While some singles should not be reading this blog, plenty do and find at Hot, Holy & Humorous more authentic, biblical, and specific advice than they’ve previously experienced in Christian circles. It’s nice to see so many singles attempting to prepare their hearts and minds for their future marriages. Here are three such singles’ questions about sex in marriage and my replies.
Difficulties From the Past
I associate sex with hurt, guilt, filth and pain.
The first email came from a single woman who’d been sexually molested and assaulted more than once in her past. Here are some snippets:
- “All these experiences started making me scared of the opposite gender, I never felt safe with them. I started to realize my body never felt like mine, I felt used but my mind would tell me I allow it and they were all my fault.”
- “I got used to telling myself those things never happened to me, I ignored my feelings and felt like I couldn’t talk about it without people pointing fingers.”
- “I really desire a Christ centered marriage someday but my view on sex is not good and I have serious insecurities about my body.”
- “I have made peace with my past and I have forgiven them, I have even prayed for them to encounter Jesus. However, this is still a tough topic for me to discuss….”
- “I would like for you to share some tips that can be helpful in preparing my mind for a God centered sex in marriage. I still sometimes associate sex with hurt, guilt, filth and pain.”
Can you feel her emotional pain? And her longing to know that God has something better in store? Here’s a good portion of what I wrote back to this young lady.
My heart cracked as I read your story. What hardships you experienced! And how strong you must be to have survived and become the woman you are.
Let me begin by saying: that never should have happened to you. May you take comfort in Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
Next, I want to look more closely at this statement you made: “I have made peace with my past and I have forgiven them, I have even prayed for them to encounter Jesus.” Sometimes, we Christians rush the process, calling victims to forgive and move on. But forgiveness is not the same as healing.Sometimes, we Christians rush the process, calling victims to forgive and move on. But forgiveness is not the same as healing. via @hotholy6humorous Click To Tweet
You experienced severe trauma, and that does not heal overnight. You have every right and reason to be deeply wounded, righteously angry, and struggling with your view of men and sexuality. What God intended as a gift has been used as a weapon against you. It’s okay, and even good, to take your time and lament that tragedy!
The Word of God includes many passages of lament, in which God’s people mourned the suffering they and others experienced in this broken world, especially at the hands of others. (Good article on lament.) To truly heal, you must truly grieve. Don’t feel pressured to move on until you have processed through that grief. God will sit with you and hold you while you work through it.
Trauma counseling can be particularly helpful in the healing process. These resources may also help.
- RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)
- On the Threshold of Hope: Opening the Door to Healing for Survivors of Sexual Abuse by Diane Langberg, Ph.D.
- The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Dr. Dan Allender
- Not Marked: Finding Hope and Healing after Sexual Abuse by Mary DeMuth
- Sex Chat for Christian Wives Podcast Episode 64: Healing from Sexual Abuse, with Mary DeMuth
- Sex Chat for Christian Wives Podcast Episode 22: Sexual Harassment #ustoo
For the time being, I would not concern myself with preparing for marriage, but rather healing your heart and renewing your mind.
Someday, when you meet the right person, you can address specifics on how to reintroduce yourself to positive sexual encounters. Please know that you will still likely be triggered by bad memories, but that’s normal. If you’ve done the emotional work to heal, you’ll be aware, able to manage those instinctive fears, and move toward true intimacy in your relationship, as God intended you to have.
Over time, the sexual experiences you have with a patient, loving husband will over-write the difficult history you endured. I pray that God shows you the path clearly.
Anxiety About the Present
I fear that he, just by nature of his anatomy, will crave something I can’t give him.
This next email came from a woman who had read about the prevalence of “prostate play.” Here are relevant portions:
- “I see it advertised and espoused everywhere as the superior male pleasure to the point where there are whole websites dedicated to it, with heterosexual men praising it as an unparalleled high.”
- “I find the idea of any sexual activity involving the rectum to be unhygienic and unnatural—after all, if it were meant to be used that way, surely God would’ve designed it to dilate and self-lubricate with arousal?”
- “And then there is the fear that even a man who is not initially interested in anal play will seek it out the older they get because “vanilla” sex (which now includes oral apparently) will get boring.”
- “I can’t help but be suspicious of every man I meet, or feel fear that he, just by nature of his anatomy, will crave something I can’t give him.”
- “And I feel like because of the mental influence distortion of pornography and high-chasing, that the vast majority of men Christian or not, have an unappealing, carnal and pure lustful mentality about sex.”
Her email radiated with anxiety, but also longing to find a husband who would appreciate her, just as she is, regular intercourse and all. So what did I tell her?
Yes, anal penetration and play have become more popular, particularly with how it’s portrayed in porn and erotica. But most couples I’ve heard from do not do this, or if they do, it’s not common.
Moreover, you can say no to a particular sex act in your marriage bed and not be “depriving each other” (1 Cor 7:3-5). Sexual intimacy should be about affection, foreplay, and intercourse. Other specific acts get negotiated according to our values, desires, and comfort level, with both spouses needing to agree.You can say no to a particular sex act in your marriage bed and not be “depriving each other” (1 Cor 7:3-5). via @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet
While there’s no command specifically against anal sex, it’s not ever mentioned in the Bible (as I personally believe oral sex is, in Song of Songs), and, as you point out, we can look at how the Creator made us and conclude that the rectum is not designed for penetration.
If a wife wants to engage in “prostate play,” she can stimulate that area through the perineum, which is the space between the base of his penis and his anus. Stroking and massage in that area can be pleasurable to a man. Anal penetration is not necessary to satisfy this desire.
For more about all this, check out these posts:
Is Anal Sex Okay? (several husbands commented on this post that they don’t want it)
Q&A with J: Pegging. Is It Okay?
Concern About the Future
My heart is just so uncomfortable when it comes to opposite-sex nudity.
The final email is from a young man with concerns about nudity. Here are the important parts of that message:
- “For the last several years the place of nudity in one’s relationship with God and their spouse has troubled me greatly as I seem to have this great discomfort when thinking of me or my [future] spouse engaging in nudity in any manner regarding the opposite sex.”
- “Many women and even you if I am not mistaken have discussed having male doctors that have been able to examine parts of the body that I strongly believe should never be seen by the opposite sex unless it is your spouse. In these cases, I feel having a doctor of the same sex should be what is chosen.”
- “The thought of my wife or me seeing someone of the opposite sex nude or having a person of the opposite sex see one of us nude just bothers me regardless of whether there is any sexual intention or not. My eyes should only be for my wife’s body and my wife’s eyes should only be for my body and no other person of the opposite sex should be able to view certain parts of a spouse’s body.”
- “I do not want to be a controlling, overreactive, silly, insecure, or unloving husband. I am truly trying to figure out what is the most loving thing but something in my heart is just so uncomfortable when it comes to opposite-sex nudity in any capacity.”
This young man struck me as being genuinely distraught and wanting to properly protect and love his someday wife. Those posts he references from my blog may include this one, this one, and this one. But here’s how I replied.
After reading your email, I had a few questions:
- What did parents teach you about your body? Were they strict or lenient about modesty? Messages you’ve absorbed from your upbringing can impact how you view the body and how you believe others view it.
- Do you think it’s sinful to visit a doctor of the opposite sex or merely inadvisable? God’s Word addressed right and wrong but also wise and unwise. For instance, some proverbs are not commands so much as observations about life and thus suggestions about wise living.
- Are you concerned about your own body, your future wife’s body, or both? Where you land on that question determines some choices going forward.
Ultimately, your position is fine. There’s no particular reason why you cannot keep your body and her body to one another and choose same-gender medical professionals when needed.
That said, I could choose a female gynecologist and discover she’s a lesbian or a male gynecologist and discover he’s gay. I’m not delving into homosexuality itself here, but making a practicality point.
Also, what if a wife had infertility issues and the preeminent specialist in her area was male? Would the wife be willing to forgo that doctor to visit a female one nearby or travel further to see a well-respected female specialist? There are logistics involved as well.
Now from a biblical perspective—obviously, what matters most—nakedness is our natural state. Repeatedly, we are told that we arrive naked and leave naked, and the first couple in Genesis were said to be naked and unashamed. But with the first strike of sin came shame and modesty and God Himself making clothes for His creation. After that, Scripture largely equates nudity with hardship and embarrassment. (See NIV search for “naked.”) Of course, nudity is still valued in the intimate relationship between husband and wife (Song of Songs, Proverbs 5:18-19).
But what about the situations you describe? When it’s neither public nudity nor marital intimacy?
Well, female sexual health and childbirth seems to have been handled by female midwives. Yet, Leviticus 13 instructs both men and women with skin diseases to visit the priest, who would have been male, for examination. Skin rashes can and did occur in various places on the body, so did a male priest examine that? I would think yes, but I have no way of knowing for sure.
God did have Isaiah prophesy naked (see Isaiah 20). On one hand, the inherent embarrassment of public nudity was part of God’s point; on the other, if others seeing one naked is always a sin, then why would God do this? Admittedly, this one is an odd story. (The Bible has a few of those. ~smile~)
We just don’t have a definite answer, so I fall into the not-always-a-sin category. Which means the next question is whether it’s wise. We have enough clothes/modesty verses to know it’s not largely okay. But beyond that, we have to use some discernment.
Just in very personal and practical terms, I saw female gynecologists for the first several years, but I had a couple of bad experiences. In some desperation, I finally visited a male gynecologist, and he was more professional and compassionate than the women I’d seen, and nothing about the examinations he performed were anything like the experiences I’ve had with my husband. It’s just apples and oranges. I’m not saying my decision was necessarily the right or best one, but my conscience is clear.
I recommend you ask why you have these beliefs, confirm that they match the values you want to have, and then act accordingly. This may well be a situation like Romans 14, in which “each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.” Your own conscience here matters.
If you do feel strongly about this, then it should bring it up before marrying. You don’t need to talk about it while dating, but once you choose someone, you should be honest with her about your feelings; you cannot make the decision for your wife, only express your beliefs and pursue unity. But if it was a big-enough deal for my husband, I’d consider those beliefs and honor his wishes as much as possible.
For any single reading my blog and looking for other resources, may I suggest my friends over at Preengaged.com? They recently ran a great post with Twenty Sex Tips for Your Wedding Night and Beyond and mentioned me! I’ve also guest posted for them about premarital sex.