Monthly Archives: August 2019

10 Takeaways from the Spark Marriage Conference

Whether your marriage is on the brink of divorce or humming along pretty well, it’s worth reading books, taking classes, or attending conferences and retreats on marriage. In the years when things were terrible in my marriage, such resources kept my head above water and my commitment firm. Now, they help us fine-tune our marriage machine.

Last Friday evening and Saturday, Spock and I attended the Spark Marriage Conference hosted by Lakewood Church.* I was particularly interested in this one because Emerson Eggerichs was a keynote speaker, and I had recently reviewed and written about his Love & Respect book.

Since I doubt you were there, here are my top ten takeaways from the Spark Marriage Conference.

1. People are hungry for marriage education and encouragement.

Lakewood’s a big church, so a large attendance isn’t surprising. But as I looked over the crowd, I realized I’ve never been to a poorly attended marriage class or event, as long it was publicized enough for couples to know about it. Marriage books do well in bookstores, marriage ministries are popular, and online marriage advice is voraciously consumed.

People want to know how make their marriages stay together and be better. But instead of letting them wander around grasping at advice here and there, let’s introduce all those hungering people to God, the ultimate relationship expert. And those of us who know Him, let’s learn His design, study His ways, ask for His guidance.

People want to know how make their marriages stay together and be better. Christians, let's introduce all those hungering people to God, the ultimate relationship expert. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

2. Yes, Christians can publicly talk about sex.

Of course, if I didn’t believe that, my ministry would be over tomorrow. But I’ve heard from a lot of people through the years saying church leaders never mention sex. Yet with all those people in attendance, author and speaker DeVon Franklin addressed conflict over sexual intimacy in marriage: “In my experience, sometimes there’s a difference in sex drive.” No one freaked out; in fact, they clearly agreed.

Then DeVon shared what he learned about how his behavior contributed to the mismatch of desire in his marriage. As he said, “if I’m not transparent, we can’t get transformed.” That’s what I believe so many Christian couples ache for: transparency about sexual intimacy challenges and how we can best address them in godly and realistic ways.

So many Christian couples ache for transparency about sexual intimacy challenges and how we can best address them in godly and realistic ways. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

3. Our marriages don’t always turn out as expected.

Sometimes I think I’m a strong person, and then I come across people like Jay and Katherine Wolf. They told their compelling story of heartache, loss, and struggle, as well as God’s presence in their darkest moments. Here’s just a snippet of what they went through:

Katherine Wolf’s vivacity was palpable, despite telling her story from a wheelchair that her husband had pushed onto the stage. But she was authentic in reminding us that our marriages can face trials we never anticipated and can only get through with the strength of Christ.

4. Let’s get real: Lots of us screwed up.

It was refreshing to hear comedy team Richard and Sheri Bright talk about their sordid past and coming to Christ. They did so in a humorous way, like admitting they’d been married for 40 years…if you count all their marriages together. The Brights were not Christians when they met and married, but came to Jesus two years after “shacking up” and fighting so much that he once screwed the front door shut so she couldn’t get in. They showed courage in sharing their past sin and what they went through to build a better relationship.

Likewise, a few years ago, I started to raise my hand in Bible class and confess that sometimes this Christian life ain’t so easy-peasy. Rather than getting flak for admitting I’m not a squeaky-clean church member, others acknowledged their own baggage and current struggles. We’ve got to let people in our midst confess we haven’t arrived, we all need a Savior, and sometimes our marriages are a mess.

5. God can reshape our lives into something beautiful.

Piggybacking on the last two points, my marriage and my life took detours from where I should have been or wanted to be. But I was reminded that whatever we go through, wherever we are, God can bring goodness into our lives…if we surrender to the Potter’s hands.

Illustrating this point, DeVon Franklin referenced Jeremiah 18:1-6, which reads:

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.

So your marriage didn’t turn out like you thought. God can still mold it into something beautiful. How is God wanting to reshape your marriage? How is He longing to reshape you as a spouse?

How is God wanting to reshape your marriage? How is He longing to reshape you as a spouse? @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet
Ad for Pillow Talk: 40 Conversations About Sex for Married Couples

6. We’re all still a work in progress.

Speaking of confessions, Spock and I argued…on the way to a marriage conference. Oh, the irony! Saturday morning, we drove from our side of town through busy Houston traffic to reach the event’s location. For most of the way, Google Maps was our guide. But the app didn’t tell us where the right parking garage was. I instructed my husband to turn right, he turned at the wrong right, and the next thing I knew we were blaming each other for the mistake. *facepalm*

If you’ve got marriage all figured out and never have any conflict, fantastic for you! And also, why are you here reading my blog? Or any marriage blog? Why aren’t writing The Definitive Marriage Guide, or How I Got My Spouse to Accept How Perfect I Am? For the rest of us, yeah, we’re going to mess up. We know it, our Father knows it. We just have to be willing to admit it when it happens. Sure enough, Spock and I apologized to one another and made up. It’s all good now.

7. Repentance and forgiveness go hand in hand.

Spock and I were both sorry for the spat we had on the way to the marriage conference. So it was easy to forgive. But something did happen at the conference that bugged me, and my disagreement with it is one of the takeaways. During one prayer, the leader prayed for those who had experienced affairs. I didn’t record what was said, but this is a loose rendering: “For those in marriages impacted by adultery, we pray that the spouse who did not participate in the affair will forgive. Help them, Father, to forgive and not let that fester in their marriage.”

Look, I’m in favor of forgiveness! But too often, we have shifted the burden of an affair or other betrayal in marriage to the other spouse needing to forgive. As if that is The Thing that creates a barrier to healing. Why wasn’t more time dedicated to praying the adulterer would come completely clean, ask for forgiveness, seek reconciliation, avoid temptation, find accountability? When we own where we’ve gone wrong in our marriage, that paves the way for forgiveness and restoration. Let’s pray for that.

8. Check generalizations about marriage with your own spouse.

I’ve talked about the trouble of stereotypes in marriage books, and I was thrilled to hear Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn, the authors of For Women Only and For Men Only, begin their talk with a caveat: Whenever they report what men and women said, you should ask your own spouse, “Is this true?” The Feldhahns pointed out if they say 75% of men feel X, by definition that means 25% of men didn’t feel X. And the same for their research on women.

We’ve found this to be so true in our own marriage. For instance, we fit some stereotypes—like I’m more auditory, he’s more visual; I’m more emotional, he’s more logical; I’m more talkative, he’s on a restrictive word diet. But we go against generalizations in other ways, like I’m the higher-drive spouse and, if I had to choose, I’d rather be respected than loved. Whatever you learn about gender and marriage, even here on my blog, don’t just assume it represents your spouse perfectly. Ask if it’s true for them.

Whatever you learn about gender and marriage, even here on my blog, don't just assume it represents your spouse perfectly. Ask if it's true for them. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

9. Marriage insight should never be used to force your way.

Yep, one of the reasons I attended the Spark Marriage Conference was to hear what Emerson Eggerichs is saying in person these days. While I still have a couple of issues with things he said, it was rather balanced in addressing both men and women (reinforcing my belief that Eggerichs should update Love & Respect with a new edition). It was particularly refreshing, however, to hear him state very clearly that the perspective he shares about men and women should never be used as a club against your spouse.

Eggerichs reiterated that if you stomp all over your spouse’s need (love or respect) to get your need met (respect or love), you’ve missed the whole point. The goal should be not getting what you deserve from your spouse but discovering what you can give them—how you can meet your mate’s emotional need. Yes, you can explain yourself, but demands and abuse are not in line with God’s view of marriage.

Side note: I cringe when a husband writes me and says he keeps forwarding my articles to his wife in a forceful attempt to get more sex. Please don’t use my materials as a cattle prod to push your spouse into giving you what you want. Invite them into the conversation and then listen and love.

10. Shaunti Feldhahn agreed to be on our podcast!

I really enjoyed hearing from Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn, who presented their research findings and marriage insight with authenticity and encouragement. What they shared was great for launching Is this true for you? conversations with your mate. But before yesterday, I was already a fan, having read many of Shaunti’s books. In fact, the book table only had one book I hadn’t read, so I bought it to be signed by her.

And while I had the chance, I mentioned our podcast, Sex Chat for Christian Wives, and she joyously agreed to come on sometime! I don’t know when that will be, but make sure you’re subscribed to us on iTunes, Stitcher, or whatever podcast app you use (I use Pocket Casts) and/or follow our blog.

Got any questions for me about the conference?

*Lakewood Church is the home of Joel Osteen ministries. I’m not a fan of Osteen and disagree with his prosperity gospel, but I was impressed by how much Scripture and prayer were shared during the conference and the church seems to have an active marriage ministry.

Extra Hot, Holy & Humorous

Once again, I’m sharing a few other places where you can find me sharing about God’s design for sex in marriage! I hope you’ll check these out.

Sex Chat for Christian Wives

On our latest podcast episode on Sex Chat for Christian Wives, we discussed female sexual health. Yep, that’s right—we gals need to take care of the lady bits, and we candidly talk about why and how.

Click below to listen and see show notes too!

To Love Honor and Vacuum

A little while back, Sheila Wray Gregoire contacted me and several other female marriage bloggers about putting together a collaborative post on what male teachers about sex need to know—as in things that often aren’t covered as well as they should be. I jumped at the chance to include my thoughts on higher drive wives.

Click below to read the post that appeared last week!

Rolling Stone

This one is not new, but I’ve been trying to catch up and clear out my email inbox and came across this link again. And you know what? Regardless of anything else that ever happens or doesn’t happen in my life, I can always say that I was quoted in Rolling Stone! Not on my thoughts on rock-and-roll, though I suppose one could refer to sex as rocking and rolling. 😉

May your weekend be extra hot, holy & humorous! Thanks for reading and subscribing.

Q&A with J: Is Sex Disconnected from Love for Men?

A wife sent me an email that got my shoulders slumping and my heart sagging as I read—not just because of what she wrote, but because she represents the thoughts of too many women. It’s a longer message, but I’m including all of it below.

All my life, and in my own personal experiences with men, I have always observed that sex does not equal love for a man. As a teenager and young adult, I always knew to be wary when dating because most guys only wanted sex. I received advances from men that barely knew me much less loved me. Also, I know that many men look at (or struggle not to look at, depending on their convictions) porn. It seems to me that their sexuality is completely disconnected from love. They can be turned on by the sight of any woman. It doesn’t have to be their wife. They have sexual fantasies about other women. So why is it that that somehow changes when it’s sex with their wife? How is his desire for his wife different from his desire for the porn actresses or the woman who walks by on the street?

I have a hard time taking my husband’s sexual advances to mean that he wants emotional intimacy when I see him look at other women the same way he looks at me when he’s “in the mood.” I know he has an emotional connection with me that he doesn’t have with the other women, but to me that’s because we share a kind of friendship that seems totally separate from sex in my mind. From what I can tell, he can be turned on by other women just as much (if not more than) as he’s turned on by me. Even men who try not to lust after other women because of their convictions still have to TRY NOT to.

From my observations, it appears that my husband merely needs available female body parts and I happen to have them. I just can’t make sense of these articles that say that a husband is seeking to feel loved through a sexual connection. Because it’s hard for me to believe/understand that, it’s also hard for me to get in the mood for sex because I feel exchangeable. Any insight you can offer would be helpful.

I want to take this woman in my arms, hug her, and apologize for all the times she was treated as less than a person, when she is a daughter of the King of kings.

But I also want to stand on my soapbox and shout at the top of my lungs against the lies and half-truths she’s received and absorbed throughout her lifetime. So let’s tackle what she says.

I have always observed that sex does not equal love for a man.

Sex doesn’t equal love for anybody. That said, women are more likely to become attached to a sexual partner, due to oxytocin that releases and makes her feel bonded. Meanwhile, men (overall) don’t experience that level of oxytocin unless and until they engage with a woman in a relationship.* Men also have a tendency to compartmentalize more. So yes, the likelihood of attachment is a bit imbalanced. However, plenty of women have slept around without feeling terribly attached, and plenty of men get attached quickly.

Regardless of how we feel, though, God says you do attach to someone you have sex with. Consider 1 Corinthians 6:16: “Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.'” That doesn’t equal love, but it does equal sex being a Big Deal. For both women and men.

While sex doesn’t equal love, it is one way God provided for husbands and wives to nurture love and express love. Not everyone out there understands that purpose of sex, but it’s what God intended with His design.

While sex doesn't equal love, it is one way God provided for husbands and wives to nurture love and express love. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

I always knew to be wary when dating because most guys only wanted sex.

I was told this a lot growing up, and it’s so wrong. I’m not saying a lot of guys didn’t want sex—they did. My premarital promiscuous past is partly due to various guys wanting to go past kissing to fooling around and more. But this statement has two main problems.

First, guys don’t only want sex. They want to be accepted and loved too!

If men only wanted sex, they’d only date the girls clearly willing to have sex quickly and easily. But men date all kinds of women, because they want a woman who can also engage in conversation, share recreational companionship, make them feel loved, etc.

The presumption that men only want one thing—and we all know what that one thing is, wink, wink—sells men short. It makes them sound like shallow sex machines just looking for a female hole to put their thingamajig inside. Thankfully, I know too many great guys to believe that.

Second, women want sex too. Guys aren’t the only ones who want to be sexually active. Acting as if men are the ones who want sex sells women short: God created us as sexual beings as well!

Acting as if men are the ones who want sex sells women short: God created us as sexual beings as well! @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Frankly, it’s frustrating how prevalent this teaching has been—that men only want sex from women. It has sold men short, denied female sexuality, and plunged too many couples into sin—because the single man believed himself justified in pursuing sex and the woman faced too big a burden trying to manage two sex drives (his and hers). Let’s please stop telling people this terrible half-truth!

Intimacy Revealed Ad

I received advances from men that barely knew me much less loved me.

So did I, girlfriend. So did I. But I also had male friends who treated me like a whole person worthy of respect.

Are there jerks out there? Sure. But are all men jerks? No way. (See What I Truly Believe About Men.) However, one jerk can harass many women, meaning if John Donkey makes an unwanted advance to every appealing woman he encounters, he makes an impression on hundreds of women about how men behave. And those encounters are more memorable than the guy who held the door open for you, the guy who looked you right in the eyes and asked you how your day was going, or the guy who didn’t look your way at all because you’re just another person in the universe.

I’m saddened that you were treated this way, because you shouldn’t be! But in a broken world, it happens. If we can recognize that the jerks of the world are not as many as we might think, though far more prevalent than we’d like, we can deal with them as we should—tell them to get lost. Or, when needed, take greater precautions to protect yourself.

Also, I know that many men look at (or struggle not to look at, depending on their convictions) porn.

Yep, a lot of men look at porn, including Christian men. And that stinks to high heaven. But I have heard so many redemption stories, with husbands devoted to learning a better way. I also know men who haven’t sought out porn in years and are solely attached to their wives. In addition, this isn’t a struggle for my husband at all, and he’s not the only one.

Porn can change how a man views sex and women, which are terrible effects. But to believe that men are destined to lust or look at porn isn’t accurate by statistics, real-life examples, or the teaching of God’s Word.

It’s more than possible to overcome or never have the problem in the first place. (See When Should You Stop Battling Porn.)

They can be turned on by the sight of any woman. It doesn’t have to be their wife.

Again, there’s some truth here. I agree with those who say men are more visual than women, although women can also respond to visual stimuli strongly. And yes, the sight of a beautiful woman can stir interest and even result in physical arousal or lust. But that’s not inevitable, and your husband noticing another woman doesn’t mean he wants her. (See Does Your Husband Look at Other Women?)

Consider a couple of interesting studies on this involving the “bonding chemical,” oxytocin. In one study, 40 male participants in long-term relationships viewed pictures of attractive females, including their own partner. Some received a dose of oxytocin (nasal spray) and others did not. “In the men who were given oxytocin, the pleasure and desire regions of their brains lit up when they saw pictures of the women they loved—but not when they looked at strangers. Some of these regions were also activated by the images of the women the men knew, but not as strongly as by the pictures of their loved ones, suggesting that it made their partners more desirable.” (Time – How Oxytocin Makes Men (Almost) Monogamous.)

Remember how oxytocin is released during physical touch and sexual intimacy? So a husband engaged in regular sex, with regular hits of oxytocin, may well find his own wife more attractive than some other woman anyway.

But a second study is particularly interesting, in that a dose of oxytocin made men desire more physical distance between them and a female who wasn’t their partner. “Unexpectedly, the men who had received oxytocin and who were also in monogamous relationships preferred keeping a significantly greater distance between themselves and the temptress researcher—the hormone promoted bonding with their significant other, not the stranger.” (The Atlantic – Study: Oxytocin (‘the Love Hormone’) Makes Men in Relationships Want to Stay Away From Other Women.)

Although these findings were subtle rather than strong—and we are responsible for our own choices—it’s interesting to see research showing that men really do have a preference for the lady they love.

They have sexual fantasies about other women.

No, they don’t. Well, some men do. But a lot of husbands do not sit around and fantasize about other women. They may have a memory of another women or an image pops into their head of a particular woman, but that’s not tantamount to “fantasizing” or lusting.

And if your husband is fantasizing about other women, that’s not merely because he’s a man, but because he’s a sinner in need of repentance and redemption. Our desire and sexual interest should indeed be focused on our spouses! (See Lust: The Pigpen or The Feast?)

How is his desire for his wife different from his desire for the porn actresses or the woman who walks by on the street?

Bluntly put, for some husbands, it’s not that different. Sadly, I’ve read comments, received emails, and even come across blogs from presumably Christian men who treat sex solely as a man’s physical need and expect wives to simply fulfill the duty to let him have sex with her so he won’t have sex with someone else.

However, that’s a minority. I sometimes wish women could read my many more emails from husbands expressing their incredible love for their wives, their focused desire on the mate they chose, their longing to be one flesh and enjoy mutually satisfying sex with the woman they adore.

For most men, the gal down the street may get a moment’s attention, but their wife has their heart, their devotion, and their love. Which makes sex not merely a physical act, but a covenant bonding of husband and wife. And even a testimony to Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:31-32).

Is Sex Disconnected from Love?

Returning to the original question: Is sex disconnected from love for men? Are you just “available female body parts” that your husband needs?

I can’t speak to what your specific husband has learned about sex or how he demonstrates his love for you. However, I’m convinced that while sex can be disconnected from love for men, they, like us, want the two interwoven. Sex is more meaningful in the context of marital love, and marital love is richer in the context of fulfilling sexual intimacy.

Sex is more meaningful in the context of marital love, and marital love is richer in the context of fulfilling sexual intimacy. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Honestly, it sounds like sex and love are not connected enough for you. God longs for you to have something better, including the full experience of intimacy while making love. Begin to work on how sex can become a better experience for you and your marriage.

Also, check out 5 husbands talking about how sex and love are connected!

*I’m 100% sure I read the study on this, but I cannot for the life of me find it online now. If you can point me to it, that would be great!

Extra Hot, Holy & Humorous

From time to time, I’ll be putting up Extra Hot, Holy & Humorous posts, with other places where you can find me addressing God’s design for sex in marriage.

The XY Code

I guest posted this week on The XY Code, a blog run by Paul Bylerly of Generous Husband. Here’s a sample, along with the link at the bottom to read the rest.

A while back there was some discussion in the comments both here and over on TGH about women who had multiple partners before marriage. Some men suggested such a woman was irreparably damaged and would never want or enjoy sex with her husband. Not being a woman, I could not challenge this from personal experience. So, I phoned a friend! The result is this guest post by J Parker.

—————–

Part of my redemption story involves moving from a premarital promiscuous past to a marital monogamous present. While I wish the change had happened like “Beam me up, Scotty”—one moment here, one moment there—I actually walked a long road to arrive at the sexual intimacy God wanted me to have.

Premarital Pleasure

I’ve analysed my past enough to understand all the reasons I chose to have sex before marriage with multiple partners, but one reason is that it felt great.

God created us as sexual beings, and being touched, turned on, and brought to orgasm are good sensations. To say I didn’t enjoy the physical experience of sexual activity with past lovers would be a lie. But that’s not the same as saying that it was good for me. Or that I didn’t have serious regrets.

This post also appeared on The Generous Husband.

Ad for Pillow Talk: 40 Conversations About Sex for Married Couples

Sex Chat for Christian Wives

Our latest podcast episode is “Healing from Sexual Abuse, with Mary DeMuth.” Mary DeMuth is an advocate, author, and survivor herself. Her newest book is We Too: How the Church Can Respond Redemptively to the Sexual Abuse Crisis.

And don’t forget to sign up for our podcast’s webinars!

Launching the Conversation About Sex in Your Marriage (with Downloadable Sample Chapter of Pillow Talk)

A wife recently wrote to me saying that she’d had my book, Pillow Talk: 40 Conversations About Sex for Married Couples, on her list of things to check out for a while. But she thought it was just a book of topics to talk about and getting over the weirdness of saying words like “sex” and “naked,” whereas she wanted to go deeper.

Once she downloaded the sample, this wife was amazed how much information and communication the book included. She purchased her copy right away and thanked me several times over.

Yep, notes like those are really awesome! But her statement also gave me a V8 moment. (And those of you who don’t know that a V8 moment is suddenly realizing something you should have thought of before, you’re making me feel old.)

Why had I never shared a sample chapter on my blog?!

You can download a sample through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, with a few chapters to try it, but I wanted to give my fabulous subscribers and readers a freebie here!

Ground Rules

The introduction to Pillow Talk is a guide on how to use the book. But right after that comes a chapter titled Ground Rules. Since it begins, “Whatever you do, don’t skip this chapter,” let me at least summarize what I said there.

Each conversation chapter consists five sections:

  • Introduction—a single paragraph introducing the topic.
  • Ask and Listen—three questions to ask of your spouse and then listen to their answers.
  • Read and Consider—scripture to read together and thoughts on that passage.
  • Touch and Pray—an invitation to hold hands or embrace and pray over what you’ve discussed and learned.
  • Go and Do—two activity options to help you apply what you’ve learned.

That second section, Ask and Listen, is where we can fall prey to misunderstanding our spouse, insisting on our perspective, and wading into arguments. To avoid that happening, follow some ground rules.

First, choose a good time and place. Pick a time when both of you can focus and don’t feel too tense, as well as a location that seems neutral and isn’t loaded with distractions.

When it’s your turn to answer.

  • Be honest and vulnerable. “There is no great gain in intimacy without vulnerability and authenticity.”
  • Consider how you express your concerns. How you express something matters as much as what you express.
  • Keep your requests reasonable. For example, don’t demand a strip tease if your wife won’t undress until it’s dark. Ask for progress that can reasonably happen.

When it’s your spouse’s turn to answer.

  • Listen. “Do not interrupt, do not correct, do not contradict, do not defend, do not criticize.” (See Are You Listening to What Your Spouse Says About Sex?)
  • Stay calm. Easier said than done, but the book has more tips on how to maintain a cool head.
  • Seek clarification. If you don’t understand or something feels like an attack, probe a little. Your spouse may not be saying what you think.
  • Accept their feelings. Just because you don’t or wouldn’t feel the same way doesn’t make your spouse’s feelings invalid. Even if their feelings are based on error, that doesn’t make them illegitimate.
  • Think through their answers. It’s tempting to react quickly, but let your spouse’s words sink in and mull over your response before you speak.

Each of these points is further explained in the book, but those are the basic guidelines.

Sample Chapter

The first chapter of Pillow Talk is about praying for your sex life. While I believe in the importance of starting there, I’m actually sharing chapter two below, because I think it’s more representative of the book as a whole. Also, this conversation could really help some couples open their eyes to their similarities and differences regarding sexual intimacy in their marriage.

Below is Chapter Two: What We Learned About Sex. Or click the button for a downloadable version you can print out.

Ad for Pillow Talk: 40 Conversations About Sex for Married Couples

How we grew up hearing and thinking about sex can make a big imprint on our perspective later in life. Unfortunately, few Christians report having received thorough, positive, Scripture-based instruction about sexuality. How has what you learned impacted your sexual intimacy?

Ask and Listen

  1. What’s your earliest memory of sex? When did you learn about it, and what did you learn?
  2. What messages about sex did you get from your parents, mentors, and the church as you grew up?
  3. What, if anything, that you learned about sex as a child has negatively affected your view of physical intimacy now?

Read and Consider

Read together Deuteronomy 6:6-9.

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

God’s pronouncement to the Israelites in this passage involved teaching the children who God was, what He had done for His people, and how they should honor Him by living according to His commands. This foundational education was to be an ongoing practice, saturating their daily existence.

Within the law of Moses, they were expected to follow commands about sex which showed God’s desire for it to remain holy and mutually satisfying in marriage. But many of us weren’t taught what God’s design for sex really was. Instead, our parents and church leaders were silent, ignorant, or negative. Often they hadn’t received godly instruction themselves and didn’t know how to teach us.

It’s not too late to learn. God’s Word can still teach you what it means to experience intimate, meaningful, and pleasurable sex as God intended in the covenant bond of marriage.

Touch and Pray

Holy Father, You are the creator of sex, the designer of pleasure and intimacy in the marriage bed. But we have struggled with messages that make it difficult for us to fully embrace the gift You long for us to enjoy. Help us to align our understanding with Yours.
[Pray specifically for the issues you brought up in your conversation.]
In Jesus’ blessed name, Amen.

Go and Do

1. Take a sheet of paper and make two columns. On the left side, write down underlying messages about sex that you got from the teaching you received. Those can be anything from “sex is good in marriage” to “only bad girls want sex” or “sex is for the man.” In the right-hand column, counter any negative messages with your growing understanding of what God says about sexual intimacy. You don’t have to believe these yet, but record what you think is the right answer. Finally, put a star by those erroneous messages you struggle with most.

2. Trade lists. Yes, this is a vulnerable exercise. But let your spouse see where you’re struggling, so they can help and pray for you. In turn, promise to help and pray for your spouse.