How Christian Parents Talk About Sex, and How We SHOULD Talk About It

Tell me if any of these sound familiar from your upbringing and what you were told about sex:
  • Men want sex and will do anything to get it.
  • Women don't want it and will do anything to get out of it.
  • Men need to do without every now and then. It's good for them.
  • Good, Christian women don't enjoy sex.
These messages were repeated or implied again and again in a variety of ways by the Christian culture in which many of us grew up. Our parents' generation often bought into this mindset- that men want it, women don't, so men have to do without unless women feel particularly cuddly or generous.

But in this day and age, to believe things like that is to play with fire. Even back then, it was utter foolishness in light of a biblical command to "not deprive one another".

(And yes, I do realize too that at the same time, the message from culture was that free love is where it's at-- is it any wonder why so many Christian women don't even consider the possibility of enjoying sex? In their minds, "Only the bad girls do that!")

LADIES, TAKE A MOMENT TO REVERSE THE SITUATION

Imagine if all his life, your husband had heard that all you wanted to do was to TALK. That any nice thing you did for him would be so he would share his feelings and thoughts with you, be interested in hearing about your day, etc. That no matter what you did, TALKING was ON YOUR BRAIN. But imagine if the overarching point he heard was this: GODLY MEN DON'T TALK TO THEIR WIVES. AT LEAST NOT VERY OFTEN. AND THEY SURE DON'T ENJOY IT WHEN THEY DO.

It wouldn't be too surprising then, for men to start feeling protective of their conversation. For men to loathe conversation and begin begging off... finding ANY excuse to avoid a chat with the wife. But if there was a verse explicitly stating, "do not deprive one another of heart-to-heart conversations", then he would be sinning every time he begged off. Every time he sought out an excuse or tried to pretend he was asleep just so he wouldn't have to talk, he would be sinning. As are many Christian wives today who are disregarding the verse in 1 Corinthians that says that we are not to "deprive one another" of intimacy.


THE WAY MANY OF US WERE TAUGHT ABOUT SEX
Going back to those original ideas I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the problem with that whole way of approaching sex is that it doesn't allow for a point of freedom or release. It just essentially said, "Sex=bad. No sex=good!" There was no point at which parents said- "it won't be this way forever, sweetheart. One day, you'll be able to revel in this gift from God!"


THE WAY WE OUGHT TO BE TALKING ABOUT SEX

TO ME, THIS IS A PICTURE OF HOW SEX OUGHT TO BE TALKED ABOUT IN CHRISTIAN FAMILIES:
All your life, growing up, you see your mom and dad planting a beautiful garden in the backyard. Varieties of flowers and plants grow, and it's a beautiful place. You haven't seen all of it, because they built in some private places just for the two of them, but what you have seen looks lovely. Sometimes you aren't sure what all the varieties are, or the names for everything, and sometimes that embarrasses you, but the truth is that you're proud that your parents have a beautiful garden.

There are fences around it, and there's an open door at the gate. Your mom and dad both recognize that there are more beautiful gardens, more well-kept gardens, and more colorful gardens outside that gate, but they don't want to walk out that gate door because what they have inside the gate is so stinking good. They don't even look too far over the fence. They try to satisfy themselves completely within the fences.

When you begin growing up and developing feelings for someone of the opposite sex, your natural feeling is to want to have a backyard with that person and start planting flowers. But your mom wisely takes you aside and says,

"Darling, it's natural for you to want to share a garden with someone. And the truth is that you can plant flowers here, there, and everywhere- but that's not the same as having a beautiful garden all your own that you and your husband have planted together. In fact, doing it that other way will cost you so many emotions and hard work that you can't even comprehend now. It will waste much of who you are on something that doesn't last. It's worth the wait to do it right.

"Here- come out to our garden with me and I'll start telling you a little bit about these things... this is a ____ plant, and this one is for ____. You can see that we've planted this tall tree here, so we don't get envious of the beautiful garden in neighbor Sandy's yard. She's got a curvy green thumb, and her garden is EXTRA well-kept, so your father particularly planted THAT tree THERE so he wouldn't covet what she has in her garden.

"Here's why we put the fences up in these particular places, to protect us from wandering into places that didn't belong to us... and let me tell you something, we have an EXCELLENT time together in this garden. There's simply nothing like having a beautiful backyard to enjoy time together in- but it's worth the wait, darling. It's worth waiting for the ONE right person in life to plant your garden with.

"Oh I can't wait for you to begin planting yours- it will be so beautiful. Until then, let me continue taking walks with you and talking to you about the beauty of God's design in all of this."

Catch my drift? Instead, most of us saw single, carefree people planting things all over the place with all kinds of people and appearing to have a great time at it, and meanwhile, all our parents had was brown, poorly cut grass. And what they told us was: DON'T LEARN TO GROW ANYTHING. DON'T FOCUS ON THAT. NO ONE ACTUALLY HAS A PRETTY GARDEN ANYWAY... SO IT'S A FOOL'S ERRAND.

WHAT A LIE!!!

There's a beautiful garden for each Christian married person to enjoy spending time in, if we'll just cultivate some beauty in that place, spend some time there together, and revel in the gift God gave us within our very own fences!


[Please note: my parents actually did a good job of living out a loving marriage relationship as an example for my brother and I. Don't take this post to imply otherwise. Rather, I'm making some generalizations about what most of us heard regarding sex, from culture and the Christian community, when we were growing up!]

17 comments:

Kim said...

This is an excellent piece of advice and an excellent post, my friend! I just read the chapter in Mere Christianity yesterday on sex, and it is just spot on with this. We have been trained SO incorrectly about sex. And it has damaged our generation, somewhat. So I am glad to see parents being proactive about the next generation!

Melanie said...

The picture of a garden (intimacy) with the protective wall around it (marriage)that you describe is beautifully told in a book for children by Jennie Bishop called "The Garden Wall". She has also written two other lovely stories with beautiful illustrations called "The Princess and The Kiss" for girls and "The Squire and The Scroll" for boys. These are all wonderful books to introduce the themes of the good things awaiting us in marriage - and the importance of waiting for marriage - to children.

Sadie said...

Hi Jess,
I really appreciated your view point on this and whole heartedly agree! Christian young ladies need to be prepared for having a loving relationship with their future husbands, especially in light of 1 Corinthians. Thanks for writing!

-Sadie

Sharlene said...

My husband and I have been talking about this subject lately. The idea of a garden is lovely and very biblical. You are right the relationship between a husband and a wife is so very important and it should be beautiful throughout the marriage. That relationship is also supposed be a picture of Christ and the church. I desire for my relationship with God to improve and be more wonderful day by day. What a blessing it would be if my marriage would be more beautiful and be a means of drawing me and my husband closer to God and helping someone else see Christ.
A last thought. I was in a walled garden that was breath-takingly beautiful. It was beautiful because it was confined, protected, and well-cared for. Restrictions and barriers can be real blessings, especially in human relationships. Jess, thank you for bringing up this much needed subject.

Sharlene

Anonymous said...

In the Jewish tradition, it is a mitzvah (good deed) for married couples to have sex on the Sabbath. So yes, I agree that a healthy sexual relationship is absolutely what God intended married couples to have.

Reading this post, I thought of a question for you, Jess. Do you allow your boys to play with and form friendships with little girls?

If so, what do you plan to tell them when they hit puberty? That it's better not to be friends with girls anymore so as to avoid the temptation?

It seems like what you wrote (here and in previous posts about why you avoid friendships with men) might be inadvertently teaching kids that most people of the opposite sex (except for one's spouse) are objects of sexual temptation to be avoided by good Christians.

Laurie B

Anna S said...

Jess, I always love reading your views regarding intimacy in marriage. Thank you for writing ths!

Anonymous said...

Throwing cold water in this lovely fire, I wanted to mention the "others". Those poor ladies who heard how wonderful sex would be in a loving relationship over and over, and then, when they were finally married, after having waited with their intended for so long... "this is it?" Try different positions, try different foods, try different times, try more talking... still, even after figuring out how to achieve that "moment", there is tiredness, mess, and a feeling of something missing. Why do all the other Christian women talk about fulfilling each others' needs as if it's so great? I know it's supposed to be - I'm not holding back from my husband - I know the things that everybody thinks are so Victorian are wrong in God's plan for sex in marriage (do women still really think that way in this age of information?) - then why do I feel so let down? Why do I feel like "that's it?" I know that there are ladies who feel left out, as if they really can't figure out why this garden - even if full of olive branches (children) - seems somehow empty. I can't be the only one.

Anonymous said...

My sister-in-law told me (before the wedding) that she was having such a hard time making the transition from sex=bad to sex=good-now-that-you're-married. I'm so glad my mother told me it was a wonderful gift from God, best enjoyed in a marriage.

Great post! And it's so true. When I (hopefully) have daughters one day, I don't want them thinking that sex=bad either. Thank you!

Bobbie said...

Hi Jess
Great post.

I would like to respond to Anonymous,Throwing cold water into the fire... My heart goes out to you, for years I felt the same way. Only my problem was tons of excessive baggage from many relationships with men. Once I got married I heard it would finally be better, NOT.

Your situation sounds like you did wait and still NOT. I know some women that have needed to see a good Christian therapist, to iron out the causes of certain feelings. I was amazed to find out it's not just about sex before marriage, sometimes it's a daddy situation. Other times it can be a satan thing, a lie he implanted and the person believed it. It can also be a husband thing, the little comment about a weight issue etc. Many different things can cause us to have extremely low self-esteems. I feel that is our biggest problem today, the way we look at ourselves. Also in my case low hormones were a big problem. Natural hormones helped alot.

I will be praying for you. And for God to show you His truth.

Bobbie

Jess said...

Laurie B wrote:
I thought of a question for you, Jess. Do you allow your boys to play with and form friendships with little girls?

If so, what do you plan to tell them when they hit puberty? That it's better not to be friends with girls anymore so as to avoid the temptation?

It seems like what you wrote (here and in previous posts about why you avoid friendships with men) might be inadvertently teaching kids that most people of the opposite sex (except for one's spouse) are objects of sexual temptation to be avoided by good Christians.


Here's what I think about this, Laurie. Natural factors will play into this far more than my opinions or philosophy will. Particularly in a culture like the one our family lives in overseas, it's simply not that big of an issue. Boys play with boys. Girls play with girls. Most of the time, that's the deal. Sure, if we're at someone's house that only has girls, then my boys are playing with girls.

But sleepovers aren't happening with people of the opposite sex. For the most part, teams are divided by gender. Even in America, most kids are most likely to have their closest friends be their same gender. And then, yes, when they get to an age past puberty, I will warn my kids about friendships with the opposite sex. That anyone they are befriending is likely someone else's future spouse, and they need to treat them as such. That it is easy for friendships to turn into something more, and they need to guard their hearts.

Yes, I will encourage them to choose people of the same gender as their closestfriends. There just aren't any reasons to do otherwise.

And when you say:
what you wrote (here and in previous posts about why you avoid friendships with men) might be inadvertently teaching kids that most people of the opposite sex (except for one's spouse) are objects of sexual temptation

I don't see how that's inadvertent. That's precisely what they need to know. And in most cultures in the world (sans our own P.C. America), that is the case. It is why women are modest in most places of the world- because they recognize that they are different. It is why fathers have a protective feeling about their daughters and why most fathers (again, sans our own P.C. America) don't want their 12 year old daughter running around in a tube top. There is a sense- a God-given sense- that men and women are different.

It's not inadvertent at all, Laurie. It's entirely intentional. Of course I'll be teaching my boys that they need to be cautious in the way they interact with girls. Not only for their own protection, and for their future wives' protection, but for the girl's protection as well. Of course I'll teach my children to be cautious in the way they interact with the opposite sex. It would be utter foolishness for me to do otherwise.

I hope this makes my thoughts on this matter more clear for you.
Jess

Anonymous said...

Laurie B again:

Thanks for clearing that up, Jess.

I guess we disagree in that I think men who have had friendships with girls and women tend to understand women better and be better husbands/partners later in life.

I think men who have had little contact with girls or women and view them primarily as potential sexual objects tend not to treat women with as much respect later in life.

That is why I will be pleased if my sons form friendships with girls as well as boys.

But that is my bias.

Another reason for my bias is that I grew up with our next-door neighbors' son, who is six weeks younger than me. Our parents were good friends, and we played together almost daily at one house or another (our moms took turns watching us). We were literally babies in the playpen together--we were almost raised like siblings. We are still friends and there has never been anything sexual in our relationship at all.

Another reason for my bias is a good friendship I've had since high school (again, never anything sexual) with a different man. We have learned a lot from each other and have helped each other at difficult times in life. After my father died suddenly while I was living overseas, this friend moved into the house I inherited and looked after it for a few years until my husband and I were ready to move back. I have no idea what we would have done if this friend hadn't stepped in to help. None of my women friends were in a position to do what he did.

This friend and I are both married with kids, and our families enjoy getting each other's company.

I guess what I am trying to say is that it is possible to have friends of the opposite sex without descending into a sordid life of adultery.

And by the same token, avoiding friendships with people of the opposite sex does not immunize a person from developing unhealthy obsessions.

Anonymous said...

To the disappointed anonymous person: I hope you don't give up.

I don't know if this advice will be deemed appropriate for this blog, but many couples find that it enhances the experience to use a lubricant. Even if you don't "need" a lubricant to enjoy physical intimacy, most people enjoy it more with extra lubricant.

There are also books that describe sensual massage and other techniques that may enhance the experience for you.

If you don't feel comfortable going to a store that sells lubricants or other aids, you can order them online (e.g. Pure Romance, but that is not the only company) and have it shipped to your home in a discreet package.

Laurie B

Anonymous said...

I am another Throwing Water On The Fire person. :-( It's a miserable existence, let me tell you. And I've tried. He's tried. I WANT the garden. I expected to have the garden. And I don't for the life of me know what went wrong. :-(

Christie said...

Me, too, Anonymous...

I also saved myself for my husband, awaiting that glorious garden experience. We've been married 15 months, and we're not there yet. Admittedly, there have been numerous times where I felt that it was a bait and switch. I feel forgotten in it all.

I know, though, that my unfulfilling experience does not point out a flaw in the design of marital sex, but I am aware that it is with practical application. I believe that God made sex to be glorious; my husband and I just need to tap into that.

I have very little sex drive, and when I am in the mood, my husband doesn't quite do what I want to *maximize* the opporunity. He's an engineer for a living, so he definitely takes the engineer approach. "Should we have sex tonight?," he asks. His tone is the same as if he were asking, "Should I wear the blue socks or the black socks?" Very matter of fact. That not only doesn't turn me on, but it turns me off. I want him to romance me, and although he's got all the good intentions in the world, he's not there yet.

The best thing that I have figured out to do is this:
1. Focus on pleasing him and not on my own pleasure.
2. Pray for him. Though it seems clear to me that he is focused on his "release" and that my pleasure is an afterthought to him, I can pray that God would fill him with a servant heart toward me.
3. Pray for me. I need to pray that I can be horny. Plain and simple, if God doesn't make it happen, it ain't happenin'! [was that TMI? ;)]
4. I need to trust God to take care of me. Even if I feel like I am being taken advantage of, God is my advocate. It's not up to me to stake my claim on my sexual fulfillment. All I can do is serve my hubby, and trust that God will take care of my needs. Even when the needs go unmet (which right now is the norm), I can fellowship in the suffering of Christ.

Lisa said...

This is for Christie. I have thought of 3 really good books for your husband to read (and you)...
The Love Languages by Gary Chapman
Sheet Music by Kevin Lehman
For Men Only by Shaunti Feldhawn

Sheet Music was instrumental for us. We read it on our honeymoon, and it gave us some clues we had no idea about. It was good for both of us.

I think that you and your husband would/should/could enjoy this if he is willing to find out what turns you on and gives you time. TIME. It's huge. That's why For Men Only is a great read. My husband read a little each night as I was preparing for bed, and then he would pick my brain with "Is that really true?!" and "Tell me about this....it says,..." it turned into some pretty good conversations.

That book did a good job of pointing out how I as a woman did need time. I need to talk about everything that crosses my mind so that I get it off the list, and then be clear-minded to focus on each other. If your husband could understand how it would make it better for him to do these things for you, I would hope he would do it.

Would he be willing to give you a foot massage?
Clean the junk drawer?
Stroke your hair? Kiss the back of your neck?
Text message you a "sweet nothing' during the workday? How about washing your car and filling the gas tank without telling you?

Your body will lubricate itself. If it has enough time and attention. I am confident that you might not even need to purchase a lubricant. What you and your husband need is time.
Forget about the race to the finish orgasm.
Just kiss and tell each other how thankful you are for each other.

When he does things for you, anything, remember to RAVE about it. What a WONDERFUL husband you have that would be that THOUGHTFUL to do such things!

It should lead to a better time of intimacy. Read Sheet Music. Probably first.

I pray that your husband will be patient with you. It is in his best interest. :)

Anonymous said...

To Christie:

I'm praying that you and your husband will get to your garden and it will be absolutely breath taking.

But have you talked to your husband that you feel that your being put on the back burner? Let him know how you feel and I honestly believe he shouldn't be ASKING if you want to have sex. Sorry. I believe its something that takes place naturally. That, is your husband and you are his wife, loving making is beautiful because God created it to be just that.

Also, if you just focus on pleasing him, what about you? If your focusing on him, he needs to focuse on you too. Sex isn't a one sided thing. Tell your husband (in a loving way) what you turn on's and off's are.
So, he knows what to do and what not to do.

God bless you both. ^_^

Anonymous said...

I know this is an old post but I also wanted to point out to anyone reading, that hormones may be an issue. There are so many things that can affect them, but one of the main things is any form of hormonal contraceptive. It messes with natural hormones so much. For most women not on any form of hormonal contraceptives, there is a natural flow to their desire, and it tends to peek in the week or so before ovulation until a couple of days after. For me I am in a better mood, more cuddle, more forgiving and more in the mood with my hubby. After the peek it goes down and pretty much goes away for a few days before, all during and then after my menstruation. With any form of hormonal contraceptive, and also after having a baby and while nursing before my cycle returns I have next to no desire and without desire it is just not all that enjoyable.

If you are not on any form of hormonal contraceptive it is worth looking in to having your hormone levels checked. Obviously it would also be helpful to talk to your hubby about ways to make being together more enjoyable for you both, and some good books would help as well.