On Sex and Faith and Marriage
Jamus and Annie sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G.
Jamus, (my husband) and I started dating in college and I thought about him all the time. There was texting, phone calls where we would talk for hours, and just making up random excuses to be near one another. One night I called him because it was “unsafe” to run by myself and I needed an escort. Let’s just say I didn’t have to twist his arm.
As we spent more and more time together, I became increasingly infatuated with this Aston Kutcher look-alike with a country accent who loved Jesus with all of his heart. We got engaged after a few months of dating and were married within three and a half months. A significant part of the reason for this rabbit-like pace towards marriage was due to the fact that we wanted to “know” each other better (as the Bible puts it). While dating, we couldn’t keep our hands off of each other! We were like magnets drawn together by a force stronger than ourselves. I remember one night we hung out in the Big Lots parking lot because that was one of the few places we thought it would be hard to fall into sin. As we approached the big day, I envisioned that every sexual encounter would resemble scenes from the Notebook, and I couldn’t wait to get the party started.
First comes love, then comes marriage.
Married in the smothering month of July, we had a sizzling honeymoon (aside from the big fight we had on the second night in the produce aisle of the Winn-Dixie), but then the weeks turned into months and the veil was lifted. We quickly realized that we had not necessarily married Mr. or Mrs. Right, but that we had married another sinner. We came to see that we had married real sinners who were selfish, hateful, rude, arrogant, annoying, stubborn, and jealous. Sinners who throw high-heel shoes at their husband’s foreheads. Sinners who slam their wife’s just-delivered, favorite pizza on the floor and say, “Eat that!” Sinners who fought in such a way that the poor neighbors on the other side of those thin little walls at the seminary married housing must have thought, “My goodness, I feel sorry for whoever goes to their church!”
In spite of all of the drama, we were still having sex. Yet by this time it was less of a strong, passionate pull and more of a duty or obligation. My thoughts were, “I know, I should have sex with my husband. I know he has a ‘need’ and I would not be a good Christian wife if I withheld … after all, 1 Corinthians 7:5 commands me ‘Don’t deprive’ him… ”
However, I found it very hard to give myself physically to someone who would not give himself to me emotionally. He found it hard to open up to someone emotionally who did not respect him. It’s not that we weren’t thinking about one another, trust me, we thought about each other a ton—just not in the positive sense of the word.
Then comes a baby in a baby carriage.
While we could barely keep our hands off one another in dating, it was a struggle to get us to put our hands on one another when married. Add in one baby, two babies, and then three babies later, and my pre-baby abs were gone. My sex drive wasn’t far behind. I was up to my knees in diapers, spit-up, toys, laundry, cooking, cleaning, and not to mention it was as though my hormones had been sipping on a can of crazy! Breaking up big brother and little sister fights, disciplining, trying to teach them the ABC’s … I was thinking about our children all day. How am I going to potty train? What am I going to cook that is remotely healthy? How can I teach them the Gospel? Or, let’s simplify things: how can I just keep everyone alive? Sex was the last thing on my mind—except for when I was feeling condemned that it wasn’t happening nearly enough. When your life is moving so quickly, you tend to only think of what is directly in front of you. And for me, it was my children. It was easy to keep our hands off one other, because our hands were so busy with other things. Many nights we hit the bed too dead-tired to even think about sex, much less have it. I would give him the cold shoulder and hope that he didn’t start rubbing my back. Sure, there were other nights when we would come together simply because it had been too long—these nights I never regret.
We can also reject our husband just by the way that we look (or don’t look). Things like not showering for three days (not that I know about this), wearing that stained t-shirt you have had since college (hypothetically speaking), or wearing those pants or shorts he hates (which pair?). Ladies, remember that our men are primarily driven and aroused by what they see; they are visually stimulated. Let’s give them something to look at! From our head to the bed.
But I’ve learned something, it’s not just our husbands who need sex, girls, we need sex! God gave us this gift to bond us together not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. God tells us in Mark 10:8 that “the two shall become one flesh”—one—in the fullest and purest sense of the word. Studies have shown that human orgasm affects the same parts of the brain as heroine and cocaine. Because oxytocin and vasopressin are released slowly during sexual activity, these chemicals so heighten pleasure for a man that it essentially binds him to whatever caused it. Some call this the “biochemical love potion,” and God wired us this way to glue a husband and wife together forever. Thus, through the continual sexual act, a couple literally becomes “addicted” to one another. Consequently, sex is one of God’s most profound and effective ways of ensuring that a husband and wife remain together until death do they part.
So then, how can we awaken sexual desire in the midst of the mess and exhaustion of life?
I’m thoroughly convinced that God wants us to have a desire for sex—a sexual desire for our husbands—a frequent “coming together” driven by desire, not merely duty. So how can we increase our desire?
A few years ago I would have told you the way to boost your sex drive was to spend more time thinking about your husband’s positive qualities and less time focusing in on his annoying, stupid, stubborn, lazy, ridiculous qualities. However, after several years of practicing this method, I found it to be flawed and, more often than not, it just did not work for me.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a great idea to reflect on the positive thoughts about one’s spouse. The Bible commands us to think on “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about these things” (Philippians 4:8 NIV).
However, I don’t believe this is the foundation for a hot sex life. Our husband is not the source of our happiness and therefore he cannot be the starting place when it comes to our thoughts. There can be weeks where my McDreamy is crushing it as a husband … he is helping with the kids, wearing my favorite cologne, planning date nights, taking out the trash, and yet, something is still “off.” It didn’t seem to matter how many good thoughts I had in my head, I just didn’t want to get in bed. By all means, please continue to be thankful for your husband and remember all of the evidences of grace in his life, but don’t forget the one thought that will really boost that bedroom bliss.
Here was the missing link: think on the Gospel.
Ultimately, it is the Gospel that changes the way we approach our husband. The world says “scratch my back, and I will scratch yours.” The Gospel says, “You cannot do anything for me, and yet I will do everything for you.” We are not worthy of anything that the Lord gives to us. I often want Jamus to perform well (be worthy) before I show him love; this is anti-Gospel. The Gospel says even if you don’t take out the trash and you have been rude today, I will still pour out my love for you—even as Christ poured out His love for me on the cross when I was at my worst.
The Gospel changes the way we love others.
Start with the Gospel, but by all means—think about your man!
I confess I have not thought about Jamus like I should. Yet the Bible teaches us that where our treasure is, our hearts will follow (Luke 12:34). One of our greatest treasures are the countless thoughts that we have every day, and so wherever our thoughts are, there our hearts (and bodies) will follow.
Once we make it to the bedroom for that moment of intimacy, it’s great. But getting there can be a challenge. There are nights when we might say, “Do you want to?” … as we try to read the other person’s non-verbals. This kind of half-hearted (secretly hoping they’re too tired) approach almost always leads to frustration, disappointment, and possibly even bitterness. Rejection from your helpmate never feels good.
In other cases, maybe he gives you that look across the room and you know he is thinking “it’s business time!” but you roll your eyes like “are you kidding me?”
“Okay, fine, let’s get this thing over with,” or, “Alright, we can do it, but let’s make it quick.” And then maybe you don’t say anything at all and you are just watching the ceiling, thinking about the long list of things that you have to do tomorrow.
But ladies, believe it or not, your husband does not simply want you physically; he wants you emotionally. He wants you to be excited about sex! He wants to know that you’re enjoying it.
After all, how would you feel if you were the one approaching him and he was like, “Alright, fine … I know I should, so let’s get ‘er done.”
When Jamus and I were dating, I thought about all of his amazing qualities. Then we got married and I started to focus on all of his flaws. This mind-set is like taking a wrecking ball to our sex drive. We need to practice giving thanks to God for our husbands. What we think in our head affects what happens in bed.
Listen to the woman in Song of Solomon think on her man: Song of Solomon 2:3 says, “As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men.” Not “Looks like my beloved didn’t take out the trash again!” or “Of course my beloved is going to be late from work—again!”
Song of Solomon 2:8-9, “The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes, leaping over the mountain bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or young stag.” This woman is thinking about her husband so much that it literally makes her want to seize him; what man wouldn’t desire this?
Song of Solomon 3:2, “I will rise now and go about the city, in the streets and in the squares; I will seek him whom my soul loves.” The assumption is that the man should always be the initiator, and certainly as women, we have an innate desire and need to be pursued. But this ole gal in Song of Solomon understands that at the same time, there’s nothing wrong with the woman going after her man.
I love how the Bible addresses even the most practical areas of our lives.
Can you relate to me at all? Have you struggled in the bedroom department? If so, can we all just recognize how important it is to train our minds? Let’s remember the Gospel—that Jesus laid down his life for us when we were unlovable. Now let’s use that filter to look at our man and pray that God would continue to work in our hearts and minds.
You’ll also like One Thing That Will Improve After Your First Year of Marriage, 5 Things I’ve Learned in a Decade of Wifing, Nagging Your Husband? Try This Instead!, and Stay Connected With Your Husband