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The Beatitudes in the Bedroom: Persecuted

On Saturdays, we’ve been looking into how the Beatitudes impact our marriage and our marriage beds. Once again, from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:3-10

We’ve been through Poor in SpiritThose Who Mourn, The Meek, Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness, The Merciful, Pure in Heart, Peacemakers. And now we’ve reached the final one: persecuted because of righteousness.The Beatitudes in the Bedroom: Persecuted Bible verse

Some of you definitely feel persecuted when it comes to sexual intimacy in your marriage. I can already hear those of you who say your spouse has persecuted you for your perspective when it comes to sex.

I feel for you, but that’s not what this verse is talking about. Let’s break it down.

In the New Testament Greek, the phrase “persecuted because of righteousness” comes from three words: Dioko Heneka Dikaiosune.

Dioko. The New Testament Greek word Dioko is one of three words used to mean persecute. This particular word carries with it the notion of pursuing someone in a hostile manner. It’s not just mistreatment, but persistent pursuit to harass or oppress.

Where I live, in a well-churched suburb of Houston, I don’t think we have a good sense of what it’s like to be really persecuted. We certainly haven’t ever had to make a choice between confessing our faith and having our freedom or our lives. For that, I’m grateful — and I pray for those Christians in our world who live in places where they are outright persecuted.

But most Christians know what it’s like to be mocked by someone for their faith. That’s a low form of persecution, but it is harassment or even hostility. And yes, we can be mocked for our position on sexual intimacy in marriage. But, before I go into more detail, let’s get to the next Greek word.

Heneka. This is the word translated as because ofbut it’s also translated in other verses simply as “for” (see Matthew 10:39, 19:5). So why am I focusing on an itty-bitty preposition?

Because we might read, “Blessed are those who are persecuted,” and immediately start listing all the ways we feel put upon and harassed and mistreated. But God isn’t saying you’re blessed just because you’re having a bad day, a bad week, or even a bad decade. There are other verses that give you comfort and answers for that.

This verse says you’re blessed if it’s because of something. The reason why you feel like things are going badly matters. Some of us are experiencing bad stuff in our marriage because, truth be told, we aren’t fully seeking the next part of this verse.

Dikaiosune. I love this definition of the word used for righteousness, from Bible Study Tools: “integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking, feeling, and acting.” When I consider applying those principles to my marriage bed, a beautiful image emerges. What if we all treated our sexual intimacy with integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, and correctness of thinking, feeling, and acting? What if we all aligned our desires with God’s design for sex in marriage?

Our marriage beds can be places of righteousness. Not simply in those black-and-white ways of having sex in marriage but not outside of marriage (which is definitely important), but with each choice we make in how we treat our spouse, what attitude toward sex we adopt, whether we pursue God’s plan for deeper love and intimacy through physical closeness, and how we express Christ-like love as we make love.

So bringing this all together…

What could it possibly mean to be persecuted because of righteousness — when it comes to the marriage bed?

I don’t think this is about feeling mistreated by your own spouse. Rather, I know spouses and couples who have tried to seek righteousness in this area of their marriage … and things got harder. It’s tough to admit that, because I’m always saying stuff like, “Work on your marriage bed! Things can get better!” Which is true, but that doesn’t mean that Satan, and other people, will be cheering you on as you seek righteousness.

See if you recognize any of these forms of harassment or hostility:

  • Your friends mock your desire for more and more intimate sex, saying that husbands should be glad they get any.
  • Your single friends suggest that marriage is where sex goes to die and mock your commitment to monogamy.
  • Others suggest skipping all the work needed to improve your sexual intimacy and taking care of your own self with sex toys or pornography.
  • You start to see improvement in your sex life, and other stressors begin to interfere: job stress, family problems, illness. As if Satan himself is attacking your desire to seek righteousness.
  • You try to speak up about godly sex in church or among friends, but get shut down for speaking about “private things” in public.
  • You iterate your commitment to avoiding lust of others — whether pornography, erotica, or simply TV/movie choices — and get ridiculed for being a prude.

You could probably add to list, and none of these is insurmountable. I certainly don’t know anyone whose stance on godly sex in marriage has resulted in a threat that they’ll be burned at the stake or hung in the public square.

But I have seen couples who have made real progress in the bedroom, and instead of having others celebrate their steps toward righteousness — life seems to attack them from various directions. I can tell you that every marriage blogger I’ve talked to about this says they’ve felt spiritually attacked in their marriage at one point or another.

So maybe there is some persecution because of righteousness in the marriage bed. But whatever. “…theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” I think I’ll take that trade.

Pursuing righteousness in your marriage bed has its own rewards between you and your spouse, but ultimately we do the right thing for the sake of God and His kingdom. We are His children, and our lives — all the way down to our sexuality — should reflect the Father.

Have you felt any persecution, or harassment, because of your stance or pursuit of godly sexuality? Has your marriage felt attacked in some way since you began working toward better sexual intimacy?

9 thoughts on “The Beatitudes in the Bedroom: Persecuted”

  1. On persecution, this is a good one to look to.

    As for righteousness, I like something I heard once. Satan will do everything he can to make sure you have sex before you get married and as much as he can to make sure you don’t have it after you get married. A great sex life in marriage is a threat to the enemy. I look forward to the day when even non-Christians recognize that Christians in marriage treating it as sacred have the best sex lives.

  2. Hi J,

    I’m pleased to tell you my husband and I are FINALLY beginning to work things out. It’s been a loooong road, and I am equally to blame. I’ve had a very negative and selfish attitude. I’m so thankful to God that I’ve begun to understand this, and that we have been given the chance to grow closer.

    Now that I’m in a much better frame of mind, I’d like to go back and reread all of your Beatitude posts.

    One thing about this particular post that jumped out at me was:
    “You start to see improvement in your sex life, and other stressors begin to interfere: job stress, family problems, illness. As if Satan himself is attacking your desire to seek righteousness.”

    This is where we seem to be right now. His job and extended family stress has always been a huge issue in our sex life, which as you know I took what I saw as rejection, very personally. But now that we are on the same page, and getting much closer (in every way :o) – at times it seems like the stress is relentless.

    Thankfully, now we are trying to fight together, on the same team, instead of against each other. I try to understand when he is stressed out, support him and give him space to decompress. I’m beginning to have a (hopefully minor) health issue that is causing me concern, and at the same time driving me back to relying on the Lord (as I should have been all along). Thankfully my husband is being way more supportive than he’s ever been, as opposed to his old way of saying “you’ll be fine just stop thinking about it.”

    But yes, as we try to get closer, it seems like all kinds of things get in the way, but I guess that’s life. I’m so thankful though, that now we BOTH want to work through these things, TOGETHER. I’m finally starting to believe my husband might actually love me, and that seems to please him.

    Thank you for all of your support! ~ B

    1. This is the best news I’ve had all week! I’m so glad you two are starting to work together. It has sounded to me, for a long time, like your husband loves you, but knowing how to fix things was a hard task for both of you. May God give you strength, comfort, and many blessings for your marriage.

    2. That’s wonderful news, B!! Keep believing in your husband. Praying for continued progress in your relationship.

  3. Once on a Christian Facebook group a young woman asked if it was ok to get married and never have sex with her husband. I expressed what I believe to be Biblical truth, that although sex is not the be all and end all, you cannot separate sex from marriage. What is the point of getting married if you don’t want to be one flesh with your spouse emotionally, physically etc.? I thought that was an obvious truth, but several Christians suggested I was “sexed up” and didn’t know what I was talking about (I qualified that I was at the time still a newly wed). I know this is not true persecution, but I sure felt attacked! I was so shocked to discover that people did not see sex and marriage as inseparable, and gave this girl the terrible advice that she should do what felt right to her and her fiance instead of working through the issues. When the girl explained more of her situation, it became apparent that there were several issues, not the least that they were already living together, had tried sex and she thought it was gross, while he thought it was evil (even in marriage). I sure hope and pray that somebody she trusts in real life can help her work it out, rather than her listening to strangers online telling her to do what makes her feel good.

    1. Wow. Heartbreaking. And I’m glad you spoke up. We never know what seeds we plant, even if someone doesn’t take that advice at that time.

      Also, I’ve learned that others might take away a good message from something I say, but never speak up at the time. You might have positively influenced someone else who read your response. Blessings!

    2. “Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

      Bek’s report of being skewered on Facebook for stating that sex and marriage are inseparable is a true, tragic reality. At what point bad attitude morphs into persecution of others–and I think even spouses can persecute–isn’t easy to pin down. But Bek has exposed some persecution from the ungodly (and even from some professing Christians) that comes from jealous hearts who wish to see others as miserable as they are–in sin, or because of sin earlier in life. Sexual sin leads to shame, and shame persists in wanting to share the misery. Always.

      In SONG OF SONGS, Christian author Iain Duguid writes, “That shame [may] come from . . . desire [for sex] toward people that it ought not be toward . . . habitually viewing pornography, or deliberately using our bodies to attract the [lusting] eyes of others . . . or because of the past sins of others against them.” People who practice sexual sin, or have had sexual sin practiced on them, become better, angry and ridden with guilt. So they pass their angst on to young marrieds in the form of hateful persecution. Like Bek, I’ve seen it happen.

      Jesus said, “When they persecute you in this city, flee to another” (Matt. 10:23). How well I remember, as a young schoolteacher in Indiana, being invited by an older male teacher to a weekend in Chicago to “sin a little,” the one inviting me said. I didn’t go. I had already found that “another (city).”

      The kingdom of heaven of which Jesus spoke is God’s people on earth under the rule of heaven–His redeemed. We have fled to His refuge, and enjoy His blessings there. Monk Martin Luther was persecuted when he married nun Katherine von Bora, and they enjoyed their times in bed, Luther wrote. None of us has experienced Luther’s level of persecution, but in marriage, the Christian is called to experience, as a member of the kingdom, the joy of being “ravished always” with sexual love (Prov. 5:19). And as Robert Browning wrote, “Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be.”

      Eric, who’s slept with one woman for 53+ years, much of the time naked (*wink*).

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