The Beatitudes in the Bedroom: The Merciful

Recently, I’ve been looking at the Beatitudes in the Bedroom, how this passage relates to our marriages and marriage beds. To get us started, let’s review the Beatitudes from 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

If you want to read the ones I’ve covered so far, check out Poor in SpiritThose Who Mourn, The Meek, and Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness. And now we’re up to the merciful.The Beatitudes in the Bedroom: The Merciful

I already know what some of you are thinking: Please talk about how my sex-resistant spouse needs to have mercy on me and give me some much-needed physical intimacy!

I’ll actually get to that. But first, I did a bit of word study on the Greek term used for mercy: eleeo (pronounced el-eh-eh’-o). I expected to see New Testament verses about how God showed us mercy when He saved us from sin. But the most common use occurred when Jesus was healing the sick. People often approached Jesus and cried out, “Have mercy,” just before he cured them of their ailments.

So eleeomercy,” often connoted healing and wholeness.

And honestly, that’s what so many of our marriage beds need. Not just frequency of sex or mutual pleasure, but healing and wholeness to be able to engage fully in the experience of sexual intimacy God gifted marriage.

In what area of your sexual struggles do you wish you could cry out to Jesus, “Have mercy!” and know that His healing would immediately follow? Did you experience sexual abuse in your past? Have you struggled to get past your spouse’s prior infidelity? Are you continually tempted by porn? Do you have pain during intercourse? Have you faced the hollow ache of infertility?

We can cry out for God’s mercy, and He delivers. Not always on the timetable we want or in the way we expect, but He is faithful:

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23, NLT).

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

But the Beatitude here isn’t about God’s mercy specifically, but our mercy: “Blessed are those who merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Thinking back to the physical and emotional ailments we experience in our marital bedroom, what is your beloved dealing with? What baggage or challenges confront him when it comes to sexual intimacy?

Have you shown him mercy? Helped him seek healing? Contributed to his wholeness?

We can get so caught up in our own perspective that we fail to fully consider what sexual issues are mate is confronting. Maybe your husband is trying to break a porn habit or facing a lower sex drive or aching for more sexual intimacy with you. Whatever his concerns, can you show mercy?

And no, I’m not suggesting having pity sex. Rather, true mercy involves reaching out with your heart. Indeed, Romans 12:8 advises that if we show mercy, we should “do it cheerfully.” Grudging compassion isn’t compassion at all.

Mercy might include more sex, more communication about sex, counseling about sex, or a myriad of other options.

But let’s seek one another’s healing and wholeness. Let’s extend to our spouse what we wish to receive from God.  Let’s be merciful in our marriage beds. And then, let’s see how God blesses us.

10 thoughts on “The Beatitudes in the Bedroom: The Merciful

  1. Lynn

    Thank you so much.
    I’ve said it before, but I decided before I got married that I would never, when in a snit, physically turn away from my husband (sleeping in the guest room, refusing affection or sex). By the mercy of God in my life I have been able to do this without feeling resentful, and allow our love for each other to heal any disappointments or anger. I highly recommend the attitude.

    Reply
  2. B

    This is what I should do. Show him mercy. To be honest, I don’t know how. I guess I do know how, but don’t know if I can if my heart isn’t right and my attitude is wrong. And to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what mercy looks like in this situation. Just give up on sex altogether and leave him alone?

    I’m tired of not being wanted, and of his refusal to tell me why. I’m tired of trying to talk about it and him getting angry (regardless of the reasons). I’m tired of being made to feel ugly and worthless. I’m tired of him telling me how much he loves me when it’s obvious he means like a sister, or a good friend, not like a wife that he finds attractive. I want him to be interested in sex, and I want him to enjoy sex (with me), more than once a week out of obligation. If he would just tell me what to change, I’d do it!

    We had an emotional day yesterday (long story). Last night I was hoping we would connect, and I find great comfort in that. Where was he? Asleep!!! And we are not talking 11 here, he was asleep before 7. He always tells me “wake me up” but I usually don’t because…. Why bother? But last night I was trying to be more understanding and mature, so I woke him up and we went to bed. He started to rub my back. (Mixed signal alert! Sometimes he’s going somewhere, sometimes it’s just rubbing). I really don’t want to get too graphic, but I modified my clothing let’s say, and he seemed to be interested in where it was going, and after a few minutes of this I checked to see if we had the same idea, and nothing! He was not the least bit turned on. not even a little bit. So I was not snippy, but I calmly and quietly put my clothing back together. I felt like an idiot for even waking him up in the first place. He was like “what are you doing, what’s wrong?” But I was nice and said “nothing’s wrong,” I gave him a peck on the lips, rolled over and tried to go to sleep. He didn’t argue with me or try to pursue anything, so he was obviously relieved to not have to touch me anymore.

    This morning I texted him and apologized for pushing it too far, and for even waking him up in the first place. He was all like “what do you mean? I thought last night was wonderful. I loved it.” Is he THAT clueless, or is he messing with me? Nothing even happened, there was nothing that could have been “wonderful” – he’s just blathering sweet words because he thinks it will make me feel better and ignore the fact that I cannot turn my own husband on.

    This is just getting to be too much. Then I read this post in its entirety this morning, and I kind of understand your point. I’m just not sure what showing him mercy would look like. And do I just accept the fact that I married someone who is too good for me? Who claims to love me but obviously does not feel the sexual love or attraction for me that I do for him? Do I just need to accept that a lackluster love life is all there is for me, when most other wives have to ask their husbands to relax when it comes to sex?

    I’m tired of reading articles about married sex and how wonderful it should be and how God wants married couples to have a beautiful sex life. Why not us? Is this something God is using to test me because He knows how important it is to me? That maybe being loved and attractive to my husband is an idol for me, that it’s actually a very bad thing? I don’t want to question God. I do believe He knows what is best, even if I don’t understand.

    I want to show my husband mercy, but I am currently stuck in a very bad place. And I’m sorry for pestering you all, but there is absolutely no one else to talk to.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      B, you’ve commented many times on my blog with your story and various things you’ve tried, how you feel, and what your frustrations are. I love that you continue to want something better for your marriage and your diligence in seeking answers. Honestly, I think you need a counselor on site, dealing with your specific issues regularly. (By the way, I have a counseling degree, but I’m not licensed to practice.) It needs to be the right counselor — someone who listens to you, advocates for your marriage, and gives you specific ideas on what to do to improve your situation.

      How do you find that person? Imagine you’re hiring someone to remodel your house. Wouldn’t you ask around for recommendations? Look up their credentials? Ask what they’d do and how much it would cost? Have a visit together before deciding whether to entrust your house with this person? Same thing — because you’re asking for a remodel of a part of your life. There are some great counselors out there, and I really believe that path would be good for you. Please consider this advice. I’m eager to help you in any way I can, but I feel like having someone right there with you would be even more beneficial.

      Reply
      1. B

        Thank you. I’ve asked my husband about counseling twice, and he got very offended both times. He doesn’t like to talk to me about this, perhaps he doesn’t want to talk to an outsider, either.

        I guess I could go it alone. I used to think counseling was just for certified crazy people, or people who are so depressed they can’t get out of bed. But I’m realizing it may be necessary, especially since there is really nobody else to talk to.

        What I didn’t realize, and I’m glad to hear you say, is that I can have a meeting with this person first, before deciding to be their client. I thought you would have to pay up front, and if they give you bad counsel oh well, try again. Maybe I’ll start looking.

        One friend did recommend a great couple who counsels couples, and I know them and they are very godly people. However I am sure my husband will say no.

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          You should be able to have a short conversation with a potential counselor over the phone and at least get a sense of what they offer. If you have a full session, you are expected to pay because that’s their work time and their living. When I was getting my master’s degree, there were essentially two routes in therapy: the clinical population (primarily those with more severe problems) and the counseling population (functional people with emotional/relational problems). It sounds like you’ve looked at counseling through the clinical approach, when most of us suggesting individual or marital counseling are looking at the second kind. That’s what marriage and family therapists tend to offer. Hope that extra information helps!

          And yes, if he says no, go on your own. Dealing with your own issues can help the marriage as a whole. Blessings!

          Reply
    2. e2

      B, I assume that you checked to see if he had an erection to determine his state of arousal, and if he didn’t, you concluded he wasn’t aroused, and then stopped the lovemaking session. My wife has done the same thing. Now, I’m older than your husband, but I can say unequivocally that I can be *very* aroused, and thoroughly enjoying myself without having an erection. I’m sure that, as you quietly and without explanation put yourself together, he just assumed you were no longer interested, which is why he didn’t pursue it further. My suspicion is confirmed by his response the next day. B, he WAS thoroughly enjoying himself. I would have responded exactly the same way. Due to my wife’s post menopausal vagina, we haven’t had actual intercourse in many many months. I’m okay with that as we both experience wonderful orgasms through manual and/or oral stimulation. At my age, erections take longer to obtain, and I sometimes don’t get fully erect until I’m ready to climax. And, yet, because I don’t stand at attention they way I did 30 years ago, my wife (wrongly) assumes I’m not aroused.

      Reply
  3. B

    Dear J and e2 (and others),

    I can’t share too much due to privacy, but because you have been so kind to let me share my negative situation and feelings for so long, I felt I should share something positive.
    We had a mini-breakthrough yesterday. Actually it was bigger than that. I was still feeling very down about our lack of sex, and I stumbled across an article written by a woman about her low drive husband, her high drive self, and just how awful it made her feel. It was well written, and explained so many of the feelings I have had for much of my married life, and explained them well. It was as if I had written it myself – our stories were that similar. I asked my husband to read it and I told him, “this is almost exactly what I feel every day.”

    He read it, and then he was very quiet. I thought for sure the anger was coming, but he didn’t even raise his voice. Instead, he started to talk and he shared something he had realized about himself the other day. And it seems to be a huge contributor to our sexual problems. It’s not porn, or other women, or anything sexual, actually. It’s more of an issue, a personality issue, that I totally knew was there, but didn’t know it affected him on this level. Paul over at XY has replied to my comments several times that “it could be his issue, and may have nothing to do with you.” And I have always thought “yeah right.” Looks like Paul might have been on to something. I think folks over here have mentioned that, too, but I just never believed it. I hate to admit this, but even though it was all negative, I think that may have been a pride issue on my part, insisting the problem had to be me.

    Anyhow, I’m not exactly sure how we are going to handle this issue. It’s been there our entire married life, but it’s never been dealt with. My husband’s family is notorious for never talking about issues, they feel it is best to hold everything deep inside until someone explodes. My husband did ask me to pray for him regarding this, so that’s a starting point.

    This also explains so much. Why he would act so unloving and then keep telling me how much he loved me, and I would think “this man is a wacko!” What I saw as totally unloving behavior was something completely different that really had very little to do with me. Or why when I would finally lose it and break down in tears and beg him to tell me why I was so unattractive to him, that he would insist he found me very attractive. And why when I offered to change everything about myself, he would get so upset.

    How sad that he didn’t share this information sooner. But I’m going to try my best not to move backwards, but to move forwards. I am just over 40 years old, we have been married almost 22 years (yeah I was a teen bride), and I don’t want to waste any more time. I’m sad that I have been battling these “problems” for so long, and getting so frustrated that he kept not wanting me to fix them, when the problems I was trying to fix weren’t the actual problems anyhow! Does that make sense?

    Anyhow, thanks for letting me vent so often. Prayers that we will get through this are much appreciated. And I am going to start praying for our sex life to be healthy and what God intended, rather than my old prayer asking God to take away my sex drive and my sexual attraction towards my husband. My husband got really upset when I shared with him that is what I had been praying. I had thought I was doing the right thing because I was so frustrated and could see no other solution. Thank God He knows better than I do, and He did not answer that prayer. My sex drive is still there, I just pray we can work through these issues and the health of our sex life can improve. Thank you for listening.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      This is great news! I’m so glad your husband confided in you and you responded well. Yes indeed, we come with our issues into marriage and often don’t understand how they’ll affect our perspective, the relationship, and our spouse. But feeling like your mate is there with you, on your side, can make a real difference in getting through challenges. May God bless you both!

      Reply

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