Tag Archives: godly sexuality

Q&A with J: What To Do with Sexual Desire Before Marriage

Today’s question is from a single woman and involves lust.

“I have a strong desire to have sex, and most girl friends I talk to can’t seem to relate. I want to have sex with my future husband and no one else, but what do I do with my physical desire in the mean time? I’m sure you can understand that these type of feelings aren’t like your desire to eat a piece of cake where you can just ‘be strong’ and say no. It’s not that easy.

“I don’t want to just be physically pure when I get married one day, I want my mind and heart to be pure for my husband. But every single day I struggle with my desires, and I can’t just ‘turn off’ how I feel until I get married and then turn it back on again. And because of my struggle, it’s really hard for me to view sex in marriage as pure and holy when right now, I feel like I have to push those thoughts away.”

I took a very personal look at this one, because I’ve thought a lot about what might have changed my premarital promiscuous behaviors. I also had a strong sex drive that did not go away just because I wanted to do things the way God said. But don’t worry, reader: We’re in good company (see Romans 7:21-25), and we can overcome (see 1 Corinthians 10:13).

What To Do with Sexual Desire Before Marriage

Here’s what I believe would have helped me.

A belief that the best truly was yet to come. I tended to think the sexual pleasure I had outside of marriage was so good, how could it be any better inside marriage? I know differently now. But I wish I, and others in the church, had been taught regularly that the marital intimacy was worth waiting for — because it truly was more holy and more hot.

A strategy for remaining pure. I had nothing, nada, zero but my own willpower, which was not strong enough. I swore to myself I wouldn’t cross the line, but then I put myself in scenarios that set me up for failure.

Instead, I would not be alone with dates unless there was a strong possibility of being seen or walked in on. I would have a mutual commitment with my boyfriend/fiancé to stop and do something else if things got heavy. I would recognize that I was weak and needed to set myself up for success in this area by keeping my dates about something other than my strong sexual feelings (which, of course, will happen anyway…but less so if you’re, let’s say, bowling than making out).

Simply saying you won’t isn’t enough. It’s like saying you want to own a software company, but you have no plan for educating yourself in computers or learning how to run a business. If you set a goal, you need a strategy — a statement of how — for meeting your goal.

Someplace to channel those intense emotions. It isn’t enough to say what you won’t do; it’s better to say what you will do. For instance, what if when I got all hot and bothered, I took a run? Or went to a dance class? Or even punched a punching bag? I’d be looking for positive outlets for the stress that builds inside when you don’t have a sexual outlet.

Too often we focus on the don’ts of Christianity without paying attention to all of the do’s. Think about it in terms of the recovering alcoholic who ends up a table of people drinking cocktails. Instead of sitting there empty-handed, most will order a ginger ale or a club soda — they have a plan of what to put in their hands instead of the thing they don’t want. Likewise, figure out where you can channel that excess tension and energy.

Affection that doesn’t rely on the romantic. Speaking of positive outlets, sometimes we get all, or almost all, our affection through our romantic attachment. Since our bodies thrive on touch and connection, it’s tempting to shortcut all that, have sex, and get super-rushes of Oxytocin.

But we can find other ways to meet social/emotional needs, like holding babies at your church nursery or hugging the elderly at a local convalescent home (they could really use affection) or sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with friends or family. Long touches with others can keep us from having too long and too heavy touches with our romance partner.

Prayer and scripture. I’d pray more often, more fervently, and more openly to God. I’d also find a few scriptures to memorize, that I could bring to mind at the snap of a finger. I believe these are God’s weapons against spiritual temptation. Not in the moment of sexual temptation (that prescription is to flee — see 1 Corinthians 6:18), but in preparing ourselves for day-to-day life.

As you can see, I really don’t have easy fixes. I think the big issue here is that as long as we’re trying to not do something, it’s especially hard. We’re likely to have greater success when we try to replace that something with a better something.

So get off the couch where you’re reading romance novels and thinking how much you want to have the sex that protagonist is having and start reading scripture and working out on your treadmill. Stop heading into private places with guys you’re just dating and start hanging out in public places with friends. Quit looking at “man candy” and spend time as a “candy striper” at a local hospital.

Don’t kick yourself for having God-given sexuality, but channel your energies in appropriate ways. And if need be, repeat to yourself Song of Songs 2:7, 3:5, 8:4: “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” It will desire someday — when you are in a covenant marriage before God.

What are your tips for this single woman and others?

“How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.” — Psalm 119:9

A Romance Book You Can Read

Romance novels regularly get pummeled. Sometimes with good reason.

I’ve written about the myths of romance novels, aware they often convey wrong messages about love and sexuality. Plus, I feel bad for husbands who are trying, but the standard women seem to want, based on romance novels, is unrealistic and impossible. (We ladies know how unrealistic and impossible feels based on visual images, so you can understand my compassion. It sucks being compared to a fictitious fantasy.)

And then there’s the “cheese factor.” As in some romance novels — including some Christian fiction — are just cheesy. I don’t even know how to say this better. These are stories in which the characters don’t seem at all like ourselves or any real people we know. Sure, that could be fun for an escape, but I don’t read many of those novels. I know some of you don’t either.

Still, I believe in the importance of story. God’s Word is filled with stories teaching principles to live by, and Jesus taught many of his lessons in parables.

Bestselling author Toni Morrison said, “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” So I decided to leap in with both feet and write the kind of stories I’d like to read about love, marriage, and sexual intimacy.

Final Book Cover - smallerBehind Closed Doors is a collection of inspirational short stories addressing marriage and sexual intimacy. Following are previews of the five stories:

“The Rose Club.” Wendy and her two best friends are still mourning the death of Aunt Rose, as they sort through her treasured belongings and their childhood memories. When a discovery in the Aunt Rose’s bedroom sheds light on an unexpected side of their straight-laced “aunt,” the revelation unleashes confessions among lifelong friends.

“After the Baby.” Jack knows the exact number of days since he and his wife made love. With a newborn baby and an overwhelmed mommy in the house, how much longer must he wait? More importantly, how can they reconnect not simply as parents, but also as married lovers?

“Shotgun.” Tina and Josh are newlyweds, thanks to a surprise! teen pregnancy. But when a pregnancy complication knocks Tina onto her back for bed rest, it’s even more grown-up problems and less, or rather no, sex. Are the doctor’s orders for abstinence in their marriage a case of divine payback?

“The House the Densons Built.” Candace is a wife, homemaker, and mother of two, devoted to her family—until the arrival of a mysterious package shatters everything she believed about her marriage. How could her husband destroy their trust? Now they must confront the truth and decide if their marriage can be saved.

“Suite Nothings.” Nadine has dreamed of her wedding since childhood, determined to transform herself from tongue-tied klutz to fairytale princess for at least one day. After finding Mr. Right and setting the date, she realizes her preparations don’t include anything post-nuptials. Add another tab to the notebook! What can she do to make their wedding night unforgettable?

What can you expect with my romance book, Behind Closed Doors?

No sex on the page. Thus, the title Behind Closed Doors — since I believe what happens between a specific couple in their marriage bed is a private matter. So while many romance books include steamy sex scenes, they are not in my book.

References to sex. That said, there is definitely sexual desire, tension, and hints at intimacy between married couples. Nothing is written in an effort to titillate, but rather to be authentic about marriage and intimacy.

Real characters. Of course these are fictitious people, and I didn’t base them specifically on anyone I know. However, I tried to give them real skin, so to speak. I wanted these characters to feel authentic and experience real problems, real emotions, and real hope.

Specific scenarios. These are stories about these particular people, so don’t read too much into the specifics of their situation. For instance, the couple who marry young following a teen pregnancy does not mean I condone premarital sex, teen pregnancy, or marrying that young — but I know it happens and I used that specific setup to tell a story.

Universal themes. Although these stories and characters are specific, there are definitely takeaways. Themes of godly sexual intimacy, grace and generosity in marriage, and redemptive hope run through all of them. I believe stories can teach us something about life and ourselves, and I hope Behind Closed Doors achieves that goal.

I also hope a series of short stories revolving around biblical love, marriage, and intimacy will appeal to people who wouldn’t normally pick up a book about biblical sexuality. Maybe this is the kind of thing you could share with someone who won’t read a “self-help book,” but who does enjoy a good romance.

Behind Closed Doors is available through ebook, and it’s available with several vendors:

Amazon / Kindle | Barnes & Noble / Nook | Kobo Books | Scribd | iBooks

Many blessings to your marriage and what goes on behind your closed doors!

Sex Wisdom I Learned & Teach

I’m a member of the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association. This month, CMBA has issued a challenge for marriage bloggers to answer the following questions:

What words have encouraged you in your marriage? What wisdom has helped guide you and your spouse in strengthening your marriage?

The focus this week is on what wisdom you received from family.

Since I write on Christian sex in marriage, this is a particularly interesting line of inquiry. How many in my generation can say they received quality information and encouragement that prepared them for sex in marriage? I’m guessing it’s a small percentage. Possibly speck-sized for some people.

Blog post title

I had a few conversations with my parents, and they were okay. But my parents were clearly uncomfortable discussing sexual information with me. In fact, instead of giving me “the talk,” I was given a book to read in which the boy and girl were shaped — I kid you not! — like something between Peanuts and Precious Moments characters. (It’s a wonder I didn’t develop an unhealthy crush on Charlie Brown.)

Honestly, the most encouraging words about sexuality that my parents ever gave me . . . weren’t words about sexuality at all. They encouraged me to read my Bible. And in the long-term, that’s paid off in spades.

Because God has taught me so much about His gift of sexuality.

That said, it took me a while to get there. So as a parent, I’m trying to lay the groundwork for my own kids to have a healthy, godly view of sexuality. And what words of wisdom am I teaching them? I hope you’ll head over to Sheila Gregoire’s site, where I guest posted on Tuesday with Top 10 Things I Want My Kids to Know about Sex.

And for more tips on talking about sex with your children, here are some other posts I’ve done on this subject:

Teach Your Kids the Correct Words for Body Parts

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

Is “Don’t Have Sex” for Teens?

How to Talk to a Teen about Sex

What wisdom did you receive from family about sex in marriage? What wisdom are you passing on to your family?

Sharing My Own Story

I’ve told bits and pieces of my own story regarding sexual intimacy here and there throughout this blog, and more of it is entailed in the My Story page.

But today I’m focusing a bit more on what I went through and how it affected my initial years of my marriage. Here’s my story: Inside My Head.

Pen writing "My Story" on paper

17 Years Old

I haven’t had sex. Totally haven’t had sex. Fine, call me a “technical virgin.” But that word virgin is still in there, right? (Right?)

I don’t mean to go over the line with guys. I just end up there somehow. I tell myself I’ll keep anything beyond kissing from happening, and then he’s there and I’m there and we’re kissing and it’s hot and heavy and things just, well, happen. And once they’re already happening, it’s too late. Might as well enjoy it.

Besides, who decides what’s too far anyway? Whenever we ask that question of an adult in church or some youth event, we get one of two answers — “Just don’t have sex” (which is what I’m doing) or “Don’t ever be alone with a boy.” Seriously? Who are these people? It’s like they’ve forgotten what it was to be a teenager.

And I don’t even think they like kissing and foreplay and sex. That one wife in our “becoming a woman” Bible class pinches up her face every time one of us girls mentions it. Do they know what it’s like to have your heart thumping and your head floating and your lips entangled with a guy you really, really want to be with? Do they know how hard it is to say no when all that’s going on inside you?

Still, I’ll keep from doing the big thing. I’ll be a virgin until I marry. I will. Promise.

22 Years Old

When it comes to counting my lovers, it’s not a big number, at least not in the secular world. But it’s a big deal to me. And as much as I’ve tried to rationalize my decisions, I suspect it’s a big deal to God.

I apologize and try to repent each time, but I simply keep failing. I completely understand Paul’s statement that “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” So very, very weak.

Although honestly, why did God make it feel so physically good? And why must I wait until I someday get married? I could have waited if I’d lived in biblical times, because they say Mary was probably a teenager, maybe even 15 or 16, when she got married. I was pure as new white porcelain when I was 16.

Now? Not so much.

Though here’s the real question: What wonderful Christian man wants this package of damaged goods?

Then again, what besides my sexuality do I have to offer? I’m not particularly beautiful or poised or rich or whatever. I’m smart, but how far does smart go? When it comes to who you want to kiss at night, are you thinking, Hey, this girl reads Tolstoy. I so want her!?

Still, there’s got to be a better way.

26 years old

“Sadie, Sadie, married lady, that’s me!” I can’t believe I’ve picked the guy, said the I Do‘s, and moved in with my lifetime love. Me? The girl whose monogamy track record is less than stellar. I had too much of a “love the one you’re with” approach.

But now I have this heart-sure feeling this is The One (cue serious music). I love him, more and deeper than any other. I can envision our lives together, lasting many years into the future. “Till Death Do Us Part.”

For the time being, however, it’s nice living in the present. The present that includes making love almost every day. Our sexual intimacy is amazing.

Although sometimes I’m nervous around him. Cautious about showing too much or seeming too experienced or eager. That uninhibited part of me comes from my days of premarital promiscuity, the days I’d now like to forever forget. (Why can’t I just forget?) After all, I’m Sadie, Sadie, married lady, so I really should be more feminine, more reserved, more coquettish. If I act like I did before, doesn’t that just make me a slut? All over again?

I have to keep that part of me inside. Bury it. Ignore it. Hope it goes away. I’m legit now. I’m not that same person I was before. Right?

God has forgiven me. Hasn’t He?

♦     ♦     ♦

So I just let you inside my head to hear what was going on regarding my sexual intimacy through the years. But the story doesn’t finish there. Not by a long shot! It took a while, but God righted my heart and my life regarding sexual intimacy.

I learned the difference between trying to do the right thing in my own might and surrendering to God. I learned God had indeed forgiven me and I needed to accept His grace, the grace He sacrificed His own son to give. I learned God was not punishing me for past sins when I experienced difficulties regarding sexual intimacy in marriage, that ongoing challenges were par for the course and opportunities to deepen my trust in His perfect plan.

I learned my husband never saw me in terms of my wayward past, that I was his cherished wife and lover. I learned that trying some different things and letting go of inhibitions could positively affect our marriage bed. I learned to feel good about my body and the beauty I possess.

I learned my past hardship and heartache shouldn’t be ignored or buried or wished away, but could be part of my personal testimony — from which to help others who struggle with sexual intimacy.

I learned that even regarding sex, God knows what He’s talking about. His design is good.

The words “THE END” haven’t been written on my story. There’s more to come. Yet I have absolute faith my story will end with the phrase: “And, with God’s help, she lived happily ever after.”

Now what’s your story? What lessons have you learned along the way?

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.]