Being "Sexy" For Your Husband? (part three)

What is definitely off-limits for Christian marriages? That's the topic of consideration today in this series about Christian wives being "sexy" for their husbands.

So far in this series, we've addressed two questions:
(1) Should a Christian wife be enticing and seductive towards her husband? (To put it simply, the answer is "YES!!!")
(2) Where does the standard for what is "sexy" come from? (The basic answer is ultimately from God, and specifically from your spouse.)

This third question will help us define the ways that we can go about enticing and seductive towards our husbands.

Biblically speaking, there are three clear areas that are off-limits, and we'll talk about each one individually:
  1. Anything that involves anyone else outside of the marriage relationship is clearly off-limits.
    The Bible makes it clear that the two people in a marriage become one flesh. There are no others included in this union. Marriage is explicitly between one man and one woman for life. (Mt 19:4-5, 1 Ti 3:2 & 12)

    So, with that in mind, adultery, homosexuality, incest, orgies, and pornography all fall clearly outside the boundaries of what is acceptable in a Christian marriage. Anything that in any way involves other people outside of the husband-wife relationship is off-limits for believers.

    [***Some may ask why pornography is not acceptable, if both husband and wife are open to it or willing to view it... but the question is not whether or not we as humans find something OK or not, but whether God Himself finds it acceptable or not. There is an abundance of Scripture that speaks to the issue of pornography, and lust (1 Co 6:12 & 10:23, Job 31:1, Matt. 5:28-29, and more), and the Word makes it clear that this is not an option for a Christian marriage. ***]
  2. Anything that demeans one of the partners or violates personal convictions is off-limits.
    Christian husbands and wives are told to love and respect each other (Eph 5), so we know that we are not to do anything that causes either party to feel unloved or disrespected. We are also clearly told not to do anything that violates the conscience of another believer (Ro 14:1 & 14 & 23).

    At the same time, we also need to be certain that our consciences and convictions are biblically-informed and not based merely on prudish or unbiblical ideas that sex is icky, dirty, or in any way wrong. Sadly, this is something I have seen a LOT among Christian women. I have heard women tell how they were taught that a good Christian woman would never enjoy intimacy with her husband, because it's naughty, sinful, or just something bad girls do. Perhaps her mother taught her (through words or actions) that sex was dirty and only to be used as a bargaining chip with her husband. Others have been taught that sex should only rarely be "granted" to a needy husband.

    I cannot state plainly enough how all of these ideas are lies.

    I'm convinced that our enemy, the devil, has planted these ideas in Christian homes over recent decades at the precise time that the world was getting more and more sexually explicit and "liberated", so that Christian families could increasingly be successfully attacked by him in this area of intimacy, lust, and sexual issues. We must heed biblical convictions, but we must discard unbiblical ideas that would undermine this precious gift of intimacy in the marriage relationship.

    1 Cor 6:12 says that all things are permissible for us as believers but not all things are beneficial, nor are we to be mastered by anything. According to Dr. Lewis Smedes, "The Christian word on trying out a sexual practice that is not prohibited in Scripture is 'Try it. If you like it, it is morally good for you. And it may well be that in providing new delight to each other; you will be adventuring into deeper experiences of love.'"
  3. Not "doing it" is not an option in a Christian marriage.
    1 Cor. 7:3-5 tells us outright that we are not to deprive one another of intimacy. (We've discussed this in greater detail in previous posts here at Making Home: Intimate Deprivation, Exhausted of Excuses, and Sex in a Christian Marriage).

    What this looks like in one couple may look different from what it looks like in one couple. For example, a military couple who may be separated for a time will not have the same kinds of intimacy as a couple where the husband is home 7 nights a week. Nor will that couple's love life look the same as a couple where the husband drives trucks 5 days a week and is home on the weekends. And some couples, as a unit, have greater drives and desires for intimacy than others.

    But for all of us, the key is to "not deprive". Which means that we need to ask our spouses what their needs are and let them know what our needs are. It also means that we are to meet each other's needs, not begrudgingly or with strings attached-- but as part of our obedience to the Lord. We are not given the option of merely living as roommates or buddies... we are to lovingly and regularly meet those needs that God has given to our spouse.

So, aside from these three things (anything that would involve other people, anything that would violate one's conscience or be demeaning, and avoiding sex), I believe we are free within marriage to delight in each other. What that will mean for each couple will look different. Some are more active than others, some are more spontaneous than others, some will try and do new and different things all the time, and some will primarily delight in a few favorite ways of being together. None of this is wrong, and all of it can be absolutely wonderful and God-honoring.

Indeed, aside from these specific prohibitions, "all things are permissible", and we can, without shame, enjoy freedom in the marriage relationship. Studies show that Christians have better and more satisfying sex lives than those in the culture around us, so there's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of! God has given us a beautiful gift in the gift of intimacy and we can enjoy it to the full!


Here is another great article on this subject:
As always, let me know what you think... I'm always interested in your thoughts and comments!

CLICK HERE TO READ PART FOUR in this series.

Graphic ("Le Soir" by Alphonse Mucha) from allposters.com

57 comments:

Terry said...

Great post, Jess. I always appreciate your willingness to tackle any and everything that can enhance every area of a Christian couple's life. Keep it up!

Mrs. Kitty said...

Jess,
Hi I have been reading your blog for a bit and I love it. Its refreshing and open. If I had any friends I would tell them all to come here! LOL! But yes getting back to my question. So what would you say of porn? My husband has struggled with this for 3 years, well even before we were married. We have argued and I have cried. I never knew that it affected me like this before I got married. My reasons I suppose are pretty much selfish, it makes me feel bad about myself. I in fact feel like he is CHEATING on me. He has watched it instead of making love to me. I make myself available at all times. I NEVER have turned him away. So I know he may be wrong in looking if it hurts me so, BUT I want to know what the Bible thinks of it. What does God think? I would love to here what an objective person has to say.
Thank you,
Ashley
thetigergoddess@gmail.com

Jess said...

Ashley,
I think the Bible speaks very clearly about lust and taking in imagery of anyone else other than your spouse being wrong.

This is a difficult subject, because for things to change, the husband must desire to change. Prayer is the first (and most powerful) step for any wife in this situation.

There are many programs and helps for men who want to break free from porn addiction (like Covenant Eyes and SpectorSoft-- both are computer software that can help with accountability... and then there are also training programs where men can actually go and receive intensive counseling) , but it isn't something that can be externally enforced on them. Accountability, prayer, intentional vigilence, and a strong desire on the part of the man to succeed in this area are all necessary parts of winning this battle.

I'm sorry you're facing this-- you are certainly not alone. An increasing number of women in our over-sexed culture are facing this in their marriages, and it is not an easy road. I am considering doing a post about this in the future to discuss this difficult subject.

I wonder if others have additional encouragement for Ashley in this area?
~Jess

Kara said...

I just have to echo what Jess said about you not being alone, Ashley. Unfortunately, pornography is widespread among Christians. And unfortunately, because we don't want to talk about these things...we ignore them. The only place I've seen this issue tackled and dealt with is when men have been open and honest, and willing to be accountable to others. That's a hard thing to do if they haven't been taught to be accountable to others on the basics of Christian living, let along this. You are also right, as you know how much this hurts you, this is wrong(the first link Jess gave clearly outlines this), and it is harming your relationship. I'll comment again if I can find it, but there is a Christian website out there for support for wives whose husbands struggle with this.

If your husband is willing to work on this a first step would be to get a filter for your computer, one that can not be turned off. BeSafeOnline has a good one. My husband and I just have a rule that we will not have any kind of internet access without a filter. A word of warning that we just found out about....my husband recently got a smartphone and it hadn't occured to us that we would not be able to find a filter for the internet access on that. We were in the US for a couple weeks and my husband found out that these are a big temptations for many guys...their smartphones. Just something to make you all aware of and if anyone knows of a filter available for these could you let us know??!!

Sorry to go on, my prayers are with you Ashley. Jess is right, pray for your husband. And Jess, great post. Loving the links ;)

Catherine R. said...

Ashley,

You are not selfish in your reasons for not wanting your husband to watch porn. There is absolutely no reason for you to be blaming yourself or feeling guilty for not liking this situation. When a man chooses to look at porn in favor of having sex with his wife, that is not okay, at all, not even a little bit. Maybe you have been influenced by culture and I'm not sure if you're a Christian but the truth is, porn is totally unacceptable despite the fact that our misguided culture says it's okay. I'm praying for you.

*********************

On another note, in regards to the first point discussed in this post: does anyone have a good explanation for why God allowed men to have multiple wives in the Old Testament? That has bothered me for some time now.

Karen (Pediascribe) said...

Head's up......awards for you on my blog. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm sticking my neck out here by asking this question. I don't understand why sex is so important, especially for men. It seems to me to simply be a physical release and nothing more. If porn or a prostitute can be used, then what makes it special between a husband and wife? I have no desire to be intimate because I know that it is simply a desire my husband has that has nothing to do with me. He could use anyone and the physical feeling would be the same for him. The entire marriage, and my value, rests upon doing "it." How can I not feel worthless when I know that "it" is the only thing keeping my husband in the marriage. If I stop giving "it" to him, he will feel justified in leaving. So, it doesn't matter whatever else I do, "it" is the end-all, be-all and I remain nothing more than an object to use. How am I supposed to feel sexy or attracted knowing this?
Maybe there are some husbands out there who would be willing to answer why "it" matters so much and why a wife should feel loved knowing men can be satisfied by any woman. What makes it special in a marriage?

Catherine R. said...

Anonymous, I understand where you're coming from. I am a woman giving my thoughts, if that's okay, I know you want men to reply. I have had similar thoughts as those you expressed. I cant give an eloquent answer but I can say this, I have slept with a significant number of men before I met my husband. I have physically enjoyed many of these encounters too. If I wanted to, I could desire to sleep with them instead of my husband since I could get my kicks "just as easy" with them. However, love is more of a choice than an animalistic, physical reaction, release or compulsion. I am choosing to focus on my husband. I wish he were the only man I ever slept with but he's not. For things to move in the right direction in our marriage I am working towards making him the only person my sexuality is directed at. I have done sinful things and I am a sinful person...we are all this way. I hope this makes some sense.

Faith said...

Concerning why God allowed multiple wives in the OT...I just read a great explanation on that very topic.

Essentially it boils down to the world during OT times as being very different. (The below section is taken from www.gotquestions.org)

Why did God allow polygamy in the Old Testament? The Bible does not specifically say why God allowed polygamy. The best anyone can do is “informed” speculation. There are a few key items to consider. First, there has always been more women in the world than men. Current statistics show that approximately 50.5% of the world population are women, with men being 49.5%. Assuming the same percentages in ancient times, and multiplied by millions of people, there would be tens of thousands more women than men. Second, warfare in ancient times was especially brutal, with an incredibly high rate of fatality. This would have resulted in an even greater percentage of women to men. Third, due to the patriarchal societies, it was nearly impossible for a woman to provide for herself. Women were often uneducated and untrained. Women relied on their fathers, brothers, and husbands for provision and protection. Unmarried women were often subjected to prostitution and slavery. Fourth, the significant difference between the number of women and men would have left many, many women in an undesirable situation (to say the least).

So, it seems that God allowed polygamy to protect and provide for the women who could not find a husband otherwise. A man would take multiple wives, and serve as the provider and protector of all of them. While definitely not ideal, living in a polygamist household was far better than the alternatives: prostitution, slavery, starvation, etc. In addition to the protection / provision factor, polygamy enabled a much faster expansion of humanity, fulfilling God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth” (Genesis 9:7). Men are capable of impregnating multiple women in the same time period…causing humanity to grow much faster than if each man was only able to produce one child each year. Again, these are only “informed” speculations.

lincolnandjenny said...

Great series Jess!!

I just wanted to add 1 thing to your first point. Even if you are "only" imagining or fantasizing about another person, you are still bringing that person into your marriage.

You used this scripture in Part 2 and I think it applies here as well.

Matthew 5:26- "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

Thank you for this series!

Anonymous said...

I've been an advocate of Christian women opening up about this subject since getting married and realizing that this is an area that has to be worked at in order for it to be enjoyable! :) Even so, I've never delved into any of the things sold at the two sites you linked. Just looking at their products made me feel uncomfortable. Am I the only one who associates those types of 'toys' with the 'world'? I'd love to hear from you and your readers on the benefits of using those types of toys/tools in your physical relationship.
Thanks.

Kelly said...

Dear Annonymous,

Your post sounds so painful. I am so sorry for that. What are the other aspects of your marriage like? Does your husband talk with you and spend time with you? Do you crave for him to? I know that at the end of the day, I really want to connect with my dh. I want to talk to him and have him really pay attention and listen to me. Yes, I could talk with other people, men or women, but I love my husband and want his attention.

I think it is the same way with men and sex. Yes, they could have "it" with anybody, but want their wives. It is physically intimate. It is emotionally intimate. It creates a wonderful bond. It is a physical release, which is nice, but it is so much more.

Kelly said...

I wanted to reply to this portion of a comment from an annonymous poster:

***Am I the only one who associates those types of 'toys' with the 'world'? I'd love to hear from you and your readers on the benefits of using those types of toys/tools in your physical relationship.***

My opinion on marital aids or "toys" is that if both husband and wife are comfortable with them, and are using them to enhance your relationship and intimate life, then they are OK. I did not always think this way and it took my husband a couple years to talk me into trying.

Using them to take away from having an intimate relationship with your spouse, imo, is wrong.

So say the wife has problems with reaching an O while ML. Using a ring would be a nice way to enhance that. You can ML and have the direct contact needed.

Or a husband using something on his wife during love play. It's like a power tool, and what husband doesn't like power tools, right?

Or giving your dh a little show.

All things that are not strange or taking away from marital intimacy. It doesn't have to be all the time.

I don't think that because somethign is pleasureable that it is of the world. I think that Christians are taught that so many things are taboo and it can be a hinderance to intimacy.

I grew up in a church that taught oral stimulation was a sin. It isn't, and it took me quite a while to get over it. Same with marital aids. Both people are comfortable, you're not bringing anybody else into the marriage bed, and using them to enhance your relationship are OK imo.

Aubs said...

I can't say thank you enough, Jess, for being willing to discuss this topic! I have been so blessed by finding your blog and I can only pray that I too will one day be as confident and comfortable in God's word to be able to help other women. You have become a true inspiration to me.....thank you for letting our wonderful God work thru you!

Holly said...

Hey Jess. You're doing a great job.

Regarding the links, though...even on the site which has manniquins...(sp)some of the products have nudity.

Regarding some of the toys,too...ICK. Plain ol' ick. I've never understood why someone needs to bring plastic to the marriage bed. A spouse's body should be enough...

Jess said...

Holly,
I've looked them over pretty carefully and can't find what you're referring to. I'm sorry you found something offensive... if you'll e-mail me with what you're talking about, I'll be able to judge whether or not to pull down the link. makinghome@pobox.com


I have combed these fairly carefully, but I have not looked at every single page on every link. So if there is indeed nudity of any kind, I'm sorry about that.
~Jess

Jess said...

RE: toys/marital "aids"

To anonymous and Holly,
Thanks for adding your thoughts and bringing your specific concerns or questions about toys/etc. in the bedroom.

I wrote this post in part because of those type of questions, but I didn't want to get into specifics about... "is this particular marital aid OK? What about this one? What about this particular sexual act/practice between partners? Or how about this one?"

Basically, I think if you evaluate your concerns by the questions that I put out-- "does it involve someone else? does it demean one of the partners or violate our convictions? or will it cause us to deprive?"-- you will have your answer.

Now whether or not it is OK for YOUR marriage may be different from someone else's marriage. If you have personal convictions-- or say, if someone used a physical object to hurt or abuse you in your past, you may indeed find them offensive and not helpful at all.

But there are many, MANY couples who have different levels of desire and ability to enjoy intimacy-- toys like these can sometimes help those couples to meet one another's needs in what is still their own private and intimate time together and balance out their unbalanced physical desires/needs.

Just because it's plastic doesn't make it sinful, is what I'm trying to say. Even in the Song of Solomon, she's using fragrance and metal jewelry to allure him... and modern day brides often use silk or makeup (or plastic and fur high heels, for that matter) to attract or "turn on" their husbands.

I should say outright that I personally believe that this is an area of freedom for married couples. There certainly is no biblical prohibition against using such things, nor is there a commandment TO use them. So, I would say this: if you don't need them or want to use them, or if you find them offensive in some way, that's fine. You're not going to violate Scripture by not using them.

But if you do find yourself in a situation where one partner struggles to maintain arousal or where it's just desired by both partners to try (just as you would lingerie or some other "outside of the body" enticement), then I believe it's acceptable. Now, I say this with the caveat that I believe Scriptural constraints would restrict us to not using them to ever fantasize or think about other people, and to not ever use them selfishly to keep ourselves from our spouse.

But biblically speaking, if your conscience doesn't permit it, then you should not violate your conscience. But using these aids does not violate Scripture in my view.

You may find the "GrowthTrac" article helpful to further think through this issue-- they specifically address this, among other things-- like oral stimulation that Kelly talked about. So you may want to check that out.

Thanks for your questions. Anyone else have thoughts on this? I know it's a tough issue to discuss with dignity in a potentially mixed-gender public setting. ;)
~Jess

Kelly said...

Jess, I appreciate your comments on this and agree with you wholeheartedly.

Thank you for your blog. It is a great blessing!

Elizabeth said...

Anonymous,
Your comment made me think of an article I read this morning about sexuality after the Fall. The author pointed out that because of sin men are tempted to the "fast-food" mentality in regards to sex...hot and fast! BUT at the same time, women are tempted to turn their desire for romance and emotional affection into something manipulative--begrudgingly giving sex and demanding romance in exchange.
The temptations can take a variety of forms, but the fact is, we are fallen. The good news is that Christ has redeemed us soul AND body. He calls us to participate in the self-giving love that exists between the Father and Himself. Marital love in all respects, but especially marital intimacy should imitate the self-giving love of God. When you love your husband in the way he needs to be loved (sexually) you are loving like God loves. When he loves you in the way you need to be loved (emotionally) even though that may not come naturally to him, he is loving you in a God-like way.
We are created in the image and likeness of God, and God is the communion of three Persons who are one. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are imaged by a husband and wife becoming one, with their creative love bearing fruit through the gift of children. In other words, marriage and sex are nothing less than a bit of "heaven on earth!"

Anonymous said...

I fully agree with Holly and one of your anonymous commentators, who wrote: "Just looking at their products made me feel uncomfortable. Am I the only one who associates those types of 'toys' with the 'world'?"

That was my exact feeling. I do not mean to be condemning of others where Scripture is silent, but my thinking in this is, why do we need to copy the porn industry 'toys'(some of those things would qualify for this name, I think)? Just using them in our marriage makes them right? Didn't God give us all we need by giving us our spouse to enjoy?

Take some of those games... It does allow for a third one in the marriage. It allows for whoever thought up those cards/activities/suggestions. All the couples that bought one of those cards games actually follow smb's suggestions about what they should do with their spouse. I may be too scrupulous .. I just see it as demeaning a bit. The puritans had great 'fun', despite the popular misconception about them, and didn't need such things. Other godly people I read about would have never used such things, and had great marriages... And I do not advocate any of the lies Jess wrote about - I fully believe Christian couples can and should fully enjoy each other!

Mrs. P

Jess said...

Mrs. P,
I think, then, that you are certainly well within your rights to not use such things, if they cause you to feel demeaned and would limit your fun or make you feel less godly.

I wonder, though, if you feel like you are bringing in a Cambodian seamstress into your marriage bed when you wear cute pajamas that she made? Or if you feel like you're bringing the candlemaker into your intimacy when you light a candle to bring pleasant scents into your time with your husband? I understand that everyone has different feelings about these things, but we must be careful not to do the very thing you mentioned... to "condemn others where Scripture is silent."

Whether or not a couple does use outside things, and which outside things they choose, is for that couple to decide within the bounds of Scripture and the leading of the Holy Spirit... not through external opinions (yours or mine). I've tried to lay out a framework for identifying what is and is not acceptable in a Christian marriage (with my finite mind and my understanding of the Scriptures).

It's my view that we should allow each couple to search out the Word and wrestle with God on these things and come to their own convictions and not make rules that are not laid out in Scripture.

Blessings,
Jess

Anonymous said...

Jess,

I was only answering the anonymous poster who wondered if anyone else shared her opinion, as well as answering your own post, that ended with "Thanks for your questions. Anyone else have thoughts on this?". I assumed the "thoughts" were at liberty to dissent. You just asked for what you call 'external opinions' and now it is a problem that I have expressed mine? ("Whether or not a couple does use outside things, and which outside things they choose, is for that couple to decide within the bounds of Scripture and the leading of the Holy Spirit... not through external opinions (yours or mine).")

"I wonder, though, if you feel like you are bringing in a Cambodian seamstress into your marriage bed when you wear cute pajamas that she made?" The irony, if indeed it is irony (as I perceive it), is out of place.

I do not remember having laid out rules. But since you did ask for others' thoughts on this, I shared mine.

Blessings on you too,
Mrs. P

Jess said...

You are indeed free to share your opinions; I welcome that-- I'm sorry that my stated disagreement with some of those opinions came across as unwelcoming.

You're right that I asked for other thoughts, I was actually trying to ask for thoughts and ideas based on Scripture, not just on personal feelings, since those can vary from person to person.

Your initial comment was based on, as it reads, (1) your own feelings of discomfort, (2) an unspecific link between these things and porn, (3) the fact that someone external to the marriage thought up a game, and (4) the notion that since the Puritans didn't have these things, so we can do without them too.

I absolutely understand that some people feel discomfort when thinking about/looking at/ or discussing these things. I tried to relate that in my last response. And I too would be concerned with any actual connection to porn with such things (for example, if it promoted a porn star on the packaging or in the name, or if there were images of other people on the product itself).

I just don't agree that just because a third party has something to do with the making of something used between a husband and wife to enjoy their time together, it is wrong. Nor do I think that we should eschew everything made or thought up since Puritan times, or simply because we know of a godly family or couple who does without them.

Again, I'm just trying to state my belief that each couple can and should decide these things for themselves. I do thank you for sharing your thoughts... I just happen to disagree with some of them. :) We all have our various "personal boundaries", and that's A-OK. I am just trying to encourage women to think of their own boundaries and check them against Scripture, and not just assume that because they've always been told that ________ is wrong, that it must be.

~Jess

Anonymous said...

Jess,

Thanks for the answer. Just a few comments here for clarity's sake - I understand you do not agree and have no desire to keep this up.:-)

"I just don't agree that just because a third party has something to do with the making of something used between a husband and wife to enjoy their time together, it is wrong."

I didn't say that. What I referred to was the idea of a couple doing certain intimate activities because they were prompted/scripted to do so by cards/games devised by someone else. Such as "talk dirty to me" (which was on one of those pages).
Using pajamas or towels or any other such thing produced by a third party is another story altogether. I at least see a big difference.

A Bible verse that does come to mind and is relevant for me in this context is "avoid all appearance of evil". With respect to some of those types of things, there is a clear (to me at least) connection with porn. For instance, I see no reason under the son why a godly wife should try to learn how to dance around the pole the way professional strippers do. I use that as an example, because I read of smth like that on a professing Christian site that is said to try to promote marrital intimacy.

As for the comment about the Puritans, all I meant is that since there is such a long history behind us of godly Christian people who enjoyed their intimate life, but didn't use such things as necessary... it seems to me to be just a contamination effect from the messed up oversexualized culture around us.

You will probably disagree, but at least this is what I meant stated in a more clearly way (I hope).

Mrs. P

Holly said...

Oh..yeah, and I wanted to mention that in third place I find it offensive that our materialistic culture spends so much on sex toys. What do we say to God? "Sorry God. I can't sponsor that orphan child because I needed the $30 Matador toy? I have seen things like "swings" that sell for $500 to enhance the experience. Is that a good way to spend our money? We really do have to answer for this one day!

So, yeah, love on your husband and love on him GOOD! Do so, regularly and with great passion. You can't possibly love him enough or give him enough. Let's teach couples how to love each other appropriately through the church. But...weigh all things. Take them back to the core and really see where they come from! :)

Holly said...

And one more from me....

Not trying to be a pest...just thinking as I go about my day and popping in to say...

I have a BIG problem (when I really, really think about it) with ANYBODY making money from sex or sexual products. That seems to taint it, and leave it ripe for abuse.

Again, touching on who makes these products? I'm laughing as I type because I'm picturing some monks sequestered in a monastery on a hilltop churning out these toys for mature Christians. Or maybe little old grandmas in their pristine houses, thinking only of the purity of the marital relationship. But that's not the case. Noooooo - it's the sex industry, the porn industry who profits!!!!! I can't send my money there.

Kelly said...

Mrs. P, I think it is OK if you are not comfortable with those things in your marriage. But I also think it is OK for others to use them if they want to enhance their intimate relationship.

I enjoy my husband and he enjoys me. I also enjoy adding variety with the use of marital aids, sometimes and not to replace a relationship with my husband.

Do you wear makeup? Put on lingerie? Do you fix your hair? The people in the p*rn industry also do such things. Do you feel doing that copies them?

How about altering positions other than the traditional missionary position? They do that in the "movies". Does enjoying variety mean you are copying the p*rn industry (broad you, no you personally).

I don't think so. I think God gave us each other to learn with, enjoy, grow with, and have fun with. I do not condone 3rd party relationships or viewing p*rn to be healthy to a Christian (or any) marriage.

But I do believe it is OK to wear lingerie, put on make-up or jewelry, fix up my hair, do a striptease for my husband, play with marital aids if we so chose to enhance things, to be acceptable for Christians IF THEY SO CHOOSE to do so. Not everybody has to do it. Nobody HAS to do anything.

I really don't care what others do/don't do in their marriage bed. But I do enjoy the freedom to enjoy different things with my husband in ours.

Kelly said...

Just one more thought before I leave. Holly said this:

"I have a BIG problem (when I really, really think about it) with ANYBODY making money from sex or sexual products. That seems to taint it, and leave it ripe for abuse."

I know we're talking about "toys" in this instance, but what about other things? Lingerie, lubricants, make-up, perfume. I think this argument could bring anything used to enhance the saxual relationship into this.

Do I think it is outrageous to spend $500 for a swing? You betcha. Do I think it is OK to spend $14 for a ring that can benefit both partners and make the saxual experience awesome for somebody that has problems finish, so to speak, the traditional way. Absolutely!

I really don't want to argue the point. Each person really does have to search their heart and pray and decide, together with their spouse, what is right for your marriage. If it's not right for you, fine and dandy. I am not here to talk you into it. But if you feel it is right for you, that's also fine and dandy. Everybody has to decide that for themselves.

I'm to the point in my life that I really don't care what others do. You enjoy these things or not, fine with me. I can enjoy these things or not, and that really shouldn't matter to anybody else, kwim?

Faith said...

I couldn't agree more with Kelly & Jess on the toy issue.

This section from above applies very well to toys and marital aids:
1 Cor. 6:12 says that all things are permissible for us as believers but not all things are beneficial, nor are we to be mastered by anything. According to Dr. Lewis Smedes, "The Christian word on trying out a sexual practice that is not prohibited in Scripture is 'Try it. If you like it, it is morally good for you. And it may well be that in providing new delight to each other; you will be adventuring into deeper experiences of love.'"

In my marriage, simply discussing what we each feel is ok and not ok for us has done incredible things for deepening our communication.

For so many people, Christians included, you simply do what you know. Assumptions get made about what's right and what's wrong because that's how you were raised or because that's how it's always been.

Adding things to add fun and variety should not be considered right or wrong based solely on anyone's opinion. But I truly believe God has given us the freedom to enjoy each other to the fullest and that's just what we intend to do. ;-)

Jess said...

Holly wrote this comment at 5:29 PM, February 26, 2008 , (edited to remove website link, nothing else) :


Well...usually it is the porn industry that is profiting from the sale of these things. That is one concern.

Second, I think that in our pornographic culture we are always looking for something more...something else...to give us that excitement, when I think that our spouse should be enough.

... (website was linked to illustrate porn-ish packaging material on referenced website)...

I do not mean to be contentious. I sympathize with those who struggle. Just wanting to make that clear. :)

I would find "aids" allowable for those who have a physical infirmity...but imho a healthy couple ought to be able to find pleasure only in each other.

Should toys be illegal, or outlawed? Of course not. Should they be encouraged, among those who don't have troubles? I don't think so. And no, this is not condemnatory. I link to your posts, saying they are excellent! :)

BTW...regarding the attachment of such things to pornography...anyone who has a background to porn would see the tie in. I was abused as a child by someone who used porn to re-create the situations...I saw and knew things I shouldn't. (Not asking for pity, just saying that I was aware and have seen things a child shouldn't...) But the tie-in is definite. And I still think it incredibly tacky for the Christian world to adopt en masse anything that links to the pornographic industry.

Thanks for allowing my thoughts. They are submitted with love and charity for the individuals who struggle in this area.

Laurel said...

Jess, this is such a fantastic topic! The fact that it seems to be such a topic of controversy and each woman has very pointed feelings on the topic; is the VERY reason it needs to be discussed! Good for you and I LOVE the way you have gone about it!

Before we get married, the enemy does everything he can to keep us from being pure and to get us to give ourselves away. After we are married, he does everything to keep us apart. There is nothing that bonds two people together, like intimacy in a marriage bed. There is NO time in marriage where you will be closer than when you are intimate. Intimacy is one of the most powerful ways of prtecting yourself spiritually from warfare!!!!

I do feel that if marital aids are not for you, or your husband, then you should not engage; and that is totally ok. Having said that, I think that it is the way you look at these aids that will affect your views on them. If you are thinking you NEED these to have a fun sex life, then no, you should not be using them. I think that we have allowed the world to speak into our hearts about what is right sexually. My advice to you, is to spend some time in prayer over this matter because what we need is for God to be breathing into what is right in our marriage beds. What we desire for our intimate lives, is a grain of sand, compared to what God wants for us.

Great job Jess, on addressing this issue with such a biblical base!

Laurel

Holly said...

Kelly, hon, I don't think there's anything wrong with helping an infirmity...so to speak.

As to perfume and make up and lingerie...those things were around long before sex toys. That is not the specific mimicry of the porn industry.


And no, you are a grown up... you don't need my permission nor anyone else's. You do have to decide with your husband, not with anyone else.

But I believe we are free here to share our thoughts and concerns...and that is all I am doing - not condemning individuals.

Do you (everyone here) know what is an amazing intimate experience? Praying either before or after you spend time together. Asking God's blessing on your love and on your marriage. Asking Him to help you both stay pure, thanking Him for His incredible gift of love. He designed it - isn't He amazing!

I believe that He cares about every part of us. I believe that HE wants our marriages to be enjoyable, to succeed. I believe He cares if we have problems with intimacy. I believe He wants to heal our hurts and help us to live purely within our marriages.

I think that many of us need healing from the pornograhic culture we have been raised in. It has affected us in ways we are not even aware of.

Anyway...pray. He hears, and He cares!

Holly said...

One more. (Do you have a limit, Jess?)

Regarding the "all things are permissable." Why do people often stop there?

It says, "All things are permissable, not all things are beneficial."

That is to say..."No, we're not going to set a law about this. But weigh these things, for not all things are best for you." Freedom isn't license to really do anything we want. With freedom comes the responsibility to self-regulate.

Because, yeah, I can choose to do MANY things, and no one could really point to scripture that outlaws them. Smoking would be a good example. Nothing says, I can't do that. But medical research says that it wouldn't be good for my body.

Some things, because of what they lend to the downfall of society and the dulling of the Christian's heart, should not be indulged in.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Jess for posting this series. It encourages me to see issues that are so close to my heart discussed. It hurts my heart to read comments that IMPLY that a "good" marriage shouldn't "need" aids. Some of us struggle for various reason and need assistance in these areas. As long as we are following the guidelines stated above I say FREEDOM is in CHRIST.

I always refer back to Romans 14 when discussions seem so divided. God is working on all of us in different ways and at different times. We have to allow that we are not all on the same page when a matter is not specifically discussed in Scripture. Vs. 22 sums it up perfectly "22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin." So, if God convicts you that it is sinful to do something then for you it is. But if God does not give me the same conviction then for me (unless clearly outlined in scripture) it is not. Take alcohol, for some they feel they are called not to let it touch their lips, for other believers - they feel no such calling. Who is sinning? Neither.

Blessings,
Amy K

Jess said...

Holly,
I think you're treading a fine line... I understand you have a history with porn, and so this may indeed be an area of sensitivity and proper conviction for you. But the key words in that sentence are "for you". Just as the previous commenter (AmyK) mentioned, we need not condemn others for areas where they feel freedom.


You said:
Kelly, hon, I don't think there's anything wrong with helping an infirmity...so to speak.

As to perfume and make up and lingerie...those things were around long before sex toys. That is not the specific mimicry of the porn industry.


I just wanted to point out that makeup and perfume and lingerie probably are mimicing the prostitutes of days gone by. Sure, it existed before print media... but it really isn't any different in terms of theory. It's just that plastic hadn't yet been invented. Just because something can be used for evil (sex itself is a good example) does not mean that it in itself IS evil. Just because a thing *for you* is connected with evil things does not mean that it conjures up the same feelings and sensitivities for others. For some couples, there may be a sensitivity towards lingerie because of past experiences, or towards parking in a car, or towards any other intimate activity. But all of these things (games, toys, lingerie, removing clothes for the viewing pleasure of one's partner, etc...) are discretionary, whereas adultery (for example) is not in any way discretionary.

That's why I titled this question "what is DEFINITELY OFF-LIMITS for Christian marriages?" ... because there are many gray areas that we each have to sort through, but there ARE things (like porn itself, or outright involving other people in your intimacy) that are without question off-limits for Christians. But this area really is an area of personal conviction- we need not make more guidelines for others outside of what is expressed in the Bible.

~Jess

Terry said...

I will say this Jess: Your blog is NEVER boring! ;-) I really don't have much to add, but it is good that you give us pause to consider these things from a Biblical perspective rather than just a feelings perspective. I'm sure there are many husbands who would appreciate the discussion you have initiated here!

Anonymous said...

Hi. I was the anonymous back around comment #11 or so who asked

"Am I the only one who associates those types of 'toys' with the 'world'? I'd love to hear from you and your readers on the benefits of using those types of toys/tools in your physical relationship."

Thanks for all the responses - from all perspectives. I wasn't asking for hard and fast rules, just voicing that I felt uncomfortable when looking at the products sold on the websites listed. I do have a deep wound from p*rn, due to a brother who is entrenched in it. My feeling when I saw the products was, "those are things __________ would want to buy, not me." I do have to wonder who is selling them and creating them. I don't feel comfortable with the lingerie styles shown on the website listed, either. They look ugly to me, like stripper clothing, not something a woman would want to wear in a pure relationship with her husband.

I recognize that sex is a gift from God - a beautiful gift that provides analogies for us of the depth of our Heavenly Father's love for us, so I don't want to underestimate the need to place it as a top priority in your marital relationship. At the same time, I think we are filtering our 'need' for better sex, more creative sex, etc., through an American mindset. How might we counsel a woman in a difficult marriage who lived in a third world country? "Go online and get some of these toys, they'll really help you out so much!" or, "You really need to get one of these lingerie outfits." No! We would look to scripture to find out what love really is: laying down one's life for another. We would remind her of the Groom who provides her true identity. Abide in Him, that the fruit of the Spirit would be evident in your marriage. Growing in communication, respect, gentleness, patience, self-control ... these are the truest and most attractive "lingerie" we could ever put on for our husbands.

I am not saying that Christians who do use aids are wrong. And I am not saying that lingerie is not appropriate. (pretty nightgowns are so much fun!) I do wonder about our choices, though, and think that they are based a lot more on our American background than we would like to admit. Where we could choose deeper communication, humility and transparency, are we instead choosing worldly clothing and toys? What are our motives in the choices that we make? Do we subscribe to the ideals of the sexual revolution or are we committed to a life walking in the liberty of the Spirit?

-CM

*~Tamara~* said...

Hooo, boy, Jess, you sure brought them out of the woodwork with this one! :-D

There are a lot of different things in the comments here that are sparking thoughts for me, but I'll stick to just a couple.

It has been my experience that while "Christian" sites that provide intimacy aids are typically pretty good about blurring images on products so you can't see them via their website, the fact is those images ARE on the products you might buy, so when they arrive at your doorstep you are going to be subjecting yourself to those pornographic images. Some of the sites are NOT so discreet, and I'll be quite honest and tell you I would not want my husband perusing them. I think it's shameful for some of these products to be tauted on these Christian marriage sites, they are no different than images you might find in the very magazines that we condemn.

I am NOT saying I think the products themselves are sinful. In no way do I feel that way. However, I think if they ARE permissible for the Christian couple, then God will provide a way for us to obtain and use them WITHOUT sinning, and that includes the sin of immodesty and lust. I do not know what the answer is, but if I were someone running a Christian marital aid business, I would request different packaging for the products that I sold if they involved any type of nudity. But that's just me. If that could not be obtained, then, well...that's not a product I would sell, plain and simple. I always wonder what those "Christian couples" who run such sites subject themselves to when they are deciding what products to sell, and if that's permissible in the eyes of God.

As for allowing outside influences into your sexual relationship, I can tell you straight up that if I had NOT allowed "outside influences" (in my case, books) into my understanding of a sexual relationship with my husband, I would have NO idea what was going on, why what happens happens, or how things work. That's just the plain, simple, honest truth. My father was absent and my mother taught me NOTHING. By nothing I mean nothing. When I started my period, she said, "Don't talk about this at school." That was IT. On my own, I had to seek out information and figure things out for myself at the ripe old age of 11. By the time I was in highschool, I understood the mechanics of sex, but that was about it. The deeper, pleasurable, instinctual aspects of sexual behavior was something I did not understand until I allowed "outside influences" into my relationship AFTER I was married.

I would also say the definition of outside influences is pretty vague. Does that include people who sell sheets? Perfume? Condoms? Pillows? Nightgowns? All those things go into pleasurable moments in my marriage, and it never occurred to me that we are allowing other people to be a part of our relationship by default. Those things are things created by strangers whom we do not know and have no influence over us personally. I would liken it, I guess, to the lingerie, etc, that were given to me at a shower by my sisters and friends. They had some influence on what I had available to wear, but that influence had no bearing whatsoever on our intimacy itself.

To the poster above, Holly: You mention that you would approve of marital aids for the infirm, but that for everyone else our bodies should be enough. First of all, because of the Fall of man, we are all "infirm". We don't consider ourselves that way in a day-to-day way, but our bodies are not the shining examples of beauty, function, and health that God created them to be. I think the sexual relationship between Adam and Eve was MUCH different than it is for us. Their bodies were in peak condition and thus their performance was likely much more impressive (if you will). Sexuality is an intricate study and varies a lot from person to person. Some people claim this to be part of the "great mystery" of sexuality that God intentionally designed, however, in my experience it can be very, very frustrating and disheartening. I do NOT think that God intended for sex to be a frustrating and disappointing experience within the bounds of Christian marriage. Consequently to say our "bodies should be enough" is simply insensitive. The fact is that if a husband or wife loves their spouse, they will do what it takes to meet their needs, including expressing that love and oneness through sexual gratification. That includes making allowances for the intricacies of a woman's response and a man's longevity. If there is something that the couple, within the bounds of Christian liberty, can do to make it a less frustrating or more pleasurable time for either or both of them, then that's between them and God, and no one else. I think it's misguided to suggest that someone who is "infirm" gets a pass on marital aids that might make sexual activity easier and/or more enjoyable, while leaving everyone else to a "bodies only" standard.
It's like saying, OK, we're supposed to get this done, and those people need some help, so it's OK if they use tools. The goal here is shared intimacy between loving partners, not accomplishing a goal. And I can say this as someone who is considered "infirm."

"Sorry God. I can't sponsor that orphan child because I needed the $30 Matador toy? I have seen things like "swings" that sell for $500 to enhance the experience. Is that a good way to spend our money? We really do have to answer for this one day!

This, I think, is what shocks me the most here. How far are you willing to take this? Seriously, it is SO important that we as Christians be consistent! My friends and my sisters often get a good chuckle because I emphasize consistency so emphatically, but if you are not consistent, your foundation is full of holes and eventually one of them is going to be big enough for you to fall through! Think about this...how far are you willing to go on this? The "orphan child" comment is so far over the top it's almost comical. Are you not going to buy yourself ANYthing that brings you happiness because there is an orphan child to sponsor? No books to read, no going to a movie, no trips to the theme park, no dessert, nothing pretty for your home, etc? Because if you're going to jump in that pit, it's going to take you a lifetime to crawl out. God provides us with pleasure. He delights in our enjoying Him and the things He provides us. We are to delight in His creation, and that includes each other. We are not to be sullen and always looking for some new plight to remedy, but to enjoy the myriad pleasures He gives us as glimpses of joy awaiting us in Heaven.

There will ALWAYS be orphans to sponsor, there will always be things for us to work on and fix, people to reach out to and missions to fulfill. But that is not ALL we are here for. We are here to bring God glory, and that entails a lot more than feeding orphans. This statement simply reeks of self-righteousness and as your fellow Christian I would ask that you re-evaluate it. I am sure there are things you do for yourself that bring you joy or pleasure where the money could be "better spent" considering the state of the world we live in. I have a feeling that since you disapprove of marital aids, you are willing to go even to the lengths of calling them "unnecessary indulgences" and thus poor stewardship. That is quite a leap to make.

Beyond that, concentrating only on the sadness and need that are in the world will send us spiraling into despair. Even Jesus took time off and went to parties with his friends. The lame still stumbled by and the blind still felt along the walls, but Jesus made time to drink wine and laugh with those He loved.
God gave us sexual intimacy for pleasure, and it's something easily enjoyed even when the world is falling apart. I don't think that was unintentional at all.

Catherine R. said...

Can I just add that it bothers me and some other women, probably like one of the above anonymous commentors, to think that men have no emotions and are simply sex robots. I think when Christians talk about this topic it sometimes comes off as if women need to simply be their husband's hooker. He pays for her to eat and she "gives it up" or administers his sex medicine so that his head won't explode from not having sex every 72 hours or less. And, he pretty much forces himself to "love" her when he really only loves that she has sex with him. Can I just say that my husband cries sometimes? Yes, I know men need sex but let's remember that they do have feelings too *gasp!* I don't mean to be a rable rouser, it just bothers me personally when it seems like people are trying to convince me that women are simply monogomous prostitutes in their husband's eyes.

Holly said...

Well written, CM.

I don't see the fine line, Jess.

Does it not bother you that these things are created by an industry that is fiscally tied in to pornography? It does not bother me due to wounding. Jesus has healed me, praise Him! :) It bothers me because of WHO actually produces it. Just because someone doesn't "see" it doesn't mean it isn't there. Check out these products. Trace them and see who MAKES them and SELLS them!

Most perfumes probably originated from the oils of plants and flowers. I would think that many innocent girls have worn it all thru the ages without shame.

Regarding marital aids...I still just don't see the use of electronic machines to "turn on" a Christian. I think when the scriptures say "Let His love satisfy me" they just didn't imagine a cord attached. Why are the marital aids shaped like male humans? Usually, because people use these when they are alone, not when they are in a loving relationship. (And again, I believe that people who need true help in the physical realm could benefit from some of these things.

Regarding lingerie...I agree with CM too...

I will remove my links to this series, because I have already seen hundreds of hits on my own dashboard to the sites you mentioned. Silly of me. I just can't leave it up.


Well my time here is done today! Lots of other things to do! :) Grace and peace to all of you, and blessings upon your marriages.

Love your blog, think you're great, and send you best wishes for the upcoming birth of your little one.

Holly said...

Oops. I should have said "hits" to your site. Sorry about that! Desiring to be consistent! :)

Holly said...

Argh. You draw me back. :) Seriously, after this, I must be done. Enough pleasure for the day. :) (That's a grin....)

Actually, Tamara, I DO choose a pretty simplistic life. That is purposeful. But it is not without deep and abiding joy. It is with appreciation for God's beauty and creation and all that He has given. I often and usually choose less, so that I may have and give more. That is not self-righteous...but you asked. It is just how my family and I choose to live our lives.

And, as a matter of fact, I've not spent much on myself for months. I have eight children and my husband was unemployed for 6 months when we moved closer to take care of my elderly parents. (And I had my last child during that time.) I have utterly delighted in small blessings. It is a good good good way to live. It has been so good to see His hand of provision. I give ALL glory to Him and thank Him so much for the way He has cared for us.

I DO tend to have a sarcastic nature, and am a purist at heart. I think it does us all well to thoroughly examine everything this world throws at us. I don't think we have to believe that something is good for us just because an author of a book says so. We should weigh it ourselves.

But I never intended to harm anyone with my comments. I DO speak boldly, to try to place what I see as hard truths before us. Please accept my apologies if you have been wounded. If you have asked God about these things and feel complete and utter peace and joy within your hearts, then please, imbibe.

Anyway, thank you for your concern for me. :) I send you my best.

In Him,

Jess said...

LOL, Tamara... you know me- I've not been one to shy away from controversy here. :) I knew the links would really push the lines for some people. But sometimes I just like to push lines, particularly when they have possibly been drawn for reasons other than biblical ones.

Thanks for adding your thoughts to the mix... your comments were very thought-provoking. I've read back through them a couple times just to be sure I didn't miss anything you said. Thanks for jumping into the boiling pot with me! :)
~Jess

Faith said...

I wanted to address Holly's comment: "I have a BIG problem (when I really, really think about it) with ANYBODY making money from sex or sexual products. That seems to taint it, and leave it ripe for abuse."

I think it's naive to think that Christians haven't bought toys and other marital aids in the past. Anything can be used in a negative way but that doesn't make it wrong across the board.

I am just thankful for Christian sites that do their best to present the products and materials in a respectable fashion and help remove some of the negative feel that has overshadowed them for so long. So, if the products are going to be purchased anyway, I'd rather it go to them.

Laurel said...

Catherine R, I really appreciate what you said about husbands having feelings too. I feel terribly sad when I read that there are ladies out there who think sex is all their husbands want. It breaks my heart...

The way we deeply desire and even NEED to be heard emotionally - is the same way that men feel about that intimate release. If your husband rolled his eyes every time you opened your mouth or desired to be heard emotionally, you would surely perish!! It is MUCH more than a simple physical NEED for men. They are opening themselves, to be most vulnerable and open in a way that is extremely tender (as we all are when we are intimate) and to deny him of that or think all he wants is sex with anyone who could fit the bill, is heart wrenching, to say the least.

God has created men to be affirmed (emotionally, physically and in so many other ways) through intimacy. He created woman to need relationships, tenderness, and love, to name a few. He created us to compliment one another - to love each other selflessly and passionately.

If you think your man is only out for sex - I encourage you to pray for him, and his wife. It makes me so sad to see this in Christian marriages, especially. What ever the question, prayer is the answer...

Anonymous said...

Tamara wrote: "I would also say the definition of outside influences is pretty vague. Does that include people who sell sheets? Perfume? Condoms? Pillows? Nightgowns? All those things go into pleasurable moments in my marriage, and it never occurred to me that we are allowing other people to be a part of our relationship by default."

Tamara, I addressed that specific point, but you may have not read it. Here it is again:

"What I referred to was the idea of a couple doing certain intimate activities because they were prompted/scripted to do so by cards/games devised by someone else. Such as "talk dirty to me" (which was on one of those pages).
Using pajamas or towels or any other such thing produced by a third party is another story altogether. I at least see a big difference."

Mrs. P

Anonymous said...

Laurel, what a beautiful reply to Catherine R. You have such a beautiful heart!

Jess, thank you for tackling these hard issues. You, too, are such a beautiful and wise woman.

Love ya both!

--O2R =o)

Anonymous said...

I am the anonymous commenter who asked for someone (specifically husbands) to explain why sex is so important that it overshadows everything else in a marriage. And I have not seen any responses. Am I to conclude that no man (or woman) is able to give an answer?
I'm struggling with why it is that my husband's love for me rests on whether or not we have sex. If we do not have sex, then it is grounds for divorce, as if all the other aspects of my personhood mean nothing. This is what I don't understand about men. Why is it that I can be the "perfect" wife and meet 99 out of 100 criteria, but the sex is the make-it or break-it point?
Is my worth solely based on sex? This is the message I hear all around me, that as a woman, my only purpose is to give up my body for my husband. If I don't, then he is justified in leaving me or in seeking release elsewhere. It makes me wish I was never born to know that my mind and my heart have no value over what's between my legs.

Jess said...

Anonymous,
My heart hurts for you. There have actually been several responses to your post...

Catherine R, right after your post, commented on your concerns. Kelly's first post addressed your question. Elizabeth added some thoughts in regard to your comment. Then Catherine R again addressed some of your thoughts in her 2nd comment towards the bottom. Laurel's comment at 3:43 AM on Feb 27th also addressed some of your concerns. You've actually gotten a wealth of responses, which is why I haven't personally responded.

But I will do so now. It is not that "sex is so important that it overshadows everything else"... rather, God designed sex as the culmination of the marriage. Physical oneness is a visible and palpable expression of our emotional and spiritual oneness before God. God designed it to be so.

I've said before (and heard others say) if you aren't willing to allow your body to become someone else's, then you ought not get married. 1 Cor. 7 makes it clear that once you get married, "your body is not your own". You no longer hold "ownership papers" of your own body anymore. Nope-- you trade. You suddenly have ownership rights over HIS body, and he has ownership rights over yours. Sex is the God-designed expression of marriage. It's the deal that makes marriage different. You can do "99 out of 100 things" for any man... your father, a brother, an elderly neighbor (have conversations, be an encouragement, make meals, and spend time hanging out with them)... but sex is THE deal that sets a marriage apart.

It is not that your worth is based on sex, but rather that marriage is solidified and consummated by sex. That's what makes marriage distinctive.

I am so very sorry that it makes you feel devalued and sad... for me, it gives me joy to know that when God created me, He not only was thinking of me, but He was thinking of Doug. And the same goes for when He made Doug-- He made HIM with ME in mind-- what a thrill, and what a gift!

I would encourage you to find a pastor or counselor who can work with you one on one and show you, from God's Word, where your self-worth and value as a human being comes from -- from the very image and mind of God. He finds you precious and beautiful, and very much delightful in every way-- in spirit and in body. He created you and has known you from before the foundations of the world. You are indeed very valuable... and I am so sorry that you have been made to feel otherwise.

Blessings,
Jess

Anonymous said...

To the last anonymous commentator:

It is not that sex is all a husband wants. He wants LOVE, and where love exists, it wants to express itself in that area as well. Husbands are not 'animals', which is why a loving husband is not content simply with the act done in a begrudging manner by his wife. He is rather pleased when there is joy on her part, in giving herself to him. I do know that my husband would find no pleasure in any other woman, even if to me she looked as much more attractive physically. He wants ME. And I know he enjoys our intimate encounters most when there is joy and passion on my part as well, which speaks loudly of the fact that it's not just the physical side of it that matters to a man.

I am truly sorry if you haven't experienced this. A good loving husband would be selflessly devoted to his wife even if she could never make love to him anymore due to some accident or infirmity. He would still care for her and love her and God would give him grace to be faithful to her. But if she was physically able to have an intimate relationship with him and refused, that says something about her. True love longs to give itself to the other and to express itself in all possible ways.

Mrs. P

Laurel said...

Dear Anonymous RE husband/sex:

My heart has ached for you since I read this post, in fact, I have lifted you to the Father so many times over the past days.

In reading your post, something came to me and I may be way off base - but it seems to me that perhaps sex isn't really the issue in your marriage but the "thing" that both of you hold against the other, in a way. Of course, I don't know you or your marriage situation but...

I think the book Love and Respect address' this in some ways - our husbands feel loved, validated and respected when we give ourselves to them with open hearts (not grudgingly); in the same way we feel loved, valued and cherished when they take time to hear our hearts. So is it possible that is one of the ways your husband feels loved, validated and respected; so he desires this from you while you are misinterpreting his request? Do you speak blessings into his life? Do you pray for his day, for his tenderness, affection and attention in a way that makes you feel loved? Do you pray for his wife, that 'she' can have a heart for her husband that honors, respects and values him? I'm just so sad that you have not experienced the kind of deep intimate connection that is a true gift from the Father...

Continuing to lift you friend,
Laurel

Anonymous said...

Wow this is SUCH an awesome topic. Thank you, Jess. While many of us may disagree, this OBVIOUSLY needs to be discussed. Awesome that we are talking about it!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jess-I am totally new to this website. I found you through the Ladies Against Feminism website. In looking over your site here you seem like a "kindred spirit" in the Lord. I think it is also providential that I "happened" upon this discusssion. My husband and I have been married 8 years and have 3 children. I am busy, tired, and my husband works long hours (it is 10:00p.m. now on Friday and he is not here yet). Intimacy is something we "sneak in" to the schedule where we can. He seems to enjoy it as far as I can tell. It is not such a big deal to me but I try to put on as much "to do" about it as I can. Candles and fancy nightgowns I've found are not my husbands sort of thing. I must say though, from reading here , that what keeps coming to mind is "How on earth would a person conceive of 'sex enhancers' *I still don't know what these things are* if we have been raised without seeing these things in movies and advertising (I never have...I've never watched an R rated movie, never read a sexually explicit book (except the Song of Solomon!:) and never looked at pictures of such. At what point would a daughter be educated in such areas? I was a virgin when I got married and had always tried to be careful and to dress modestly (though attractively--I certainly had no lack of suitors.) I wash ;-), brush my hair, wear perfume and try to vary my wardrobe. I just can't imagine what ELSE a person would think of if NOT exposed to some of the more seamy sides of life. Sometimes my husband alludes to things in his conversations with me that I have NO idea what he's talking about!! Surely I'm not the only one who feels like this. I almost feel like we should include some of this topic with our children before marriage beyond simly "sex is a good thing....Just be open with your husband". It is hard to even conceive of that kind of openness for one who has been careful in these areas and never discussed such matters prior to marriage. I guess we get a "crash course" but it certainly isn;t easy!! I appreciate the opportunity of getting these troubling and somewhat delicate thoughts out into the open and look forward to any help you may be able to offer!
-Laurie

Jess said...

Hi Laurie,
Thanks so much for leaving your comments... viewpoints like yours are so valuable in a discussion like this.

As for 'sex enhancers'... I don't think it's a *necessary* thing, obviously. But it's an area of freedom, I think. Kind of like beer-battered bread. Do I personally drink alcohol? No. But if I wanted to make a great loaf of beer-battered bread for my family, then I'd go into a store where beer was sold (which isn't in my normal "line up" of shopping) and buy some to use to bless my family. This, I think, is a similar thing. It's optional-- but such things *can* be used to bless a God-honoring marriage. This is the way I see it; obviously, others view these things differently, but I think as long as we are not "mastered by anything" and as long as it is "beneficial" for our own marriage, then it is "permissible".

As for how to talk with our growing children about these things, well, that's all just theory for me right now. I mean, we've introduced the basic ideas of how babies are made as our sons have asked... but as far as these kind of detailed things, I have absolutely no experience to offer.

I will say that I have some very good friends and mentors who have moved into more specific and detailed discussions of intimacy with their marriage-aged daughters... nothing tawdry or worldly, but just talking through the sexual issues of our culture (lust/modesty, date rape, discussing pop culture in a biblical light, etc.), as well as being open to answering questions from their daughters about marital oneness. That is where, as far as I can tell, we'll have to be so careful and seek the Lord's wisdom. Some daughters would ask TOO many details (personal things about her parents' intimacy, for example), whereas some daughters will be *dying* to ask appropriate and legitimate questions but won't have the guts. So we're going to, at that point, pray fervently for God to show us how much should be said and how much should be left as a mystery for she and her husband to unwrap together.

And I think that concept (that you don't have to know everything at the beginning, but that it's like a wonderful present that you keep opening and unwrapping and finding deeper and deeper levels of joy and fun together) is what primarily needs to be shared with daughters and sons. That intimacy as a married couple can grow better and better as you grow closer and closer to each other and to the Lord.

As for wondering what your husband is alluding to, I'd encourage you to ask him outright what he means. You may be embarrassed-- but what better person to be "naked and unashamed" (intellectually/emotionally) in front of than your own husband? Ask him what he's implying, or what he wants to do or try, etc.

I personally have found that a good sense of humor and adventure are GREAT qualities to have in such matters... being able to try something together to see if it's fun or pleasurable, and being able to laugh it off if it ends up being a flop. So I'd encourage you to be open to your husband's leading in these things and see what fun might be waiting for you just a little deeper in this mysterious gift of marital intimacy God has given you.

I'd love to hear any further thoughts you may have on this. Thanks for dropping by!
~Jess

Christina said...

HI everyone!

My name is Christina Smith and I own one of the websites listed at the top of this post. First I want to thank Jess for even mentioning our site because it lets us know that other Christians are looking for what we are doing and that change.

First I want to make sure that everyone knows that Jess is not associated with us in any way.

But as I was reading some of the comments I had to mention who we are as a business. We have found only a couple of suppliers that are classy as far as how we can present anything on our website from than and we have been trying hard to not allow anything that would constitute a p*rn look. We have recently phased out one supplier due to their products we felt weren't up to standards in many ways mentioned in the comments I have seen. And we never put any nudity on our site and not sure what one person was talking about above mentioning nudity in the sites. Our toys we call the supplier about packaging to make sure that the packaging is safe and has no nudity or demeaning language on it. (I don't consider "sex lube" is demeaning since that is what it is mostly for") We remove any tags that are on the products due to the nature of the photo's. We strongly agree that you should talk to your husband or wife before ordering any kind of lingerie or toys so you are in sync with each other. As we also agree that there are also limits on the items that I do we be shouldn't sell. For instance you will NOT see us selling any vibrators that look like a mans penis because we feel that that item has been made to look like that mans so in essence you are allowing that man into your bed. We pray about all the things on our site and there have been times that God HAS told us to remove things or not add thing or go to another supplier and we LISTEN to Him because He is the One who has made this beautiful thing called sex for us to ENJOY. I used to be one of those people who was struggling to know what is truly right in a relationship and we feel that there has to be limits in no matter what you do, and thats why we do what we do and know that no tall things are beneficial. These things are only between you, your spouse, and God and thats where it needs to stay.

I pray blessings on all of you and pray hearts are healed!!

God Bless!!

Christina
Passions Lingerie and Gifts

Luke Gilkerson said...

Jess,

Thanks for these posts about sex in marriage. I really appreciated what you said about pornography not having a place in marriage. I work for a ministry called Covenant Eyes that helps people stay away from the temptation and/or addiction of Internet pornography. I wrote a series of blog posts about pornography's effects on marriage and we've receieved a lot of comments about them.

1. Husbands Who Watch Porn - http://www.covenanteyes.com/blog/2008/03/11/husbands-who-watch-porn-what-are-their-wives-saying/

2. Myths About Pornography - http://www.covenanteyes.com/blog/2008/06/10/myths-about-pornography/

Have you heard of Covenant Eyes before? I would love to let you know more about it because we've been able to help tens of thousands of people break free from the destructive influence of pornography. I see your blog has a lot of readers and I would love to let them know that there are resources out there, like Covenant Eyes, to help them. Please let me know if you would like some pamphlets about Covenant Eyes to give out to people at your church.

In His Grip,
Luke Gilkerson
www.CovenantEyes.com/Blog

Tami said...

I know this is a very late comment, but I'm coming to this post through Jess's end of the year roundup. After I read the post and then the comments I kept thinking about a science article I read not too long ago.

ScienceDaily: Hormone Involved In Reproduction May Have Role In The Maintenance Of Relationships
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/07/990715062344.htm

From the article:

"In humans, oxytocin stimulates milk ejection during lactation, uterine contraction during birth, and is released during sexual orgasm in both men and women. . . . Because oxytocin is released in men and women during sexual orgasm, it may be involved in adult bonding, said [Rebecca Turner, PhD, UCSF adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry]. There is also speculation that in addition to facilitating lactation and the birthing process, the hormone facilitates the emotional bond between mother and child."

It just illustrates how sex in a marriage is more than just a release, and reminds me how thoughtfully and intricately we have been created.