When my husband and I got married over two years ago, we were both virgins. It would be naive of me to pretend that this fact hasn’t had a positive impact on our marriage, because it has. But unfortunately, the church has done a pretty good job of disguising sex as a reward for good behavior, rather than the gift from God that it really is. As I continue my studies in counseling (and specifically, at the moment, marital counseling) I’m beginning to realize how these lies have negatively affected Christian couples over the years, and I would like to debunk some of those myths for you now.
Lie #1: If you wait until marriage, you’ll have better sex than couples who didn’t.
Unfortunately, you could wait until marriage and then struggle for years to feel satisfied in your sex life. A good example is the testimony of Jennifer Smith, the Unveiled Wife, which you can read about here. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wait to have sex until marriage. Because my husband and I waited, we don’t struggle with the memories of past sexual encounters or feelings of regret when we’re together. We also get to explore sex for the first time together, which is an incredible way to bond with your spouse and grow more intimate in your relationship. If you waited until marriage and your sex life is a disaster, don’t be discouraged. Read Jennifer’s testimony, visit your doctor, or consider counseling.
Lie #2: Because sex is natural, it’s easy.
No, it’s not. There are both physical and emotional problems that can cause issues in your sex life. Consider this quote from one of my textbooks:
Bud and Cheri had not had sex in three weeks. Whenever they tried, Cheri got irritated by Bud’s stimulation and Bud was turned off by Cheri’s rejection. What began as making love ended in making war (Worthington, 2005, p. 168).
And aside from the above issue, there are a number of categorized sexual disorders: “Male Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, Female Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder, Erectile Disorder, Female Orgasmic Disorder, Genito-Pelvic Pain/Penetration Disorder, and Sexual Paraphilias” (Johnson & Johnson, 2014, pp. 111-118). What I’m trying to say is that having problems with your sex life is normal! They didn’t come up with names for all these disorders for kicks and giggles; people had problems with their sex life!
Lie #3: Sex is emotional for men too.
It’s pretty common to hear that sex is physical for men and emotional for women, but the truth is both men and women need sex emotionally and physically. In her book, For Women Only, Shaunti Feldhahn had the following to say:
In a very deep way, your man often feels isolated and burdened by secret feelings of inadequacy. Making love with you assures him that you find him desirable, salves a deep sense of loneliness, and gives him the strength and well-being necessary to face the world with confidence. And of course, sex also makes him feel loved-in fact, he can’t feel completely loved without it (2004, pp.92-3).
Lie #4: We shouldn’t talk about sex, especially in church.
Uh, yes we should. One of the most relieving things I ever heard as a teen was a youth leader admitting during his lesson that sex was good. It made me feel like it was worth waiting for.
Here’s the deal: once upon a time, it was taboo to talk about sex. In our day and age, it’s perfectly normal. TV, movies, books, and magazines talk about sex like it’s no big deal. Many Christians believe we should return to the days when talking about sex was taboo…I disagree.
Unfortunately, we’ve gone too far to turn back now (and, we can’t pretend that “once upon a time” everything about sex was perfect either). Instead, I think the church needs to stimulate healthy conversations about sex. This could mean having a bible study for couples, offering couples’ counseling, or having material or resources on hand for people with questions. According to Johnson & Johnson, “a matter-of-fact statement about the normalcy of sexual concerns among couples in the church may be enough of an icebreaker so that the couple will feel comfortable enough to broach problems in this area” (2014, p. 113). We can’t ignore this issue. We have to address it.
Thanks for letting me take a moment to talk about something as “taboo” as sex. If you have any questions or comments, ask a question below or feel free to contact me here.
With Love Always,
Feldhahn, S. (2004). For women only: what you need to know about the inner lives of men. Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers.
Johnson, W. B. & Johnson, W. L. (2014). The minister’s guide to psychological disorders and treatments. New York, NY: Routledge.
Worthington, E. L. (1999). Hope-focused marriage counseling: a guide to brief therapy. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.