Tag Archives: christian sexuality

Q&A with J: Preparing Your Grown Children for Marital Intimacy

Today’s question is from a concerned father:

I have 3 daughters who I want the very best for in marriage. How do I send them off when the time comes. Part of me wants to sit them down and tell them all about everything sexual and part of me says let them discover it on their own do not ruin it by telling them. I could explain oral sex for example, I am completely comfortable doing so but would it be better to let them find it on their own? I am sure the situation will vary some from one to the other but what would you do, give them your book?

I’ve written several times about talking to your children about sex. I believe those conversations need to start early and continue through the years. Sex is an embarrassing or taboo topic in too many households, but if you make your home a safe environment to discuss the topic, your children are more likely to engage and ask you questions when they need answers.

Q&A with J: Preparing Your Grown Children for Marital Intimacy

Here’s a rundown of some of these posts:

Talking to Your Kids about Sex: No More One & Done

How to Talk to a Teen about Sex

Is “Don’t Have Sex” Enough for Teens?

Sex: From the Skit Guys

The Oh-My-Goodness-Did-I-Really-Sign-Up-for-This? Sex Talk

What about when your kids are grown? How do you prepare them for what’s to come in marriage? Here are my thoughts on that topic:

Principles > Details. It’s far more important to teach principles for approaching sexual intimacy in marriage than provide details about what that looks like. Even grown children may not want to discuss particulars with you.

However, they would benefit from understanding the purpose of sex in marriage, why it matters so much for marriage, what standards to use when deciding what honors their spouse and God in the bedroom, and what to do if/when they have difficulties. These are issues you can address.

Share scriptures that cover marriage and sex in the Bible (like Genesis 2:24, Proverbs 5-6, Song of Songs, 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, Ephesians 5:22-32). Explain how the chapters on love and the Gospel itself apply to marital intimacy. Let them know what the higher standard is for determining what’s good in the marriage bed. You might even share with them generally about your own walk in this regard — how there have been bumps in your marriage regarding sex that had to be worked out.

Too often, newlyweds expect sex to look like what they’ve seen in a romance novel or movie and to go perfectly from the get-go. Prepare them that sexual love can unfold gradually and steadily, and there will be plenty of time in marriage to enjoy the feast of delights if they cherish one another from the beginning.

Encourage them to seek help if physical issues or emotional misunderstandings arise. Think principles more than details.

Share quality resources. The Bible is the first resource you should freely share with your children. Let them know that all those scriptures about how we should treat each other apply to marriage as well, and they don’t stop at the bedroom door. God’s truth should permeate every crevice of our lives.

After that, I have several posts specifically for newly marrieds:

How Much Should You Learn about Sex before the Wedding Night?

Wedding Night Sex

What Should a Groom Know about His Wedding Night?

Preparing for the Wedding Night

What I Wish I’d Known before the Wedding Night

What to Pack for Your Honeymoon or Vacation

You specifically asked about my book. As much as I’d love for you to buy Sex Savvy: A Lovemaking Guide for Wives, that’s not actually the book I most recommend for a young bride. I believe Sheila Gregoire’s  A Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex is a great primer for a woman about to enter marriage. Also good for any fiancée (and wife) is Shaunti Feldhan’s For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men. For couples I suggest The Pursuit of Passion: Discovering True Intimacy in Marriage by Jeff Murphy & Julie Sibert and Lovemaking: 10 Secrets to Extravagant Intimacy in Marriage by Dan & Linda Wilson.

Down the road a bit, Sex Savvy would help a wife develop more sexual self-confidence, while Intimacy Revealed can flesh out the connection of our sexuality and spirituality.

These are only a few of the excellent resources out there for those embarking on marriage, to get a better sense of what to expect and to understand God’s design for sex in this covenant relationship.

Give permission for passion. The final role I see for parents is to let their children know that it’s not only okay, but good for them to lean into God’s provision for sexual delights now that they will be in the proper context of marriage. Whether they’ve stayed entirely pure all the way to the altar or messed up some along the way, convey that you want the best for them in their marriage — and that includes a satisfying sex life.

Why is this important? Because I hear again and again and again from wives who struggled to make that shift into their marriage. They focused so hard on staying a virgin that it feels wrong or shameful to unleash their passions, even in marriage. Or maybe they engaged in sex before marriage, but they carried a load of guilt — however light or heavy — and this burden weighs on them in a way that they struggle to embrace what God wants for their sexual intimacy.

Even when we’re adults, we look to our parents for guidance and approval. Of course, that’s not all that matters, but you can play a positive role for your grown children by letting them know that sexual love in marriage is a beautiful thing and you want them to experience its fullness.

Do you have to get specific? I don’t think you do. Honestly, if you’ve been talking in your home as they grow, and you’ve been available for questions, and you lead them to good resources, laying out exactly how things work right before the I Do‘s won’t make much difference. You’ve already done your job, and they know where to find you if they need help.

Opening up to my fabulous readers, how do you believe we can best prepare our children for godly sex in marriage?

A Message to Your Pastor (and Mine)

Last Thursday, I asked, Will Your Pastor Preacher on Sex? Only a handful of people commented that their pastor had indeed spoken publicly on the topic of sexuality in their church. Which is sad.

Especially since the Bible has so much to say about it.

Pastor's hands holding Bible & blog post title

But before we get frustrated with preachers for not speaking up and speaking out about sexual intimacy, I want you to know that I have compassion for pastors. I’ve been in close relationships with them and seen the pressure they receive. Many hear from church members to preach on this and not on that, to say more of this and less of that, to say it this way and not that, etc. And yes, I’ve been there when a preacher mentioned sex from the pulpit and got an earful from parents of young children who thought it was inappropriate.

It’s easy to say that pastors should ignore all those voices and simply preach the Word, but:

  1. They are human. And have you ever been under heavy fire like that? It can be very discouraging.
  2. Their jobs and family livelihood are tied to these choices. Surely, you consider how what you say at your job could affect your employment. Just consider that they may face the same concerns.
  3. Most pastors try to both preach the Word and be responsive to their congregation. If their churchgoers don’t seem to want a sermon on sex, they may conclude that they can deliver the message in a different way or simply use their precious time to preach on something the congregation does seem to want and need.
  4. Some pastors don’t feel like they’re in a good place to preach on sex because their own marriages are not in a good place regarding sexual intimacy.

I believe what pastors largely need is not our frustration and criticism, but our reassurance and support. Maybe we can counteract the voices that object to mentions of sex in the pulpit with a message of encouragement. Maybe our words can embolden our pastors to speak on the tough stuff and reach out to those in need of godly wisdom regarding sexual intimacy.

Could you take your pastor aside and give him that message of encouragement? Could you write your pastor a note or letter explaining why you believe this topic is important, and why you trust your pastor to deliver a good sermon? Could you speak to the elders and let them know you desire and support efforts to speak up on sexuality as a church?

Look, I’m just little ole me in my church — one of many sitting on a chair in the sanctuary on Sundays. I’m not on church staff or a pastor’s wife or in any formal leadership position. But I believe the voices of the congregation matter in encouraging those in leadership to be bold and faithful to the Word. A swell of voices from the sanctuary could be just the gentle push your pastor needs to speak what God has put on his heart to speak.

Here’s my message to your pastor (and mine):

While engaging in my online ministry, I have heard so many stories of hardship and heartache regarding sexual intimacy in marriage. For many spouses, there is confusion, pain, and temptation surrounding the sexual act. But I have also heard stories of redemption and revival, once couples begin to experience sexuality in their marriage the way God intended. I know, as a pastor, you’ve heard such stories from individuals and couples as well.

You have many topics competing for attention as people try to navigate this topsy-turvy world, but I want to encourage you to preach from the pulpit and/or teach in a Bible class on the subject of godly sexuality. With so many wrong messages out there, the Church must be even more bold about teaching the truth of God’s design for sex. Not only have some in our congregation been impacted by adultery, pornography, and sexual assault, but many marriages are suffering from sexual deprivation and lack of intimacy or conflict and bitterness surrounding the marriage bed.

You have my full support to speak up regarding these matters according to the Word of God. I will speak to the elders on your behalf and actively defend you among those in our congregation who may struggle with this private act being appropriately discussed in public. If we need to provide additional care or programs for children during sermon time so that you can be free to say what needs to be said, I will help in any way I can. If I disagree with something you say, I will speak to you respectfully and privately, and I will encourage others to do the same. I will be an advocate for you and the importance of dealing with this topic head-on in our church.

I appreciate your willingness to speak where the Bible speaks. Please know also that I will pray for you and your own marriage. May God bless you and your ministry!

Now what would you like to say to your pastor? How could you encourage him to speak up and speak out on the timely issue of sexual intimacy in marriage?

3 More Great Bible Stories about Sex

In my last post, I talked about 4 great Bible stories involving sex. Specifically, I discussed Adam and Eve, Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, Hannah and Elkanah, and David and Bathsheba (not the adulterous part, the better part).

There are many Bible stories about sexual sin, some of them quite awful indeed. However, the above four and the following three are my favorite ones that teach us something important about God’s gift of sexuality to marriage.

Bible with light glowing from it

1. The Lover and the Beloved. You had to know this one would make the list! But what’s the story exactly? Beyond all those flowery passages, like how her “navel is a rounded goblet” (Song of Songs 7:2) and his “arms are rods of gold” (5:14)?

Well, there’s an interesting story in Chapter 5, in which the husband comes home late and wants some nookie. (Okay, it’s worded more sophisticated than that, but you get the gist.) And what does the wife do? Yeah, she does what a lot of us wives have done at least one time or another: “I have taken off my robe—must I put it on again? I have washed my feet—
must I soil them again?” In other words, “You want me disrupt my sleep and make some big effort for sex? Come on! Not tonight!”

But what’s inspiring about the rest of the story is this wise wife realizes pretty quickly she’s missed a golden opportunity. She gets up and searches for her husband, desiring him to return to bed with her.

Why? Because they love each other, and sexual intimacy is worth some effort. Once you make the decision to engage, you may find yourself saying, as the Beloved wife says, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine; he browses among the lilies” (6:3). Translation? We’re in love and gettin’ it on. (More or less.)

2. Hosea and Gomer. So Gomer’s not really my favorite person, what with all the running away and adultery. But God commands Hosea to marry her, to pursue her, to make love to her, and to bring her back when she wanders.

I don’t believe this story suggests a spouse should put up with a callous pattern of adultery, because God had His own purposes and points to make with this story. However, it’s enlightening how far God is willing to have a husband pursue a wayward wife.

If your marriage has been struck by pornography or adultery or emotional unfaithfulness, you need to do all you can reasonably do to heal the relationship and create a safe space for holy intimacy in your marriage. Yes, you can leave, biblically, and some situations indeed call for that step. But our culture now leans the other way — walking out as soon as infidelity has occurred. Maybe we could use a little more Hosea in our hearts.

3. Joseph and Mary. So Joseph was betrothed to Mary and found out she was pregnant. Yikes! Thankfully, an angel appeared to him and explained: “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. . . . When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus” (Matthew 1:20-21, 24-25).

When I was halfway through one of my pregnancies, I was diagnosed with a condition that required my husband and I to abstain from sex for four months. I think those four months are like dog years to a husband, because it felt like a reeeally loooong time before he could be intimate with his wife.

While I’m all over the have-sex-often plan, sometimes you can’t. Military couples separated by tours of duty, spouses going through health issues, long-term work separations, etc. can cause an absence in sexual intimacy. And yeah, it’s tough. But you know what, Joseph did it. He waited until Mary had delivered God’s son, Jesus, and then made love to his wife.

Do I think they avoided affection or even arousal? I don’t know. I suspect not. He’d waited for a long time for Mary, loved her, and wanted her as his wife. Yet he was patient when he needed to be, sexually intimate when he could be.

So there are three more stories in the Bible that involve sexuality in some way. Maybe I shed a different perspective on one of them. Maybe I didn’t draw the same conclusions you did. Maybe we can gather in Heaven someday and hear these stories straight from the people who experienced them.

In the meantime, what are some of your favorite Bible stories? What have you learned about marriage or sexuality from them? What is your take on any of the stories I’ve shared?

Have Stories Damaged Your View of Sex?

On Thursday, I addressed how I would write screen sex scenes differently from the way Hollywood does. But I ended the post by pointing out that “if Hollywood let me write the sex scenes, very little sex would occur on the screen. I’d opt for the approach of many classic movies in which lovemaking was implied but not shown. After all, sexual intimacy in marriage is the sort of thing that should happen behind closed doors.”

One commenter added: “Why and how did it become acceptable to have sex scenes in movies anyway? Why do people want to watch that? Focus, Hollywood. Less is more.”

jeune femme drôle cachée derrière livreI agree with those who say there is a danger in filling our minds with unrealistic stories about sexual activity — whether it comes from pornography, Hollywood, erotic books, or over-the-top romance novels. When we allow erroneous messages about sex into our eyes, our minds, and our hearts, we can cheapen the intimate act God gave married couples and adopt twisted expectations of the sexual intimacy in our marriage.

  • Why won’t my wife do what that woman on the screen will do? Why isn’t she as eager and wild?
  • Why doesn’t my husband sweep me on my feet like that and pleasure me for hours?
  • Why does our sex sometimes feel awkward, when it looks so beautiful in the movies?

Do you pay attention to where you’re getting your messages about sexuality? Who is telling you the stories about romance, love, passion, and sex? What are they telling you, and is it helpful for the sexual intimacy in your marriage?

From a practical perspective, I don’t think you can entirely avoid stories that don’t wholly support God’s view of sexual intimacy. At least not without locking yourself away somewhere. Turn on the TV or watch a movie or open a magazine, and there will be tales of couples engaged in premarital sex, comedies poking fun at sexless marriages, messages hinting that kinkier is better, etc. As Christians in the world, we need to sharpen our filters and be able to move past that, identifying untruths where they occur.

But honestly, I cannot remember the last time I saw an R-rated movie, because I grew so weary of being cussed at and shown naked people doing it. Sometimes we don’t need a filter so much as a fortress — just shoving out those stories of sexual intimacy that could do real damage to our minds, hearts, and marriages.

Consider these scriptures:

I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.” Job 31:1

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

“I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it.” Psalm 101:3

Of course, the Bible itself includes stories of sexual sin — but they are provided as warnings, not entertainment. Like the fables or original fairy tales provided important warnings about not talking to strangers (Red Riding Hood) or the importance of working hard (Ant and Grasshopper). There’s a very different tone in stories like Tamar (this one or this one) or David and Bathsheba and the love between Elkanah and Hannah or between the Lover and Beloved. It’s clear what sexual stories would receive God’s approval and which would get His rebuke or condemnation.

Maybe it’s time to ask yourself some questions. What are you reading? What are you watching? What are you listening to? What stories about sexual intimacy are you soaking up and giving credence? Are they in line with God’s message? Do you need to make different choices?

What Jesus’ Family Tree Tells Me about Sexuality

I recently re-read the first chapter of the gospel of Matthew — the chapter that lays out Jesus’ genealogy, establishing his bloodline to King David and Abraham. The chapter is better read silently, unless you want to try to pronounce such interesting names as “Rehoboam” and “Zerubbabel.”

However, five names on the list are definitely pronounceable — and female. Yes, there are five women listed in Jesus’ genealogy, and their inclusion in this list reveals something important about sexual history and God’s plan. Let’s take a look at each woman from Jesus’ family tree.

Tree with heart-shaped leaves

Tamar (Matthew 1:3). The story of Tamar is told in Genesis 38, and it’s a doozy — the sort of tale that is incredibly honest about the personal failings of God’s people. Summarizing the story: Judah, son of Jacob and brother of Joseph, marries and produces three sons. The firstborn marries Tamar, but he dies without her bearing children. By Hebrew law, Judah’s next son was required to marry Tamar, give her a child, and the child would take her first husband’s name — to keep his bloodline. Instead, Judah’s next son (Onan) deliberately fails in his duty and then dies, and Judah doesn’t give his next son to Tamar.

So Tamar takes to take matters into her own hands, poses as a shrine prostitute, and Judah sleeps with her, not realizing until later that he impregnated his former daughter-in-law. Awful, right? Like soap-opera or bad-reality-TV-show awful. And then God takes all this mess and produces a Messiah from this bloodline. Say what?!

Judah’s sons had an obligation — sexually. In that era, Tamar was expected to conceive and raise children, and when she married the first son, the whole family committed to her that duty. When they didn’t fulfill their duty, Tamar found a different way to satisfy her needs.

We don’t have the same obligations today to marry the siblings of dead husbands, but people behave in similar ways. When sexual needs aren’t met according to God’s design, people tend to start looking elsewhere. What Tamar did was absolutely wrong, but the denial of sexual duty to her was wrong as well. Sexual sin goes both ways.

Rahab (Matthew 1:5). Rahab’s on my Top 10 Bible Women list. I relate to her story and love how she turned her life around.

Rahab is a prostitute in Jericho when it’s conquered and leveled by Joshua, his army, and God shattering the city walls on their behalf. Beforehand, she hid two Israelite spies from Jericho authorities looking for them, allied herself with the coming army, and asked for protection in the siege. Joshua honors the spies’ commitment, and Rahab moves into the Israelite community.

Think about that: Rehab left behind her former home, former occupation, former life, and became part of God’s people. Since she appears in Jesus’ bloodline, I suspect she found a husband, settled down, had kids, and lived a far better life. (Yeah, I relate.) She could have been so easily defined by her previous choices, her bad sexual history, but God didn’t see her that way. When she left her old life behind, she got a fresh start — a second chance.

God gives second chances every day, to those who have sexually sinned in all kinds of ways. If a former pagan prostitute can be welcomed into God’s community, those with sinful sexual pasts can be forgiven and blessed as well. Whatever our sexual history, we can start fresh today. We can leave behind the bad choices and make different ones. We can find forgiveness and healing. We can come into the fold of God’s people and become part of Jesus’ family. You aren’t defined by your past or how others see you, but rather your present choices and your future of hope.

Ruth (Matthew 1:5). We know nothing about Ruth’s first husband, only that he was named Kilion. When he dies, Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, return to Judah. To feed themselves, Ruth begins gleaning the fields of a wealthy landowner and relative, Boaz. And let’s be honest, ladies: Both Ruth’s beautiful spirit and her savvy flirting catch her a husband.

Is anyone else bothered that Ruth basically sneaked into Boaz’s bed? I certainly wouldn’t recommend that course of action to any young woman. But like I said — the Bible is brutally honest and tells it like it happened. Knowing his reputation, Naomi certainly believed her daughter-in-law was safe in his company. And Ruth’s approach got Boaz’s attention.

What’s the takeaway? The Bible doesn’t say that Boaz took advantage of the situation. Perhaps he understood his role was to honor this woman by holding her sexuality sacred. Whatever a woman’s opportunity or current situation with boyfriend or fiancé, the goal is sex in marriage. Husbands are commanded to present their wives holy and blameless, and that attitude can begin before marriage. Once married, God blessed the sexual union of Boaz and Ruth with a baby boy, who was the grandfather of King David.

Bathsheba (Matthew 1:6). There are two takes I’ve heard on Bathsheba — either she was the wife of a soldier who was taken and presented to King David without asking for it, or she was a flirtatious woman bathing on her roof for the king to see and a willing participant in adultery. Either way, she conceived a son outside of the bonds of matrimony, and her second husband was her former adulterous lover. Not the way to start a marriage.

But the sexual story of Bathsheba that grabbed me most is not her adulterous affair with King David, but how sex played a part in her marriage after the death of her child. 2 Samuel 12:24a says: “Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her.” I’ve written about this event before, and the amazing ability of sexual intimacy in marriage to comfort a spouse. However, it’s clear that — although her entry into this marriage was not God-approved — God forgave and blessed David and Bathsheba with restorative intimacy and another child, the future King Solomon.

Some marriages have rocky, or even sinful, beginnings, but when we turn our hearts toward God, He can bless our marriage and our sexual intimacy. We start where we are right now.

Mary (Matthew 1:16). We Christians see Mary as young, innocent, a willing servant, and a thoughtful and loving mother. At the time she lived, however, people saw her as a knocked-up teenage mom. She was betrothed to Joseph, but they hadn’t officially married or consummated their union. So when she turns up “with child,” how does that look? Surely, Mary faced others looking askance at her for an ill-timed pregnancy. But it doesn’t matter how others saw her in that moment. What mattered is that God was working in her life, bringing out His divine plan, and blessing her marriage to Joseph.

What ultimately matters in your life is not what others think about your sexuality, but if you’re following God’s plan. The world and some Christians may not understand or approve of your choices to hold out for marriage and then experience frequent and intimate sex in marriage, but God smiles upon you when you follow His design.

None of these women — Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary — became part of Jesus’ bloodline through the usual means we might expect. Their sexual histories were unusual, but God acted in their lives and planted the Messiah into their family tree.

While I believe we should seek God’s best with all our heart and efforts, it’s pretty clear from Jesus’ family tree that God’s grace is alive and well when it comes to sexual intimacy. He can work powerfully in our lives and create something beautiful from whatever we bring Him.

Are you bringing God your sexual story? Asking Him to bring forth something beautiful and lasting from your life?

[This post was edited here and there after thoughtful comments from readers.]