One of the most overlooked consequences of sexual sin in our culture is how sexually selfish it has made us all. Even if you grew up in relative purity with little exposure to pornography and no exposure to sexual activity with other people, you’ve probably still been influenced more than you know. Sexual Selfishness is about what I want, when I want it, how I want it, and why I want it.
Now most Christians know that the world’s free-for-all mentality about sex is not just sinful but also unrealistic. We know that all types of sexual pleasure should only be sought and given inside a marriage between one man and one woman for life. And this is a hugely important point. But even with a firm belief and commitment to this truth, you can bring a lot of selfishness into the bedroom if you aren’t careful.
This sexual selfishness is what leads to much tension and many fights about sex even within marriage. There are many Christians that save themselves for marriage with much excitement but are often met with much disappointment, especially as life grows harder and busier with work, kids and health issues etc… What is to be done?
Paul’s Revolutionary Teaching on Sex
When Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 it probably sent shockwaves through the Romans Empire for many reasons. There are benefits to remaining single, but Paul is realistic. He knows that most people don’t have the self-control to go through life with a sex drive and not get into sin. In fact, in verse 5 he says that a regular pattern of sex in marriage is a way to fight Satan’s temptations. So getting married for the purpose of having sex is a good reason to get married (although it certainly shouldn’t be the only reason to get married.) But if we run into marriage thinking we are finally going to have all our fantasies come true we are likely to run into problems.
Most people don’t have to be married for longer than a few months (if that) to realize that even in the best marriages men and women’s sexual desires aren’t always the same. Men’s bodies typically take a few seconds to be ready for sex. A women’s arousal cycle is often much longer. Why has God designed us this way? It sometimes seems like a bad practical joke.
And it’s not like every man is identical to all other men, nor are all women the same. So the norm might be that husbands want sex more often than women, but there are plenty of marriages where the wife would like to have sex more than her husband. There may be marriages where the wife would like the actual sex act to last longer. Whereas there are other marriages where the man might want it to last longer than his wife.
Regardless of what the exact differences are in your marriage, there will be places where you and your spouse will disagree. How do we settle these problems?
Talk About It
Practically speaking, there are three questions that should help you address almost any problem that might arise in the bedroom:
- Does it glorify God? The Bible doesn’t say that some sexual positions glorify God and that others don’t. It does say that sex should be between one man and one woman for life. If someone wants to bring pornography into the bedroom that is a sin because you are essentially introducing a third person to the one-flesh union. That wouldn’t glorify God.
- Does it serve my spouse? If one spouse wants to try something new and the other person really doesn’t, the more adventurous one should back off. The more reluctant one should also seek to step out and experiment a little more.
- Does it cause me to sin? Imagine a wife only wants to have sex once a month. The husband tries to serve his wife. He notices usually by week 3 and 4 he is much more tempted to lust after other women. This sounds like a violation of 1 Corinthians 7:5. You should seek to serve your spouse before yourself. However, you must be practical and realistic about your own desires and temptations.
Most questions that arise about sex can be answered if both spouses walk through the prior questions together. This implies you must talk about your sex life. Don’t force your spouse to read your mind. Be honest, but not demanding. Be specific so they aren’t left guessing.
Even with the suggestions provided, you may run into trouble. There is a place to talk to a wise counselor or a godly couple who can help. Don’t be ashamed to ask for advice on this important topic.
Change Your Mindset
Paul tells us that a wife’s body isn’t her own. It belongs to her husband. All the Greco Roman world would have likely assumed this. Paul then drops the bombshell that from a Christian worldview, a wife has the exact same right and ownership to her husband’s body. This would’ve been totally unexpected by virtually everyone. God values men and women equally, and so should we.
This presents an immediate problem. What if on Friday night Jo wants to have sex but his wife doesn’t. He can appeal to 1 Corinthians 7 saying “Your body belongs to me and I want our bodies to be together tonight so you should submit and we should have sex.” But the wife could also quote 1 Corinthians 7 and say “Your body belongs to me and I want your body to leave me alone tonight so I’m going to roll over and go to sleep.”
When you find yourself arguing about how often to have sex or what to actually do in the bedroom, think about Jesus and his sacrificial love (see Ephesians 5:28-32). Sex is not primarily about getting what you want. Our focus should be on giving and serving our spouse, even if it costs us. When both partners are actually trying to serve one another in the bedroom this is when the most pleasurable sex happens and when God gets the most glory. Everyone wins!
Be Willing to Sacrifice
There will still be times when the husband is exhausted and the wife is driven mad with sexual desire. What do you do on those nights? You sacrificially serve your spouse. The husband should be willing to stay awake a little longer and seek to be available to his wife. (Andy Stanley wisely says that you are your spouse’s only legitimate outlet for sexual passion.) And the wife should also be willing to wait until the next day as well.
When the fight becomes who can serve the other more, marriages will flourish and Christ will be honored. This is the key to a great sex life and the key to a great marriage!