Monthly Archives: April 2016

Husbands, Are You Being Harsh with Your Wife?

I hope you’ve been memorizing some scripture with me this year! I’ve been choosing verses that we can apply to our marriage and sexual intimacy. The past couple of scriptures have been gender-focused, and today’s is as well.

When we look at the roles of gender in marriage, often people turn to Ephesians 5:25-33. This passage is an excellent resource, and I’m particularly drawn to the way the apostle Paul compares the one-flesh experience of husband and wife to the intimacy of Christ and His church (v. 31-32). However, Paul also goes through family roles in Colossians and sums things up very well for husbands with this gem: “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them” (3:19).

Marriage Memory Verse 4-30-16

In light of some recent posts It’s True. Porn Can Kill Your Sex Life. and When Should You Stop Battling Porn?), when I saw this verse I saw an immediate link. The Greek word translated in the NIV as “harsh” is pikraino, and it appears two other time in the New Testament — in Revelation in references to bitter waters and a sour stomach (see Revelation 8:11 and 10:9-10).

I don’t know of any Christian wife who, upon finding out that her husband has been consuming a steady diet of pornography, doesn’t feel that she has been treated sourly, bitterly, harshly. I know that may seem to add only another pile of guilt to a man who already feels shame for his actions, but my statement isn’t intended that way.

Like Colossians 3:19, I’m making a plea to husbands to love their wives and do not be harsh. To aim for something better and higher and deeper and lovelier. To pursue the best for themselves and their marriage. To take whatever steps they need to take to live out the love they have for their wife.

But, by the way, it’s not just porn. Having read many stories of people’s sexual struggles by now, I know there are husbands out there who are harsh with their wives in the bedroom — in demanding sexual acts that make their beloved cringe, in putting their own sexual satisfaction far above their wives’, in insulting her physical appearance when she has been beautifully crafted by God. Thankfully, this is not the majority the men, and — if you’re here at my blog much at all — you know I feel very positive about men.

It’s true that some men are harsh because they want to be, but some have just been misled by wrong messages in our society and do not understand how their actions grieve their wives. They don’t perceive the damage they’re doing.

Which is why I pray my readers constantly turn to the Scriptures for guidance. Because it’s laid out clearly and unequivocally: “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them” (Colossians 3:19). Men, pursue that goal day in and day out. And I can tell you on the wife end of things, that when I feel my husband’s love and gentleness, I grow more and more desirous of being intimate with him — in all kinds of ways.

I pray that your wife can revel in the loving, gentle husband you are, or will become, with God’s glorious help.

Q&A with J: Why Did God Make Sex So Hard Sometimes?

Today’s reader question is a short one, with a longer answer.

I had (what I hope is) a quick question. I’ve read that for men, arousal tends to follow desire, whereas for women, desire tends to follow arousal.

Do we have any thoughts on why God created things this way, assuming it was not by accident?

Q&A with J: Why Did God Make Sex So Hard Sometimes?

My first thought is that God has quite the sense of humor. Not only do we have to get naked and get into these awkward positions to have sex, we have to figure out the one we love and all those ways they’re different from us. We plan for our sexual intimacy to look like a passionate love scene from a romance novel, and sometimes it ends up feeling more like putting together an IKEA bookshelf unit with no assembly instructions. (Not that I read the instructions anyway.)

It reminds me of this Yiddish proverb: We plan, God laughs.

We plan, God laughs.

However, God did not design us this way just to have a great big belly laugh, especially not at our expense. He is generous and wise, and I think He created such differences for a higher purpose.

That higher purpose is to make us more like Jesus. Yep, I really believe that.

It’s true that for many husbands, arousal follows desire. He wants sex; then sees, thinks about, or touches you; and bam! he’s ready to go. Yet for many wives, desire follows arousal. Which is why some wives feel they don’t have a sex drive, but if they choose to engage and become aroused . . . their libido kicks in. One way isn’t better than the other; they’re just different. Getting you both on the same page to feel arousal and desire together can be a challenge.

But if husband and wife approach sexual intimacy and satisfaction differently, then they must display traits characteristic of Jesus to get in harmony and experience the best in their marriage. The Bible says that’s how we should conduct ourselves in our relationships with each other, including marriage:

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

The passage following (Philippians 2:6-11) is quite possibly a hymn sung in the early church about Jesus’ humility and servant-mindedness as he left the throne of Heaven, became a servant on earth all the way to the cross, and was then exalted by God to the highest place — where He belongs.

And the verses before this one tell us about several Christ-like characteristics we should pursue:

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,  then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 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” (Philippians 2:1-4).

Did you see those traits? Tenderness, compassion, like-mindedness, love, unselfishness, humility, consideration of others.

I can’t assume my husband will approach sexuality the same way I do, so I have to make an effort to understand him, honor him, arouse him, and satisfy him. And he should make that effort for me. As we display that kind of tenderness, compassion, love, etc., we become less selfish and more like Christ.

Our sexual intimacy better mirrors the relationship we Christians have to our bridegroom, Jesus. We understand more about our spouse, but we also understand more about Christ and the loving, intimate relationship He wants with us.

I’m not saying that you can never pursue your own pleasure in the marriage bed. Jesus fed others, but he also ate and drank plenty, including at supper at people’s houseswedding celebrations, and a dinner in his honor. It’s okay to want the good stuff for yourself, but you must also attend to what your spouse needs.

God making us different forces that equation.

But it acts like a cycle too, where honoring one another’s different sexuality brings us more pleasure in the end anyway. Satisfying one another becomes satisfying for ourselves. I know that in the throes of ecstasy, when my husband is rockin’ my world with a capital R-O-C-K, I feel especially motivated to turn him on even more. Turning him on, turns me on. Turning me on, turns him on.

Sex often doesn’t start that way. It can be a choice one spouse makes to engage and allow their arousal to follow — often the wife, but it can be the husband who has less independent sex drive. And that higher-drive spouse — often the husband but not necessarily — needs to be patient and considerate of their beloved’s need to warm up more slowly.

Your mismatch in drives and arousal could be a big problem, but they could simply be a difference — a difference that pushes us toward being like Christ. Even in the marital bedroom.

So I don’t think God’s trying to make sex harder for us. He’s trying to make us better for one another and more like Him. Our calling is to embrace the sex drive we have or can cultivate and trust His generosity.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12).

When Should You Stop Battling Porn?

Sometimes my aha moments come when I’m in conversation with someone about godly sexuality. Recently, I was discussing with a friend men’s struggle against visual temptation, easily found these days in rampant pornography that you must intentionally avoid, and I said something like this:

Maybe we’ve talked too much about porn being a struggle. A man can think that it’s okay to struggle for the rest of his life, that it’s just part of being male to fight against porn but never really win.

When Should You Stop Battling Porn? via @HotHolyHumorousAs a writer, I’m well aware of the power of words. While I don’t like honing in on one particular word rather than taking a person’s message as a whole, sometimes our word choice can convey an erroneous message. Or rather it’s truth, but not the whole truth.

With book titles like Every Man’s Battle and my own statement in a recent post that men often struggle in this area, maybe we’ve unwittingly conveyed the message that it’s okay to simply battle the pull of porn for the rest of your life. As such, you expect some wins and some losses, some advances and some retreats, some good days and some bad days. Maybe that’s all you’re truly aiming for.

But the subtitle of Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker’s popular Every Man book is “Every Man’s Guide to Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time.” Did you see that? Winning the War!

And I’m fully convinced that, in Christ, we can have victory.

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

“For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory” (Deuteronomy 20:4).

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4).

“With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies” (Psalm 60:2).

“In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:3-5).

Of course, fighting against intense temptation is a hard road. It is a battle, but it’s a battle that can lead to true victory.

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

“They have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me” (Psalm 129:2).

Here’s the reality: I struggled in my promiscuous past and took on plenty of sexual baggage. I was an easy target for Satan and didn’t anticipate that I could ever be good enough to satisfy God. I battled, but deep down in my heart, I didn’t expect victory.

When I finally fell in humility before God and begged for His victorious hand to lift me up, that’s when the real battle began. That’s when I was no longer fighting with an ice pick but a sword. Did Satan get in some jabs? Oh yeah, he did. I still struggled, but I could see progress.

I was no longer having some wins and some losses, but more wins and fewer losses. And my wins became more frequent and my losses less frequent, until one day I realized that the things that used to be a temptation . . . simply weren’t anymore. That old life held no appeal for me.

Porn was not my issue, but it’s the issue many men and some women are dealing with today. Please struggle against it, but with God’s covering and with hope that someday you’ll stop battling porn. Because you will have won.

I’m not discounting the belief that an addict is always in recovery. I get that. You have to remember your history, as Paul often did, and make conscious decisions to guard against that temptation rising against you again. But I also believe this verse:

“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Don’t wallow in the belief that this is something that will always be a struggle, even giving yourself an “out” for bad behavior. Expect more of yourself and of God! Strap on your armor and get to fighting. Fight harder and smarter.

You don’t need to struggle alone. Invite God into your battle. Be honest with your spouse. Find mentors, counselors, confidants, and friends who will fight with you. Seek resources that will keep you on the right path and help you get back on the path if you stray. Believe in the possibility of victory.

So when should you stop battling porn? Not until, with God’s glorious help, you’ve won.

“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).

* * *

I recently learned about an online small group ministry hosted by the XXXChurch, a Christian-based porn recovery ministry. If porn is your struggle, you might check out X3Groups. They also host groups specifically for pastors and for spouses.

Does Your Husband Trust You?

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Proverbs 31, the chapter in which we read about the qualities of a “wife of noble character.” For years, I felt like a complete failure compared to this overachieving woman with her constant working, business savvy, and the getting up early / staying up late schedule she kept.

Until I realized this woman wasn’t doing all these things in a day! Moreover, she had servant girls. And for some crazy reason, when I ask my husband to get me a slew of servant girls, I just get confused stares. (Go figure.) Needless to say, I haven’t had influx of household staff to whom I could delegate certain tasks.

So basically, I don’t get everything done. Ever.

Yet I adore how Proverbs 31 lays out the deeper characteristics wives should aim for — industriousness, kindness, generosity, wisdom, mirth. That’s really what Proverbs 31 is about, and it’s a focus I wholeheartedly endorse.

I was thinking about this chapter yesterday as I walked through my living room and saw my husband’s shirts laid out to take to the dry cleaners. I don’t get everything done that I wish I could, but he trusts that laying out his shirts means I’ll take them to the dry cleaners and pick them up later. When he reaches for clean clothes, they’ll be there. When it’s time for dinner, I’ll have it ready, let him know I won’t be there, or secure food from a nearby restaurant. When our bank statements come in, I’ll reconcile them. When our kids need school supplies or new clothing, I’ll purchase them. By the way, this is not some do-my-laundry-woman! attitude from him. It’s a division of responsibilities we’ve worked out over the years and according to seasons. But he trusts that I’ll take care of these small things.

And then there are the bigger things. Like him knowing that I’m here for conversation, affection, and intimacy. Expecting that I’m on this life journey with him until the end. Supporting one another through thick and thin, better and worse, and all the challenges of a life long-lived.

It’s both the little and the big things that make him feel loved. Which is why when I came across the following verse, I wanted it to be my encouragement to wives this week. I’ll be memorizing it; maybe you will too. “Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value” (Proverbs 31:11).

Marriage Memory Verse 4-23-16

I think this verse could be a good guide for how we treat our husbands in marriage. Does your husband trust you? Do you have his full confidence? Does he lack anything of value?

Note: No, he may not have that singing bass he wants for your living room wall or the newest Apple gadget, but I doubt that’s what’s meant by “value.” Interpret accordingly.

Aim for being that wife of noble character this coming week — the one who approaches life with industriousness, kindness, generosity, wisdom, mirth. The wife a husband should and can trust, for the big things and the small.

Q&A with J: Pegging. Is It Okay?

Today’s question is an interesting one. It involves a practice you may or may not be aware of. This post is also more graphic than normal, so if it makes you highly uncomfortable, please click away and rejoin us for the Saturday post.

Here’s what the husband reader asks:

I got a question topic for you …and would like you to have a topic about it…pegging…where the wife does the husband. …I like woman’s point of view of it….maybe some husbands. …I’ll give ya time to look into study what does it do for the woman maybe letting her [dominate]. The wife giving the love, the husband receiving it.

Q&A with J: Pegging. Is It Okay?

In case you don’t know, pegging involves a woman using a dildo or strap-on penis and providing the man anal sex. What do I think about it?

No.

I could end there, but maybe you’d like some biblical and practical backup for my answer. Let me start with some questions for the reader and others considering this controversial practice.

Why would you want to do this?

Sometimes I think it would be cool to switch bodies just once with my husband, so that each of us could experience what the other feels during sex. But that’s just a curiosity! Genesis 5:2 says, “He created them male and female and blessed them.” We were made different with each gender being blessed in its own way.

Pegging feels like an attempt to switch gender places, with her being the penetrator and him being the receptor. But that’s not how we’re made. I celebrate that I am female and that my experience of sexual intimacy involves my husband penetrating my body, not the other way around. And he appreciates his own male-blessed role in our marriage bed.

If you’re longing for something different from that, maybe you need to rethink how you feel about the body God gave you and its special abilities and blessings.

Why does anal sex appeal to you?

While I am opposed to anal sex for various reasons, I at least understand why the man would want to penetrate the smaller opening that an anus provides. (There are plenty of other ways, however, to achieve additional friction and pressure.) Yet when a man desires being penetrated that way, we have historically viewed that as a homosexual practice.

Romans 1:27 says, “In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” Those “shameful acts” certainly had to include anal sex with one another. Having that same kind of sex with a man-shaped object (dildo or strap-on) appears to be a substitute, even if your wife is the one doing it. And the Bible clearly is opposed.

What about prostate pleasure?

One argument for anal play for men is that having their prostate massaged increases the occurrence and intensity of orgasm. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland between the penis and rectum that’s involved in the production of semen; it secretes a fluid that nourishes and protects the sperm which then flows through the urethra in ejaculation. It’s not surprising, therefore, that stimulation of this organ is often believed to bring about stronger ejaculations.

Given the proximity of the prostate and the rectum, some believe that’s the best route to reach that spot. However, there are other ways to reach that spot that don’t involve the rectum. I think we too often neglect the area between the testicles and the anus. That’s a great place to massage and stroke, thus providing more stimulation to the area that contains the prostate gland. I’ve actually written about this area in Making the Most of His Manhood. You can’t directly touch the prostate, so it’s all indirect stimulation. But the penis extends past the scrotum, and that oft-bypassed area deserves a bit of attention.

Also, sexual positions can provide indirect stimulation of our interior arousal spots. To discover what works for you, try various positions and see what feels good. I suspect you’ll find that some positions provide more intense climaxes than others. This is likely true for both you and your wife, so be willing to use positions that give her the orgasm she enjoys as well.

What about letting her be dominant?

This is one of the arguments the reader gives for pegging — that it’s an opportunity for the woman to dominate in the marriage bed. There can certainly be times while making love that the husband or wife takes charge and directs the activity more than the other. The wife taking charge could be a major turn-on for the husband, or it could facilitate her reaching orgasm more easily, or it could simply be a way to switch things up.

But for the life of me, I can’t imagine how strapping on a dildo and pegging would feel dominant. If anything, it would make me feel like a tool for what my guy wants and that he wants something I don’t have. It doesn’t play into a woman’s natural strengths.

Regardless, that feeling of her in charge can be reached in many other ways — through sexual positions, communication, sexual play (like a blindfold for him?), and more. If you want your wife to take charge, let her take charge. And I bet almost every woman wouldn’t have pegging on their I-want-that list.

Sexuality is in flux in our society. On one hand, there’s more information available now than ever, including in churches. The acceptance of sexuality and our libidos is an improvement on some messages from our history that treated sex like a filthy activity or merely a man’s need. On the other hand, a lot of sex in our culture has been divorced from marriage and even relationship.

When sex becomes about physical pleasure, and especially self-pleasure, people often focus on more and more intense activities to increase physical sensations. “Spicing it up” is no longer defined as introducing greater arousal and fun into your bedroom, but rather kinkier and riskier sexual behaviors. It becomes about pushing the envelope with fringe activities. Pegging falls in that category.

If you want satisfying sexual intimacy, turn your attention and your heart toward the intimacy between husband and wife. Be spicy and exciting, but be loving and respectful too. You have so much freedom in the marriage bed, so explore all those activities that can truly make sex in your marriage something to treasure.