Hot, Holy & Humorous

Two Important Aspects of Sexual Intimacy

I cite Song of Songs a lot on this blog. Because it’s the one book in the Bible devoted entirely to the romantic and sexual love between a husband and wife. It’s chock-full of fascinating passages that demonstrate God’s blessings for sexual intimacy in marriage. It also provide excellent examples of how husbands and wives should treat each other when it comes to sex.

Having read this book many times over now, I’ve come to have a few favorite verses. Easily in my top three is this statement from Song of Songs 7:10: I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me.”

Marriage Memory Verse 6-25-16As I was pondering this simple verse today, wondering why I loved it so much, I homed in on two words that capture important aspects of sexual intimacy with my husband: belong and desire.

Merriam-Webster’s simply definition of belong is “used to say that someone or something should be in a particular place or situation.” When I’m in my husband’s arms in our marriage bed, I know that’s the particular place and situation where I should be — with him specifically, fitting together just so, sharing our pleasure.

Yes, of course I feel that sense of belonging at other times in our marriage, but this whole-body experience of making love involves a deep sense of belonging. There’s exclusivity, vulnerability, and intimacy in those moments. They bring to mind the sentiment that you are mine and I am yours.

Then there’s the concept of desire. Merriam-Webster’s first two simple definitions of desire are: “to want or wish for (something) : to feel desire for (something)” and “to want to have sex with (someone).” I believe that desire in a healthy marriage bed involves both wanting something and wanting to have sex with someone.

The thing we want is affection, connection, and devotion with our beloved. I want to know my husband at a deeper level than anyone else in the world does or can. And yes, I want to have sex. Because it feels good, because I have a natural drive for that release, and because it’s a bonding experience. I’m 99.9% certain my husband feels all of that about me.

Do you feel these two important aspects in your marriage too? Belonging and desire.

If you don’t, maybe it’s time to nurture those feelings, to invest in sexual intimacy as a priority, to express to your husband what would make you feel desired and connected. And maybe you can start by committing Song of Songs 7:10 to memory. Even recite it as a prayer.



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39 thoughts on “Two Important Aspects of Sexual Intimacy”

  1. Wow, J, this is thought provoking. When I first read the verse you posted
    “I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me.” From Song of Songs, I thought – what a blessed woman. I could never quote that verse because my husband doesn’t feel that way about me. Although he claims to, we both know he doesn’t, based upon his actions or lack thereof. He just doesn’t desire me the way most married men desire their wives. He has never desired me even 1/10th of the way I desire him.
    Then I read the prayer you posted at the end. I thought, “well, praying that prayer would be like begging God to create in my husband feelings he does not feel.” Wouldn’t that kind of be like trying to force him to love me? I want him to love me because he loves me, not because he was forced into it. This whole situation is just way too confusing (and I’ve been married for 20 years!) Yea, I’m close to 40, but as I said, I didn’t realize how backwards we were – or how unattracted he was – or how backwards our marriage was – until I started reading about marriage a few years ago. 🙁
    But I’ve been thinking on the prayer you posted, and you know what? Maybe I’ll give it a try. After all, God knows best, and I am confident He will only answer in the way He sees as best. What do I have to lose?

  2. I envy that so much. I wish I could see sex that way. I have only known abuse and as a result, letting men use me because thats how I thought it works. I feel that sense of belonging when I lie in my husbands arms but I would never feel that with sex (we cant even have sex because I cant handle it, it makes me feel sick to my stomach and frightended to death). The only belonging that I associate with sex is a man thinking “you belong to my and I can do with you whatever I want”. Sex has never felt safe. It has always felt like someone has taken a piece of me and smashed it against the wall. And I cant just flip a switch with my husband. I wish I could. I have begged God for years to make me want sex. I have cried so many tears. I have started therapy and I just dont know what to do anymore. The pressure that I *must* have sex because I am married has been crushing me for years. The more I want to want it, the worse I feel. I feel like the worst wife ever. I feel like a failure. I think about it all the time and I just dont know what to do anymore. I am sick and tired of it. I just wish that sex didnt exist. It has ruined everything.

    1. Of course you can’t flip a switch! Yes, you need therapy, a support group, something to pull you through. I am so, so saddened that such abuse happened to you. You never should have been treated that way, because you — and your God-given body — are worth far more.

      I do not say to wives that they must ignore their brokenheartedness and simply have sex no matter what; rather, they should seek healing so that one day they can feel all the blessings God wants them to have. May God heal you completely. Praying.

  3. I think I find the fact that my husband is tempted visually to lust after other women (although he doesn’t) taints the whole ‘desire’ thing in sex in marriage for me. I know all the info about men being visual. But I still just can’t connect that my husband would feel desire for some random stranger just because she has hardly anything on. Are men so shallow that that’s all they think about?! I just can’t get my head around it and for me personally, it has hurt me so much the whole ‘men lust or are tempted to’ that it has tainted the exclusivity that should be ours in marriage.

    1. Amy,

      If it is at all helpful, there is a huge difference between noticing a beautiful woman and lusting after her (i.e., wanting to have sex with her). I just spent the last week on the beach and saw many beautiful women in bikinis. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the sight. But I am not lying when I say I never once thought about having sex with any of them. While the sight may have stirred my hormones, it was stirring desire *for my wife* not the other women. I know it sounds strange, but the sight of a sexily clad woman makes me want to make love to my wife. There is much, much, more to the male sex drive than the appearance of a woman.

      1. E2 none of that makes sense. I saw a ripped attractive man and it I loved what I saw, but hey I’m not lusting, I’m just enjoying the view. I mean I can look at dudes all I want as long as I don’t want them to have sex with me. And then after I’ve completely ignored my husband and spent those moments admiring somebody who wasn’t mine, I wanted my husband. Do you see how selfish and pathetic that sounds?

        1. Actually, it makes some sense to me. I don’t think think you can look at the opposite sex as long as you want (bad idea), but rather you can certainly notice an attractive person and not want to have sex with them. Here’s an analogy that works for me: Let’s say I’m shopping with my friend and she points out a gorgeous dress-and-accessories combo in a store window. I might stop and appreciate how lovely the outfit is, while still having no interest in buying it…because it’s just not for me. I might appreciate its attractiveness, but it’s not something I want. In fact, if anything I might think about how I really like what I’m currently wearing so much more — how comfortable it feels, how it fits me just so, how it makes me feel confident. Now of course you wouldn’t believe me if I stood outside the window for too long, drooled on myself, and kept mentioning how great that outfit looked, but if I simply looked and moved on, that’s not such a stretch. Likewise, I strongly advise husbands to back up their words with actions like looking away, not talking about other women, and “drinking water from their own cistern” (translation: make your wife feel like the only woman you’ll ever want; see Proverbs 5:15). But if he notices pretty out there? I don’t think that means much at all about his love for his wife.

          1. J,

            It’s refreshing to read the perspective of a woman who correctly believes that a man can look at a scantily-clad woman (or nude , for that matter) and not feel lust. There are several things going on here:
            1. Looking at a live nude woman is not the same (for a man or a woman) as looking at a photo or painting. A woman has a soul, and a normal man (granted than many men aren’t normal) will wish to protect her. She is vulnerable when naked. If he’s her physician, he’ll treat her, and decently move on. If he’s her father he’ll gently suggest that she should get some clothes on. And so on.
            2. A photo has no soul. In the Bible sense it is a “graven image,” and it easily becomes an idol. As such, this is a deadly combination of a man and his god. He thinks he’s manipulating the image by getting pleasure, but in reality, the god (image) is manipulating him until he becomes addicted and obsessed. This obsession is demonic–the demon is the soul of the photo.
            So, yes, a man who sees a live woman on the beach, in a bikini, topless or even nude, will wish to look. Especially so if she’s young and pretty. His wife will look, too, often to size up what she imagines as competition. Or the wife may simply be enjoying the girl’s beauty and may even mention this to hubs. But a man of moral principles will look away, and he probably won’t even think about her after the sight has passed. If he has reason to converse with her he will look her in the eye. I’m sometimes put in the uncomfortable position of dealing with a busty cashier in a big-box store, who shows a lot of cleavage. If she’s young, she probably doesn’t know any better; older, she may not care that men like to stare. I don’t. I look the gal in the eyes, take my change, and move on. No big deal.
            So wives, get over thinking that every woman out there is competing with you for hubs’ attention. Probably he’s as blase inside as he appears on the outside.

        2. Sally Q,

          Yes, when you restate my words to say things I never intended, felt, or said, it sounds selfish and pathetic. All I said was that I was at the beach and saw beautiful women wearing bikinis. I enjoyed the sight. I didn’t look at them all I want, nor did I ignore my wife.

          1. This is a little more strongly worded than I sometimes approve, but I felt you were defending yourself, e2. I also don’t like when people intimate something about me that simply isn’t true. It’s good to clarify and set the record straight.


          2. You should have seen my first draft. 😉

            I guess being called “selfish and pathetic” got the better of me. Sorry.

      2. IntimacySeeker

        ” the sight of a sexily clad woman makes me want to make love to my wife.” FWIW, Amy, my husband says this very thing as well.

        1. My understanding of the process is that the sight of a women can cause arousal (involuntary, physiological response to visual stimuli). Once aroused, my husband’s thoughts immediately turn to me.

    2. Hi Amy,

      I read your comments and wanted to share, as a man, that it breaks my heart that our (meaning men) sin can affect our wives so deeply. I also find it a sad statement that we (as men) do not see our sin as God sees it.

      For years I was at a place where I would “justify” what I was doing in my head to make it seem “OK”, or not that bad. At the end of February, a few things came together at the same time and left me broken enough that I was finally at a point to get serious about my life and relationship with Jesus Christ. My wife and I started seeing a christian counselor specializing in sexual addiction issues who helped me start to see the truth of my sin. He recommended I begin attending a Celebrate Recovery group for sexual integrity to work with other men who are also trying to get their lives right with God and see the sexual immorality in their lives more closely to how God sees it. Shortly after this a bible study I have been a part of started reading “Inside Out” by Larry Crabb.

      The combination of these three events has brought me to a point where I see different things I have been doing as ways to cope with inner hurts. Specifically, I don’t see myself as God sees me, and I try to cope with that by distracting myself with things I can control around me rather than feel the emotional hurt of my distance from God. Now when I notice some of my “coping” mechanisms, I stop and try to figure out what am I unconsciously trying not to feel.

      This may not help in your situation, but ultimately I think it comes down to individuals taking responsibility for themselves and their relationship with God. We cannot control what others think or do, and if we attempt to make changes for the wrong reasons (people pleasing) the changes will not be real or lasting. However, see if you can figure out how to seek after God in your own life, accept his love and his view of you, and out of that live according to his will for you as found in the bible, without placing demands or expectations on your husband. Then, just maybe, your husband will see the change in your life and will look to deepen his relationship with God (or maybe accept God as Lord and Savior if he hasn’t already). But maybe not. You can only make this decision for you.

      Once again, I’m sorry you are hurting. I’ll add you and your husband to my prayers.

      In God’s love,

  4. Okay, e2 says that for a week at the beach, he “enjoyed” the sight of beautiful women in bikinis. He implies that this is all healthy and normal behavior, because he doesn’t want to have sex with those women. J, are you really saying that you agree that a married man “enjoying” the sight of half dressed women who aren’t his wife is just fine, as long as he isn’t wanting to have sex with them? Something just seems really off to me about that, and I’m very interested to hear your thoughts. I don’t know any women who want to simply be a seman receptical for a man who got aroused by looking at other women. Yuck! How is that different than a man who enjoys looking at a Victoria’s Secret catalog? Or enjoys watching sex scenes in movies? Are those things okay too, as long as the man then wants to have sex with his wife?

    1. Great question. But ach, the nuances! There’s a lot of ways to interpret “enjoyed” in this context, and I think it’s a poor idea for me to say what someone else meant. Rather, here’s what I think:

      1. It’s not sin to notice someone of the opposite sex and recognize that they are attractive.
      2. It’s quite possible to appreciate someone’s appearance and not have any interest in getting romantically involved.
      3. It’s at least unwise when we continue to look or think about their appearance.
      4. It’s sin when we’re looking to selfishly satisfy our eye or our imagination.
      5. Spouses have every right to expect that their mates will not gaze upon others or entertain sexual thoughts about them.
      6. Spouses are not living in the real world if they expect their husband or wife will never notice someone attractive of the opposite sex.

      More personally, do I see men out there I believe are very good-looking? Why yes. Yes, I do. Do I appreciate the view in the sense that the male body is a rather fascinating and attractive thing to me? Also yes. Do I seek out these images, continue to look, make lewd comments, imagine anything about them, or feel arousal in their presence? A RESOUNDING NO.

      And no, spouses should not seek out other material to arouse them and then unleash those feelings on their spouse — whether it’s eye candy at the beach, pornography, or romance novels. (Although obviously, I think porn is the worst of those offenders, but that’s not the subject today.) At the same time, I know that I once initiated sex with my husband after I finished reading a (not too sexy) romance novel, and my husband asked me about it — wondering if I’d gotten worked up over what was in the pages and then acted out with him. I explained that wasn’t it at all! In fact, the story got me thinking about how shallow some of that love seemed in comparison to what we had, and how I thought we were the great love story, and all that thinking about us got me interested in expressing my feelings to him. So sometimes it may not be what one spouse thinks. I’m glad he asked.

      I’ll end with this: ” ‘Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?’ declares the Lord. ‘Do not I fill heaven and earth?’
      declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:24) and ““I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve” (Jeremiah 17:10). God knows our hearts and will judge. Each must stand before God with his/her own conscience intact.

    2. MomtoMany and Sally Q, I was waiting to respond to your posts. I wholeheartedly agree with what you are both saying and I think you both explained it very well. Phew….not all people think like e2! You both think like me.

      J I appreciate your thoughts too though don’t 100% agree with some things you are saying. This is a sensitive issue I think. Amongst other things, I think people ought to be very careful when they say porn is the worst. Live women in the bikinis at the beach (a lot of bikinis cover very little) is as bad as porn in my opinion. It’s just live porn right in front of people’s eyes.

      1. I certainly agree that it’s a sensitive issue. By the way, I’m saying porn is the worst because I’ve read up on the porn industry, and it absolutely demolishes lives.

        1. Yes, you are very right. I think most people who are followers of Jesus Christ understand that porn demolishes lives. Even those who don’t follow Christ are becoming more aware of this fact. However, as stated in the bible re if a man looks at a woman with lust in his eye he has committed adultery with her in his heart, we are led to believe that God’s instructions on this issue are clear. And obviously he is not talking about women on computers in biblical days!

          Real women or naked women scantily dressed is all the same issue and causes the same destruction. I think we need to be very careful not to label porn as bad and the other forms of lust ‘not so bad’. They are all the same and cause the same pain and hurt. Sometimes maybe a live woman at the beach or wherever can cause even more pain. She’s real, she exists, she’s just in front of the husband’s vision. I don’t personally see any difference between that and a computer screen.

          Once again, people should be very careful about saying porn is the worst. All lust causes the same destruction and can lead to other things.

    3. Oh, how words can be misunderstood. I said I was at the beach for a week and saw women in bikinis. Somehow that has been (mis)understood as me deliberately girlwatching for a week. Nothing could be further from the truth.

      Since I used the word “enjoy” let me explain what I meant. To me “enjoy” can have both an active and a passive sense. If I say, “I am going to go home and enjoy a nice pot of coffee,” that is active. I am deliberately pursuing a specific pleasure and lingering on it. But, if I visit you in your home and you give me a cup of coffee (unrequested) and I enjoy it, that is a passive enjoyment. Yes, I enjoy it, but I’m not doing anything to pursue it or dwell on it.

      It was in this second sense that I said I enjoyed the sight of beautiful women at the beach.

      The beach vacation was my wife’s idea. I don’t like the beach. When we went, I would have been very happy to sit in our hotel room with a good book. But, my wife likes to sit on the beach or by the pool and she wants my company. So, I joined her. While I tried to read my book, I saw many people. I saw women in bikinis, men in swim trunks, dogs chasing frisbees, and helicopters giving tourists rides. What really turned my head was a cool ultralight airplane that I saw several times.

      I made no attempt to see women in bikinis, but when I did see them, I appreciated their beauty, just as I would enjoy your coffee. I did not ignore my wife, whom I love dearly. I did not girlwatch for a week.

      They were just there and, being there, I saw them. And, there were many of them. I couldn’t turn away to avoid the sight because they were all around me. Even the lifeguard wore a bikini, which surprised me as I thought they had some sort of one-piece dress code.

      Sorry for any misunderstanding I may have created with my word “enjoy.”

  5. Confession time here. I know for a fact that the night my first child was conceived I had gotten a bit worked up watching “The Thornbirds” and subsequently seduced my husband. Was I wishing to be with another man? No. I was longing for the passion that the actors portrayed in that scene. And I was longing for that passion WITH my husband. Was I wrong? Perhaps.

    1. My wife did the same thing to me after we watched the seductive dance scene in Bye Bye Birdie. Didn’t bother me a bit.

  6. J, thank you so much for your response! What’s interesting is that Dh and I had a long discussion about this last night, and he said the exact same things you did. (He’s very wise ?) I can totally see where you’re both coming from. You’re both very hesitant to assign wrong motives to someone by just reading a simple post, and I really appreciate that. But to me, for a man to say he enjoyed the sight of beautiful women in bikinis is pretty clear cut. My husband would never say something like that, and says it wouldn’t even cross his mind to think it.
    I know I’ve actually posted on your blog about this topic before and Dh and I have had multiple conversations about it. My concern is this message that we hear more and more everywhere about men being visual, and how so many Christian men seem to have taken hold of that and run with it, using “God made me this way” to excuse their inappropriate behavior. And wives are essentially being told that if they don’t understand and accept this about their husband, they are rejecting how God made them. And “hey, everything is good if he’s not fantasizing about sex with them.” I really feel this is a distorted view of how God created men, and it really disgusts me to see how prevalent this thinking has become among Christian men.
    Anyway, that’s probably why I’m extra sensitive to this topic. ? Why does there seem to be more time spent in telling wives that men are visual than there is in explaining to men that that isn’t an excuse to gaze wherever their eyes are drawn? So often the message seems to just stop short.

    1. I don’t think I’ve said those things. Certainly not that a woman should just accept her husband’s wandering eye or that he gets an “out” for behaving badly. If he’s visual, he’s got something to look at: it’s called his wife!

    2. MomtoMany, bless you!!!! I couldn’t have put it better myself. I LOVE what you have said. It is so so true that we are all being taught as wives to just accept this ‘men are visual’ thing. It’s an excuse and a cop out. Well done for writing such an excellent post and thanks to J for posting it. J, I also LOVE how you said ‘If he’s visual, he’s got something to look at. It’s called his WIFE!’ That is perfect! I think all Christian men need a T-Shirt with that printed on! 🙂
      Thanks for your wisdom and I hope many continue to be blessed by your posts.

      1. They say fools rush in and, if this thread proves anything, it is that I am a fool, but here goes.

        The phrase “men are visual” causes much angst for both men and women. I think part of the reason is that we don’t all understand it to mean the same thing. The phrase really says very little, or worse yet, it says so many different things as to be capable of too many meanings.

        In one sense, of course men are visual. So are women. All humans appreciate and enjoy seeing beauty, whether that beauty takes the form of a sunset, a blooming rose, a hawk in flight, or the God-designed human form. For centuries, artists have made an industry out of portraying the human form in paint and marble. It is so ubiquitous that a good friend of mine, who majored in art at a Christian college, was required to paint a female nude torso. The Venus de Milo is beautiful, as is Michaelangelo’s David and I don’t think it sinful for anyone, man or woman, to recognize the fact. In this sense of human art, completely devoid of sexual connotation. I enjoy both feminine and masculine beauty. I even appreciate George Cloony’s good looks.

        Of course, the phrase “men are visual” goes far beyond that. As IntimacySeeker has noted, we men sometimes have an involuntary hormonal response to what we see. We can become sexually stimulated. (Studies I have seen indicate that women are probably more visual in this sense than many of you wish to admit, but for this post, I will stick to the stereotype that men tend to be more easily aroused by what we see).

        Now, each man is different in what arouses him visually and it is up to each of us to know ourselves and take appropriate defensive actions. As I age, I find that visions that once aroused me no longer do. For example, it takes more than a woman in a bikini to cause my hormones to flow. For me now, I am stimulated by the sight of a woman portrayed as enjoying some form of sexual activity.

        And on this point, Amy, I fully agree with you that more is porn than is called porn. We typically define porn in terms of naked bodies, etc. But, I have learned that, for me, nudity is not at all required for sexual arousal. I shared once before about a TV show my wife enjoyed watching on one of the “family” channels, which included several weekly scenes of passionate kissing. It aroused me (perhaps in part because passionate kissing is rare in my marriage). I told my wife I couldn’t watch the show with her as the make out scenes bothered me too much. She respected my choice. My wife also likes watching Dancing with the Stars. I don’t like the show, (and avoid it as much as I can) precisely because I view it as an attempt at legitimizing porn by putting it on a broadcast network. The dances are typically sexually suggestive complemented with overly revealing clothing. The judges’ comments betray the sexualized nature of the show.

        So, yes, avoiding sexually stimulating imagery is an ongoing battle for us guys, especially when it is becoming more and more mainstream. That said, I stand by my earlier comment that, even when I am aroused by a sexual image, I am never aroused to desire the woman in the image; my arousal is *always* directed toward my wife. I don’t say that to excuse seeing sexual imagery. I do try to avoid it, even turning my head in the mall as we pass Victoria’s Secret.

  7. Oh my no I’ve never heard you say that!! But I have read what sounded like that in other places, which I think is why I keep asking you to clarify your position on this. ? Your numbered list in that previous post was very clear and I appreciated it very much! My last paragraph in my previous post was just a general question as to why it seems to be happening so much lately. I’m so sorry I gave the impression I had heard you teach that! I appreciate you taking the time to make your position very clear.

    1. Okay, great! Thank you. I wasn’t offended. Like you, I think it’s good to clarify! 😀

  8. IntimacySeeker

    Yesterday, I watched Pastor Mark Gungor’s sessions “The Key to Incredible Sex.” In the second session, he itemized the wife’s needs in descending order of importance. 5-Romance, 4-Foreplay, 3-Privacy, 2-Time, 1-Fidelity. When I struggled with my husband’s visual nature as some of the comments here articulate, I felt that privacy and fidelity had been compromised. I felt that I was not the only woman with whom pictured himself having sex, and that was a breach of fidelity. I also felt that he brought all the women in his mind into our bedroom, and that was a breach of our privacy. Hence, I relate to the raw feelings expressed by others here.

    Now my husband was a frequent ogler and emphatic commenter and did not understand this was wrong or hurtful. And I was one hot mess when I learned about this visual temptation business. I was stuck in the “I’d rather be alone than inadequate” phase for many months.

    Happy to report it’s no longer an issue for us as a couple. He learned that the behavior was unacceptable to me and to God and he changed his ways. I have a great guy who adores me, respects me, rejoices in my achievements, and so on. I am the center of his universe and no multitude of women in bikinis at the beach can undo that.

    I think the big issue is for our society and world on the whole. Media and our culture teach girls, boys, women and men to view girls and women as objects. So while a guy may notice and naturally be tempted to lust when he sees a woman in a bikini, this is exacerbated because he’s been taught that it’s manly to do so and even expected of him. And a woman many notice a guy looking longingly at another woman and feel left out, in essence, longing to be the one who is objectified. Very sad. BTW, there are some excellent TED talks on this subject.

    1. I think what you say here is key:

      “While a guy may notice and naturally be tempted to lust…” I want wives to understand that expecting him to never notice a beautiful woman out there is unrealistic. Simply realize that this is a temptation, and you can be his help and advocate. In turn, husbands need to absolutely take ownership of their actions. I’m so glad your husband learned how damaging his ogling and commenting were, and then prioritized his relationship to you. Blessings!

  9. E2, I agree with so much of what you’ve said in your latest post, and it sounds a lot like what my dear husband has been trying to help me to understand about men in general as well. I think you’ve cleared up a lot of where you were coming from and questions I still had about your use of the word “enjoy” in your previous posts. I was concerned that you were saying if you weren’t pursuing it, then it’s okay to enjoy it if it crosses into your view. I guess you don’t actually think that if you turn your head at Victoria’s Secret? ? Thanks for clarifying.

  10. I didn’t mean to imply that all nude art, per se, is idol worship. Only that it may lead to that. Certainly the human figure, male or female is a valid study in art. A holy imagination knows the difference.

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