Category Archives: The Bible and Sex

Happily Book Review: Contrarian Advice for a Great Marriage

On Tuesday, we released another podcast episode on Sex Chat for Christian Wives, but this one was unusual: we hosted a male guest. Kevin A. Thompson is the lead pastor at Community Bible Church in western Arkansas, speaks at marriage and parenting conferences, and has authored two marriage books, including Friends, Lovers, and Partners.

I don’t know how I originally connected with Kevin, but I’ve read his blog for some time and interacted with him online. I’ve been impressed with his willingness to address tough topics from a biblical viewpoint. And he came at it again in his most recent book, Happily: 8 Commitments of Couples Who Laugh, Love & Last.

(Note: I received a copy of this book free from the author, but I promised nothing but to read it. My decision to write this review is entirely my own.)

Kevin starts by discussing our tendency tend to believe that happy and unhappy marriages occur through luck or by getting certain rules right, like “you must find and marry The One.” However, the real way to both avoid divorce and have a happy marriage is to embrace eight contrarian commitments he outlines in the book.

These contrarian commitments are Jesus’ contrarian principles for our lives, laid out in the Sermon on the Mount, the section we call the Beatitudes.

The First Commitment

For example, the first commitment is to Happily Humble Yourselves. Easier said than done, right? And yet, think how many marriage struggles are caused or exacerbated by our lack of humility. As Kevin says, “At the heart of nearly every marriage problem is pride,” but he also points out that “most of the people we meet who lack humility are not arrogant; we are insecure.”

What if we instead had a right perspective of ourselves in comparison to God? What if we understood our value, so we didn’t fall prey to insecurity, as well as our insufficiency, so we didn’t fall prey to arrogance?

What if both of you approached your next conflict with humility? And what if you approached your marriage bed and all the issues surrounding it with true humility—neither arrogant nor insecure? Wouldn’t you listen better, make your requests in a more loving way, pursue help more quickly?

The Second Commitment

Now take the second commitment he covers: Embrace the Hurt. What?! you say. I didn’t get married to get hurt!

Well, are you breathing and in relationship with anyone on this earth? Then welcome to some hurt. In our broken world, that’s how this goes. We will disappoint one another. But that does not mean you cannot have genuine joy, because hurt can result in healing and growth.

Kevin reminds us, “Marriage reveals our flaws and exposes our greatest wounds.” It’s the iron sharpens iron principle, which I discuss at more length in my devotional book Intimacy Revealed. That friction reveals our flaws and gives us an opportunity to improve ourselves and serve others.

Of course, there’s a big difference between the regular, inherent hurt we feel when our differences rub against each another and the pain of abuse. If you’re experiencing the latter, you do not happily endure that. Kevin states that we need to distinguish which pain is a caused by a problem not to be tolerated and which is the result of our imperfection and need for growth.

For those in abusive situations, seek help. Today. Now. Stop reading this blog post and go research abuse resources in your area.

For those in the regular conflict of marriage, Happily‘s prescription is to mourn the emotional pain we feel when let down by others. Which will inevitably happen. But then seek how to grow together through the hurt.

The Commitments & the Beatitudes

As you can see, these two commitments reflect the first two Beatitudes from Matthew 5:3-4:

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

The remaining six commitments do the same:

  • Happily Avoid Both Apathy and Aggression (“Blessed are the meek…”)
  • Happily See Marriage as Bigger than You (“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…”)
  • Happily Refuse Power Struggles (“Blessed are the merciful…”)
  • Happily Live in Truth (“Blessed are the pure in heart…”)
  • Happily Make Peace (“Blessed are the peacemakers …”)
  • Happily Endure Whatever May Come (“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness…“)

Maybe some of those commitments surprise you, especially when paired with the word Happily.

Yet what made the difference in my own marriage when it was failing? Yes, I benefited a lot from specific resources that helped me work through issues in our relationship. My ministry is all about providing that kind of resource for couples who are struggling or simply want to improve their sexual intimacy.

But the key for me and my marriage was, through prayer and intention, living out biblical principles day to day: principles like those found in the love passage in 1 Corinthians 13, the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, and the Beatitudes as covered in this book. Once you shift your attitude to that of Christ, you can make real progress in your marriage.

Once you shift your attitude to that of Christ, you can make real progress in your marriage. via @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

And as Kevin says, those who put in the effort to have a good marriage may feel lucky, but it’s because they put in the effort that yielded the blessings. I recommend this as a book for a couples to read together and discuss, but it’s also good for one spouse to read and put into practice. Check it out here:

And be sure listen to our podcast episode with Kevin here:

Q&A with J: “What If Neither of Us Desires Sex?”

Our reader question comes from a wife who doesn’t care about having sex, but neither does her husband. Here’s her query:

…the problem I am facing is that neither me or my spouse have any desire for sex at all, like, none. I think I may be asexual. What do you do if neither spouse has any sexual desire? I mean, we are both very happy and our marriage can’t be any better, but I’m just wondering if this is normal and should we be worried if neither of us have any desire to have sex yet are happy either way…. Is asexuality bad? I love romance and so does my husband, but I have no desire for sex and neither does my husband. I’m just wondering your opinion of married couples who are completely happy being sexless like we are because reading everything you have written makes me wonder if me and my spouse are broken even though we are both otherwise in a happy marriage.

If you asked a psychologist or sex therapist what they think, I suspect they’d say you should only have sex as often as the two of you agree to have it. Moreover, some Christian authors and counselors might agree.

But what does God have to say about this?

I mean, hey, He invented this whole put-the-puzzle-pieces-together act. He also created the institution of marriage, with its other benefits and blessings. Surely, as both Creator and Lord, we should hear what He has to say about whether sex in marriage is nice or essential.

The passage many might consider as definitive is this one:

The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control (1 Corinthians 7:3-5, NLT).

Except in your case, it could be argued that neither of you feels deprived or experiences self-control issues in the realm of sex. So are you really hurting one another to avoid it?

But everything I see in Scripture says that sexual intimacy is supposed to be happening in marriage. Genesis 2:24 says, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” While this verse includes many aspects of marital intimacy, you won’t find any reputable biblical scholar who wouldn’t say that sex is among them. Even the word choice of one flesh connotes a physical connection.

Jesus affirmed this focus of marriage by citing the verse: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Mark 10:7-9).

Married couples have sex in the Bible. It’s what they do. Indeed, if you didn’t fulfill your full sexual obligations, you could get in trouble (see Genesis 38).

Additionally, God told His people to “be fruitful and multiply” — which means they must have sex. Now I do not believe this means every marriage must produce children, but it does show that one reason for marriage is to provide the context for creating more made-in-His-image human beings.

God’s Word as a whole not only allows but encourages married couples to make love — for the sake of reproduction, yes, but also for pleasure and intimacy.

God's Word as a whole not only allows but encourages married couples to make love -- for the sake of reproduction, yes, but also for pleasure and intimacy. Click To Tweet

And here’s where the crux lies: intimacy.

If you live with someone and have a great friendship and partnership, wonderful! That’s a great relationship to experience in your life.

But it simply doesn’t have the same depth as one in which you are vulnerable at the most intimate levels with one another, literally joining your bodies together in the act of sex. Moreover, you increase intimacy by bringing one another to heights of pleasure that release body chemicals that bond you further together. This is how God made our bodies.

But now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you that God intends your marriage to include sexual intimacy, but the real question is:

Why don’t you two desire sex?

Because you can mentally believe it’s good for you and still not want to do it. (Same reason why I’m not jogging right at this moment.) And I’m not going to advise, “Just schlep yourself to the bedroom, do the hokey-pokey, and check mark that you fulfilled your duty.”

That’s also clearly not God’s plan!

But physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy adults respond well to the pleasure and intimacy that sex with a beloved mate can bring. Plenty of people don’t have an independent drive ahead of time to engage, but they do get into it once things get started. So if you’re not getting into it, why? What’s amiss?

  • Have you soaked in erroneous messages that sex is inherent impure or base?
  • Do you experience pain or discomfort during sexual activity?
  • Did you have past experiences that soured you on sex?
  • Do have physiological issues, like depression or hormonal imbalance, that cause you to be disinterested?
  • Are you overly self-conscious about your bodies or the act itself?
  • Do you have arousal issues, like an inability to lubricate for the wife or erection problems for the husband?
  • Is your relationship more like a friendship than a romance?

Those are just some of the possibilities. But I would suggest that if you don’t respond well to sex, then something really is off and needs to be addressed. Because God made us to be sexual beings, desiring physical pleasure and intimacy with our spouse.

I would start with a visit to the doctor, asking for a full check-up to make sure there are not physical obstacles. If the issue is more spiritual teaching on the subject sex, may I suggest grabbing a copy of my devotional book, Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage (ebook less than $5), that will walk you through getting a godly, healthy view of sexuality. You may also want to see your pastor or a counselor together to discuss this issue and how you can address it. (Albeit it needs to be one who actually understands God’s design for marriage includes regular sexual intimacy.)

A sexless marriage, over time, can and likely will take its toll on your relational connection. It’s worth pursuing answers now to awaken the love in your marriage.

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Godly Sources of Intimacy with Guest Daniel Purcell

I haven’t had many men write for my blog — not that I don’t think they have a lot to say on the subject of God’s design for sex in marriage, but my primary goal has always been reaching wives. But when I came into contact with the creator of a neat little marriage app called Ultimate Intimacy, he told me a bit of his story and I asked him to share his perspective with my readers.

Hope y’all enjoy this as much as I did and that you’ll check out the Ultimate Intimacy app! (More into at the bottom.)

I’ve been married to my sweetheart for 14 years. We’re both active in our faith and church. We avoid R-rated movies, and definitely anything pornographic or salacious.  We have an Internet filter to help protect us and our six kids. We’ve seen friends marriages disintegrate because of pornography and a view of sex that’s more like what you read in grocery store checkout-line magazines.

Although my wife and I had what we thought was a good intimate relationship, there were many things we didn’t know we didn’t know because we didn’t feel safe looking for answers. We were too afraid that reading or watching something wouldn’t be appropriate, so we avoided it altogether. It appeared that it was easier than to navigate what appeared to be a moral minefield.

A Friend Tells Me…

One day a friend told my wife and me that his marriage changed dramatically in the last few months after he and his wife got a few things working really well in the bedroom. He mentioned a community of Christian bloggers that discuss sex in positive and wholesome ways. Let’s just say it was an exciting conversation I don’t usually have on a regular basis!

I was intrigued, but skeptical. I didn’t want to compromise my values, and going online  searching for information about sex seemed scary. However, I was yearning for what my friend had in his marriage. He just seemed so sincere! My wife and I jumped in together and decided to see what my friend was so excited about. This is how we found the blog and book, Hot, Holy & Humorous.

…But Is It Okay?

Besides unanswered questions we’ve always had about sex, we were now introduced to new ideas we hadn’t considered (I guess you don’t know what you don’t know, right?). In addition, we weren’t sure if it was right to be reading tips from other couples of what they enjoy their lovemaking (in general terms). This became our moral dilemma — if reading material like this was right with God. I believe that we can receive answers to prayers and guidance from a loving Heavenly Father, but He expects us to do our homework too.

The answers didn’t come all at once, but little bits at a time. Here were some of our guiding principles that helped us along the way:

  • “Seek and ye shall find” (Matthew 7:7). I believe that God is the source of all truth, including truths about sex. We could rely on him to teach us if we put in the effort.

God is the source of all truth, including truths about sex. We could rely on him to teach us if we put in the effort. ~ Daniel Purcell Click To Tweet

  • God is a giver of good gifts (Matthew 7:11). Although I knew God approved of sex (multiply and replenish the earth!), for the first time I came to realize deep in my heart that God actually loves sex. He invented it! He designed it not only for procreation but for husbands and wives to express love and strengthen marital bonds. As the creator of it, He made it amazing and wants His children to partake fully of this special gift He’s set apart for his children.
  • By their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:16). To me, this meant I could experiment a little with what we read and observe the outcome. The fruits I was looking for were a strengthened connection with my wife and things that would encourage me to be a faithful and devoted husband. If the fruits are good, then the tree the fruits come from must also be good.

With the above in mind, my wife and I spent a lot of time over the next few weeks talking, reading, and … ahem … doing our “homework.”  

The Fruits of a Healthy & Happy Sex Life

All of the sudden our marriage started to change! The first “fruit” we noticed is we started communicating better about everything, including the sensitive and the sacred. Another “fruit” was those twitterpated feelings from early on came back. We felt like newlyweds all over again, but better! I couldn’t (and still can’t) stop thinking of my wife during the day, just like back in the earlier dating days.

As for our physical intimacy, our frequency doubled, quality quadrupled, and overall marital satisfaction increased by an order of a magnitude. A weekly date night became a real set-in-stone thing. We were sleeping better and our stress levels went down. As a result, there was more peace in the home; it seemed like the kids started getting along better too.

My desire to be the best person I could be for my precious wife increased dramatically too. This meant I had some personal changes to make. Changing one’s habits aren’t easy, and it took some sacrifice on my part but have been well worth it for my dear, sweet angel wife Emily. I could go on further about the blessings we’ve enjoyed, but I think you get the picture.

My Soapbox

Improving the sexual dimension was just a part of our renewed enthusiasm for each other in our marriage. It seems though that a healthy, happy sexual relationship brings out the best in us. It leads people to be honest, true, chaste, benevolent, and to do good. It gives us strength to endure all things and fills our days with hope and excitement for our future. It leads us to honor our vows and be fully committed to each other.

It seems though that a healthy, happy sexual relationship brings out the best in us. ~ Daniel Purcell #marriage Click To Tweet

In our situation, it was knowhow, techniques, and new things to explore to keep things fresh that made the initial difference. Then, like a virtuous cycle, other areas of our marriage improved. When other areas improved, our sexually intimate area improved too.

I learned how important it is to make lovemaking fun and mutually fulfilling. None of this would be possible without feeling safe to explore helpful resources that we could apply in the bedroom. We’re grateful for the brave souls out there that are willing to share what they’ve learned in a healthy, positive, and constructive way. They’re blessing many lives, probably more than they’d ever know.

If there are readers with a spouse who’s unsure about this blog, podcast, books, or Facebook group, I hope they’ll at least read about our experience and reconsider. I want to tell them to be brave and realize there’s a lot of good people out there sharing real experiences based on true principles. I hope they find that learning more about God’s design for intimacy is uplifting, wholesome, and encouraging. And can be really, really fun too!

J again: Be sure to check out Daniel’s app! Trust me—go ahead and pay for the premium. (It’s about the same cost as a Chick-fil-A meal, y’all.) You can thank me later.

Ultimate Intimacy App Banner

5 Times You Teach Holy and Healthy Sex to Your Kids

Parents have a strong influence in how their children view their sexuality and establish standards for sexual intimacy.

Parents have a strong influence in how their children view their sexuality and establish their standards for sexual intimacy. Click To Tweet

And much of that influence is not overt, but rather what we model day by day. With that in mind, here are five times you teach holy and healthy sex to your kids.

1. When you show affection in front of your children.

Young children typically enjoy seeing their parents embrace and kiss, but older children can give us the impression they don’t like it very much. They might roll their eyes, squish up their face, or even say, “Yuck!” Perhaps we don’t want to embarrass them, or perhaps we’re uncomfortable being affectionate when they understand more about romantic relationships, but many couples stop showing much affection in front of their kids.

But even if it feels a little awkward or it causes a reaction from your kids, it’s healthy to show affection in front of them. Children need to know their parents are still committed, loving, and even a little sexy to one another. Flirting, holding hands, hugging, and mild kissing are all wonderful practices for them to see. And yes, it’s good for them to know those actions lead to more intimate encounters that they don’t witness. All of this assures them of their parents bond and the benefits of marriage.

2. When you pursue and protect time alone.

You need time away from your children as a couple. And that time shouldn’t only happen when they are unaware, such as when they’re asleep. Let your children know that Mom and Dad want and deserve time alone together, in the bedroom, without interruption.

Depending on their age, that could mean announcing that it’s Mommy and Daddy’s special time, or that it’s date night, or that you just want to be alone (which teens can decipher and don’t want to know more about). But make a point of letting your children see that a husband and wife pursue and protect alone time, because they enjoy being together in romantic and intimate ways.

3. When you answer their questions about sex.

Sometimes I receive the question, “When should I tell my kids about sex?” For a lot of parents, the answer is “whenever they ask” — to which I could add, “as many times as they ask.” Yes, I think you need to have a specific talk with your children describing the sexual act, but the vast majority of teaching throughout the years will be simply answering their questions.

Think about your own experience growing up: Didn’t you have questions about sex? Who did you go to for answers? My bet is that many of us parents would like our kids to come to us rather than the other options available. So when our children ask us about sex in any way, we need to be open to the conversation, willing to listen to their thoughts and concerns, and able to respond in a way that encourages a positive, God-honoring view of sexual intimacy.

4. When you protect them against predators.

When I was growing up, minors had to intentionally seek out porn; now they have to avoid it like a stream of dodge balls coming at them. And it’s not just pornography, but mature-rated shows on streaming sites and Google searches on unrelated topics. Then there are online chats and multi-player games where a predator could interact with your child. I’m not trying to scare you, but we should be aware of risks out there.

Consequently, our kids need us to be their protectors. This involves talking to them about what’s out there and how to make good decisions. Even young children can understand, “If something on the screen makes you uncomfortable, press this off button, then come and get me or Daddy.” You can talk to tweens and tweens more openly, asking them what they encounter and coaching them on how to handle it. And you can install internet filters on their computers to keep them from being targeted by adult sexual content.

Get Covenant Eyes internet filtering software (affiliate link)

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By the way, you won’t have much moral authority on this one if your internal attitude is “I can look at the XXX stuff, but they can’t.” So if you are struggling with porn use or lust, you need to address that as well. Don’t hold off helping your kids while you work on this sin, but recognize that teens in particular are smarter than you think and, if you keep it up, will likely pick up on you being a hypocrite.

5. When you point them to what God says about sex.

I didn’t leave this point for last because it’s least important, but rather because I want to make sure it’s the last point you hear and process. Our goal with our children should always be teaching them about God’s design for sexuality. As the Creator of sex, what did He say it’s for, how does He talk about it in Scripture, and what does purity really mean? Why is God’s design better than the world’s teaching? And how can they have a great sexual relationship once they’re married?

When they’re young, these messages are as simple as celebrating the way God made their bodies—all of their bodies. As as they age and you answer their questions, bring God into that conversation, making sure they fully understand that sex was and is God’s idea. Demonstrate with your words and actions that sex in marriage is not simply physical, but also emotional and spiritual. Let them know that the Bible likens the marriage relationship to the intimacy God longs to have with us. We are a mirror of His love.

The Bible likens the #marriage relationship to the intimacy God longs to have with us. We are a mirror of His love. Click To Tweet

Our parental influence is far more than we think at times. This is no guarantee, because we each have free will, but let’s do what we can to set our kids up for a healthy and godly perspective of sex.

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Is Joking about Sex Okay?

My site is called Hot, Holy & Humorous — because those are three aspects of sex in marriage. And if you’ve read or followed me much, you know that I love humor. Indeed, I believe a sense of humor is what makes life more bearable in bad times and more enjoyable in good times.

I’ve been known to crack a few sex jokes and chuckle at innuendos. One of my favorites is when someone asks me about masturbation, and I answer, “Well, now that’s a touchy topic.” And you’ll periodically hear one-liners and laughter in our Sex Chat for Christian Wives podcast.

But is there such a thing as too much sexual humor? Or a type of sexual humor that should be avoided?

Is there such a thing as too much sexual humor? Or a type of sexual humor that should be avoided? Click To Tweet

Is there such a thing as too much sexual humor? Or a type of sexual humor that should be avoided?

Ephesians 5:3-5 says:

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Hmmm. Should we reconsider how we treat the subject of sex in conversation? Don’t panic yet. Let me outline a few thoughts here.

1. Context matters.

This passage is talking about sexual immorality and impurity, and conversation in that context. A sexual innuendo about one’s body part is one thing when spoken to your spouse and a whole other thing when spoken to someone else. The first is in the context of a covenant relationship blessed by God with intimacy as the goal of that humor. While the second clearly meets the “out of place” definition in the scripture and could lead to the immorality and impurity warned about.

Now this isn’t license to say anything whatsoever within marriage, because our words should always meet the goal of building one another up (Ephesians 4:29). But speaking innuendos to your beloved mate isn’t an immoral or impure act. Indeed, look at how the lovers spoke to one another in Song of Songs — their playful use of metaphors and euphemisms. That’s a good example of how we can use sexual sense of humor in positive ways.

That said, we need to be careful how we speak in mixed company, to ensure that we are not nudging someone toward impurity. Sexual innuendos broadly (like my “touchy” joke above) don’t meet that definition to me — it’s just us laughing at the shared experience of life — but specifics could be problematic.

2. Content matters.

In the commentaries I read on this passage, the most common takeaway was that sin isn’t funny. Coarse joking about things like sexual trafficking, pornography addiction, adultery, etc. are not a Christ-like approach to sin. We can all nod our heads on this one, but let’s be honest: This can be difficult to follow all the time, because we tend to diffuse stressful situations with humor. It’s a go-to coping mechanism for some.

But real brokenness is heart-rending. It pricks God’s heart and should prick ours too. For instance, there were many jokes about Hugh Hefner through the years, but I never thought he was funny; rather, he was sad, pathetic, and damaging. Likewise, nothing about the #MeToo movement is funny for those who have been sexually harassed and/or assaulted.

Living in Texas, I remember vividly when front-runner candidate Clayton Williams lost the governor’s race by making an offhand comment comparing bad weather to rape. It wasn’t simply in poor taste; it was thoughtless and heartless to everyone (women and men) who had been raped. That is sexual humor gone much too far.

3. Consequence matters.

What’s the result of your sexual humor? Is it lightening you and others up about the awkwardness and foibles of the sexual act? Is it convincing us that sex is universally funny in some ways? Is it having a shared moment of humor with a close friend? Is it inducing greater intimacy between you and your spouse?

Or is it causing your spouse or friends discomfort? Is it encouraging your mind to dwell on sexual improprieties? Is it arousing your lust as much as it tickles your funny bone?

The goal is for God’s people to maintain sexual purity and morality, and if your humor doesn’t do that, then you need to take a step back and ask what, if anything, you need to change.

Now, admittedly, I sometimes have a commenter slam me for my sexual sense of humor here on the blog in a way that makes it clear the person is way too uptight. If someone thinks that Christianity means No Joking Allowed, then the problem isn’t really the joke but the audience. Tough crowd. Is this mic on? Of course if you’re married to that “tough crowd,” you need to tread carefully. Encourage them toward lightning up a little, but don’t dismiss their discomfort.

Is it okay to joke about sex? A playful attitude toward sex can help us see this act in a proper light, pursue greater intimacy with our spouse, and bring laughter to our daily lives. None of those things dishonors God’s design for sex.

But if and when our sexual humor is in the wrong context, includes immoral content, or has a damaging consequence, we need to rethink the purpose and power of our words.

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