Category Archives: The Bible and Sex

Is the Church Failing Sexless Marriages?

After writing what turned out to be a controversial post on faith and sexless marriage, I spent a lot of this weekend thinking about my next Q&A post, which I would like to be about practical steps you can take to address a sexless marriage.

In preparation, I Googled that subject and found various posts on the matter of sexual refusal as a sin (which yes, I believe it is). Many of them were posts written by fellow marriage bloggers I’d already read, but there were some additions.

Here’s what stopped me short, though: In pages and pages of my search, I found almost no posts or articles written by pastors or biblical scholars on sexual refusal in marriage.

How is that possible – I thought – when I know that it’s an ongoing issue for too many in the Church?

Blog post title + two pairs of feet in bed turned away from each other

Most of the posts I did find suggested the prescription of addressing your spouse’s sinfulness according to Matthew 18:15-17. The steps as described are:

  • Speak directly to the person who has sinned against you (your spouse)
  • If they won’t listen, take one or two others along as witnesses (being careful whom you choose)
  • If they still won’t listen, bring the matter to the attention of the church (not really the whole, but church leaders)
  • If they still refuse to listen, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector (remembering that Jesus treated pagans and tax collectors as outsiders but not enemies)

And I agree with all of that. It’s in the Bible! Spoken by Jesus! How could I not?

But here’s where the prescription, sadly, seems to break down in real life: How do I tell those in you in sexless marriages to go to your church for help with this issue, when I know full well that many of you will find precious little support there?

I’ve had spouses write and tell me that the Christian counselor they went to see brushed off the total lack of sex in their marriage, choosing instead to concentrate solely on communication issues or even saying that sex wasn’t that big a deal. I’ve had spouses tell me that they’ve begged their minister to preach or teach about sex in marriage, including the need to address sexual refusal, and they get waved off. I’ve had spouses tell me that they’ve approached church leaders and explained the heartache they’ve experience in their marriage, only to be told to suck it up, pray harder, and love their spouse more.

Poet Robert Frost famously said, “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.” And that is how I feel about the Church. My community of believers has been an anchor for me in many of life’s storms, and they feel like family in so many ways. I love the Body of Christ.

But I also get frustrated with our shortcomings, especially in the arena of sex in marriage.

I get frustrated with our shortcomings, especially in the arena of sex in marriage. Click To Tweet

These sad, true stories above have been told to me both through my ministry here and personally. Moreover, my Google search on the subject demonstrates how silent the Church as a whole is on this topic. So where are the ministers and church leaders willing to speak boldly for the sake of all kinds of intimacy in marriage, including the physical intimacy God clearly wants spouses to have?

I know they’re out there. But their numbers aren’t large enough yet. We still have work to do in the Church.

Look, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Jesus’ prescription for dealing with sin. Our Lord knows what He’s talking about! It’s a beautiful process done well and has turned back many hearts to God.

And if your spouse’s sin was adultery, I suspect the vast majority of you would receive compassion and support from those in your local church. But what if your spouse’s sin is the unfaithfulness of refusing you for years and years? What if they have cut off the physical intimacy entirely in your marriage and won’t even talk about it? What if your heart is a gaping wound in your chest that just happens to involve your private parts as well? Will you get the support you should get?

I want to say yes. I soooo want to say yes.

Because I love the Body of Christ.

Yet I’m a realist, and I know that too many churches, too many Christians, have failed in this area. We have left a large segment of emotionally pained spouses with nowhere to go.

We can’t accept that status quo. Something has to change.

So today, I’m just throwing this out there and asking my readers to answer any of the following:

  1. Have you personally experienced a church leader or counselor brushing off your concerns about a sexless marriage? If so, would you calmly share what happened? (Note: I don’t think berating individuals will help and just adds our own sin to the mix.)
  2. Has your church taught or preached on sex in marriage? If so, was sexual refusal included in the message?
  3. Have you helped someone in your church address a sexless marriage? What did you do, and was it (in any way) successful?
  4. If you’re a pastor or church leader, why has it been difficult for you or others to address the issue of sex in marriage head-on?
  5. What do you think needs to happen to make the Church more willing, competent, and compassionate in dealing with sex in marriage?

Where this goes, I don’t know. But it’s past time we talked more positively about healthy and holy sex in marriage and more honestly about all the sexual sins that can entrap us and damage the intimacy of our marriages.

And I want to be a part of the conversation that changes our churches for the better.

Q&A with J: “My Sexless Marriage Is Making Me Lose My Faith in God”

Today isn’t one reader’s specific question, but rather a topic that comes up from time to time among people who comment here or email me. Below is a fictional, composite version of the query:

Sex has always been in an issue in my marriage, with my spouse rarely if ever wanting to make love in our 25 years of marriage. For the last eight, I’ve been in a sexless marriage, and when I try to talk to him/her about it, s/he just says that s/he doesn’t need it. I’ve done my part around the house, taken care of the kids, regularly compliment him/her, and try to woo my spouse as much as possible, but apparently my needs mean nothing compared to his/hers. We tried counseling, but he/she quit going after two sessions.

I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed about this for years, but nothing has changed. So that’s it. I’m done with church and with God. And if things done change in the next few months, I’m done with my marriage too. I wish I’d left sooner. I’ve wasted all these years with a woman and a God — if He even exists — who don’t give a flip about me.

Where’s the question in there?

  • Is there a god?
  • If there is a god, why doesn’t He intervene?
  • How can I believe in a god who’d let me suffer so much in my marriage?

Blog post title + man sitting in pew, from behind

I’ve long believed the theological question Why do bad things happen to good people? is usually Why do bad things happen to me? Or a close loved one. Because our life experiences impact how we view the existence and goodness of God.

A sex-conflicted marriage, especially a sexless marriage, is such an emotionally painful experience that it feels cruel to be made to endure it. Especially when you’ve done everything you can think of to be loving, to be faithful, to cry out to God for deliverance. When nothing changes — or gets worse — your core belief in God can be shaken. Your faith falters.

Let me first assure you that I’ve been there. I was raised in the church, a preacher’s daughter, but I faced a faith crisis in my early 20s. Did God exist, or was religion simply wishful thinking? After much study and reflection, I decided that yeah, there was something.

But I didn’t immediately rush back to Christianity. Instead, I studied different versions of god professed across history and cultures. It was a slow walk back to God and then to Christ. So I recognize what it feels like to doubt, to question, to even shove off what you previously thought was true and suspect it’s not truth after all. Questioning your faith doesn’t make you a bad person. It puts you in the company of many Christians across ages who long for “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

But let me address the questions you have with real answers.

Yes, God is there.

It’s hard to feel like God is there with you in your pain. Although He’s omnipresent, He’s also invisible to us. You can’t slide over on the couch and say, “Have a seat, God. Let’s talk face-to-face about my problems.” While some Christians say they always feel God’s presence, many of us don’t. Plenty of us reach out to God and end up identifying with these poignant lyrics from BarlowGirl in “Never Alone”:

I waited for you today
But you didn’t show, no no no
I needed you today
So where did you go?
You told me to call
Said you’d be there
And though I haven’t seen you
Are you still there?

I cried out with no reply
And I can’t feel you by my side…

When you’re still in the pit, when your pain is deep, when you can’t feel Him there…how do you believe that He is?

The truth is, I can see God’s presence in my life more clearly when I look back on things than when I’m in the moment. But more importantly, a lot of whether I felt God there depended on how much I truly invited Him in. Did I want God to just come fix things? Or did I want God to use that experience to draw me closer into a relationship with Him?

Isaiah 43:2 is the verse I lean on, over and over in my life:

When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

The Bible tells us repeatedly in one way or another that this life will suck. Not every moment or every day, of course, but there’s a substantial amount of suckage involved in taking the journey through human existence. God doesn’t promise to take away those times when we have to “pass through the waters” and “walk through the fire.” But our Lord says, “I will be with you,” and He will get us through those tough times if we recognize Him, invite Him in, and lean on Him.

That’s why the chorus of “Never Alone” ends with:

So I’ll hold tight to what I know
You’re here, and I’m never alone.

But free will means others can hurt you.

You know how much you want your spouse to express their love through sexual intimacy? God recognizes the same thing: Love and goodness shouldn’t be coerced. In the Genesis 2 account of Adam and Eve, God’s first words to Adam are, “You are free…” God then describes that Adam can eat from any tree in the garden he wants, but it would be super-bad idea to eat the fruit of one particular tree.

Of course, we all know how the story turns out. Adam and Eve sin — and we all would have done the same if we’d been in the Garden of Eden ourselves. Likewise, we mess up a lot in our own lives, free to make choices that hurt us and others around us. You have that right from God … and so does your spouse.

That’s why I’ve said about a hundred times on my blog that the only one you can change in your marriage is you. Don’t get me wrong: You have influence. You can clam up or communicate. You can enable or set boundaries. You can seethe in anger or reach out in kindness. But you can’t make your spouse want to have sex with you. And if you think God enforced it, you’re asking Him to take away your spouse’s free will. Which, it seems biblically clear to me, He won’t do.

And you might not be as good a spouse as you think.

Judging your own performance as a spouse, you might come out looking like a Grand Champion. You certainly feel like you’ve done everything a loving mate would do, and yet it’s made no difference whatsoever.

But what if you’re doing the wrong things? For instance, you might not be speaking your spouse’s love language. Perhaps you’re performing many acts of service, when your spouse wishes you’d put down the tools or the fry-pan and spend time with them.

You could be misconstruing the underlying problem that keeps your mate from jumping into bed with you. Maybe you’re trying to make the case for why sex is important in marriage, but your spouse has real physiological obstacles or sexual baggage that make her view sex as untenable.

Or you might just be in a pain in the patootie about the whole issue: You think you’re being reasonable and persuasive, but you come across as nagging and demanding. Your unpleasantness in this specific area might make it not so much fun to live with you in general. Which means you lose your overall appeal, further making your case for “let’s have sex” a tough sell.

Look, I’ve been there, done that. So I know that it’s possible to believe you’re doing great when it doesn’t feel that way to your spouse. That’s why it’s important to ask your spouse how they think and feel, and then shut up and listen. We reveal ourselves to others when we feel safe and heard. So be a safe person for your spouse to communicate with, and recognize that it takes time to reach that point.

It comes down to this: “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us” (1 John 4:12). You want to see God working? Let Him work through You to change how fully you love your spouse.

Finally, the blessing isn’t always obvious.

It seems fair for God to reward us in the area where we’ve been faithful. When we pray for our marriage, behave as a faithful spouse, and pursue righteous sexual intimacy within that covenant relationship, shouldn’t God show up? Where we are most hurting? Where we most welcome God’s divine intervention?

Galatians 6:7-10 says:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

We will reap what we sow, but not always in the same season or the same field. Plus, our motives and perseverance matter.

Even if we are entirely faithful toward our spouse regarding sexuality, it’s possible we don’t reach the sexual intimacy that God ideally wants us to have. It’s not because He doesn’t care. He does, but see the free will point above.

But here’s the thing: As much as it stinks to wait and wait and wait, and to suffer through a sexless marriage, I don’t believe sex is better than Heaven. No one gets to Heaven having endured that kind of hardship while still being Christ-like to their spouse and says, “Man, if only I could go back and have an orgasm!”

It was pointed out to me in the comments that the refused spouse isn’t struggling with lack of orgasm but the emotional pain of rejection. Yes, that was an extremely poor word choice on my part — which doesn’t even reflect what I believe. As I’ve said many times, if it was just about the physical release, your spouse could get that without you. But sex has deeper meaning, and those in sexless marriages experience it as a rejection of their desirability, their identity, and their love. Ask a number of refused spouses how they feel, and you’ll hear the word lonely a lot. That is the heartbreak of a sexless marriage.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t do everything within your influence to address the sexlessness in your marriage. I say quite the opposite all over my blog. However, taking an eternal perspective, just because you can’t see the reward right now in the area where you most want it at this moment doesn’t mean God doesn’t have a very worthwhile reward for you.

Hebrews 11:6 puts it this way: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Sexual intimacy is important to your marriage. But not as important as your faith in God and our Savior Jesus Christ. I pray the Spirit will reveal to you how God is there in the midst of your pain, how you can continue to be faithful, and how you will be rewarded in due season … if you do not give up.

Can I plead with you to just sit down honestly with God and ask for His strength to keep your faith going? To speak to mature Christians who can answer your questions? To pursue fresh ideas and ways of dealing with the sexlessness in your marriage?

After a few complaints in the comments section, I want to clarify that I am NOT saying you shouldn’t use your influence to pursue sexual intimacy in your marriage, because you should. In other posts, I’ve spoken clearly about talking to your spouse, my belief that ongoing sexual refusal in marriage is a sin), and how just saying to pray for your marriage isn’t enough. I’ve addressed the issue of sexless in marriage, tried to explain how hurtful it is to the refused spouse, and explained that sex is 100% part of the marriage covenant. But none of that goes against my assertion in this post that God is not to blame for the emotional pain you’re going through, and in such troubled times, we should draw closer to Him, not further away. Please, if you are in a sexless marriage, keep pursuing righteous intimacy, but also pursue righteousness simply in your relationship with God. – added 10/13/17

I can’t say I know what’s it’s like to be you, but I know it’s tough. Please know that my prayers also go up that you will hold onto God and not lose your faith.

same pic as above, sized for Pinterest

Isn’t Praying about Sex Kind of Selfish?

This past week, protests in Charlottesville, Virginia quickly became violent, and a young woman was run over and killed. In Barcelona, Spain, fourteen died when an Islamist militant plowed his vehicle into a crowd; a hundred more were injured.

In some regions in the world, starvation is still a real possibility. And disease, civil war, and economic hardship are daily challenges. Christians are persecuted in some nations, all the way to their life being taken. Sex trafficking is happening across the world, and each day children are abused emotionally, physically, and sexually.

My heart breaks just writing about these things. So, in the midst of all of the evil and pain in the world, how can we go to God and ask Him for help with our sex life? Aren’t there way bigger issues worth His time and our focus?

Blog post title + man praying, up close

When I recently asked on Facebook what my readers wanted me to cover about sex and prayer, this is what one commenter said:

I’ve wrestled with this one a bit, but am slowly getting better at understanding that if something is important to me, and is righteous, than it’s important to God. But there is still a nagging feeling in the background when I ask for help regarding our marital intimacy that says, “this isn’t that big a deal, there are people starving in this world, I know this sounds selfish of me…but”.

I know he’s not alone. And it’s a good question: With people starving in the world, isn’t praying about your sex life kind of selfish?

With people starving in the world, isn't praying about your sex life kind of selfish? Click To Tweet

Here are some thoughts to consider.

God is infinitely able to hear our prayers.

We exist in time. We check clocks, keep calendars, make appointments at specific times. All of our to-dos are therefore done in a linear fashion: I take out the trash, then I do the laundry, then I write my post, then I have lunch. I can’t do all of those things at once.

We tend to place God in time too, even though He’s not. In fact, of all the ways to explain this, I think a scene in the movie Bruce Almighty did a really good job. Here’s what might happen if we had to deal with prayers.

But that’s not God. He’s infinitely able to hear and address everyone’s prayers at once, from the plea for justice for a sexually abused child, to the prayer for patience of caregivers whose burden is heavy, to your request to find greater unity in the marriage bed.

Your prayer for your sex life isn’t taking any time or effort away from God dealing with the “big issues.” He’s got it all covered. Because He’s, well, GOD.

C.S. Lewis wrote a fabulous, and more thorough, essay addressing the issue of God’s ability to answer many prayers at once: “Time And Beyond Time” from Mere Christianity. Check it out.

God cares about everything about you.

Have you ever listened in on a conversation of moms talking about their infants or preschoolers? They can describe everything from their child’s major personality characteristics down to exactly what they found in the last diaper. If their child gets a splinter in his precious little finger, they stop everything and tend to relieving that little bit of pain. I consider this a helpful mental picture when I think about God, my Heavenly Parent. He’s totally into everything His kids have got going. And He’s far better at it than we are, so He really can attend to all the poop going on in our lives.

Just listen to these descriptions of how God cares for us:

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways” (Psalm 139:1-3).

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (Psalm 56:8, NLT)

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6).

If God is familiar with all of our ways, keeps track of all our sorrows and collects our tears, and has numbered the hairs on our head, I think He cares about our sexual intimacy. Especially since He talks about sex quite a bit in His Word.

Rest assured, He wants to be there. He’s the parent who wants to know every detail and to be the one you come to when you have a splinter in your heart or when things are going well.

God cares about our sex lives.

In this section, I almost want to say, “Go read everything else I’ve ever written about God and sex.” Because it’s basically my entire mission to convince people that God has something to say about our sex lives and that it’s really, really good stuff.

However, I will point to one particular post, which might be an eye-opener for some: Is Christian Sex in Marriage a Threesome?

So many of us have the view that God is present in all these areas of our lives, except the marriage bed; that’s really a private place between husband and wife, no one else invited — including the Big Guy. But that’s neither biblical nor wise. As you saw in the scripture above, God discerns our going out and our lying down, including when we lie down with our spouse. He’s omniscient, meaning He knows what’s going on in your bedroom!

And I simply cannot tell you enough about the positive impact I experience when I realized that God had something to say about every single area of my life — including the bedroom. Aligning my desires with His in my sex life, a goal I still work on, has made all the difference in how I view sexuality and how we experience sexual intimacy in our marriage. If He cares that much, then of course we can talk to Him about it; any part of our sex life is fair game for discussion with God.

Any part of our sex life is fair game for discussion with God. Click To Tweet

I hope this helps make some feel more comfortable talking to God about their sexuality. Don’t worry if it’s awkward at first. Just trust that He listens and cares and answers.

Q&A with J: “Our Marriage Bed is a Mess” Part 1

My inbox is filled with questions from spouses telling me about their hardships regarding sexual intimacy in their marriage. I have maybe 100 such emails, and I often feel bad that I cannot get to each and every one. I imagine these individuals finallypainfully telling the details of their concerns and hoping to find some answer that will set them on the right path.

Yet my time is limited, my own marriage and family require attention, and God doesn’t expect any one person to do it all. I’m just one finger, or maybe just a toe, in the Body of Christ. I take heart that even Jesus sometimes turned away from the demands of people to keep His focus on the primary mission: “Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:15-16).

Since I don’t have the time and resources to answer each of those emails, I want to share six responses that come to mind when reading various stories of marriage bed difficulties. These are for the people who write me to essentially say, “Our marriage bed is a mess.”

Blog post title with unhappy couple in bed

I’ll cover three today, and three next week. Perhaps one of these touches on your particular situation.

And, by the way, I’m going to be really candid. No mincing words.

1. You’re married to a selfish jerk.

Sadly, some of you are living with a selfish spouse who dismisses your beliefs, belittles your feelings, and/or thinks your body belongs solely to them to be used as a sexual tool. Perhaps they also pursue sexually sinful practices and expect you to get involved or to look the other way.

If that’s your situation, you have to stand up for you! Set some boundaries. If you don’t know how to do this, go read Boundaries or Boundaries in Marriage by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend. Then follow through.

If your spouse’s attitude and behavior reaches the level of abuse — verbal, emotional, even physical — you have to stop allowing and enabling that. Even walk away, for your safety and wellbeing. And please no one tell me that suffering through abuse is somehow analogous to Christ suffering on the cross. Jesus allowed Himself to be mistreated then for a specific and higher purpose. But two other times, He escaped people wanting to physically harm Him:

At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds” (John 8:59).

Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp” (John 10:39).

A selfish jerk likely won’t change unless you throw a wrench in the gears, meaning you stop playing your part of the system. Instead, calmly oppose mistreatment wherever occurs, to others and to yourself. That’s biblical.

Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed” (Isaiah 1:17a).

2. You are the selfish jerk.

Sometimes the spouse who writes me is the selfish one. They complain about how they’re not getting everything they want in the marriage bed and explain how they’ve whined and argued with their “beloved” about how they’ve been mistreated without any progress. Wow, I’m sure that makes you a lot of fun to be around. 🙄

If you’ve given your spouse the clear impression your only interest in them is getting exactly what you want sexually, why are you surprised they don’t want to sleep with you? If you’re always complaining, often angry, or only touching them to get sex, you’re not an appealing lover. Kevin A. Thompson wrote a great post about this: I Wouldn’t Sleep with You Either.

Your answer is to remember what you did while you were dating, falling in love, first married. Are you doing those things now? What kind of person are you to be around? Do you need to focus on giving your spouse the gift of happiness? Are you making sex all about you? What about your spouse’s needs and desires? Ask yourself some tough questions, and then pray for God’s help and guidance on what you can do to be less selfish and move loving. (I’ll give you a hint: It looks more like Christ.)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus….” (Philippians 2:3-5).

3. You have a poor theology of sex.

Theology is “the study of the nature of God and religious belief.” More specifically, it can refer to “religious beliefs and theory when systematically developed” (Oxford Dictionaries). One core part of my ministry is correcting erroneous beliefs about sexual intimacy; that is, throwing out our wrong thinking about sex and replacing it with God’s design for sex in marriage.

Unfortunately, too many Christians still have beliefs about sex that aren’t in line with how God our Creator made sex. And those ideas of what sex really means, how it should practiced in our lives, and what to do when we face challenges impact our marriage beds. What plenty of spouses need is an adjustment in their theology.

So when people write me and say that they heard something was wrong or something was right when it’s really the opposite, I wonder if we shouldn’t simply open our Bibles more and see what our Lord Himself had to say about it all. Of course, some people don’t know where to look, and that’s something I’ve tried to address often. It’s also a problem that our churches and pastors don’t talk enough about sex and marriage. Sometimes what we spread is just off-the-mark, like my recent post for Crosswalk.com on 10 Myths about Sex You Heard in Church.

If this is where you are — not really knowing what part sexual intimacy should play in your marriage — then continue reading my blog and check out other responsible Christian marriage blogs like To Love Honor and Vacuum, OysterBed7, Heaven Made Marriage, The Forgiven Wife, Calm.Healthy.Sexy, Awaken Love, and the like. A part of me would also like to tell you which sources to avoid, but instead I encourage you to study your Bible more so that you will be “be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

Also, read books that cover this subject well, like my Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design, Sheila Gregoire’s The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, and Julie Sibert and Jeffrey Murphy’s The Pursuit of Passion. And listen to my podcast with three other marriage and sex bloggers, Sex Chat for Christian WivesGet others around you reading and listening these resources so that you have allies. Ask your pastor and/or elders to introduce more resources for married couples. In short, seek truth. I know there are a lot of voices competing for your attention, but truth is out there for those willing to pursue it.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it….” God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day” (Genesis 1:27-28, 31).

I have three more overall answers to many questions I’ve received, which I’ll cover next week.

If you’re one of the readers I haven’t specifically answered, please know that I appreciate you writing me, my heart does go out to you, I wish I could clone myself and do much more, and I’m praying for you and your marriage.

Does God Care about Your Sexual Heartbreak?

In the worst years of my marriage, I cried myself to sleep. Not once or twice, but too many times. Sometimes the conflict was so bad that we’d be in the same bed, turned in different directions, not touching in any way, and both feeling lonely, even though our mate was inches away.

Some of you know what I’m talking about.

My prayer life then was fairly active, because I desperately wanted something from God: I wanted Him to fix my marriage. But in the back of my mind, I had this question: Does God really care about my heartbreak?

Because if He cared, why wasn’t He repairing all of our broken places? Like, yesterday?

blog post title + illustration of broken heart

But when I read stories in the Bible of devoted believers, they often spend time “in the pit” where things are tough and faith is tested. I’m not sure we Christians really understand how to live through hardship and wait on God’s deliverance.

Do we really understand how to live through hardship and wait on God's deliverance? Click To Tweet

Now that I’m on the other side, I can tell you three things for certain:

1. God cares about you and your marriage. He is attuned to your heartache, but He also has a point of view that you and I don’t have. He can see not only today, but tomorrow and the future. God’s willing to let us stew longer than we’re comfortable with, because He has an eternal perspective.

The Lord will allow us to endure emotional pain if it motivates spiritual growth.

Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice” (Psalm 55:17).

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” ( Psalm 34:18).

2. God is answering, but maybe not how and when you want.

I wanted God to fix my marriage, which — to me — mainly meant fixing my husband. Perhaps you can see how this approach would go awry. But it took me years to understand that God was patiently answering my prayer, by pushing me harder and harder to look in the mirror. It was when I realized how unloving I’d been to my husband that I began to put godly principles into practice in my marriage. And that changed everything: my attitude, my behavior, and my husband’s response.

What if God is trying to speak to you, trying to nudge you in the right direction, but you aren’t truly listening? What if you don’t hear His answer because it’s not how and when you expected? What if the answer means you have to change?

For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver” (Psalm 66:10).

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:4).

3. You’ll eventually be glad you remained faithful.

Of course, the problem with that statement is the word eventually. Are we talking next year, when our marriage begins an uphill climb to intimacy in the marriage bed and beyond? Or are we talking on our death-bed, feeling good about being faithful to the end but never really enjoying what God meant us to have? I really want to say that it will be next year or, better yet, next week. Especially since I fervently believe that living according to God’s plan produces positive results not just in the afterlife, but immediately in our lives right here.

But I’d be lying if I guaranteed something. I don’t know when it will happen, and you can only control your part of the equation. But I believe God’s promises that we will be rewarded for faithfulness.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24).

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

He’s listening, He cares, He’s answering, and He’s preparing a reward for righteousness.

In the midst of tearful days, that may be hard to believe. But continue to pray for your sexual intimacy, and then listen for His voice. Take baby steps in the right direction, putting into practice what you have learned through prayer and study.

Intimacy Revealed CoverTo help you focus on this task, pick up my book Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage, which walks you through Bible study, questions to ask yourself, and prayer time to start making the changes you and your marriage bed need.

(Apology: I changed the cover on the ebook, and it messed up the paperback version. So that’s currently not on sale. It will be up next week—promise!—just as soon as my graphic designer gets back from her weekend with hubby and sends me the correct file. 🙂 )