Tuesday, February 25, 2014
I'll just tell you. It's a post on sex. (part 5)
I was hesitant to embark on this little series on sex.
But after hearing from some of you on how it has helped start conversations that needed to be started and inspired effort where effort was lacking, I was so glad I listened to my heart and went for it. Even though I too have learned a lot from analyzing our issues with sex, we've only covered a small fraction of the possible topics. I'm in no way qualified to even try to cover all of them. Regardless, I hope and pray you've been able to connect and be encouraged by bits of what we have had a chance to cover.
In this last part, I had a few more things to share.
Lately, I've been reflecting on what it means to honor marriage itself. We often hear messages about husbands honoring wives or wives respecting husbands. But I am being reminded lately that marriage itself is a living parable for the world to see of the relationship between Jesus and his bride, the church (and by 'church', I mean the believers themselves). Marriage is meant to be a picture of Jesus' love for us. Broken Christian marriages show the world a faulty picture, that Jesus is not committed to us, that the love between God and man is conditional and unreliable. I know this is oversimplifying things, but my point is that marriage as a covenant is also deserving of honor. I read this verse recently:
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
It's an intense verse. God is not merely suggesting that marriage be honored, but requiring it, and says that honoring marriage is tied to sex. One way a couple honors the covenant of marriage is to have a healthy sex life. Interesting, isn't it? Sometimes it seems we in the Christian community believe that a good marriage is made up of a set of serious things. Communication. Compatibility. Common goals. Cohesive parenting. And if we have a good sex life too, well, that's like icing on the cake. Seems a lot of people might say, "Gosh, that's lucky if you have a good marriage AND have good sex too". In reality, God says that sex is a very important part of the cake itself. A healthy marriage can't do without it (barring the rare exceptions, of course, when long term circumstances prevent it). Sex is not a disposable hobby that a couple does together from time to time, like playing tennis; a healthy intimate connection is much more crucial to maintaining a healthy relationship.
For me, the verse above helps me understand how much God really intends for us to enjoy sex. It implies that if we are not experiencing or at least pursuing a healthy sex life with our spouse, we are not honoring marriage. I mean, doesn't that tell us how high of a priority sex is to God? And a dishonored marriage has a difficult time being a strong one.
We can find so many encouragements in the Bible that apply to our sex lives. Here are my paraphrases.
Don't deprive each other. Meet each other's sexual needs. (I Cor. 7)
Consider one another better than yourselves. (Phil 2:3-4)
Unfaithfulness begins in the heart. (Matt 5:28)
Proverbs 5 and Song of Solomon contain some beautiful words regarding sexuality.
I'm guessing Satan is loving how many people are promoting His "Sex is bad, bodies are bad" campaign. I think it breaks God's heart to see His kids buy into those lies about His creation, His beauty. Particularly if you personally have experienced damage from others' messages about your body or your sexuality, make it your mission to change the course of those lies in your own parenting. Those lies need to crash and burn on the rocks of truth.
I haven't heard this series myself, but I know many (including my husband) who have enjoyed pastor Mark Driscoll's sermons based on the book of the Bible, Song of Solomon. I've heard Mark really extracts the nitty gritty from these Scriptures, a dialogue between two lovers, and he makes a bold case for awesome married sex that I'm guessing most of us have not heard from a pulpit before.
If' you're like me, you grew up hearing a lot more about what the Bible restricts, sexually, as opposed to what it allows and promotes. In fact, it seems to be a huge problem for the church: young people are told sex is bad, bad, bad, and then once they get married, they are expected to have a sudden change of heart. I believe that if we tell our children only negative things about sex and their bodies in an attempt to prevent them from making mistakes, we'll still harm them by omitting the purpose for sexuality and the beauty God intended us to find in it.
My aim, as my children age, is to explain that sex is awesome, but that it is designed to be experienced under certain circumstances that are chosen by God for our good. He knows how life works best. If we choose to go outside His plans, then we'll be hurt by our own sin. If we choose to follow His plans, then He will allow us to enjoy the goodness and blessings within His boundaries. But I will strive to err on the side of explaining how sex is designed to BLESS us and show us a bit of true intimacy in a way that is hard to find elsewhere, this side of heaven.
I'll end this series with a few creative ideas for your own marriage that I've heard around town.
1. The getaway jar: On your anniversary (or any date, really), start banking a few bucks into a jar each time you are intimate. Then, in one year, use the savings to take a romantic night or weekend away.
2. The incentive jar: This jar is pre-stocked with slips of paper, like coupons, containing ideas for fun grown up times. You decide whatever that means. The coupons can be from one person to another, or for both people to draw. The idea is that if a person is working towards a personal goal, let's say training for a marathon or trying to lose 20 lbs, he or she gets to draw a reward for hitting an incremental mark. In the examples above it may be for every 5 miles added to a running distance, or for every 3 pounds lost. If it's something you or your husband is going to work towards anyway, you may as well involve some fun rewards as you go.
3. Conversation: It doesn't sound sexy, but it's a good idea to push down your inhibitions with your spouse and open up the communication about your sex life, how it could be improved, raised in priority, how you feel it is honoring (or dishonoring) your marriage itself. And then talk about all the stuff that I can't write here. The fun stuff. Brainstorm. Have a glass of wine if you need to first. (wait, did I just say that?)
4. Field research: Especially if you didn't grown up in a Christian environment, expand your knowledge and understanding of God's ideas about sex by reading a book or listening to a series (like the Driscoll one above) together. There are several good books on healthy intimacy in marriage on sites like Christianbook.com. And nearly every good-sized church has sermons online for instant viewing by topic. I believe it is always a good idea to remain a student of truth and a student of your spouse in all areas, sex included.
5. Indoor date night: Give yourself permission to tell your kids (obvs if they're a capable age) that parenting time is over at bedtime (make it a tad early), and that you and daddy will be spending time together alone. They need to see that you prioritize one another, and that your family is not always kid-centric. Then lock your door and go on a date in your own room, whatever that entails. Netflix, popcorn, a board game, candles, cute PJs, yada yada.
Well, I've had fun during this series. I hope you have too. I'd love to hear any stories, questions, or thoughts you've had in response. Feel free to email me if you'd like at Lnp0202@aol.com.
And hey. Thanks for reading.