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.
12 thoughts on “Q&A with J: What Singles Are Asking”
I have teenagers and younger kids and it makes me sad that teenage girls in our kids circle express that they would rather fulfill their own dreams in life and maybe adopt as a single parent rather than get married and have to deal with a spouse who expects life to be like a porn movie. No, they don’t want to be tied up and choked, have anal sex and or forced to use toys they aren’t comfortable with. It makes me sad. It seems like this generation finally got over some of the harmful church teaching that told girls sex is only for him, it’s your fault if he cheats etc etc and now this. My heart goes out to that young woman who is concerned about the pressure on anal play. I have a feeling at least one of my daughters will not be interested in marriage because of things like this. I keep hoping there will be a church who will come up with a good way to help our pornography saturated culture but maybe since porn use is so high in the church among both attendees and leaders that is an impossible wish.
I see a lot of hope in this area, in that the purity culture messages dominated for a while, but now it seems that church leaders are (finally) recognizing the need for authenticity and practicality. At least in some circles, that message is becoming more predominant. Maybe it’s because of what I do, but I see this synergy and I hope it continues to spread out and impact our young people.
As you know, in the meantime, we can start the “revolution” for godly sexuality in our own homes. Blessing to you for what you do for your teenagers! ♥
Thanks J, for making posts that are relevant to both singles and married alike.
As the sender of the first email, I feel somewhat liberated sharing my story with you. It had been a burden I really didn’t know how to carry but I always see God coming through. I honestly didn’t know having someone hear me out would mean so much to me; sexual abuse is barely talked about where I live. Most people would rather shame the victim (they say things like “you shouldn’t have dressed that way, ‘you shouldn’t have gone that way etc”) and cover up the offender especially if they are known in the society.
A father of 3 girls raped his 15yrs and below daughters, the mother reported to the family members/community and she was asked to cover it up to protect the family. It’s sad this happens.
Thank you J for sharing our stories and not downplaying our fears/hurts.
God bless you
Oh my, it breaks my heart when people blame the victim! I can’t even. You were brave to make it through, brave to write me, and brave to ask God for more! May He comfort and strengthen you.
Interesting (and sometimes heartbreaking) comments–both yours and those left by readers. I’ve heard a few that underscore what you’ve said re nudity, and how many believe it’s exclusively for husbands and wives. Yet occasionally I hear a situation that makes me wonder: An elderly Christian single woman (now with the Lord) who was a young army nurse (RN) in 1942, told me that one of her first jobs in the military was to give shots to 200 naked male recruits in one room. She found their embarrassment funny, and she still laughed about it nearly 40 years later when she related it. Or my own experience with a female MD who gave me a physical exam, and spared no personal part of my body (this was NOT a sexual experience!). You mentioned Isaiah’s nudity in Isaiah 20. Possibly Isaiah 7:14 compared with Isaiah 8:1-3 is even more interesting. Apparently Isaiah’s prophetess bride was examined by the priests Uriah and Zechariah to ascertain that she was still a virgin before Isaiah took her to bed. To conclude, much of one’s inhibition re physical exposure comes from prudish upbringing, as well as childhood abuse. It sometimes takes decades for these haunting problems to be unraveled; unfortunately many take them to the grave.
Priests likely did not examine a woman’s privates to determine virginity, but rather relied on a bedcloth showing evidence of a broken hymen. (In our world, women are far more likely to break their hymen before their first sex, but that was probably unlikely then.) You can read up on that in Deuteronomy 22.
And I believe I said that I had no problem with seeing a male doctor, even to the point of having a male obstetrician, so I’m not sure why you think my comments are problematic. Moreover, a prudish upbringing or childhood abuse are not necessary to have concerns about when, where, and how we should expose our naked bodies. Isn’t it better to ask these questions than to be cavalier about exposing one’s body to others?
“Prudish,” by the way, is defined as “having or revealing a tendency to be easily shocked by matters relating to sex or nudity.” I can understand your use of that term, therefore, but as Christians the primary issue is not being prudes in the marriage bed. This young man is not; he has zero problem being naked with and for his someday bride. I think that matters most, and on other pieces of the question, it’s okay to disagree and that choice is between him, his wife, and God.
Sorry that I left the impression that your comments were “problematic.” I’ve read enough of your blog posts over several years–including this one–to know that you have no problem with clinical physical exams by the other sex; but that, as you made plain, the exam needs to be done by a physician who is respectful to the patients. My comment was re posters (and some you cited in your own blog) who seemed to feel that all nudity is to be reserved for marriage.
It’s been years since I was a young husband, but I do remember that when my wife was pregnant with our first baby and made an appointment with a male gynecologist that I took a nervous deep breath, then considered that my mom had done the same thing, and said “go ahead.”
As to the Isaiah passage re the examination of Isaiah’s wife, the Scripture text seems a bit ambiguous. I do understand the cross-reference you gave re the hymen blood. However, my own conclusion is based on an observation I once heard from a pastor (now deceased) with a nationally televised ministry. He was expounding on Isaiah 7:14, “a virgin shall conceive and bear a child,” as a parallel prophecy regarding both the birth of Jesus to the virgin Mary, and the birth of Isaiah’s son to the virgin prophetess (who was a virgin until her wedding night with Isaiah). It was this pastor’s impression that in this instance the examination was done before the wedding; and the pastor used this to underscore that the Hebrew word almah here is correctly translated as “virgin” in the King James Bible (as well as most other translations).
“It was this pastor’s impression…” Again, we don’t know. So I’m not going to presume that a priest physically examined a woman’s body in that way. Perhaps, but perhaps not.
So much needs to be addressed in light of Scripture. Much of how we view things as Christians is rooted in the commentary of past reformers when published authors were few and their views on sex skewed. Many of these commentators were solid when it came to Gospel tenets, but were severely twisted in the areas of sex. Nevertheless the loaf has been leavened by the error as Jesus warned. Just take Martin Luther on sex in Genesis 2:18—
“Now, alas, it is so hideous and frightful a pleasure that physicians compare it with epilepsy or falling sickness. Thus an actual disease is linked with the very activity of procreation. We are in the state of sin and of death; therefore we also undergo this punishment, that we cannot make use of woman without the horrible passion of lust and, so to speak, without epilepsy.”
Much could also be pointed out about attitudes toward women. We need to purge these aberrations and get back to the Word of God. This is critical for singles. My wife and I met years back in a large mega church. On Sunday nights they offered a smorgasbord of activities. One was a movie series on marriage in a large theater. My fiancé at the time wanted to attend, but was stopped at the door because she was not yet married. And we wonder how Christians enter marriage so uninformed?
It is good for singles to be confronted with your perspectives.
This article is so powerful, J. Top takeaways are “To truly heal, you must truly grieve” and using our discernment.
Important to share this perspective to others who don’t have anyone to ask these about. We’re bombarded by the pop culture nowadays and topics like this aren’t discussed enough to help our singles transition to marriage life.
Thanks so much!
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