the Godhead. Sex is an image of how God relates to himself, and how he wants to relate to us as humans. So in that sense sex can be a glimpse of the relationship God wants to have with us. That’s a really powerful thought and there are lots of ways you can take that and use it to direct how you and your spouse think and talk about sex.