You know your marriage is stable when you can have sexually oriented conversations with your spouse. Outside of having intimate discussions about what the Lord is doing in your life, there is probably no other kind of marital talk that reveals the real strength of your relationship than conversations about sex and sexuality between spouses.
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Though we live in a sexually explicit culture where promiscuous thinking and behaving is the norm, many Christian husbands and wives are still intimidated about having God-centered, biblically motivated sex talks. There are many reasons for this problem.
The main one being our “Adamic-inherited-fear” that impacts every sphere of our thoughts and actions. The closer you press toward spiritual and physical intimacy, the more difficult it will be for you to be vulnerable with others.
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” – Genesis 2:16-17
The two fundamental breakdowns after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden were their relationships with God and each other. The Lord told them if they sinned there would be a severing of His protective and sovereign care. Adam and Eve ignored His warning by sinning anyway, and the “fear factor” kicked in shortly after that. And humanity’s fallen fearful state is why some people are intimidated about discussing intimate things.
And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” – Genesis 3:10
Adam and Eve became afraid of God. Their fearfulness not only affected the spiritual dynamics of their lives, but it also affected them physically. God became distant, and they became sexually confused.
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. – Genesis 3:7
We’re born with a sense of shame and guilt. We have this internally awkward awareness that compels us to want to hide from God and others (Romans 3:10-12), which is why there is a direct correlation between how a person relates to God spiritually and how he relates to his spouse sexually.
The God-influenced man will have a healthy view and practice of sex (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). The same goes for his wife. The Godless man or woman will have an unbiblical view and practice of sex.
Your perspective, attitude, and practice of sexuality are proportional to your perspective, attitude, and relationship with the Lord. Adam and Eve broke their relationship with God, which spun them into sexual confusion.
Sexual dysfunction makes sense because God is the author of sex. He made Adam and Eve for the enjoyment of each other (Genesis 2:24-25). Sex was God’s idea. Then sin came, and our thinking about sex became chaotic.
I am going to highlight two areas where sin can easily break a husband and wife down while keeping them from being naked and unashamed with each other.
- Sin will keep a man from talking about his sexual temptations.
- Sin will tempt a woman to be offended by his sexual attractions.
Because of these two realities, many couples are never able to openly and humbly discuss how sin is captivating them. Even to the degree of keeping sexually oriented secrets from each other.
(1) Lust tempts the husband easily, and (2) insecurity hinders the wife from engaging him in humble discussions about sex-related problems. A lack of “sexual communication” is a formula for secret-keeping, anger, sexual frustration, communication breakdowns, bitterness, unforgiveness, and resentment. I’m sure you can add a few more labels to the mix, but you get the idea.
If a husband and wife do not fight for biblically appropriate sexual discussions, they will never be able to realize the fullness of the marriage that God offers them.
Sex is a deeply spiritual moment for two people who love God and each other (Matthew 22:36-40). When omnipresent God is ruling the heart of a man and a woman who are physically intimate with each other, they are enjoying the most profound human communal experience possible.
Think about the sexual relationship between Adam and Eve before Genesis 3:1-7. It was God, Adam, and Eve with no sin to interrupt their thoughts or actions. Grasping such things is hard.
The good news for us is because of the power of the gospel, the freedom of forgiveness, and the enablement of the Spirit, we can come to a “close approximation of physical intimacy” that Adam and Eve enjoyed before sin.
Lust Tempts Men
Before a couple can come to this kind of close approximation of physical intimacy, they must deal with the reality of sin in their lives. They must not ignore sin; it is real, and it is divisive. When it comes to sex, there are two competing interests vying for the mind of a man:
- He was wired to enjoy sex.
- Sinful thinking distorts his attitude toward sex.
This “sexual confusion” means a man must be honest about how sexual realities play out in his mind. It also means his wife must have the grace to provide a context for him to share his truest thoughts about sexual temptations.
Adam and Eve were controlled by shame and guilt after they sinned. God was no longer the governing and motivating power behind their actions. Sin ruled their hearts, which exposed their nakedness and shame in a wicked way.
The first thing a man must do to counteract the awkwardness about having sexual discussions with his wife is to fix any brokenness that exists in his relationship with God. Conversations about sex originate from the heart of husband as he relates to God, not with the lips as he talks to his wife (Luke 6:45).
If a man’s heart is not right with God, the kind of speech he has with his wife about sexual things will not be appropriate. Too many individuals miss this important step. If they ever get the gumption to share their temptations with their wives, they usually do so before spending adequate time with the Lord.
Your heart must be calibrated by God before you start talking about your sexual temptations with your wife. Keeping in step with the Spirit means being like-minded with the Spirit on sexual things.
If the Spirit is illuminating and guiding your sexual speech, you should be equipped to engage your wife with the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control when you talk to your spouse (Galatians 5:22-23).
Insecurity Tempts Women
All relationships are about giving and receiving. I have addressed the heart of the “speech giver” (the husband) when it comes to talking about his struggles and temptations regarding sex. It is just as incumbent on the “speech receiver” (the wife) to have a right relationship with God so she can hear from the Lord as she listens to her husband.
One of the cool things about the gospel is how it creates an environment where two people can be honest with each other. The ability to be gracious and receptive about your problems are two things that you love about God. He will not judge or condemn you when you bare your soul to Him. This truth was why the Psalmist could boldly approach God this way:
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! – Psalm 139:23-24
Wow! How bold is that? How emboldening is that? God gives you an incredible confidence to be honest with Him, and you know He will kindly steward your problems. How releasing.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. – Ephesians 5:1
Imitating God in the realm of awkward conversations begs the question for wives: How are you imitating God as far as creating a context for your husband to be honest with you? Your approachableness does not mean he will be honest with you., but that is not the concern at this moment (Romans 12:18).
You want to imitate your Lord by providing a context for your husband to be weak and vulnerable regarding his sin problems, whether or not he steps up to this responsibility. If you are not able to provide this for him, your first call to action is to repair your relationship with God.
The biblical word for insecurity is fear. Adam and Eve were insecure because of their broken relationship with God. Your insecurity is as strong as your relationship with the Lord. The God-empowered, God-centered, and God-motivated woman is standing in God’s strength, and will not be overcome by her spouse’s problems.
Your husband’s temptations will expose what kind of relationship you have with the Lord. If you’ve placed more hope in his ability to keep from sinning rather than the Lord’s power to stabilize you during disappointments, your strength will only be as strong as your husband’s ability to not fail.
If you’ve placed your primary hope in God, your stability will not be affected by other-worldly factors like your spouse’s failures. And you will experience the grace to bring restorative care to him when (or if) he shares his more personal temptations.
Making It Practical
Perhaps you’re not able to have these types of sexual conversations with your spouse. I realize there are many complicating reasons for this. If you’re not able to enter into biblically centered sexual discussions, the first place to begin is prayer.
Ask the Lord to do a great work of grace in your heart (Proverbs 21:1). He is willing to do such things for the humble person (James 4:6). Layout your soul before Him, asking Him to provide the grace you need to be a God-governed spouse.
Maybe your spouse will never change. I don’t know. But his change should never interfere with how the grace of God operates in your life. Be daring. Ask the Lord to search your heart, and if He reveals any evil in you, repent. Be free from sin.
Second, begin to make plans to enter into a discussion with your spouse. Approach your spouse with grace and courage. Be like Adam and Eve when sin was not present with them. You can do this if you have removed your sin through the grace-effective means of repentance.
If your spouse is not interested in going further with you, be at peace. Be released from the temptation of a bad attitude toward your spouse. You’ve done what you can do (Romans 12:18). Maybe there will be another time or season for you to re-enter this discussion.
If your spouse is not interested in going further with you, ask the Father to bring a friend of the same-sex into your life to provide encouragement and care for you.
Warning – This kind of attention from a friend should never be about your spouse’s faults. Your communication should be about you maturing in the Lord. Don’t slander or devalue your spouse before others.
If your spouse is interested in going further with you, and your heart has been adjusted by the Lord, by all means, begin talking to your spouse. Use discernment, wisdom, and grace when you begin sharing your heart.
Typically, in situations like these, the other spouse has not spent the same amount of time in prayer and reflection. One spouse is almost always “ahead” of the other, spiritually speaking. Never assume you’re in the same place or at the same level of maturity, willingness, or humility.
Be measured, but courageous. Lead your spouse. If you’re the wife, you should still take the lead. My wife is my number one discipler. She leads me well when I’m not doing a great job at it. I praise God for the things He has given her, and her initiative to humbly share those things with me.
Also published on Medium.