Sometimes my social media feed, discussion groups, trending news, etc. take on a common theme. Lately, I’ve seen numerous posts on porn, sexual abuse, rape, public school sex education, abortion, and the movement to “embrace” pedophilia. This last one reminded me of something Rushdoony said – that the sexual liberation movement of the ’60s and ’70s would eventually lead to the acceptance of all kinds of sexual perversions including pedophilia.
When I heard that a few months ago (from one of his lectures or an excerpt from one of his books that my husband read out loud), I remember thinking, “oh no, pedophilia, not in this generation, I hope.” And then just a few days ago, a picture of a poster started circulating, “Pedophiles are people too.” (see footnotes)
How did we get here and what’s the solution?
If it was the sexual liberation movement that began all this, then what was it they first attacked? Was it male dominance? Homosexuality? No, something far more subtle. Sex inside of marriage.
With the love movement, sex didn’t need to be constrained to marriage anymore. Any two adults who loved each other were free to have sex. And when the Church barely raised a finger, the sexual liberation movement took off.
So what is the solution to the sex-related social problems we see today? Is it female equality? Gender eradication? My hypothesis: “better sex in marriage.”
What does the Bible say about sex and societal problems?
As we know, hypothetical solutions aren’t much good if they’re not grounded in truth. So, we turn to God’s Word. His law for life, the Word was there at the beginning of Creation and embodied in the Person of Christ. Timelessly true and fitting, what does God’s Word say about sex?
Well, a lot actually. For starters, let’s look at the laws concerning sex:
- Leviticus 18 outlines the people who are not permitted to have sex with each other (or with animals).
- Deuteronomy 22:13-30 also goes into detail about sexual immorality in various situations.
It’s important to add that the punishments for breaking these laws are both individual and SOCIETAL consequences:
“… lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. For everyone who does any of these abominations, the persons who do them shall be cut off from among their people.” Leviticus 18:28-29
The New Testament repeats these commands resoundingly:
“But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” Ephesians 5:3
“For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” Ephesians 5:5
See also: Acts 15:29, Romans 13:13, 1 Corinthians ch. 5-7
The purpose of this article isn’t to explain these laws, but to point out that God obviously cares a lot about sex. And that violating His laws about sex will affect our societies.
Why does God care so much about sex?
God cares about sex because of the relationship (marriage) in which sex may be performed (Ephesians 5:22-33).
As Paul summarizes, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Ephesians 5:32-33
The marriage union (and sex) is a reflection of Christ and His Church. This is why God’s law is so adamant about preserving it.
… And why the sexual liberation movement’s first strike to slay the culture was so effective. They defiled the holy union which represents Christ and His Church.
The answer to our current culture’s views on sex
Our culture has become convinced that sex defines us as men and women.
As a result, men and women strive to become their “ultimate” selves through sexual conquests, like rape, seduction, prostitution, etc. Or they must discover their “true” selves through sexual exploits, like homosexuality, bisexuality, pedophilia, etc. That’s why the bid to claim sex education is so high – the one who controls sex education “controls” our perceived identities. And why the consequences of our culture’s views on sex are belittled – abortion, violence, trafficking, etc.
So how do we escape the lie that sex defines us?
In His wisdom, God designed sex to define us as husbands and wives. It is the consummation of our roles.
Husbands who enjoy sex and know how to make sex enjoyable in their marriage, know just how much husbanding it takes to lead their wives to a pleasurable experience. Not only does it take insight into their wife’s likes and dislikes, but timing, thoughtfulness, and care all play a part. And wives know how much preparation and forethought they must put in to please their husbands. Sometimes the biggest challenge to having better sex with our husbands is taking the time to get ourselves mentally, emotionally and physically ready.
For Christians who want to reclaim the culture for Christ, the answer to the sex-related societal evils we face may not be what we expect. We must restore the holiness of our union and preserve it at all cost for the glory of Christ and His Church. We need to start with better sex in marriage.
But is sex in marriage actually a problem?
The absence of mutually-fulfilling sex inside of marriage is an obvious problem in our society. Not only are we barraged by the media’s portrayal that sex in marriage is boring, but we are also beset by our own unmet expectations and idols.
Here are a few statistics from 2011 and 2013 to help illustrate that sex inside of marriage is a problem:
- 12% of married people sleep alone
- Couples living together report having sex 146 times per year while married couples make love 98 times per year.
And another survey for married couples showed that:
- “While 79 percent of men think their wives are happy or very happy with their sex lives, only 60 percent of women say they actually are.”
- “While over a third of men say their sex life got better after marriage, a third of women say their sex life was better before and a quarter say there’s been no change.”
Just reading through the comments on an article entitled, “What Do I Do If My Spouse Won’t Have Sex?” it’s apparent that many Christian spouses aren’t even having sex.
If we know that sex is supposed to happen in marriage and not outside of it, why aren’t we doing a better job of it?
The problems leading up to having better sex in marriage
Perhaps it would be helpful to make this all a little more personal.
When my husband and I married, I was very naive and had high expectations. After all, I’d “waited to give myself to my husband and only him.” But no one had talked to me or prepared me for sex … and all the emotions that play into it. Within the first few weeks of marriage, I slowly realized that my husband didn’t really want to have sex with me. It was horrifying and embarrassing. We could barely talk about it.
After a few months, I was sure we were headed for divorce. For our first conflict to overcome, this was a big one. We didn’t even know how the other person handled conflict (he withdrew when I wanted to talk) let alone how to get to the root of the problem.
By God’s grace, we struggled, fought, and plead with each other. I didn’t want to let go of our marriage, and he didn’t want to lose me. Once we figured out what the other needed just to start talking (he needed time to think, and I needed him to make time to talk), we worked through our idols, our past pains, and sins.
For men in general, the idol tends to be power or control, which makes sense given that their role is to lead and exercise authority (as Adam was to take dominion over the garden). When any gift, strength or role is given undue deference, it becomes an idol. Worshipping the idol of power may be manifested in a variety of ways. For some, it is shown by inflicting dominance – rape, abuse, etc. Sometimes the idol of power manifests itself by men retreating into an imaginary world that can be controlled – porn, manga, etc.
For most women, the idol is desirability or the need to be needed. After all, we were created to be a help meet. But when we make this purpose the means of our satisfaction, we will do whatever it takes to be wanted. Sometimes we worship this idol by “selling” ourselves – literally or figuratively. We do things to get noticed, not only obvious and provocative things, but sometimes more “mild” things too, such as joining all the church groups to be complimented on our diligence and faithfulness to God. We prostitute our gifts and abilities to the highest bidder – in this case, the one who can give the greatest compliment or pay the most attention.
When we fail in our roles – for men to be leaders and for women to be helpmeets – we may turn to secondary idols.
For men, this is often laziness or selfishness. Failing as leaders, they don’t make power the idol. Instead, they become passive and relinquish their responsibility in favor of comfort.
For women, the secondary idol might be power. A woman who fails as a helpmeet or is rejected (a woman scorned…) may grow angry, abusive, demanding or manipulative. Perhaps this combination reminds you of married couples you know – the passive husband and domineering wife.
If you’ve been married any length of time, you’ve probably experienced how idol worship harms our marriages and our sex lives.
Past pain & sin
Another hindrance to sex inside of marriage is past pain and sin – the sin of another or ourselves. Along with that, we carry around heavy emotions – guilt, anger, fear, bitterness, etc. As the #MeToo movement grows, our culture is opening its eyes to the sexual sins committed against women. These sins play a part in godly marriages when wives submit to their fears and refuse sex with their husbands. Or when husbands in bitterness exclude their wives.
Remember how our culture wants sex to define who we are as individuals?
As Christians, paralyzed by the past, we’ve completely fallen for the lie. We refuse to enjoy sex in marriage because our sexual past defines us. But the truth is, we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. Ask your spouse if your past defines you and they will tell you, “no.” Yes, it has affected you, but it doesn’t define you.
Many books have been written on the topic of dealing with our past (one I recommend is called “Rid of My Disgrace”). And we’ll discuss more practical steps in the next section.
Reclaiming sex in marriage and our culture
I’m going to break the following application into three sections: For those who are married but struggling, for those who are single or widowed, for those who have great sex in their marriage and are looking for “next steps.”
Struggling married couples
You may have your own reasons to ignore your spouse and avoid sex. Or perhaps you’ve tried to reach out to your spouse and now given up. Either way, if you’re serious about reclaiming the culture and claiming Christ’s victory over the sins of pornography, sexual abuse, rape, pedophilia, homosexuality, etc. then I urge you to read this article.
Also, if you are in a marriage experiencing sexual violence, please seek help right away. The Bible does not sanction abuse. It would be wise to ask a trusted Christian or your church for help. If they refuse to hear you, go to a different friend, a different church. Remember that sex is a representation of Christ and His Church. Tolerating violence or neglect in sex dishonors Christ.
Though it is a mystery why He designed it to be so, God is glorified by sex inside of marriage. If you believe that, but are struggling to have sex with your spouse, here are three things that may help:
1. Slay your idols
The first step is to identify your own idols and destroy them through the power of the Holy Spirit. If the idols mentioned above didn’t resonate with you, ask the Holy Spirit to show you yours and convict you. There are numerous books written on the topic of idols which may also be helpful.
2. Help your spouse in humility
The next step must be taken delicately. None of us like our sins pointed out to us unless our hearts have already been worked on by the Spirit to receive the rebuke. As you approach your spouse, you must have a humble heart. One that has already faced its own idols.
When your spouse confesses sexual sin to you, how do you respond? I hope with gentleness and goodness. Help them identify the root (the idol) that leads to these sins. Ask them (and be prepared to receive their response humbly) if there is anything you have done to contribute to the problem.
It may be difficult to talk to your spouse about their idols. What may be obvious to you, may be carefully guarded by them. But remember, God has given you to each other to reflect Christ’s union with the Church. He desires holiness in your union, and you need each other to assist in that.
3. Worship God
If you turn from your idols to worship your spouse, you’ll only run into more problems. They can’t fulfill all your needs and desires. Instead, you need to see them as the one working with you to have better sex in your marriage for the glory of God. Together, ask God to turn your hearts from self. Seek His Will in your marriage and sex. Move forward in victory over past hurts, evils, and sins through Jesus Christ.
If you’re ready to move forward, keep reading.
This may be a little uncomfortable to read if you’re single. I was single until I was 26 and it was always awkward when married friends would start talking or comparing notes about their love lives. I remember the most embarrassing incident was when a married friend asked a group of us – singles and married folks – what we thought about oral. I’m sure I turned bright red … and then went home to Google the definition, not entirely sure I knew what she was referring to. Yes, at 24 I was very, very naive.
But don’t dismay, I hope to offer some practical advice here for you too.
Uphold the sanctity of sex in marriage
It’s tempting to give into society’s lures that sex can be a one-time thing. That “everyone’s doing it” or that you won’t be fulfilled or know yourself until you have it. But those things just aren’t true. Our culture is crumbling because of these lies. It’s very much like Israel of old – when we commit adultery or allow it in our midst, we say the same about the union between Christ and His Church. And we saw what happened to Israel when she became a whore, turning from God to false gods. Do we really want that to be mirrored by our sexual exploits?
Considering reading “Sex Outside Of Marriage: What’s The Big Deal?” if you’re struggling with this topic.
Find a contentedly-married or widowed Christian (of the same sex) who is willing to talk to you about your struggles. It may be embarrassing to talk about your desires, struggles, temptations, and sins but odds are, that person has been right where you are. They’ll be able to encourage you that sex inside of marriage is worth waiting for. They can pray for you during times of temptation, give guidance on situations you may be putting yourself into, and assure you of God’s forgiveness.
In my naivety, I carried around a lot of false guilt, which I often wielded to “keep myself” from sin. Never dealing with it Biblically, this followed me into my marriage. It was part of the problem between my husband and me during our first few months. I wish I had talked to an older, married woman about those things. I wish I’d been given more practical advice and found help to get rid of the false guilt and repent for actual sins.
Use your singleness
If you’re single because you are now a widow or widower, use your singleness to help other singles. You know what sex inside of marriage is like, you’ve also faced the same temptations they have. It’s likely you can give practical advice to singles (of the same sex) and more readily see the consequences for sin than they might.
If you’ve yet to experience sex inside of marriage, then use this time to learn about your idols. If you read the section above, you’ll already be a step ahead when you are married.
Also, if you desire to be married, ask yourself if you’re ready:
- Men: Do you know how to take care of someone – someone with needs and feelings, someone who is growing and changing? Do you already take responsibility for what you have? When I joined Sovereign Grace Singles, I met a lot of young men who were ready to tell me what to do, tell me why I needed to marry them. I only met who cared about my heart, who listened, offered godly counsel, shared from his experiences and recommended books to read. He’s the man I married.
- Women: What are the expectations you’ve placed on your future husband? Have you placed the same on yourself? Are you ready to take care of someone who won’t think like you, smell like you, or like the same foods as you? We want someone who will sweep us off our feet, make us feel amazing, respect us, and understand us, but are we prepared to love and minister to him when he falls short? Is your identity secure in Christ or you seeking it from friends, family, and admirers?
If you’re single, I’ll just offer a word of caution. The next section isn’t explicit, but depending on the level of your contentment with singleness, you may not find it productive or encouraging.
Married, having great sex, and looking for next steps
First of all, take a minute to check and make sure both you and your spouse agree that you’re having great sex. Sex is all about giving and receiving on both sides. I believe this is why God designed it the way He did, so we would learn what it truly looks like to lead and be led and through our roles as husband and wife, be co-laborers for Christ.
Here are some practical steps you can take:
1. Practice better sex with our spouse and keep practicing.
Since “it takes two to tango,” it’s important to keep learning about your other half. What made for great sex last night, might not work another night. Your spouse will mature, change, and develop and you need to keep learning about them over and over. There are lots of great tips out there on how to learn more about your spouse. A few examples include: be direct and work through a list of questions, use story-telling to share how sex could be better, create a game of “would-you-rather.” For wives, you can subscribe to CWives, and they’ll send you a monthly “dare” to “initiate creative sexual encounters” with your husband.
2. Be an example to your children and prepare them to be godly husbands and wives.
When your children see your relationship with your spouse, what would they say is most important to each of you? It should be God, then each other. Not children, not football, not tidiness, not girls’ nights, etc. Do they see genuine love and affection? Do they watch you overcome conflict, destroy idols, and love each other through difficulties? Are you prepared to answer their questions about sex, desire, and educate them about their idols?
As they grow, are you training them to be godly husbands and wives?
- Boys: teach them to take care of something – a garden, a pet, something they must become knowledgeable in and patient with, something they can’t control with a click of a button. Teach them to husband – plan, cultivate, care for, and grow – instead of to control inanimate objects. With this, they’ll learn patience, gentleness, and self-control.
- Girls: teach them about their inherent value in Christ. Having worth and value cannot easily be replaced by the idol of desirability. Teach them how to care for others without manipulating or needing to be needed.
Did you know that the average age for first-time sex is about 16 while the average age for first-time marriage is 27-30? This means that what you tell them at 13 about sex outside of marriage may be what carries them through temptation 10, 20, 30+ years down the road. Don’t leave it at, “just say no.” Explain the physical, mental, emotional, and societal consequences of any form of pre-marital sex. As they grow, continue to provide resources and encouragement.
3. Stand up for only sex in marriage.
It’s easy to point the finger at Hollywood and talk about how they’re destroying sex in marriage. But I think we do ourselves the most damage. How often do we reference sex in marriage as a good or even an amazing thing? How often do we talk about our shortcomings and open up conversations to give encouragement and advice? If we really expect the culture’s views on sex to change, we need to change how we view it and talk about it.
Talk about better sex with other married couples. A lot of resources on “great sex” are written by non-Christians. But the ones who should be having the best sex of all … are Christians! Maybe you’re led to write a book on “101 Ways To Have Great Sex In Marriage.” But if not, you can still take time to encourage others in their marriages, talk to your single friends (of the same gender) about their temptations and struggles (hopefully you read through the section above), and be examples of happy and fulfilling marriages.
A profound mystery
It is a mystery but sex inside of marriage – giving and receiving, sharing and knowing as husband and wife – glorifies God in its likeness to Christ and the Church. So let us continue to glorify God and reclaim our culture in the enjoyment of sex with our spouse. And let us do it “heartily, as unto the Lord.”
It should be noted that according to some, the “Pedophiles are people too” poster was likely a “false flag” as there was no endorsing organization or individual.
Whether the poster was created to support pedophilia or not, there are other, more explicit examples of pedophiles seeking legitimacy:
Helen is a happy wife and mother of twins. As she passes along her love of learning to her students and children, she hopes God’s Word will radiate through them. She prays for a generation that will stand up for the oppressed, protect the vulnerable, and care for the widow and fatherless.