Author Archives: J

Q&A with J: “Is It Okay to Use Sex Toys?”

Today’s question is brief. Here’s what the reader asks:

Is it okay to use sex toys or would that [go] against God??

You know, when I first started writing about sex, I wasn’t interested in sex toys, but I didn’t really have a strong opinion about them. Early posts on this subject include:

Is It Playtime? Sex Toys

Why I Don’t Use Sex Toys

But the more I’ve researched, heard from people, and studied what the Bible has to say about sex generally, the more I’ve come to believe that what really matters is how and why you’re using the sex toy.

Sex toys as marital aids.

Some sex toys are helpful aids to deal with challenges in the marriage bed. For instance, a man who has difficulty achieving or maintaining a strong erection could benefit from the use of a penis ring. Or a woman whose physiology makes it extremely difficult to orgasm could benefit from adding a clitoral vibrator.

Sex toys used in this way are essentially the same as any other treatment we might advise someone to use, like taking testosterone to address low male sex drive. And frankly I’m grateful there are options available for those who struggle with a physical challenge and need some help. These marriage beds are likely blessed by the inclusion of certain sex toys.

Sex toys as periodic spice.

Others use sex toys as an occasional activity to experience different sensations. This I totally understand as well. It’s perhaps in the realm of changing your location or position to add a little spice now and then, just like I talk about in Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design.

Such couples are selective about what they use, making sure it adds to their marriage bed rather than taking away. They view it as a treat, like pulling out the flavored lube instead of the regular lube. And both spouses feel pleasure and respect in how the sex toys are used.

Sex toys as a substitute.

Here’s where things shift. God’s ideal for sex in marriage is that we can bring one another to pleasure and peaks — physiological obstacles not withstanding — using our bodies. Although you can make a case of locations and positions being mentioned in the Bible, you can’t find any place that suggests the use of a sex toy to fulfill one another sexually. Fulfillment comes through engaging with one another’s bodies, yet plenty of sex toys mimic body parts.

Not only are there toys that resemble or simulate vaginas and penises, they improve on them. That is, those toys can do things that no vagina or penis can do. Moreover, if you incorporate sex toys regularly into your lovemaking, you might find that you lose some of the pleasure you could and should get with your spouse. Just read this post: Q&A with J: “I’m Desensitized to My Husband’s Touch!”

Are such sex toys a sin? I can’t say that, but they’re unlikely to take you in the direction God wants married couples to go with sexual intimacy. Thus, their use is unwise.

Sex toys as “chasing a high.”

Finally, I’m concerned that too many Christian couples are chasing a high. Because of the varied sensations sex toys can produce, it’s tempting to find anything that gives you new and/or better pleasure. Toy choices can become kinkier and kinkier.

But it isn’t the kink that matters so much as the sheer selfishness of this approach. God created sex to help us become one flesh (see Genesis 2:24). But when it’s just about the physical high you can get, your sexual encounters can become more like parallel play. Perhaps you’re both feeling a lot of pleasure, but it’s not from each other; you’re just in the same space while you use the toys.

We have to really think about how and why we’re using sex toys, to make sure that we’re not just chasing a selfish sexual high. Rather, again, it’s about intimacy.

For more discussion of sex toys and whether they’re good or bad for a marriage, listen to our podcast episode on that very subject by clicking the image below:

Sex Toys - Is it Okay for Christians to Use Them?

Too Much or Too Little of a Good Thing

This past week has been a big fat WOW. I live just south of Houston, the fourth most populous city in the United States that turned into a sea with the massive rainfall supplied by Hurricane Harvey. My suburban town received over 50 inches of rain in just a few days.

Believe me, when your street looks like a river and you know friends are already flooded in their homes, rain is the last thing you want to see. And yet, it kept coming.

J standing shin-deep in water on her street

After the worst of the rain, on my street

Having been deluged by water for days and knowing people who had to be rescued by a boat, it would easy to assume that I never want to see rain again. All that water, quite frankly, sucked.

But…

I know that’s not true. God created water and rain, and they are more often beautiful blessings in our lives. For example, sitting on a beach watching the ocean is inspirational to me — just soaking up the majesty of the sea, billowing waves that trickle down to a tide that tickles your toes as they sink into the sand.

Or have you ever danced in the rain? Just waltzed with your beloved or boogied on your own? It’s a liberating experience, like Gene Kelly dancing in Singin’ in the Rain.

Related image

How about this best example? Two weeks ago, one of my sons was baptized. Believe me, that day water was a real blessing.

Are you wondering when I’m going to get around to the subject of sex? Well, here we go: The amount of a good thing matters.

If you spent your whole marriage obsessed with sex, constantly living for the next romp in the sheets, then you’d be flooded. You would have made sex an idol in your life, and too much of a good thing ain’t always good.

Now God is incredibly generous about how much sexual pleasure you can and should have in your marriage. Song of Songs 5:1 says, “Eat, friends! Drink, be intoxicated with love!” Intoxicated is a lot of love. But no gift from God should ever be treasured more than God himself. Some spouses sadly put so much emphasis on sex that they ignore other important experiences.

More spouses, however, are dealing with the opposite — not enough sex.

Believe me, people who have been dealing with a drought in their region would have liked the Houston area to send them a few inches of our rain. (If only we could have…) When you are nowhere near having enough, you are all too aware of how needy you are.

Let me simply assure you that hardships usually last longer than we think is fair. There was definitely some yelling at God down here while we were desperate for sunshine and all we kept getting was rain. But the skies eventually stopped dropping water. And although damage has been done, everyone I’ve talked to is hopeful that we will recover. (I really want to add #HoustonStrong here. 😉 )

You might be in the drought longer than you want, but I certainly know couples who came out of a long dry spell, found true sexual intimacy on the other side, and absolutely recovered. And I think many of you can too.

Keep pursuing a better sex life, whether it’s working on your obsession with sex or the drought your marriage is going through.

And remember: Baby steps count. Indeed, there was rejoicing here with every inch that receded after the flood was over. Just get going in the right direction.

***

I hope to be back on Thursday. But for now, the Harvey deluge has been replaced with neighbors helping neighbors salvage what they can and discard the rest. A large portion of people’s homes fit in that “rest” category, with furniture, appliances, flooring, sheet rock, and insulation forming truck-sized piles on curbs for trash pick-up. 

My family is doing what we can. Here I am yanking nails out from stripped studs in a church member’s house:

J crouched and removing nails from a house frame stud with a crowbar

When I told my podcast partners I wanted to exercise more, this is not what I meant.

If you want to donate to the relief efforts, fellow blogger Jason Graves of My Beloved Is Mine recommends Christ In Action, a charity he knows well. I’m also partial to our local Lighthouse Charity Team, which has been feeding first responders.

Hurricane Harvey & Me

In case you hadn’t heard, there’s a big hurricane in South Texas. Hurricane Harvey barreled through Rockport, just north of my hometown of Corpus Christi, and is hovering inland and dumping buckets and buckets of rain.

I’m in the Houston area, on the Galveston side. In the last 24 hours, my town has had somewhere around 15 inches of rain dumped on it. And it’s still raining pretty hard.

Hurricane Harvey radar snapshot

Pic from spacecityweather.com, a great resource for Houston weather

Let me assure readers that I and my family are fine. We happen to live on a street that has never flooded, not even in Tropical Storm Allison (the last storm here responsible for major flooding), and the water puddles in my yard are nowhere near our house.

However, I do have friends impacted, and I ask that you pray for them. Additionally, I need to let y’all know that I might be back up and running on schedule this week. Or I might not.

Because more rain and power outages are expected. We currently don’t have internet, so I’m posting this through my phone’s mobile hotspot. And most importantly to us, we may need to turn our attention to opening up our home to any friends and family who are affected by flooding.

Stay safe wherever you are. I’ll be back as soon as I can — tomorrow, I hope — but in the meantime, I’m praying that God carries you and your marriage through the storms of life and you find calm and happiness.

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

Isaiah 43:2a, 3a

Q&A with J: Can God Heal Any Marriage after Infidelity?

The emotional pain caused by a spouse’s infidelity is hard to imagine. Plenty of marriages do manage, however, to get past the heartbreak and build a better, more intimate marriage than before. Today’s question is on that particular subject. Here’s what the reader says:

I found out 3 days ago my husband had an affair… After he had planned a weekend away [secretly] this past weekend..I assumed this was the only time He had wandered. We have been having issues for a long time. Our relationships with God haven’t been good. I feel unsure if this relationship will work. We have two small kids. I don’t feel in love. He has had an issue with porn and was talking to girls online in chat rooms…. I don’t want to leave him but I wonder if I can truly heal being so close. I feel like maybe my insecurities are also keeping me…. He cheated with my neighbor.

I know God can restore our marriage and make it better than before but I’m hesitant. I’ve had sex with him since the affair unknowingly…. I just don’t know how I could have sex with him after knowing this.

blog post title + craft heart stitched up in the middle

What struck me about this email and why I wanted to address it is that, yes, I agree that God can absolutely restore a marriage and make it better than before. But what this email lacks is any indication of what this husband is doing to keep and improve the marriage.

What we do know is:

  • He secretly planned a rendezvous with his affair partner.
  • His affair partner was their neighbor.
  • The marriage has had problems for a long time.
  • He’s had an issue with porn.
  • He’s visited internet chat rooms to talk to other women.
  • He had sex with his wife after having sex with his affair partner.

Affairs rarely happen in short order. There are steps spouse take as they head into marital infidelity, which I cover in this post. You can probably see from the list above how this all might have come together: a troubled marriage, a man without solid sexual boundaries (porn, chat rooms), a woman nearby (neighbor) who tempted the husband, and a string of lies and secrecy.

It’s not just that the husband slept with another woman. It’s that he planned it, he lied about it, and he tried to have his cake and eat it too (sex with both women). I can’t sugarcoat this — his actions were horrible.

Now if you discover your spouse has cheated and still had sex with you, you should both get tested for STDs. It’s not unreasonable to ask your spouse to willingly get tested. (In fact, if either spouse has had other partners, even before marriage, they should get tested and share results with their spouse.)

But the next step is this question: Do you both want to have this marriage?

Here’s where I’m not sure about this couple. This husband watched porn, went to chat rooms, lied to his wife, cheated on her, and not one iota of her explanation said that he was sorry, cut off contact with his affair partner, begged her to stay, etc. How did she even find out about the adultery? Did he fess up (a good signal) or got caught and couldn’t wiggle out of it?

In answer to “Can God Heal Any Marriage after Infidelity?” … yes, if you’re both willing to make an effort. But if the cheater feels zero remorse for what they did, what do you do then?

If the cheater feels zero remorse for what they did, what do you do then? #marriage Click To Tweet

Now, there could be some who don’t feel bad about the affair, but they could be motivated to work on the marriage by other issues — losing the mate they’ve partnered with in other ways, being separated from their kids, having concern about the financial cost. If he’s still willing to come to the table, there’s definitely hope. Jesus often took people who came to Him for selfish reasons and turned them toward the truth.

Dealing with all the issues brought up by this question, here are some resources to check out:

Intimacy After an Affair. This post addresses how you really could sleep with your husband after an affair, assuming certain criteria are present.

Rebuilding Trust in the Bedroom. This post gives specifics on how to rebuild the necessary trust for sexual intimacy.

Book Review: Healing from Infidelity by Michele Weiner-Davis. Michele’s book talks about how a couple can actually put a marriage back together, and she includes a chapter on what you can do if your spouse is not willing to engage. That said, part of her prescription is an area with which I disagree: That is, she offers one path of just letting your husband go his way while you hold things together and wait for the affair to fall apart, and that is not a biblical approach. Rather, as Christians we don’t enable sin but rather confront it and look for ways to bring a straying person back into the fold. With that in mind, you can still find some wisdom in this book for your situation. Just keep your Christian thinking cap on. 😉

Redeeming Marriages. Jack and Janet write this blog about strengthening your marriage, but they come from a background where, at different times, both spouses cheated. Yet, they fought their way back to a godly, happy marriage. You can read their story here. You might also want to check out their post on What If You’re the Only One Holding On?

Counseling. Yes, counseling. If I were you, I’d be on the phone to a Christian counseling center figuring out how soon hubby and I could sit down for a session. And if we meshed well with that counselor, we’d continue. If we didn’t, I’d try another and even another, until I found someone who could work with both of us to rebuild our relationship. Good counseling is a great way to reestablish a relationship, as God often uses others to assist our restoration.

You can indeed rebuild a marriage and intimacy from a situation that seems hopeless. But if I were you, I’d be hesitant too. Because I’d want to know that my spouse is willing to put forth some effort to make things better. If not today, then within a certain amount of time after I’ve invested everything I can into improving our marriage.

I’m praying for you.

My Favorite Feeling During Sex (And It’s Not Orgasm)

Contrary to some opinion out there, I don’t walk around thinking about sex 24/7. Outside of this important work I do, I’m just as likely to be thinking about the lyrics of a David Bowie song or wondering how laundry breeds like rabbits or listening to a politics podcast as I am thinking about the sexual intimacy in my marriage.

But I do sometimes evaluate how things are going, as I believe all spouses should. And the other day, I was thinking about our most recent lovemaking session and how it had made me feel. A strange thought struck me — surprised me really — and I thought it worth sharing with y’all.

My favorite feeling during sex isn’t orgasm.

Blog post title + woman throwing arms out in excitement, sunshine shining on her

WHAT?! How can that be? Isn’t orgasm the pinnacle of sexual pleasure? The aria of the opera? The chocolate syrup on the sundae? The Wonder Woman of superheroes?!

Haven’t I written several posts about orgasms, including What’s So Great about an Orgasm? and The Amusement Park of Orgasms? Aren’t I one of the biggest fangirls of the Big O?

Yes. Yes, I am.

While I recognize that not every wife experiences orgasm as an earth-shattering event, and certainly not every orgasm is as terrific as every other, it is a pretty lovely gift from our Father. It’s typically the peak moment of sexual pleasure, thus earning its name of climax.

But when I thought about it, I realized it still isn’t my favorite feeling. Because my favorite feeling when we make love is…

When my husband enters me.

It’s this moment that makes me feel the best about our marriage bed, the closest to him, the most grateful for this experience called sex. Because, to me, it’s then that one flesh really happens in a physical way. I’m not only reminded, but I physically experience these truths:

We fit together. The man-part fits inside the woman-part. If you study the anatomy of how our genitalia are designed to come together just so, it’s pretty amazing. God managed to design all shapes and sizes, and still those two parts almost always fit together.

Maybe that’s why Genesis 1 says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (v. 27). And then the next verse is: “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number…’” (v. 28). We’re made male and female, and since those two parts fit so perfectly, we can be fruitful together.

We meet each other’s longings. If a man and a woman grew up alone without any outside knowledge of sex, I think they’d still figure sex out. Why? Because once a man becomes aroused, something in his mind triggers the notion that he wants to put that erection inside something … or rather, someone. His physiology clues him into the idea that it would feel really good to penetrate his beloved woman with his penis.

Meanwhile, once a woman becomes truly aroused (which, by the way, is often after things get going), she can experience a strong desire to have something inside her … or rather, someone. Her physiology triggers the thought that being filled up in there would satisfy a biological and emotional longing.

If we’re attuned to our sexuality, we experience a desire for what the other one has. When that longing is met, through penis-in-vagina (PIV) penetration, something deep inside is also sated. As if you’re both filled by what the other offers.

We’re totally connected. Sexual activity can be pleasurable in so many ways, and there are many delights to be experienced. But there’s something in particular about intercourse that demonstrates physically the connection we have emotionally and relationally. You’re literally linked together in one particular part of your bodies.

In that moment, you can feel like you’re a part of the other. His penis belongs to her, and her vagina belongs to him … representing physically how you belong to each other. No, of course people don’t get this feeling with just anyone they have sex with, and unfortunately not every marriage has this sensation. But it’s what God intended. When you feel deeply connected in your marriage, sexual intercourse is a physical confirmation of that connection — that intimacy.

So what if you don’t feel these things, but you want to?

First off, if you’re experiencing problems having intercourse, check out my latest post on Q&A with J: “He Goes Hard and Then Soft.”

Second, ask how your whole relationship is going. Because you’ll feel these things far more readily when you two have been investing in your friendship, your partnership, your romantic affection. Then this deep connection is an outgrowth of what exists outside the bedroom.

Also, consider how attuned you are to your sexuality and — perhaps more so — your sensuality. How much do you allow yourself to really think about the sensations you’re experiencing during sexual arousal and pleasure? Are you aware of what your body telling you about how it wants to be touched? If you struggle with this, my book Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design gives lots of tips for focusing your mind on what’s happening with your body.

Next, talk about whether you’re spending enough time doing those things before intercourse that make PIV penetration a welcome experience. Some wives need more time individually to prepare themselves, by stepping away from work or household or mothering duties for a while before engaging in sex with hubby. You may also need more flirtation throughout the day or connecting conversation with your husband. Many most wives need more prolonged foreplay to really get to that point where they long for their husband to enter them. You should be very wet — on your own or with the handy-dandy help of your personal lube — and your inner vaginal lips swollen to 2-3 times their normal size. You might even feel that longing more intensely if he gets you to clitoral orgasm first, through manual play, oral sex, or whatever works for y’all.

Finally, ask how your whole view of sexual intimacy is going. Do you see it as a positive thing in your life? Many do, but many struggle as well. For various reasons, so I don’t have a one-size-fits-all suggestion here. But if you don’t feel good about sexual intimacy itself, it’s unlikely you’ll experience that sense of one-fleshness with intercourse in your marriage. I know you can’t flip a switch, but you can be honest about where you are and take steps in the right direction to resolve the obstacles you face. And you can use that search bar up top to see if I have posts addressing your particular problem.

I’m praying that every couple can experience the beauty of being linked together in this special and amazing way. It’s my favorite feeling in my marriage bed, and I want you to know its distinct pleasure as well.