Monthly Archives: July 2016

The Beatitudes in the Bedroom: Those Who Mourn

Last week, I explained that I’d recently gone to church camp where we studied the Beatitudes. Since I believe that whatever the Bible says about how we should be outside the bedroom applies to how we should be inside the bedroom, I wondered if these principles had any application to the marriage bed. I then covered my take on “poor in spirit.”

Here’s the passage of the Beatitudes found at the beginning of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:3-10

Marriage Memory Verse 7-30-16

Remembering that the Greek word for blessed, makarios, carries the connotation of being happy, fortunate, or favored, it seems odd that the second Beatitude talks about mourning. Isn’t that the opposite of being happy?

Perhaps in this case, blessed or fortunate really is a better perspective. Because mourning is bad enough, but doing so without comfort?

I’ve often thought what a struggle it must be for atheists to lose a loved one, believing that’s the last time they’ll ever see that person. But I have the comfort of believing that this isn’t the end — so despite my sadness, I’m blessed to have this confidence in God.

I’m not sure how mourning could apply to our marital intimacy, but I’ll take a stab about some options in which divine comfort could play a role.

For those who mourn that sex in marriage has not produced the children they desired. One of the reasons for sexual intimacy in marriage is procreation, and those who’ve had the challenge of infertility know how that pain affects their marriage bed. What was once viewed as an act of intimacy can begin to feel like a chore and the bedroom a reminder of unfulfilled dreams.

I truly believe that God is there with you in those times, and that husband and wife can do so much to comfort one another. Including through sexual intimacy, just for the sake of that connection and closeness. I haven’t been through this, so I’m not going to pretend to know what it feels like. But it’s important to find comfort, in God and in your spouse. Continue to remember that sexual intimacy blesses you in other ways.

And I sincerely pray that the child you long for becomes part of your family someday. As Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

For those who mourn that sex isn’t all they expected it to be. It’s okay to grieve that things didn’t go the way you anticipated. Perhaps you have pain during intercourse or your husband turned out to be the lower-drive spouse or simply finding time to engage is a challenge. Let’s get past the anger and frustration that we sometimes show outwardly and realize that we’re actually mourning the loss of the smooth sex life we desired and expected.

But there is comfort. Many of us authors and speakers do what we do in hopes of giving you answers and practical advice on how to proceed. Christian support organizations and counselors can help you work through issues. Mentors and friends can provide a private ear, a warm hug, and a heartfelt prayer for you as you struggle forward.

There’s also comfort in knowing that God wants so much more for you. He is in your corner and longs for you to take hold of His blessings in the marriage bed. Let His tenderness and hope infuse you with the comfort you need.

For those who mourn their sexual sin. If you’ve committed sexual sin in the past, or you’re engaging currently in practices you know are against God’s will, you need to fess up and admit your wrongdoing. When you really feel the depth of your sin, there is mourning.

Just read Psalm 51, written by David after his sexual sin with Bathsheba. Here are the first four verses:

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.

That’s a guy mourning about what he did, feeling true remorse.

But indeed, there is comfort. When David and Bathsheba’s son died, 2 Samuel 12:24 says, “Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her.” And the rest of the verse says, “She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The LORD loved him.” God did not hold that sin against David forever. By no means! Mourn the past, repent in the present, and let God give you comfort.

 “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.”

What other applications for the marriage bed do you see from this verse?

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Q&A with J: I Long for the Sex I Had with my Late Husband

Today’s question about sex is from a widow. My heart goes out to her.

I had been very happily married until my husband died last fall [edited a bit to protect her identity]. How do i go from thinking as a married woman who greatly enjoyed sex with her husband, to thinking as a single woman? Is it wrong that i still read your blog and other Christian sex blogs and identify with many of the issues you and other readers refer to? How can i deal with not having sex, not feeling loved in the sexual manner and not being confirmed by my husband as a woman? Is it wrong that so often i bring to memory those incredible personal moments we had together? I don’t long for sex just anyway, i long for the sex i had with my husband.

Q&A with J: I Long for the Sex I Had with My Late Husband

First off, let me offer my condolences to you for the passing of your spouse. While I’ve not experienced it, I recognize this is one of the hardest challenges people go through. While you had the blessing of a happy marriage, your beloved’s untimely death is a shock to the system. I pray the following for you:

God, I know you are close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). Please comfort this widow, and others grieving the loss of their spouse, as they mourn (Matthew 5:4). Heal their broken hearts and bind up their wounds (Psalm 147:3). Give them rest from the weariness and burden of grief (Matthew 11:28). We know your faithful servants who’ve passed are precious to You (Psalm 116:15). Help us to focus on the eternal glory You have promised (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). In Christ’s name, Amen.

As for the reader, there are several questions here. Let me take a stab at each of them.

How do I go from thinking as a married woman who greatly enjoyed sex with her husband to thinking as a single woman?

I’ve heard from widows and widowers that the loss of sex is among the aspects you grieve when your spouse dies. I’ve talked a lot here about flipping the switch to go from being an abstaining single to a sexually active married, but I think it’s far tougher to flip the switch the other way. You’re used to being sexually touched, desired, intimate. And now, in addition to everything else you’ve lost, that’s gone. Your body will crave what it was used to having, particularly since yours was a positive, pleasurable sexual relationship with your husband.

But honestly, if not fed, cravings — the ones that don’t determine our life or death — tend to increase for a time, then decrease after a while. If you have coffee every single morning and quit, you’ll want even more for a while, then less. That’s not to say that you won’t crave coffee again, but it’s not so tough to go without.

I’m not comparing your husband to coffee (that would be insulting and ridiculous), but I believe our sexual desire can behave a bit like this. If we don’t dwell on it and find other ways to engage our physical selves, the sexual longings become a bit less difficult to manage. For what to do with your sexual desire in the meantime, maybe this post for singles will help.

Is it wrong that I still read your blog and other Christian sex blogs and identify with many of the issues you and other readers refer to? 

No. It’s not wrong. Having been married, you certainly understand what we’re talking about here and can appreciate God’s design for sex in marriage. But continuing to read about sex could stir up your sense of loss or your sexual desire even more. If that’s an issue for you, give it a break.

Also, I know this is very, very, very premature. But if at some point in the future you start dating again, you probably don’t want to be reading sex posts while trying to keep things on the up-and-up.

How can I deal with not having sex, not feeling loved in the sexual manner, and not being confirmed by my husband as a woman?

Short answer: Find your worth and reassurance in God. Of course, I recognize that God isn’t going to literally speak to you or physically touch you, and that’s a big part of what you miss. But God can fulfill some of that absence in other ways — through the closeness and affection of friendships, through finding purposes for your unique personality and talents, through reaching out to others in need.

You are indeed a sexual being, but your “womanness” is expressed in many other ways. Not to mention that you are a specific kind of woman (we’re not all alike!), blessed by God with a singular perspective and skills. Consider where you can now spend your time and effort that affirms who you are and honors God.

Also, go ahead and appreciate your sexuality! Even if my husband is on a long business trip, I wear nightgowns that make me feel confident and pretty. I’m not expecting to get lucky of course, but it’s perfectly fine to celebrate your feminine beauty, even if it’s just between you and God. Don’t lose gratitude for the amazing body your Creator gave you — just more in terms of sensual beauty than sexual desirability.

Is it wrong that so often I bring to memory those incredible personal moments we had together?

No, not at all. Why wouldn’t you? I think you should revel in gratitude for all the beautiful moments you had with your husband, and there’s nothing off-limits about the sexual moments versus the times you just held hands and walked through the neighborhood. They are all a part of what made your marriage special and memorable. Treasure all the good memories of your time together.

I have heard that over time, the memories will come less often, but they will never go away. Your marriage to your loving husband is a part of you, and he will always be in your heart. Consider that God’s blessing for your life and for his.

Should You Get a Sex Pillow?

Should You Get a Sex PillowIf you don’t know what a “sex pillow” is, it’s basically any pillow designed specifically for sexual positioning. You can find various shapes, but the most common is a wedge.

I hadn’t considered getting a sex pillow until we purchased a memory foam mattress. Let me tell you, for a woman who has struggled with back tightness and pain almost her whole life, this mattress has been a godsend. I used to wake up with headaches, but that hasn’t happened in a very long time. Rather, my body — and my back — feels cocooned in that lovely memory foam, and I sleep like the dead.

However, when you’re making love, having your knees, bum, or whatever sink into the memory foam makes things more challenging. So I finally decided why not give it a shot? and ordered a wedge pillow online.

You can find them from several makers, but if you want to know the one we bought, it’s the Liberator wedge:

(Yes, you can click that image, and it will take you to the page on Amazon.)

So how does it work? This wedge pillow is made of firmer stuff than my mattress or most pillows and is unlikely to lose shape. You can use it on the floor or on your bed or any other surface you desire. Husband or wife can lie, sit, or drape over it to facilitate better access.

For instance, she can lie with her torso on the bed and her hips rising up on the wedge, so that she is better exposed and accessible for oral sex or intercourse. He could also lie in the same way to allow her a more comfortable posture to reach him for oral sex. She can lean over the wedge with her torso inclining downward and the highest point of the wedge on her hips to make “doggy-style” more comfortable. (I still think we need to rename that position.)

So far, we’ve found the wedge to be helpful. Not only did it combat the sinking-mattress issue, it’s been great for our aging joints and muscles. It takes some of the pressure off getting your body how you want it when you have a bit of help from a pillow. And it makes things easier to reach as well.

Now it requires a little trial and effort to figure out how to position your body best on the pillow. We’ve had to stop and say things like, “Hang on, let me get the pillow right.” But once there, things continue just fine. We haven’t used the pillow in all the ways a couple can, but it’s met our purposes.

Who would I recommend a sex pillow for? Honestly, if I were 25 years old again, I wouldn’t buy this pillow. My body was practically a gymnast’s compared to the almost-50-year-old body I’m in now. Things just hurt now that never imagined hurting back then. But it’s a great addition for couples in the middle years and beyond or others who struggle with muscle and joint issues. Not that younger, healthy marrieds can’t give it a shot, but it’s a fairly expensive pillow so you might think about whether that’s where you want to spend your money.

Our pillow came in a microfiber covering, which stood out like a neon light against our regular bedding. Since I didn’t want to advertise to the other people living in our house, “This is a strange pillow — please ask me about it,” I covered it in a regular zippered pillowcase which makes it blend in with everything else. Just know that this particular brand aims for a luxurious look which probably won’t match your decor.

Sex pillows come in other shapes and sizes, some more curved, some larger, some smaller. Hey, you can even buy a sex couch if you’re so inclined. The smaller pillow also made by Liberator (known as the Jazz) probably would have worked fine for us; however, it might be easier to work with a wider wedge. If you decide to take a look, just peruse the offerings and see what you think would address the issues you have in your sexual positioning.

One final note: You might want to stick to Amazon or a Christian marital aid retailer like MarriedDance. The sites for sex pillow manufacturers can be too revealing in their imagery. I’d be remiss if I didn’t warn you.

Should you get a sex pillow? It’s up to you. But ours is saving us some discomfort, and I’m happy we bought it.

The Beatitudes in the Bedroom: Poor in Spirit

In the course of my life and as I’ve grown this ministry, I’ve become convinced of this truth: Whatever the Bible says about how we should be outside the bedroom applies to how we should be inside the bedroom as well.

Not only are there specific verses about marriage and sexuality in the Bible, but many principles can be applied to how we should treat our spouse when it comes to sexual intimacy in marriage.

Last week while I was at church camp (with 350 kids in the Texas Hill Country near San Antonio), we studied the Beatitudes all week. These statements of blessing are at the beginning of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and are found in Matthew 5:3-10:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

The word translated blessed is “makarios.” This Greek word has also been translated as “happy” but carries the meaning of “fortunate” or “favored.” It’s perhaps the equivalent of someone who wins the lotto or marries a terrific woman, and others say, “What a lucky guy!”

Although, of course, blessedness isn’t pure luck, but rather the gift of our Heavenly Father. With the Beatitudes, I believe He’s stating both a truth and a promise: You will be happier if you live according to My principles, and I will bless you with My favor.

Being me, I got to thinking about how the Beatitudes apply to our marriage beds. What does being poor in spirit or meek or merciful have to do with how we approach sexual intimacy? Do any of these principles apply to our sex lives? Or are the Beatitudes solely about spirituality?

Since I believe our spirituality seeps out into our physical lives, I think there is an application. God wants us to love and honor him with our whole selves (see Luke 10:27), which includes our physical bodies on earth.

Let’s take the first Beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

What does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? This is most often explained as the trait of humility; that is, understanding our spiritual poverty and need for God. The opposite, therefore, would be selfishness and arrogance.

How could “poor in spirit” apply to the marriage bed?

Someone who is selfish and arrogant might feel entitled to sexual pleasure, seek their own satisfaction, and/or blindly assert that they are great lovers, regardless of whether their mate is enjoying the experience. They justify their porn habit or sexual refusal or a myriad of other sins. Or perhaps they’re simply unwilling to discuss the problems that exist in the marriage, even blaming the other for miscommunication and dissatisfaction.

However, someone who is poor in spirit understands that he or she isn’t the be-all-end-all of the sexual experience. They recognize their flaws and need for improvement. They turn to God for help when things are tough, and accept help from their spouse when needed. They seek the best for their mate, not merely themselves. They pursue the spiritual health — and thus physical and emotional well-being — of their beloved.

Humility is among the toughest virtues to consistently pursue. Because we’re always looking at the world through own needs, desires, and perspective. We’re naturally selfish. And, as I’ve said more than once, if I didn’t believe my opinion to be 100% right, I wouldn’t have that opinion.

Humility requires a willingness to listen to your beloved and let go of your knee-jerk reaction to take care of your own needs. It doesn’t mean getting run over by your spouse (by no means!), but rather recognizing your own imperfections and submitting yourself to God.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

What a great promise. And a worthy goal for us to pursue in our marriage and marriage beds, starting right now.

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Q&A with J: How Will I Know What to Do?

Today’s questioner has not had sex. In fact, she feels completely unprepared to have sex in a future marriage. Here’s her story:

I’m a 22 yrs old mega-virgin and the concept of intimacy is new and kinda scary to me

My mother and I never had the talk, mainly because our family is very conservative when it comes to this stuff and she always tell me to refuse any physical interaction from guys until i got married and that’s it. (also i had found out that she and my grandmother never had the “talk”, figures right?)

o.k so i know what i’m NOT to do…but how do i know what am i SUPPOSE to do?
the only thing i look up on google is what happens to my body physically when aroused in wikipedia (pathetic, i know)

but i don’t know what else to look up, the world is dying to show me what they know but i don’t want to learn from that. i’m against porns!!! where do i start? What should i read? Please i need your advice!!!

Q&A with J: How Will I Know What to Do?

First, let me reiterate how important it is for parents to step up and talk to their children about sex, infusing those conversations with godly values. And notice I said conversations — plural — because one talk ain’t gonna cut it. Here’s more on that:

Talking to Your Kids about Sex: No More One & Done
Is “Don’t Have Sex” Enough for Teens?
Teach Your Kids the Correct Words for Body Parts
How to Talk to a Teen about Sex
Top Ten Things I Want to Teach My Teens About Sex

And now . . . Wikipedia. I wonder just what kind of information you get from there on this subject. It’s likely accurate, but it obviously can’t tell the whole story. And you won’t get the godly viewpoint of sexuality.

Which is why I wrote Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design and keep up with this blog: I believe our world desperately needs the truth about God’s gift of sex to marriages.

Our world desperately needs the truth about God's gift of sex to marriages. Click To Tweet

While I primarily speak to marrieds, specifically wives, let me tackle this question with some ideas of what you should know before marriage.

Your sex drive. Song of Songs, the Bible book about sex in marriage, warns three different times: “Do not awaken love until it so desires” (2:7, 3:5, 8:4). The charge is given to the “daughters of Jerusalem,” presumably unmarried women looking forward to the promise of sexual intimacy. This means we shouldn’t poke and prod sex, thinking it won’t wake up until we say I Do. We shouldn’t awaken it until the time is right — in a covenant marriage.

But have you ever watched babies, or maybe a dog or cat, sleep? They don’t just lie there sleeping like the dead; there are twitches and stirrings, moments when it looks like they might be waking up, but then they quickly return to sleep.

I think that’s where the Church and many Christians have gotten this wrong: We tell premarrieds to not awaken love, to shut down any possibility of sexual contact, and expect their sex drive to lie there completely dormant until they cross the marriage threshold. And then it’s supposed to leap from sleep. But after all that time of shoving their libido down, it can be hard for many wives to flip the switch.

Here’s what I’m going to tell you instead: You will have stirrings.

Your body will be aroused, likely many times over, before it’s the right time to engage sexually. And trying to shove those sexual feelings back in a box and tape it down isn’t the best approach. Rather, recognize those feelings for what they are—reminders that God created you as a beautiful, sexual woman who will one day be ready to fully awaken that love in marriage.

Now if you want to know why you should wait until marriage, and how, check out these posts:

Sex Before Marriage, Part 1 (Guest Post) on Preengaged
Sex Before Marriage, Part 2 (Guest Post) on Preengaged
How Much Should You Learn about Sex before the Wedding Night? from Heather & Eric Viets
The Premarital Sex Felt Great
How Premarital Sex Affects the Marriage (Guest Post) on Preengaged
Q&A with J: What To Do with Sexual Desire Before Marriage

Your anatomy. We don’t all respond the same way, but there are some fairly universal sensations. Let me describe a bit of anatomy and then discuss what happens.

Your privates are comprised of several basic parts: vagina, outer and inner vaginal lips (labia majora and labia minora), and clitoris. (There’s some other stuff like G-spot and Skene’s glands, but you don’t need to know that until you’re having sex. ) When a woman gets aroused, her vagina lubricates, her vaginal lips swell, and the clitoris enlarges. Not all of those have to happen together. Sometimes you’re just “wet,” and usually the clitoris becomes more visible with direct stimulation. But these are things that happen to our bodies when we’re sexually stimulated.

When you start having sex in marriage, the thing to remember is to take it slow and let your body become sufficiently aroused with lubrication and swelling (especially the inner vaginal lips) before engaging in intercourse. But for now, know that if your panties get wet from time to time, that’s normal. It tends to happen more frequently while we’re ovulating, but it can also happen just when we’re attracted to a guy or feeling more sensual in general. Consider it a reminder that God has created your body to engage in sexual intimacy with your husband when the time is right.

Your body image. Having heard from so many wives on this topic, this is something you can work on right now and for the rest of your life. Learn to love your body!

It’s going to be hard someday to bare it all for your husband if you don’t have any confidence in the beauty that God gave you. But He really did make you beautiful! Practice positive self-talk, noticing what your personal assets are and celebrating those. Don’t bat away compliments, but learn to say “thank you.” Take care of your body with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Don’t sweat the stuff you don’t like so much. Cherish those aspects that make you feminine — your softer skin, your curves, your private parts.

If body image is a struggle, mark this verse in your Bible or memorize it and remind yourself:

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

Psalm 139:13-14

Someday your husband is likely to adore seeing your body — your gorgeous, naked body — and it will be easier to engage in sexual intimacy if you believe his assertion that you are a beautiful woman. Not to mention that it’s God’s assertion as well, so believe Him. Remain modest, but appreciate the body you have — the body that will one day be used for sexual intimacy.

Your sexual baggage. You don’t only have sexual baggage if you had premarital sex. Sexual baggage is anything you drag into your marriage that is an obstacle to true physical intimacy. Even a poor theology of sex can be a load that burdens your marriage bed.

Even a poor theology of sex can be a load that burdens your marriage bed. Click To Tweet

What I wish I’d deeply understood before marriage was how pro-sex God was. Just in the right context. I had internalized the prevalent stance that Christianity believed sex to be a carnal activity and women to be the gatekeepers regulating oversexed men. But when I personally had experiences that conflicted somewhat with that teaching, I was confused and I strayed. I basically rejected the whole thing because parts of the theology I’d been taught weren’t true. While I bear all the fault for not seeking the real answers in the Word of God, it would be easier for young people if we told them the real deal: God wants you to have sex and enjoy it immensely, but in His sovereign wisdom He reserved it for marriage.

It’s worth asking yourself what messages about sex you’ve internalized and whether those really comport with what God says about sex. Some well-meaning Christians can present erroneous information, oftentimes because it’s what they were taught. We need to seek real answers from God’s Word.

Develop a healthy theology of sex, so that you understand it as (1) a blessing, (2) intended for reproduction, pleasure, and intimacy, and (3) reserved for the covenant bonds of marriage. By the way, that last one is not because God wants to deny us anything; rather, He wants us to enjoy the full measure of His gift and He knows that sex outside of marriage can easily damage one or both people. As Deuteronomy 10:12-13 says: And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?”

Find a godly mate. Finally, my best advice is to find a godly husband. I’m not talking about a perfect husband, that man who doesn’t exist except in romance novels and imaginations. Rather, if you want a great sex life someday, your best bet is to marry someone who also seeks God’s will — in everything.

Listen, whatever challenges you have in the marriage bed — whether it’s just wedding night awkwardness, or medical issues that create obstacles to sexual intimacy, or past sexual encounters that left wounds — having a mate who also understands the importance of sexual intimacy in marriage and who is loving and respectful of you will make everything smoother. Most marriages have ups and downs in the sex department, but being a team to work through those peaks and valleys is a far better situation than being at odds with one another.

The people who write me with major issues typically have one spouse who doesn’t want to tackle the problem head-on or who stubbornly pursues their own selfish ways. If you’ve got a guy, though, who’s committed to 1 Corinthians 13 love, you can weather all kinds of stuff. Of course, you should also be committed to that kind of love as well. I’ve often said that single women should spend less time looking for Mr. Right and more time becoming Mrs. Right.

I haven’t read it, but I understand The Sacred Search by Gary Thomas is an excellent book for singles on finding a godly mate. (I did read Sacred Marriage by the same author, and it was really good.) I’m also rather partial to The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After by Elizabeth Kantor, which is not a Christian book but still a good resource for mate-picking.

One final note: When you do find The Guy, get some premarital counseling. And make sure it covers the topic of sex. Preengaged has some great resources in that regard, and I guarantee Heather and Eric there can talk biblically and honestly about sex.