Tag Archives: christian sex

Do You Need to Be a Prayer Warrior for Your Marriage?

In Christian circles, this phrase has become very popular: prayer warrior. I’m not sure who first used this phrase, but it’s a reference to the spiritual warfare Christians are fighting. Ephesians 6:10-18 says:

Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore,

with truth like a belt around your waist,
righteousness like armor on your chest,
and your feet sandaled with readiness
for the gospel of peace.
In every situation take the shield of faith,
and with it you will be able to extinguish
all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation,
and the sword of the Spirit,
which is God’s word.

Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.

The apostle Paul describes us as being in a battle against Satan for the salvation of our souls and the glory of our God. His final encouragement is for us to pray at all times. Thus, I presume, the notion of the prayer warrior, all strapped up in her spiritual armor and doing battle on her knees.

But I gotta say — I don’t feel like a prayer warrior. More like a foot soldier.

In fact, I think all the encouragement to be a prayer warrior has sometimes served to discourage me. I’m 100% sure that was not the intent, but rather a genuine desire to see God’s people devote themselves more to prayer.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).

Yet, “prayer warrior” has always felt a bit daunting to me. I think it’s because:

1. When you decide to stay praying more, it feels like a really high bar to go from not-doing-so-well to being on the front lines of spiritual battle. As if you’re the William Wallace of fearless, persistent prayer.

Let's Pray! with Movie Still from Braveheart

Can’t I just start out as one of those guys a few rows back? Like I’m totally in the battle but not quite ready to lead the charge.

2. It can come across that other people are better Christians and have better marriages because they find praying easier. And I don’t think that’s true. We should all grow in the spiritual disciplines commanded in Scripture, but I suspect we have our favorites — habits less difficult for us to form.

For instance, I’m totally fine with researching biblical passages, their context, Greek meanings of words, etc.; it’s a somewhat natural way for me to relate to God by studying His Word. But somehow, prayer is more of a challenge.

3. Sometimes there’s an underlying message that if God’s not answering your prayer, if you’re still struggling in your marriage or marriage bed, it’s because you’re not warrior-like enough about it. That if only you’d fight harder through prayer, things would work out.

It agree that we may need to pray more frequently and earnestly to break through, but God could also be answering our specific requests with “you first,” or “not yet,” or even “fuhgettaboutit.” Moreover, are we really the powerful ones in prayer that make things happen based on how well we do it?

The more I learn about prayer, the more I think that God just wants us to show up. Maybe it’s less important to reach prayer warrior status (whatever that means) and more important that you don’t go AWOL. We have to keep talking to God, keep listening for His voice, and keep believing He will intervene in our marriage and marriage bed in His perfect way and perfect timing.

But God can’t do anything through prayer if you don’t ever show up.

Now if you consider yourself a prayer warrior and that’s working well for you, great. But I’ve been working through this series on prayer with the idea that there are a lot of people like me, for whom a thriving prayer life has been a challenge at times. To myself and to them, I want to say: You don’t have to be a prayer warrior — just step out on the battlefield.

You don't have to be a prayer warrior -- just step out on the battlefield. Click To Tweet

God’s really good at fighting battles with and for us if we’ll just show up.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14).

Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you” (Deuteronomy 3:22).

And I believe God wants to fight for your marriage — to save your marriage if it’s in trouble, to protect your marriage if it’s being attacked by the enemy, to help it thrive if it’s been ho-hum. He wants to be on that battlefield with us — whether you’re a prayer warrior or a foot soldier.

Just step out and join Him in the fight.

Q&A with J: “My Husband Wants to See Me with Another Man”

I’ll be honest: Q&A days are hard. Because oftentimes, a reader’s question hits on a difficult situation. While I write maybe 1000 words to answer the query, the issue here consumes a lot of heartache for the questioner and real-life decisions they have to make. Today’s question is definitely in that realm.

I have been with my husband close to 20 years. I have never been or wanting to be sexual with another man; however, my husband has been pressuring me for many years — wanted to see me in a sexual act with another man. This breaks my heart, makes me feel like he doesn’t love me. I believe practice what you preach. I am a Christian, he is not. Have you heard of this type of thing before? Thank you.

Yes, I’ve heard of this before. It’s called a cuckhold fantasy. The word “cuckhold” refers to the husband of an adulteress and derives from the cuckoo’s habit of laying their eggs in another bird’s nest.

This fantasy has become quite common and is actually one of the top porn searches on the internet. Of course, porn searches don’t necessarily tell you what people would actually do in their sexual relationships, but it is interesting to discover how prevalent this fantasy is.

The first question many are likely asking is why would any husband want this? Surely, we know that adultery damages marriage, right? Why would any spouse invite adultery into their home?

There are a number of potential reasons, ranging from the adrenaline rush a husband might get from a forbidden sexual act, to a belief that he cannot fully satisfy his wife so he wants someone else to do it, to a desire to see his wife treated like a “whore.” Two of the more convincing options I read are:

1. The masculine tendency toward competition means that a man might enjoy seeing his wife as desirable, and even actively sexual, with other men. In turn, he gets aroused that she is so sought after yet she chose him and that he will assert his dominance over the competitors by keeping her when the other man is gone.

Does this sound perverse? Yes, but let’s remember that it’s an extreme version of every love triangle we’ve obsessed over in fiction or the screen (Team Edward vs. Team Jacob, anyone?).

2. The prevalence of pornography has made men into sexual voyeurs. They have been trained to be aroused by watching as much or more than participating. Leon F. Seltzer Ph.D. expressed it well in his article, “What Secret Male Sexual Fantasy Is Surprisingly Common?” in Psychology Today:

It only makes (erotic) sense that if we’re now subject to a porn-centric culture, many men … would be exceptionally turned on by fantasizing their partner as an enticingly provocative porn star, unrestrainedly exhibiting the wildest excitement in expressing her rawest, most provocative sexuality.

Husbands even expressed to one researcher: “My wife is the most beautiful woman in the world to me, I’d rather watch her having sex than some porn actress I don’t know” (David J. Ley Ph.D., “Why would you do that? (Watch your wife with another man),” Psychology Today).

Of course, finding out that a fantasy is widespread and can be explained doesn’t make it right or a good idea. In fact, this is a supremely stupid idea.

Even the secular article by Dr. Seltzer, mentioned above, noted that “experts writing on the subject of cuckold sex have observed that its reality … generally doesn’t begin to live up to the fantasy. Too many other emotions (i.e., other than pure lust) are likely to interfere with its enticement — like embarrassment, jealousy, fear, shame, anger, and resentment.” Fantasies are rather controlled experiences, an ideal of what it would be like, while the reality is often quite different.

In the fantasizer’s mind, he gets to watch his wife have sex with another man, which arouses him as a sexual voyeur and makes him feel more powerful because he possesses this highly erotic woman. But what about what she feels during the act? Either she feels like an object used to turn her husband on or she enjoys the experience, making it a true competition and comparison with the sex she’s had with her husband. And how do either of those promote trust or intimacy in a marriage? Of course they don’t.

Moreover, what happens when all is said and done? Is this a one-off? Does it launch a pattern? Is she now to be whored out to various men to satisfy her husband’s fantasies? Does she begin to conclude that the sex is better with those other men after all? Why stay with the husband who either treats her like a harlot or who can’t sexually satisfy her?

Ultimately, though, adultery is wrong in any context. While I believe that God’s rules protect us from personal harm — thus, my point that sexual cuckholding is a stupid idea — the greater argument is that it’s immoral. Here’s some of what the Bible says about sleeping with someone who isn’t your spouse:

You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18).

But a man who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does so destroys himself” (Proverbs 6:32).

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4).

After King David slept with a married woman, God sent the prophet Nathan to convict David of his sin. David, finally admitting to his adultery, prayed to God, “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” (v. 4, read the whole psalm here).

Cheating on your spouse, whatever the context, is sinning against God.

Cheating on your spouse, whatever the context, is sinning against God. Click To Tweet

Knowing that it would be terrible for your marriage and a sin against your Heavenly Father, what do you do with the request from a husband to fulfill his cuckhold fantasy?

This husband is an unbeliever, which is a difficult situation in and of itself. Let’s see what the Word of God says about that:

If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband” (1 Corinthians 7:13-14).

In the same way, wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, even if some disobey the Christian message, they may be won over without a message by the way their wives live when they observe your pure, reverent lives” (1 Peter 3:1).

A lot gets made of the phrase “submit yourselves to your own husbands…” with some arguing that it’s the submission that will win over their husbands. I’ve heard of Christian wives going through with problematic or immoral sexual requests from their husbands because they think what matters most is the wife’s submission in marriage.

But these verses are very clear that what wins over a non-believing spouse is that the believer live out their Christianity. You can’t say yes to anything that takes you away from God’s desire that you be holy, pure, and reverent.

You have to say no, and say it firmly.

Sometimes when a spouse realizes their fantasy will never ever ever happen, they drop it and the issue fades away. Through the power of extinction, not rewarding the behavior of thinking/discussing a bad sexual fantasy, the spouse might get over it.

Other times the spouse continues to talk about their desires. And that’s when you have to set boundaries. Things like:

  • “If you bring up the subject again, I will leave the room. Because it’s emotionally painful to me for you to suggest me sleeping with anyone but you.”
  • “If you can’t let this go, then we need to go see a counselor. Because I want to feel emotionally safe in our marriage, and when you bring up this fantasy over and over, I don’t.”
  • “If you ever invite a man over to have sex with me or attempt to force me into this act, I will leave. Marriage should be exclusive, and I will not be a part of adultery.”

Then if your husband does any of those things, you have to follow through.

I know that’s tough. But at the end of the day, we cannot enable sin. Even from our spouses.

We cannot enable sin. Even from our spouses. Click To Tweet

Definitely practice what you preach. Be the example of what it means to be a loving spouse, to be a trustworthy wife, to be a holy Christian. Set godly standards and then keep them.

I’m praying for you.

Also see Should You Go Along with His Sexual Fantasy?

A Great Sex Life Requires Effort

I’ve been reading up lately on sex research, so you’ll probably see more of that on my blog. I’m in favor of well-conducted research about sexuality, because good science will confirm God’s design. He’s the one who created this universe, so if something’s true it should show up in the facts, even though faith is an important component of putting it all into practice.

One caveat: Not all scientific research is well-done. Sometimes researchers go in with a set of expectations and use a confirmation bias with the results. That said, we can learn a lot from well-performed studies. And today, I want to highlight one that goes right along with biblical principles.

Blog post title + couple helping each other up a mountain

As reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers at the University of Toronto set up a study to uncover the secret to a happy sex life in long-term relationships. Of course we all want that secret, right?

They wanted to see if it made a difference whether couples viewed satisfaction as the result of “sexual destiny” or “sexual growth.” One researcher defined these terms as follows:

“People who believe in sexual destiny are using their sex life as a barometer for how well their relationship is doing, and they believe problems in the bedroom equal problems in the relationship as a whole.”

“Whereas people who believe in sexual growth not only believe they can work on their sexual problems, but they are not letting it affect their relationship satisfaction.”

I bet you can already guess which one I think is going to win this tortoise-hare race. And you probably won’t be surprised by the results either.

Basically, the sexual satisfaction for both sexual destiny and sexual growth couples is high in the first two to three years, with no real difference. It’s that honeymoon phase we all talk about, when you can’t imagine wanting to do anything more than hang out in your beloved’s arms and stare into his soulful eyes.

And then you day, you wake up and realize that your spouse is a truly flawed and rather irritating human being. And you just signed up to have this person as your roommate for life.

Okay, I exaggerate. But the shine does tend to wear off a bit for most. It’s just what happens as our lives get complicated. Seasons bring new challenges, our bodies change, our expectations alter, old baggage comes for visit and wants to stay, busyness takes hold, and much more.

So now what? Is your sex life likely to taper off, or even take a nose dive?

Apparently, it depends.

Based on the 1900 participants in the study, researchers concluded that those who had a sexual destiny perspective showed less satisfaction and ability to work through problems in their relationship. Those who expected sexual intimacy to require ongoing growth fared much better.

This all makes sense because if you think something will be easy and then it’s not, you’re far more likely to think it wasn’t meant to be. Whereas believing that something will require effort means that you aren’t caught by surprise when challenges arise; rather, you were primed to expect them and be willing to work through them.

Sexual destiny believers sound like those who promote the idea of sexual compatibility. Many claim you need to sleep with someone before deciding to get married because it would be terrible if you discovered post-nuptials that you’re sexually incompatible. But we’re not static people all through life, not even in the bedroom. Rather, what singles should do is (1) adopt a sexual growth philosophy, and (2) marry someone else with a sexual growth philosophy. Then you’re both willing to put forth whatever effort you need to have satisfying sexual intimacy for the long haul.

And if you’re already married? It’s not too late! These researchers influenced participants’ beliefs by sharing information that either supported the sexual destiny or sexual growth perspective and then studied the results. Since we now know that sexual growth is the way to go, you can adopt self-talk that promotes that view.

You now know that if sex isn’t easy or satisfying or exciting right now, it doesn’t have to be that way a year from now, a month from now, or maybe even tomorrow. It certainly doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed. You and your spouse can grow!

Take to heart just this sampling of messages from the Bible about the rewards of exerting effort in the right direction:

“From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward” (Proverbs 12:14).

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

“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).

If things aren’t peachy keen at the moment, don’t give up! Don’t accept the status quo. And don’t doubt the love you have for each other. Rather, convince yourself and communicate with your spouse about the effort you need to exert to achieve a happy sex life, one that satisfies both of you and honors your Heavenly Father.

Choose sexual growth.

Source: Science Daily — Study reveals secret to a happy sex life

How I’m Learning to Focus in Prayer

Blog post title + woman praying in sunlightI’m terrible at meditating. Here’s a sample of how it’s gone for me when someone tries to guide a group through a meditation exercise:

Guide: Close your eyes and relax.

Relax? Does she know how much I have going on in my life? She might as well ask me to stop breathing.

Guide: Breathe deeply. In…out…in…out…

Okay, we’ve demonstrated we can all breathe. But if I do this deep-breathing thing much longer, I’m going to get lightheaded.

Guide: Your muscles are loosening, your body is sinking into the ground, you’re completely still and relaxed. Let yourself go.

Oh great, now I can’t move. Maybe if I wiggle my toes in my shoes, she won’t see. Oops, I’m tapping my fingers. I need to stop that!

Guide: Now imagine yourself sitting at the edge of a peaceful lake. The sun is setting, the wind is calm, the water is placid.

I can see the lake. Calm, calm… Ooh, a jet ski just went by! Cool, there’s a sailboat passing. Wait, is that a pontoon with a party on it? Geez, it’s a playground out there on my lake!

Yeah, I have a really hard time relaxing, emptying out brain, and staying still. I’ve always been a fidgety person, and my mind is no different—it’s a madhouse in there.

So then I decide I’m going to pray. And you know what happens? I start out really well, getting right through the Dear God and gratitude for His glory parts, but a few minutes in, it’s like that jet ski goes by, followed by a sailboat and a party pontoon. My thoughts diverge into all kinds of rabbit trails that lead me off in wild directions.

It’s hard for me to let everything else fall away and be meditative before my God.

It's hard for me to let everything else fall away and be meditative before my God. Click To Tweet

BUT I discovered something really awesome when I was in France at a recent writers’ retreat. Once again, I was in a circumstance where a leader was guiding us through a meditation. It was supposed to be about our writing specifically, but I used the experience to learn more about how I can better meditate and pray.

For those of you who are fidgety and/or brain-busy like me, here’s what finally worked!

I imagined myself moving in my meditation. That is, once I had that body of water in my mind (it was an ocean actually), I put myself on a horse riding down the beach, feeling the wind whipping through my hair and the ocean waves crashing on the sand. It was an extremely relaxing picture for me, but it wasn’t still. Then guess who showed up? Jesus. Oh yeah, riding on a horse beside me. He and I went galloping down the beach, talking and laughing. It was awesome!

And suddenly I thought, Hey, if I pray like this, I might make it all the way to more Amens!

Hey, if I pray like this, I might make it all the way to more Amens! Click To Tweet

Maybe trying to pray for your marriage and your sexual intimacy hasn’t been effective because you have a preconceived notion of what that prayer is supposed to look like. I know I’ve had one: It involved quietly bowing my head, talking in my head or whispering, and then being uber-silent while waiting for a word from God. I often didn’t make it all the way to “Amen” before 5,000 things came careening into my mind and interrupted my prayer.

Instead, I’m learning that to pray effectively, I have to move. I need to pray while walking, write or type out my prayers, or even imagine myself riding horses with Jesus on the beach. (He was quite the equestrian, I’ll tell you.)

For all I know, when Jesus went off on his own to pray, He traipsed around in circles or strode slowly through the garden. At least sometimes. It’s possible.

Yes, I love the idea of kneeling and praying, and I still do that sometimes. But God wants us to communicate with Him — about our lives, our marriages, and yes, our sexual intimacy — and I believe He’s okay with us inviting Him for a walk or a ride while we chat.

What struggles do you face staying focused in prayer? What have you learned works for you?

Q&A with J: Sexual Release Without Sinfulness

Our question for today comes from a wife who is currently separated from her husband, fighting for her marriage, and trying to deal with her restless sex drive. Here it is:

Our sex life has been amazing from day one. I have a very high libido and I just enjoy sex and trying new things, etc. However, we are currently separated due to him falling into an international affair. I am fighting hard for my marriage and I’m praying the Lord will grab his heart and turn him from his sin…

My question is this: I’m 31 years old with a high libido and I feel trapped in how to how to honor the Lord with my sexuality right now. How can I get a release without indulging in anything sinful? I believe masturbation is okay, especially in my situation, but it has become really hard to climax without having a scenario in my head. I believe erotica can erode a marriage, but are there certain types of erotica that can help people people in my situation?

Blog post title + woman under bed covers with arms raised

First off, I’m praying for your marriage too, and I invite my readers to do the same. Obviously, the best answer is for this marriage to be not only restored but brought to a place of thriving.

Yet whatever happens, you have to deal with this high libido that was awakened in marriage and now has no place to be satisfied. I feel for you. Your sex drive doesn’t just go away when your spouse is gone; it can be a hungry little beast when not properly fed.

You essentially have three ways to deal with a restless sex drive.

1. Release it.

That’s where your question heads to: “How can I get a release without indulging in anything sinful?” You say that masturbation is okay, and I’ve laid out my own position on this blog before. A summary of my perspective would be that masturbation that brings you and your spouse closer together is okay and masturbation that draws sexual energy away from your spouse is not okay.

Long physical separation from your spouse could be one of those times when it’s beneficial to “take the edge off” so that you can remain focused on your husband and your intimacy with him and not be tempted by another’s man attention, get cranky with your husband because it’s been way too long, etc. But imagining a scenario in your mind that doesn’t involve your husband takes sexual energy away from him; it’s inherently detrimental to your relationship.

If you’re imagining anything other than your hubby in your mind, you’re in sinful territory. And that’s what erotica encourages you to do. Jesus said, “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28, NLT). Of course that also applies to a woman looking, or imagining, a man with lust.

Ideally, if you’re masturbating to be able to withstand a long physical separation from your spouse, you’re doing so with their knowledge, support, and even presence (yes, some married couples Skype and simultaneously pleasure themselves). In your case, however, that’s not possible. So you need to be careful about how you engage in this physical release.

Look at your motives, your heart and your mind, and what will best keep your sexual energy on your marriage. Prayerfully ask those questions and listen for God’s answers.

2. Channel it.

You don’t have to use sexual energy sexually. That pent-up feeling can be channeled toward other activities. For instance, physical exercise can help diffuse that tension. It’s another way to be active, experience body chemical highs, and end up with that level of fatigue you sometimes feel at the end of sex.

I’m sure you’re also missing that physical touch that comes with sexual connection. You can refocus your desire for sexual affection to other forms of affection and other relationships. Spend more time with family. Volunteer in your church’s nursery. Head to a convalescent home and hold hands with an old woman, who might also have some wise life advice to share while you’re there.

Check out these and other ideas on what to do with your sexual energy when you’re not attached in this post.

3. Ignore it.

You’re probably thinking, I can’t! It’s impossible to ignore. But hear me out. In psychology, there’s a principle called extinction. In behavioral therapy, we know that linking a stimulus and a consequence causes people to expect the latter when the former shows up. The classic experiment is Pavlov’s dogs who heard a bell before being fed and thereafter drooled for food whenever they heard the bell ring. But if you de-couple that stimulus and consequence (bell → food), eventually the conditioned response (drooling) goes away. That’s extinction.

Right now, your hungry little beast — aka, your sex drive — wants to be fed. But it doesn’t literally need to be fed. You don’t have to have sex for your heart to keep beating. So it’s possible to use a bit of extinction in dealing with your drive.

I don’t believe your libido will completely go away, because our sexuality is an integral, God-given part of our humanity. But if you constantly shove juicy morsels at that beast, it will keep coming and coming, demanding to be fed. If you ignore it, eventually your drive will diminish. Enough to be more manageable.

Lest you think I’m being completely unrealistic, my husband and I did not have sex for about four months when expecting our second child. I was right in that high-libido part of my pregnancy when my doctor announced that health risks precluded intercourse. I did a lot of ignoring my drive, and so did my husband. Over time, it got less demanding. So I believe it can be done.

(By the way, for those who are in a marriage where you should be having sex and one of you has been practicing extinction, this might help to explain why it’s hard to get going again. But you should, for the sake of your marriage.)

Which of the three options should you choose? Each of them — releasing your sex drive, channeling it, ignoring it — could be beneficial depending on the motives, circumstances, and goals. But ask serious questions about what would honor God and your marriage when deciding what to do.

Once again, I’m praying that your marriage will be saved.