All posts tagged Sex

The Most Unpopular Christian Virtue

A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues. There is no getting away from it; the Christian rule is, ‘Either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence.’ Now this is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts, that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it is now, has gone wrong (p. 95).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

The either/or statement which concludes this quote is very provocative and, potentially, an effective point to begin a conversation about Christianity with a non-believer. Obviously, this would not be a standard introduction for conversation with every non-believer.

But many people have been hurt by the human sexual instinct in its current condition: rape, betrayal, or even the backlash of their own choices based upon sexual urges. In the case of rape or betrayal, people are left asking, “Why would someone do this to me?” In the case of the fallout in pursuing “sincere love” expressed sexually, people are left asking, “Why didn’t this work for me?”

Both questions echo the either/or contrast established by C.S. Lewis. If the current sexual instinct of the human race is right, normal, moral, or healthy, then there should be no rape, betrayal, or emotional trauma from the expression of sincere love. But there is. Not only do these things exist, but they affect the vast majority of the human population.

Honestly, how many people do you know who do not have deep regret about their own sexual activity pursued with good intent, or have deep pain due to unfaithfulness or some form of sexual abuse?

Those who have been touched by the devastation of the sexual instinct gone awry begin asking deep questions about the human condition. They want explanations for suffering and sin. They want to know if redemption, restoration, or hope truly exist. They want to know why the majority of what they have been taught has been proven tragically false.

The answer, at root, is that the human sexual instinct, like the rest of our being, is deeply tainted by sin. Our experience confirms this foundational tenant to the Christian faith, which so many want to condemn as judgmental or prudish.

Ask someone who has experienced the consequences of human sexuality if they would gladly accept the standard of the most unpopular Christian virtue. I believe they would gladly tell you “Yes!” if they believed it were possible. That takes us into a discussion of the necessity of Christ to keep the law on our behalf, which will have to wait.

The point is simply this: Christian virtue may be disliked or impossible apart from Christ of Christianity, but it has not been proven false. On the contrary, it is proven true in our lives constantly. When it comes to conversations with unbelievers, we can often draw upon their own experience to confirm the truths of the Bible rather than trying to convince them certain actions are wrong.

If they will not listen to the testimony of their own experience interpreted and illuminated by the truth of Scripture, then our evangelistic task might be (not always) better served continuing to build a bridge of friendship and/or waiting until their experience so confirms our faith that their heart cannot help but be tender to listen.

Chastity Versus Modesty

A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“The Christian rule of chastity must not be confused with the social rule of ‘modesty’ (in one sense of that word); i.e. propriety, or decency. The social rule of propriety lays down how much of the human body should be displayed and what subjects can be referred to, and in what words, according to the customs of a given social circle. Thus, while the rule of chastity is the same for all Christians at all times, the rule of propriety changes (p. 94).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

I wonder how many angry e-mails C.S. Lewis got for this statement. To clarify Lewis’ quote, he goes on to compare how a fully clothed Victorian woman may be equally modeled with a tropical lady in a bathing suit. His point is the culture, climate, and generation play a significant role in defining modesty (as well as beauty, I might add).

So what is the danger in treating chastity (abstaining from sex outside of marriage) and modesty (dressing in a way that does not draw undue attention or provoke lust) as synonyms? Both are good. Lust is adultery of the heart (Matt. 6:27-30).

But one is timeless and the other is not. One is universal and the other is largely influenced by personal taste. For someone with a foot fetish, an open toe shoe could be downright indecent by the standard of modesty above. By treating them as synonyms we begin to define divine law by sways of human taste. This will inevitably create great conflict between people of different gender, culture, or generation.

Another danger is that we run the risk of defining protecting another from lust as taking responsibility for another person’s sin. When this happens we enslave some in a regulation of modesty in the attempt to free others from lust. This can easily become a form of codependency.

There is also the risk that virtue becomes vilified. Beauty becomes only a context for lust. Flavor becomes the trigger for gluttony. Fun becomes the temptation to laziness and triviality. Charisma and an out-going personality become flirtatiousness.

Beyond this there is the tenacious tendency of human beings to obey the letter of a law while revolting against its intent. Someone can dress very modestly and still be seductive. But when we define modesty in purely exterior expressions we miss the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Does this mean we should remove any attempt at defining modesty? No. But I would agree with C.S. Lewis that ultimately we can only define modesty as a form of loving our neighbor and not in terms of a dress code. Let us dress in a way that seeks to bless our neighbor’s pursuit of God.

It is only that attitude that will protect our heart from fear or pride while at the same time protecting our neighbor’s eyes and heart from lust.

So what does this mean practically? It means we have to do a better job of getting to know one another and allowing ourselves to be known. For years I dressed very modestly for a guy (usually not the gender reference point for this conversation, I know). But my motive was fashion-laziness and an affinity for old things. I still like a dirty hat with lots of “character.”

In that “modesty,” I never asked how my appearance influenced others. I was self-centeredly caught up in my own preferences. I have started to ask the question a bit more (with my patient wife’s 11 years of encouragement) and it hasn’t changed my fashion that much; other than my clothes are slightly less baggy. But I believe the question that guides my thinking is becoming more godly and serving to reinforce a more consistent mindset to think of how I can influence others for Christ. Maybe that’s “modesty on mission.”

10 Pre-Marital Questions on Sex (Part 9)

This series of blogs comes from FAQ’s from the guys in Summit’s “Preparing for Marriage” ministry. They represent a conglomeration of questions from many different husbands-to-be during the Engaged Discovery Weekend. If you are interested in serving as a marriage mentor or are engaged, click here to learn more about Summit’s “Preparing for Marriage” ministry.

What’s a way to handle one of us saying no to sex? How do you deal with times when you want sex and the other doesn’t? What do you do if you are not having your physical needs met? When the other person is not in the mood and you are – how do you deal with that?

We can begin to answer these questions by saying, “Expect it to happen.” If you read this question with the sense that this is a marital emergency and this post better “fix your spouse,” then chances are you have a bigger problem with sexual idolatry than sexual infrequency. Not every sexual urge will be fulfilled in marriage; no more than every urge for chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream is fulfilled.

If you are shocked or offended by this, then your expectations are unrealistic. But the question is important, because as the adage says, “Sex won’t make a marriage, but it can break one.” How a couple handles disappointment (sexual or otherwise) is one of the primary indicators of the health of their marriage.

In order to proceed well, we will have to address the subject of “need.” So much teaching on marriage focuses on “meeting each other’s needs.” Frequently, it drives couples to begin to emotionally live off of one another for their sense of security and identity in a way that makes God practically irrelevant to a good marriage. In effect, God is only there to meet your needs when you cannot convince your spouse to do so.

This need-language creates a trap. Both spouses can look at areas where their “needs” are not being met (that is what it means to be married to a sinner in a world of limited time and resources). The banter inevitably begins, “How can I meet your need for _____ when you don’t meet my need for _____.” This is a verbal formula that makes any disappointment (sexual or otherwise) relationally toxic. Suddenly the marriage becomes mired in score keeping and everyone has a reason to blame the other person.

At this point, the focal point of the marriage has become on “getting” not “giving.” The Gospel has left the home, and everything is about fairness, rights, and equality. When the Bible is mentioned, it is a tool of guilt, manipulation, or demand. No longer is it used as a book of grace and life. The whole Bible (and marriage) becomes about submission, your body belongs to me, if we’re not praying we should be having sex, and it is not good for man to be alone.

The whole time we are making it harder to come close to one another in a way that makes sex satisfying and something we would want to do frequently. The question that has been lost (and must be regained in content and tone) is: Does our marriage foster an environment where we joyfully sacrifice for the pleasure of our spouse in all things? If the answer is yes, we can navigate the differing timing of sexual urges with grace and unity.

To answer the practical side of the question, I’ll lay out a five step process by which you can evaluate how healthy conversations about declining a sexual invitation should go. As you read, this should serve as a “map” to help you see where your conversations may get “off track.” This progression assumes the decline is not based on verbal/physical abuse or medical reasons.

1. Recognize that sex is good but not ultimate. This is the danger of the word “need.” It makes whatever we designate as a need a matter of relational survival. The interaction about this need begins to overpower each moment when it is discussed.

2. Initiate in a way that gives honor (see blog posts for questions 4 and 5). Sex should not be presumed even within marriage. Initiating sex is an invitation not a demand, otherwise it becomes a functional ultimatum – have sex with me or be punished. Thoughts towards sex being mutually enjoyable (timing and tact) should be evident in every initiation of sex.

3. Decline only with reason and with grace. A married couple does belong to one another (I Cor. 7:3-4). The desire for marital sex is a good thing. Unless there is a reason not to engage your spouse’s desire, it is good to accept. If there is a reason, then the initiation should be received as a compliment of affection (per #2 above) and declined graciously.

4. Receive decline without pouting or punishing. A passive aggressive or angry response to a decline sets the wheels in motion for a sexual spiral. If you’re thinking, “Who cares, I’m never going to have sex anyway,” then you likely need to return to #1 above.

5. Reciprocate initiation within 24-48 hours. If the spouse declines, then he/she should seek to be the initiator of sex within a prompt time frame. This prevents a cycle of begging and rejection from emerging within the marriage and is a way to honor the desire that your spouse has for you.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Sex and Sexuality” post which address other facets of this subject.

10 Pre-Marital Questions on Sex (Part 6)

This series of blogs comes from FAQ’s from the guys in Summit’s “Preparing for Marriage” ministry. They represent a conglomeration of questions from many different husbands-to-be during the Engaged Discovery Weekend. If you are interested in serving as a marriage mentor or are engaged, click here to learn more about Summit’s “Preparing for Marriage” ministry.

How do you overcome expectations you have from past sexual experiences?

This question is packed with scenarios, both positive and negative: the expectation that sex will be used for control, the expectation of a certain energy level or spark in sex, the expectation of “great sex” in a bad relationship or “mediocre sex” in a good relationship, the expectation of inevitable betrayal, or the “practical” expectation of how we will move from foreplay through intercourse to afterglow.

This is also a vitally important question. Foreign expectations (positive or negative) have a detrimental impact on a marriage. No longer is a couple crafting a life that is an expression of how God is making these two individual lives into one unique, mutually satisfying relationship. Rather, foreign expectations mixes oneness with fears, hurts, pleasures, and hopes from other relationships.

We should pause and reflect for a moment on a general dynamic of how sin works. Sin creates false standards and tries to convince us to live within or in light of them. Lying creates the standard (expectation) that the truth is expendable in the name of self-protection or convenience. This effect exists whether we are the one lying or the one being lied to. All future communication is filtered through this lens of convenience and/or suspicion.

Drug usage creates the standard (expectation) of an artificial high and the ability to escape stressful circumstances. “Normal” is now measured as boring or unacceptable. “Stress” is now deemed something that must be chemically escaped. Friends and family now live as if the drug user “cannot handle” things that life requires and begin to make unhealthy compensations.

The same happens with sexual sin (whether you committed the sin or the sin was committed against you). It creates a false standard by which we enter future experience. We begin to overcome by recognizing that this struggle is not exclusive to the domain of sexuality. We have faced a similar dynamic with any sin (and its influence) we have seen God purge from our lives.

After taking the encouragement from this reflection, we need to articulate the falseness of our expectations. The degree of impact our expectations have is determined by the degree to which we believe those expectations to be right and true. Part of “taking every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5b)” is to see the lie we are tempted to believe as false and detestable.

  • The past girlfriend/wife who was a passionate lover is not the standard of a good wife. That reduces what it means to be a good wife to being a sex object.
  • The past girlfriend/wife who punished you by withholding sex is not something to be conquered in this marriage. That imposes a history and motive on your bride that she has not earned.
  • The past girlfriend/wife who cheated on you is not something to be controlled in this marriage. That makes you a fearful slave to something that “could happen” and creates the kind of relational strain that only manifests the kind of awkwardness that confirms your fears.

Articulating the expectation allows you to approach God with it in a new way. We now come unconvinced by (or at least willing to question) our expectations. We now desire freedom from our sin-induced expectations more than fulfillment of them. We no longer view them as “good” or necessary to be “safe.” These expectations only masqueraded as light, but were darkness. We believed they offered life, but now see (or are beginning to see) they offered death. Sin had fooled us again into using these expectations as a God-substitute as the basis for our pleasure, identity, security, or protection.

In light of this journey, we can begin to see that God offers sex in marriage as a portrait of the Gospel and as the standard by which we think about marital sex. Sex is no longer good or safe primarily because it meets our criteria developed from our past experiences, but because it conforms to the design of our Creator who makes sex for our good, our pleasure, and as a portrait of something greater.

This reality of God’s design for sex can now capture our imagination (the source of our pleasurable expectations and fears) in a greater way than our past experiences ever did. This captivation and delight in the Gospel expressed through sex is something that, like all other emotionally-related experiences, have an ebb and flow. Therefore, we should expect this is a process we will go through many times as the expectation fades. But that is what we should “expect” this kind of change to look like based upon Paul’s instructions about these kinds of things in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Sex and Sexuality” post which address other facets of this subject.

10 Pre-Marital Questions on Sex (Part 2)

This series of blogs comes from FAQ’s from the guys in Summit’s “Preparing for Marriage” ministry. They represent a conglomeration of questions from many different husbands-to-be during the Engaged Discovery Weekend. If you are interested in serving as a marriage mentor or are engaged, click here to learn more about Summit’s “Preparing for Marriage” ministry.

How do I keep my thought-life pure leading up to the honeymoon? What about masturbation—is it sinful? How do you navigate from the sin of lusting for your fiancé to the lusting of your spouse (or is that a sin)? How does attraction change when you get married and begin having sex?

These questions are more than (but not less than) practical. They require more than a “how to” answer; they presuppose “what is it” questions. What is the difference between a single person’s lust, an engaged person’s anticipation, and a married person’s delight? What is purity at each stage: dating, engagement, and marriage? Until we define what each of these things are, we will not effectively answer any “how to” achieve or avoid questions.

It is easy to think of purity as the absence of lust or sexual desire. But it is wrong to think of purity as a mere void of activity, desire, or thought. When we think of purity this way it tends to lead towards passivity, legalism, prudishness, and an idea that Christian romance (at all stages) is boring or less than secular romance.

Purity is the full engagement and enjoyment of all that is wise and godly at a given moment. Purity is active, engaging, grace-filled, celebratory, and exciting. We should ask the question, “How has God allowed me to enjoy my fiancé or spouse at this time?” rather than “What won’t God allow me to do yet?” In the latter question, we presuppose that God is holding out on us before we even consider an answer or application.

When we fully engage (body, soul, mind, imagination, emotion, affection, will) and enjoy what God calls good, we are pure. We must remember that marital sex is good; not just the act itself, but all the planning, preparation, anticipation, imagination, and conversation that leads into it. This may even include the thoughts, desires, and conversations of one fiancé towards the other.

At this point, I think we have to introduce a new category of thought in order to proceed well. The conversation is now moving from “what is good” to “what is wise.” We are not talking about pre-marital sex, but about anticipation of marital sex. This anticipation is not wrong. However, the timing, duration, and type of thinking may prove unwise if it leads to sin (sexual activity – intercourse, fondling, or masturbation) or conflict (from sexual tension or trying to change the other’s standards).

I would go so far as to say that the anticipation of marital sex (both for pre-marital and married couples) which does not lead into sin meets every criteria of thought given in Philippians 4:8 – true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. This realization is part of the transition from viewing sex as shameful to viewing sex as good (see previous post in this series).

With this in mind, the principle to be applied is found in I Corinthians 10:23-24.

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.

If the exercise of my freedom leads me to sin, it does not take my freedom away; rather I should lay down my freedom to pursue the true life God has for me in the Gospel (Luke 9:23-24). For instance, if anticipating marital sex leads to the expression of sex contrary to God’s design – either outside of marriage pre-martially or self-sex through masturbation – what is lawful (joyful anticipation) is no longer helpful and does not build up.

Practically, this requires giving up something that is permissible to be abstained from until it can be practiced in a way that does not harm another or violate the conscience (that is the whole point of I Corinthians 10:23-33, but there it is applied to food sacrificed to idols). However, no longer is this abstinence rooted in guilt, fear, or shame. Rather, abstaining is now a matter of worshiping God (declaring Him more valuable than the desired object) and love for others.

This is the essence of how attraction changes as you get married. No longer is attraction a mere feasting on the body, voice, and character of another person for my own delight (which is all sexual desire can be outside of marriage) and the satisfaction of my own desires. Now affection is a way to “build up” your spouse through affection and appreciation and to celebrate the unique good pleasure that God has provided for the two of you to exclusively enjoy.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Sex and Sexuality” post which address other facets of this subject.

10 Pre-Marital Questions on Sex & Intimacy

This series of blogs comes from FAQ’s from the guys in Summit’s “Preparing for Marriage” ministry. They represent a conglomeration of questions from many different husbands-to-be during the Engaged Discovery Weekend. If you are interested in serving as a marriage mentor or are engaged, click here to learn more about Summit’s “Preparing for Marriage” ministry.

QUESTION 1: How do you transition from “sex is wrong” to “sex is right”? How do we move from shame into freedom? How do you transfer from guilt associated with sex to pleasure with sex?

Click here to read my reply to Question 1.

QUESTION 2: How do I keep my thought-life pure leading up to the honeymoon? What about masturbation—is it sinful? How do you navigate from the sin of lusting for your fiancé to the lusting of your spouse (or is that a sin)? How does attraction change when you get married and begin having sex?

Click here to read my reply to Question 2.

QUESTION 3: If sex is painful for my wife, how do I help her through it? How can I practically serve, respect and honor my wife on the first night?

Click here to read my reply to Question 3.

QUESTION 4: What’s a good way to honor my wife in sex? What common things are dishonorable?

Click here to read my reply to Question 4.

QUESTION 5: Are men supposed to “lead” in sex as in other parts of the relationship?  Is there an appropriate balance for initiating intimacy?

Click here to read my reply to Question 5.

QUESTION 6: How do you overcome expectations you have from past sexual experiences?

Click here to read my reply to Question 6.

QUESTION 7: How long is reasonable for my fiancé to get over my sexual past?

Click here to read my reply to Question 7.

QUESTION 8: How do we control the carnal nature of ourselves and replace it with selfless love that the Bible teaches with regards to sex in marriage?

Click here to read my reply to Question 8.

QUESTION 9: What’s a way to handle one of us saying no to sex? How do you deal with times when you want sex and the other doesn’t? What do you do if you are not having your physical needs met? When the other person is not in the mood and you are – how do you deal with that?

Click here to read my reply to Question 9.

QUESTION 10: How do you ensure you and your spouse are having “enough” sex given a hectic and busy weekly schedule? How “intentional” do you find yourself having to be to have a “good” sex life? Are encounters scheduled a la date nights? What is the best way to maintain passion within sex as your marriage progresses?

Click here to read my reply to Question 10.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Sex and Sexuality” post which address other facets of this subject.

Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Intimacy (Seminar Videos)

The videos below were taken from the live presentation of the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Intimacy” seminar. For the various counseling options available from this material visit www.summitrdu.com/counseling.

This seminar is part of a series of “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage” seminars that also includes:

If you are interested in the pre-marital mentoring program built around these materials, you can find everything you need at www.bradhambrick.com/gcm.

NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebook referenced in this verbal presentation. You can request a copy from Summit’s admin over counseling at counseling@summitrdu.com (please note this is an administrative account; no individual or family counsel is provided through e-mail).

Chapter 1.
What Makes Intimacy Difficult?
The Obvious and Not-So-Obvious Things We Rarely Discuss

GCM-Intimacy01 from Equip on Vimeo.

Chapter 2.
Understanding Our Differences
An Essential Part of Lasting Romance

GCM-Intimacy02 from Equip on Vimeo.

Evaluation One: GCM_Intimacy_Eval_Differences

Chapter 3.
Living in THE Love Story
Experiencing God’s Greatest Message In Life’s Greatest Blessing 

GCM-Intimacy03 from Equip on Vimeo.

Evaluation Two: GCM_Intimacy_Eval_The Story

Chapter 4.
Sex as One of God’s Gifts for Marriage (Part One)
Learning to Skillfully and Unashamedly Enjoy Foreplay

GCM-Intimacy04 from Equip on Vimeo.

Evaluation Three: GCM_Intimacy_Eval_Sex

Chapter 5.
Sex as One of God’s Gifts for Marriage (Part Two)
Learning to Skillfully and Unashamedly Enjoy Intercourse

GCM-Intimacy05 from Equip on Vimeo.

Appendix BCommon Challenges to a Healthy Marital Sex Life

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Marriage” post which address other facets of this subject.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Sex and Sexuality” post which address other facets of this subject.

Would Have Been the Best Sex Ever

A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“The old Christian teachers said that if man had never fallen, sexual pleasure, instead of being less than it is now, would actually have been greater (p. 98).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

If you had to fill in the blank on, “If [blank], then it would have been the best sex ever,” how would you fill in the blank? It’s an important question, because whether you’ve ever articulated the answer, chances are you are rating your sex life by the answer and in some way trying to make it a reality.

If only I were 20 pounds lighter or 10 years younger. If only my spouse were 20 pounds lighter or 10 years younger. If only sex were not such a big deal, and there wasn’t so much pressure. If only we could get that spark back or have a spontaneous moment like on “those” commercials. If only we dated more. If only we took more romantic get-aways.

Honestly, any of those things might improve your sex life in some sense of the word improve. But if we made a list of the biggest sex killers it would not include weight, figure, anatomy, culture, lack of romance, age, lack of creativity, or lack of spontaneity.

The list of top sex life killers would include shame, fear, selfishness, laziness, insecurity, infidelity, promiscuity, comparison, and lust. What kills our sex life is not outside of us (our body, our spouse, or our culture). What kills our sex life is inside of us (sin).

Imagine the opportunity to express yourself sexually with one person in a context of complete commitment without any sense of self-preoccupation or shame. You were solely devoted to enjoying their pleasure, and they were solely devoted to enjoying your pleasure. Neither of you were comparing each other to another partner, and discontentment was not present to make the relationship feel mundane. That was the design of sex before the Fall.

That would have been the best sex ever.

What’s the point of fantasizing about such an ideal? The point is that we are already fantasizing about an ideal, but it is not one that leads us towards God’s design. Because we do not truly believe that God’s ideal would be the most satisfying sex possible, we try to improve upon it.

But all our improvements on God’s design destroy us. It would be easy to rail against our pride and rebellion at this point. But let me make an appeal based upon our foolishness and short-sightedness. We have been so wrong about what we were looking for (a misguided definition of good sex), for so long that we are now getting upset when we find it.

So let me propose that we daydream about great sex (as God defines it). What would this change? Us. What we daydream about has a powerful influence upon our entire person. It would change the things that had influence over us.

What would it require? Jesus. Admittedly, this entire reflection is highly idealistic without a radical change in human nature. Apart from the intervention of God’s grace in our life we do not want what is best for us. We need the new heart that God offers through Christ. But until we begin to fantasize about the kind of life that would be actually satisfying, we will continue to chase a multitude of “if only’s” that lead us to false gods and crushed souls.

A Bacon Strip-Tease

A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease – that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you come to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let every one see, just before the lights went out, that is contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food? And would not anyone who had grown up in a different world think there was something equally queer about the state of the sex instinct among us (p. 96)?” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

As an avid fan of the Food Network, I am not sure whether I should be convicted by this quote. Yet Lewis is making his point in a very provocative way. We treat the young male and female body in ways that would seem peculiar to an outsider of the human race.

There are plenty of things that are beautiful which we do not mass-obsess over like we mass-obsess over a naked human body: sunsets, the ocean, lightning, a stream in the woods, an eagle soaring in the sky, or the stars at night. We usually enjoy these things, but we don’t sacrifice our budgets, families, and dignity for a glimpse at them.

Those things that we mass-obsess over tend to be either the human body or the creation of human beings: music, sports, fame, food (yes, bacon), cars, or houses. We constantly place ourselves in physical, financial, relational, or moral jeopardy to have these things.

Can there be any doubt that we are a race obsessed with ourselves? We even make movies based upon the premise that other beings are as obsessed with themselves as we are (i.e., Plant of the Apes or countless movies of computers taking over the world).

Maybe instead of trying so hard to see a naked body, we need to wake up and see ourselves. Maybe we need to look in the mirror as intently as we look at a screen, stage, or through a window. Maybe our common experience is not as common sense as we’d like to pretend.

What does this mean? I cannot mean that we become non-sexual beings who forsake passion, attraction, or the recognition of beauty. It does mean that we have to stop making excuses for these features of our humanity to drive our lives.

We have become such willing slaves to self and sin that we have begun to call slavery, freedom. We have begun to call death, life. We have begun to define our life dreams in terms of a nightmare. And in keeping with our folly we seem surprised and offended when our dream comes true.

The solution cannot be elimination of these desires. We would cease to be human. The solution can be a new Master and obsession. Actually, this is the only answer for the human condition. It is the only thing that brings balance, life, hope, love, and health. Living for our Eternal Creator rather than His temporal creation is our hope.

The solution is not to try harder to avoid the bacon strip tease. We must recognize what our bacon-addiction reveals about our personal human condition and cry out to a Savior who is larger than our absurdity. Allow this illustration from C.S. Lewis to alert you to the parts of creation that have begun to make your soul salivate as only God should.

10 Pre-Marital Questions on Sex (Part 10)

This series of blogs comes from FAQ’s from the guys in Summit’s “Preparing for Marriage” ministry. They represent a conglomeration of questions from many different husbands-to-be during the Engaged Discovery Weekend. If you are interested in serving as a marriage mentor or are engaged, click here to learn more about Summit’s “Preparing for Marriage” ministry.

How do you ensure you and your spouse are having “enough” sex given a hectic and busy weekly schedule? How “intentional” do you find yourself having to be to have a “good” sex life? Are encounters scheduled a la date nights? What is the best way to maintain passion within sex as your marriage progresses?

Take this as a general rule: your sex life will not be healthier (consistently or for long, anyway) than the weakest part of your marriage. If you try to improve your sex life without taking seriously the responsibility to manage the rest of your life well, you will fail.

So the place to begin in answering this question is to challenge the assumption that you should try to begin your marriage with a “hectic” life as a “given.” That is a strong indicator that you are not beginning your marriage with your family as the appropriate priority in your life. Your sex life will only be one of many things that suffer in your marriage if you begin by molding your home to fit the rest of your life.

I would encourage you to take some time and examine how you plan to spend your 168 hour week. How many hours are you reserving for your wife (and eventually kids) that are off limits to the rest of the world and with which you give them your undivided attention? I recommend at least 17 hours (that is a mere tithe or 10% of your time for family). Start with allocating “enough time” for your marriage and then you will have much less concern regarding “enough sex.”

Once you have time protected, then you can begin to examine the frequency of intimacy. Now when the two of you are together you are rested, unrushed, and know what is going on in each other’s lives (assuming you make good use of the time you have set aside). That is a relational environment in which a “good sex life” can thrive.

With this amount of time protected, you can engage in the breadth of interactions that allow for a vibrant marriage: conversation, prayer, going for walks, mutual interest activities, Bible study, flirting, planning, etc… Without time and intentionality, your interaction with your spouse will become monotone and repetitious. It is this variety and quality of interaction that keeps a marriage fresh and passionate. That passion is expressed through sex not created by sex.

Many (if not most) married couples do begin to have some degree of schedule to their sex life. Even with intentionality, schedules have rhythms. There are times during the week when each of you will consistently have more energy. There will be some nights when at least one of you have responsibilities.

Schedule and rhythm should not mean taken for granted and that is one of the temptations that drains the vitality of marital sex. You do not want to begin to “check in” for sex every Tuesday and Saturday at 9:00 pm. This is where I think your date night parallel is effective, but I would emphasize the “forethought” aspect of dating more than “scheduling.” Going on a date implies preparation. So should sex.

If the two of you walk in the bedroom, take off your clothes, kiss for a minute, and then have sex 2.5 times per week for the next 10 years, statistically your sex life will be “above average” in terms of frequency. But I doubt either of you will be excited about it. However, if each of you put thought into how to please and arouse your spouse for one sexual encounter per week, statistically your sex would be “below average” and (probably) much more satisfying.

A satisfying sex life is not created by frequency. A satisfying sex life creates frequency. If you put your energy (which you protected with your schedule) into anticipating and satisfying your spouse, then you (plural) will mutually enjoy your intimacy enough that frequency will take care of itself.

Pour your energy into thinking of new compliments for your wife (don’t let the old ones become stale), ways to make your wife laugh, interesting conversations to have, playful ways to initiate sex, ways to remind her you’re thinking of her throughout the day, how to facilitate her spiritual growth, ways you can help her relax or feel safe, and other encouraging ways to engage your wife. This is the intentionality that fuels the passion of a life long marriage.

Pray that God will give you a passion and creativity in these areas. If you maintain your passion and interest in your spouse, then it will be hard to lose your passion and connection in sex. If, however, you neglect your time and attention upon your spouse outside of sex, then it will be hard to maintain a passion and connection in sex.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Sex and Sexuality” post which address other facets of this subject.