My last post covered what I believe to be the top myth women learn about sex in Christian circles: Sex is for him. (If you haven’t, go read the whole post here.) Today I wanted to follow up with what I’ve concluded is the top myth Christian men learn.
Again, this is not a scientific conclusion, since I don’t have data to back me up. But I listened to men — in person, online, in articles, in research, etc. — and asked husbands in my closed Facebook group to give their answers. And nearly all responses related to this one myth:
Your sexuality is a problem.
While we see messages in the opposite direction — that something’s wrong with a guy who isn’t wanting it all the time — most Christian men seem to hear at one point or another that their sexuality is a problem for them and/or their wife. Why? Because it’s too shallow, too intense, too aggressive … just too much.
You have my sympathy, men. And my acceptance — because I wholeheartedly believe God created male sexuality to be a wonderful benefit to marriage.God created male sexuality to be a wonderful benefit to marriage. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet
Let’s look at the some of the specific messages husbands reported learning about sex that lead to this overall myth that his sexuality is a big, big problem.
You have to earn sex.
We speak both seriously and jokingly about all the things a husband must do to create the right atmosphere for her to say yes. And while there’s some real truth to that, it can also feel to a man like sex is a reward he has to earn. His sexuality only gets attention when he follows all the “rules” or completes the necessary requirements.
As an intimacy author and speaker, I can attest to the difficulty in threading this needle just so — because yes, we should put forth effort to make sex feasible and meaningful, but it shouldn’t be used as a bargaining tool. (See The Bad Plan of Bartering for Sex.)
Your desire for sexual intimacy with your wife should matter more than you taking out the garbage or mowing the lawn. Those are good things too, but you shouldn’t be made to feel like sex is a treat you earn.
Emotional intimacy is better.
Through the years, several husbands have reported going to Christian marriage counseling, bringing up the lack of sex in their marriage, and being told by the counselor that sex wasn’t that important — that the wife’s desire for emotional closeness through communication and affection were far more worthwhile.
Um, excuse me, would someone like to tell God that?
We have biblical commands to make love in marriage, but — racking my brain — I cannot think of a scripture that specifically says we must converse in marriage. Now don’t go away thinking that you’re off the hook! Because all those verses about loving each other strongly imply that you listen, engage, and respect your spouse. But my point is simply that sex is clearly important in marriage, because it’s specifically addressed in God’s Word.
More importantly, sex is emotional. Or should be. Emotional intimacy matters! But sexual intimacy should not be pushed to the side as if it is lesser than. Especially when that’s a significant way many husbands connect emotionally to their wives.
She’ll never enjoy it as much as you do.
Some men are prepped from the get-go to believe that their sexuality is and will be a problem, because she won’t like it the way he does. Thus, it becomes this conundrum of how he can satisfy his sexual longings while not being too much of a bother to his wife.
Husbands choose different strategies, such as playing “will she or won’t she?” with tentative advances or attempts to read her mood day by day. Perhaps they try to get sex over with quickly, and some wives encourage this (because they heard their own myths), or they downplay her orgasm. They might masturbate instead of pursuing her. Or simply build up resentment against their sex drive.
Meanwhile, husbands with higher-drive wives are caught off-guard to discover that she enjoys it as much or more than he does. And squaring the myth with the reality proves challenging, and can even make him feel like less of a man. (You’re not, but I get it. See A Letter to the Low-Drive Husband.)
Look, few couples have equally matched sex drives. About 70-80% of the time, the husband has the greater desire. But that’s still a lot of marriages where it’s the wife. Regardless, if the mismatch causes a problem — it’s a we problem that you just have to work out together.
She’ll enjoy it as much as you do.
Hold up, hold up, you’re saying. This is the exact opposite of the previous point, so how they can both count as spreading the overall myth? Great question! But what I noticed in husbands’ responses is some guys learned that if you wait until marriage, both husband and wife will be all over each other, all the time, and it will be fantastic — like Skittles candy rainbows all day, every day.
And then, they get married, and it doesn’t happen quite like that. So they conclude on their own or get told that their sexuality is the problem. Perhaps it seems like they want sex too much. Or what actually happens is that she enjoys it more than he does — and what on earth are you supposed to do with that?!
We are complex beings, with a range of physiology, personality, values, and experiences that all shape your sexual interest. When you get married, an individual marries an individual, and then your sexuality becomes about our sexuality — and you have to work that out together. Welcome to the challenges and joys of relationship!
Once you’re married, temptation will end.
“Once you get married, you won’t be so tempted to lust or watch porn because you’ll be getting sex with your wife.” And you might think this doesn’t work with the whole your sexuality is a problem myth, because on its face, this statement sounds like your sexuality isn’t a problem — as long as it’s directed at your wife.
But when you get married, and you’re still struggling, you can feel like your sexuality is a problem. When what’s actually a problem is sin.
We probably use food analogies with sex too often, but they work so well! So here I go: The idea that getting married will quash your porn habit makes about as much sense as saying that a well-prepared meal will keep you from eating junk food between meals. Good food will help, but if you’ve trained yourself to raid the pantry every day for Red Bull and Twinkies, that habit isn’t going to go away just because someone put a healthy salad in your face. And the problem isn’t food, but your misuse of it.
You have to work on the bad habits and the temptation itself. A quality sex life can help, but it will not stop you from sinning. And really, your sin will make it difficult for you to have a quality sex life, because your spouse deserves your full sexual attention.
Is Male Sexuality a Problem?
Some Christian men received a mixed message that could almost be expressed as: Left to its own, the male sexual desire is a savage beast beating at its cage, and if completely released, it can wreak destruction! … So go use it with the woman you love.
Wait, what?! Even if your sex drive is an animal, you can train it. Just like you have to train everything in your life! As a child, you had to figure out how to walk, how to talk, how to use the bathroom (they even call it potty training). But nobody says walking, eating, and using the bathroom are a problem. They are good and healthy parts of being human, knit together by the Master Himself.
One particular husband in my Facebook group summarized so well how some men have been made to feel about their sexuality:
“…it’s not just that we are taught our sexual feelings are ‘big and bad’, which we totally are. It’s that we are not taught that our sexuality is as divinely appointed a part of the whole of who we are as is our spirituality, our intelligence, our physicality, etc. We are taught, or left to conclude, that our sexual self and all of the accompanying feelings, is corrupt, fallen, should be despised, and must be defeated. It’s not just our actual struggles we feel guilty about, it is for having sexuality.”Ray, married 26 years
If you’ve been taught your sexuality is bad, gentlemen, that’s a lie. Yes, Satan desires to twist anything and everything in our lives to move us away from the vast blessings God can give us. But your sexuality is from God, and He knew exactly what He was doing when He created you. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14).Your sexuality is from God, and He knew exactly what He was doing when He created you. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet
If your sexuality has been marred by sin, address that! But embrace your sexuality itself as a God-given benefit to your marriage, one that can spur you on to greater intimacy with your wife.