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

So, earlier in the week, when we visited this subject, we considered the question, "Should a Christian wife be enticing or seductive towards her own husband?" This is part two of the series examining the wife's role in intimacy in a Christian marriage. Today, we'll consider:

Where does the standard of "sexiness" come from?
The answer to this question is in two parts:
  1. From God, which leads us to #2...
  2. From your spouse
God Himself explicitly draws the boundaries for sexual gazes, thoughts, and actions within marriage. God made sex. Therefore, He gets to tell us what it's for, who gets to do it, and what the appropriate boundaries are for it. Let's look at a few Scriptures that reveal God's ideas about sexiness:
  • 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." Our standards for what is "sexy" and desirable do not come from anyone outside the marriage covenant (as adultery would be).
  • Job 31:1- "I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?" This is Job talking, a man God describes in Job 1 as "blameless and upright... who turns away from evil". Our standards for what is "sexy" do not come from the young and beautiful people around us. (Contrary to what People magazine, Oprah, and myriad TV shows, movies, and websites would have us believe!)
  • Proverbs 5:18-19, 21- "Rejoice in the wife of your youth, ...Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love... For a man's ways are before the eyes of the LORD." It is in one's spouse that "intoxicating" love should spring up. God-honoring men are instructed by God to rejoice in, delight in, and be intoxicated in their wives. As their wives, we need to see this and enjoy it, and be willing to walk in that, as God's design. To say it outright, we need to allow our husbands to "be intoxicated" with our love. We need to be willing to let them delight in us!
  • Song of Solomon... we examined it last time. In every way, this book of the Bible points towards mutual delight and satisfaction between marriage partners and in no way do outside sources come into play in their intimate life. Though neither spouse is perfect, and certainly could be found to have defects when compared to others in particular areas, you would never know that from reading this book. These two lovers find themselves wrapped up only in each other. They aren't taking cues from people outside the relationship; they are fully intoxicated, seduced, and enraptured by each other.
By God's design then, what we find "sexy" is to be defined by who we marry.

We need to recognize that we will desire what we have developed an appetite for
... and ladies, this affects both us and our husbands as we come to the marriage bed.

HOW THIS AFFECTS US AS WIVES:
To me (and I've had people argue with me about this, but I firmly believe this to be true) this means that we, as Christian wives, are not to spend time focusing on the "People's Sexiest Men", or the movie star everyone's talking about, or the construction men we pass on the road (or whatever you've been trained by your environment, society, and culture to find "attractive"). We shouldn't be dwelling on "which actor is the sexiest" or "did you see ______ in ______?" And we need to be cautious in what we take in, particularly examining what we're reading and what we're viewing.

We shouldn't allow our minds to dwell on anything outside of the boundaries of what God has called "good" (Phil. 4:8), which means (as we noted above) that we will derive our standards of "sexiness" from our husbands. Whoever you married, THAT'S your standard of what is attractive. THAT'S what you need to dwell on. Just as you are not entirely without fault ;) , I'm certain that your husband is also going to have areas that aren't as "perfect" as all the images we've seen on TV and movies, or as romantic and completely sensitive and thoughtful in every way as the "heroes" we see in movies and books, BUT-- we must delight in those things that ARE pleasing. The more we do that, the more (I believe) we will be able to say, as Solomon's bride did, "he is altogether desirable" (Song of Solomon 5:16).

And a wife who is attracted to her husband will undoubtedly be more attractive to her husband than if she were frigid and unresponsive and focused on critically comparing him to Hollywood's latest "hunk".

One more thought: We as Christian women need to be careful about what outside sources WE listen to and let define what we think of as sexy. If our husbands find something sexy, we need to take THAT to heart. Forget what Victoria and her "TV specials" have to say about it! Ignore the messages from the world that would tell you that you are not enough. If need be, turn off the fashion shows and talk shows that would make you think that you have to look a certain way or wear a certain size in order to be attractive (and this cuts both ways-- thin women are often made to feel bad for not being curvy and those of us who aren't the thinnest ones in every room we walk into are made to feel bad for not looking like a Swedish woman who is 6 feet tall and weighs 120 pounds)!

If something is offending you and/or undermining you in your marital joy, CUT IT OUT! Quit listening to the world's messages about what you have to be in order to be delightful for your husband!
GOD MADE YOU-- He knew who you would marry, He knew you'd live in this time and place. Be what you can be for your husband, but don't feel bad about what you can not be, and don't let outside sources make you feel like you're not enough!

HOW THIS AFFECTS OUR HUSBANDS:
Our husbands have been inundated with images and messages from the world that tell them what they should have an appetite for. Even the most pure and restrained man has been exposed to thousands of images of beautiful, seductive women. And for those who have been repeatedly exposed to or addicted to pornography, the battle within them rages even stronger. Knowing this, we need to be proactive about giving them delightful, God-honoring things to think about (which means US!). :)

I'd encourage you to read through Song of Solomon and notice all the body parts Solomon mentions about his bride. Consider the ways that you can actively encourage your husband to delight in the "choicest fruits" (Song of Solomon 4:16) that God has given you. For some of us, that may be very graceful neck and shoulders. For some, it will be a beautiful and seductive head of hair. Some of us have curves, some of us are thin, some of us are voluptuous, and some of us are dainty. But as women, we ALL have beautiful areas of our body, by God's design, and if we are married, it is good and right for us to (1) be available to our husbands, and (2) share our "choice fruits" with our husbands without shame or embarrassment. When we withhold our bodies from our husbands, even due to our own self-consciousness, we are making it difficult for them to obey scripture (delighting in the wife of their youth, keeping themselves from lust, etc.). We must be careful, as wives, to be open to them and to BE the standard of sexiness for them.

Biblically, our standards for what is "sexy" should come from our spouse. No one else, and nothing else. So if you find yourself dissatisfied, look at what you've been "intaking", and rid yourself of anything that encourages you to look outside of your marriage. Take delight in your husband or wife. And encourage and allow your spouse to take delight in YOU! Look to the one that God has made you one with for the "intoxicating" love He designed for you to experience. "REJOICE" in the lover He has given you, and don't let anything rob you of that joy in your husband or wife!

What are your thoughts and/or struggles with these ideas? Are there things that you've been "intaking" that need to be pitched? What could you do today to delight in your husband? What could you do today that would encourage (or allow) your husband to delight in you?

CLICK HERE TO READ PART THREE in this series.

Graphic ("Morning" by Alphonse Mucha) from allposters.com

22 comments:

Terry said...

You make some excellent points here, Jess. One of the most important is using discretion in what we "intake". Too much media (magazines, television,movies, etc)can undermine our self-confidence, and warp our expectations about what real love, romance and beauty are all about. Thanks for another great post!

Britt said...

Outside sources are so hard to ignore...for example, the grocery check out aisle...magazines flood it! I literally have to remind myself to turn away from the magazines before heading to the check out.

Johanna said...

What a great series you are writing here! This is something that God has been challenging me in this very area for the past few months and I had come to many of the same conclusions as you have here. But there are other things that you are making me think about! I am learning that vital marriages don't happen by accident! And I, for one, will not choose to live in a marriage that is less than it can be and less that God designed it to be. Thanks for your great thoughts here.

Simple Family Supper lady said...

Jess,
Thank you for writing this fantastic post! God is working in me on this topic.... I am in a Bible study that is doing Songs of Solomon.... it seems every where I turn God is showing me about this! Keep up the great encouragement to us wives!
This kind of "intake" is good for us!
Heather

Anonymous said...

Jess,

I struggle in this area to the point of desperation. I look at myself in the mirror and find nothing beautiful. I have so many faults and blemishes and scars that I cannot allow myself to be intimate with my husband anymore. He deserves so much better than me.

Anonymous said...

Jess,

Thanks for this series--it's given me a lot of things to think about.

One thing I wanted to mention: ask your husband what he likes especially if you haven't lately. I did a couple of years ago and found out several new things.

I found out my husband was EXTREMELY happy that I had totally given up slacks; he was happy I was growing out my hair and he wanted me to stop shaving.

At first I balked. I tried the legs first. Sometimes I still just break down and "start from scratch". I realized that it was peer pressure and various media that taught me that it was necessary. Now I'm trying to get used to the "pits."

My dh helped me realize that the push these days is for everyone to be hairless (and areas women never shaved before) and much of this is influenced by porn.

(I'm a OB nurse and one of our docs said recently that nearly all of her late teen and twenty-something patients remove all their body hair)

DH's bottom line was God has made me a woman and hair is part of it.

thanks again,
J in VA

(please edit this in anyway necessary to present the info in a more appropriate format)

Jenny said...

What I struggle with mostly, is the whole weight issue. I know in myself that I have too much weight on post-baby, even though my husband still finds me incredibly sexy... but I'm just not comfortable with it. Should I still strive to loose the weight, or leave it there? I loathe the thought of going "to fat" as they used to say.

Also, and this is where I get really concerned about my vanity, is that my husband used to be elite fit... in the army, he played every competitive sport known to man, and worked out regularly. At 6'2" and not an ounce of fat on him, he weighed 209lbs.
Now, through injury and subsequent laziness and over-eating, he now weighs 320lbs.

I guess my argument here, is that I found my husband incredibly physically and sexually attractive *then*... and I struggle to now. (*shame*) Is it wrong of me? He attempts half heartedly to diet every now and then, but can't seem to find the motivation that really gets him to stick with it. He is still so very handsome in his face, but I just find it difficult, knowing what he was, you know? And then I feel guilty, because I have put on weight on and off over the years, and he doesn't mind at all!

Is it my thinking that is skewed? Have I been deceived into wanting the old, based on what the world says is attractive? Or am I right to believe that we are instructed by scripture to keep fit and healthy as good stewards of the body and health God has given us (1 corinthians 6:19-20, for example)

*sigh*

I just re-read this. Gosh I sound terrible.

Catherine R. said...

Thanks for the body image discussion...I sometimes get caught up in feeling unattractive. I think being exposed to too much media has made me paranoid. Sometimes when my husband tells me how much he likes how I look I think to myself "He's just saying that to be nice...if I lost 10 pounds he would like me better." I hate the mental torment of not feeling beautiful compared to images in the media. Thanks for being a sane voice. : )

Allena said...

jess,
what a wonderful series. I'm always telling my DH i would love to go to a couples Bible study that studies the Songs of Solomon. He just kinda chuckles at me(i think b/c men don't like to talk about that in front of other people) But one night i read him a chapter From SOS before bed, and well, we didn't go to sleep for quite a while after that. (it was wonderful)
anyways there's a book that talks about a lot of these same things it's called "Every Woman's Battle"

i agree with you on our intake and would like to add our thought life to that. sometimes we get so down on ourselves we forget that we're God's creation. now i'm a knitter and when i create something i take pride in it and i really get upset when the things i make are not treated right. I think the same goes for anyone who creates things. so that puts some perspective on how God views us. (just multiply that by 1 million or so)

sorry i'm writing a book,i want to write just a bit more
my heart goes out to the anonymous comment who said her husband deserves better than her. That just breaks my heart to hear that. Some serious prayer and healing needs to come into your life, dear friend. Not knowing anything I will say you need to let God forgive you and then truely let go of that, wich i know is sooo easier said then done. this is where prayer comes in, when we're daily talking with God and focusing on the things important to Him, we begin to see the way He sees. We can not do anything on our own it comes from Him. You, anonymous to us, are seen by God and cherished!

ok I'm done i hope that helps some. thanks for letting me post this long reply

Michelle Howell said...

I have always struggled with my weight. My mother is very thin and doesn't have to diet at all. But her mother and my aunts are all very heavy. And I take after them. So even though I watch what I eat (in a healthy way) and exercise my weight has always been a little higher than average. But in the last couple of years I have come to realize that my husband (the only one that matters) loves full figured women. In fact, when I do lose a few pounds he makes comments about missing my extra curves. So God knew what he was doing when he created my body this way and I am learning to accept and love it!

Jess said...

Terry and Britt,
You guys are so right about having to be careful what we take in! Even here in Turkey, the same American movie stars "grace" the covers of magazine wearing just as little as they do in America... and it's definitely hard to not let that affect how I see myself.


Johanna, Heather, J in VA, and Allena
Thanks for stopping by and adding your thoughts- I'm glad you're enjoying the series so far!


Anonymous,
I'm so sorry you're struggling so much. What you are describing is a strong effect of our society's images... I would encourage you to seek out a counselor or pastor who can help you work through these things, and also, to begin looking directly at the WORD- to see what GOD thinks of you. You are a precious creation to Him, and He has wonderful things to say about you. Sometimes we just have to start mentally deciding to believe what GOD says about us instead of listening to the messages of the world.


Jenny,
I think both husbands and wives need to strive to keep themselves up and stay healthy.

Concerning your husband: one of the most wonderful things Doug has done for me is to consistently love me and encourage me and delight in the way I am, regardless of whether I've been 145 pounds or closer to 200, or whether I've been at a point of eating too much and not caring, or being very regular about exercise and careful about diet. (Yes, I just openly shared my weight. Ack! I may regret that one day.) All that to say, I think we as spouses can offer the kind of love that God offers to us-- the acceptance of us as we are, where we are, while always being encouraging towards us to do better. For example, Doug cheers me on when I'm doing well, but he still actively loves and cherishes me when I'm struggling with my weight. So I'd encourage you to strive for that... looking at the man that he is, the place that he's at in life, doing what you can to encourage him to be all he CAN be, but not internally punishing or critiquing him for what he is not.

You're right to say that we should keep ourselves up and be good stewards of our bodies. And we need to do that. But that's HIS part. Your part is to love and respect him-- for better or for worse. This may be part of that "for worse" part... but hang in there. There may be opportunities in the future for you to encourage him towards what he CAN be. (And you can affect some of this in the food you prepare and how you cook for him.)

Hope this helps some. Thanks for adding your thoughts and questions to the discussion.


Catherine,
It's tough, I know. It sounds like your husband really does like how you look. What I've had to do is just choose to believe that. It is so easy to internally question it-- but we just have to take our husbands at face value and begin internalizing that, and actually, I've found that when I do, I FEEL more beautiful and attractive. Hang in there and choose to believe your husband!


Michelle,
I think so many women struggle with comparing themselves to their mothers. One of my dear friends struggled with this her entire life (she died a few years ago), and she swung back and forth between being overweight and battling bulimia. She never did really "kick" it... and I know so much of it went back to her relationship with her mom.

We as moms need to learn from that and be careful how we train and interact with our daughters in this area of food and how much we weigh. I'm thankful that my mom was just a normal lady-- had some extra weight sometimes, and has done excellent in recent years in really maintaining a very healthy eating and exercise routine. I definitely sympathize, though, with those of you who have had to struggle against a perfect female role model in addition to all the images of the world.


I'm so glad to hear from you guys-- it really makes this so much more helpful (for me) to hear from other women and be able to learn from your experiences.

Blessings!
~Jess

Anonymous said...

I'm not married, but I have really been enjoying this series because I have really struggled to rejoice in my God-given sexuality.
The other day I was really feeling very unattractive (one of those wonderful PMS symptoms! ;p) and my sweet somewhere-between-best-friends-and-dating guy told me, "You aren't a supermodel because you aren't airbrushed, BUT you are 'airbrushed' by the breath of God and you are beautiful." Does he know how to make a girl feel loved and cherished or what? :)
I've often heard that one of the things a man finds most attractive in a woman is (ironically) self-confidence...I really think we as women need to strive to carry ourselves with confidence knowing that we are the beautiful daughters of God and not give in to the lie the world feeds us. By doing so we are showing the world that our internal beauty is every bit as important as what lies externally.

Lylah said...

Jess - such a great job you're doing....Alena mentioned SOS and a study. That brought to mind a post I'd done awhile ago...."let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.".....http://lylahledner.blogspot.com/2007/11/let-him-kiss-me-with-kisses-of-his.html

blessings and roses to you ...lylah

Aubs said...

Thank you so much for posting on this topic! I know it is no mistake that I stumbled across your blog right now. I have just in the last few months been getting in touch with my faith and working on my relationship with Christ and it has done wonderful things in my life. But one thing that I struggle with is what is "appropriate" sexually in a christian marriage. And this has helped me so much to have a better understanding and I am looking forward to your future posts on this topic. I had never had weight problems until after having my second child and it has been such a struggle to feel sexy and to open myself up to my husband because I can't see what he could possibly find beautiful about me. He is in the Navy and deployed right now and I want so badly to work through these issues while he is away so that I can be the wife and lover he deserves when he gets home. I am seeing (partly because of your blog) that prayer and God's word are going to be great tools in this battle to learn to love the woman God has made me and I can't thank you enough for sharing your wisdom and letting God work through you! I am looking forward to your future posts!

Lady-in-the-Making said...

Excellent, excellent series, Jess! You're a brave woman and we need to hear every word you're saying! Preach on!

ClaireBoe said...

One other thing: We really need to guard our young daughters' eyes and hearts. I have a friend (pastor's wife) who has an 8yo daughter. She said her goal is to not let her daughter see ANY sensual stuff in her childhood. She feels that all the movies and t.v. give young girls unrealistic expectations of sex and love; that they gave HER unrealistic expectations. She has a wonderful marriage, wonderful husband. It's not that we can't have awesome love lives, but come on folks, we don't have the benefit of a script, and air brushing, and editing.

Unfortunately, my own teen has seen way more than I would have liked. We no longer watch t.v., and I edit what she watches in movies (though they throw stuff in that catches you off guard!).

Just a different take on the topic. :-)

Thank you, Jess, for this series.

.:Ashley:. said...

I am glad that someone else (Jenny) has already addressed the issue of how our bodies can change as our marriage ages. I'm still a newly wed (3.5 years), but this has even effected my own self-image. Although I still weigh the same as I did the day I got married, I have had two kids, so my hips, thighs and breasts just aren't what they used to be. I praise my husband for continuing to delight in my body, but how do I overcome my own self-conscientiousness? I do not want to become my mother who complains about her weight constantly (she probably weighs 50lbs.+ more than she did when she got married), but never actually does anything about it. I realize that right now, my issues aren't necessarily with my weight, but with how my body has evolved as I've become a mother ... sure my breasts are larger, but they've also got stretch marks now :(

I do also want to thank Jess for reminding us in her response to Jenny that it is important to take care of our bodies. Some of us are more voluptuous, but then there are others who are unhealthy and overweight. Even if your husband loves you the way you are, it's important to be healthy so that you can have a full life with him and your kids.

Remember too that if you're unhappy with your husband's weight or image, then you have the power to change that because you make his meals! Don't diet, change your life because as we've heard on TV, "Diets don't work."

Gina @Chats With an "Old Lady" said...

Good series, Jess!

Serena said...

Excellent, wonderful post, Jess! Everything you said was right on! Your point about every woman having beautiful areas of their body is great. I had that idea at the back of my head, but not in so many words.

Jess said...

Anonymous (2/22),
You are right that we need to believe what God says about us instead of what the world would have us believe about where we should derive our self-worth from.


Lylah,
Thanks for your comments- I've enjoyed getting to know you better through this series.


Aubs,
You're right that having children can really take a toll on our bodies, and it's hard to recover from that. One thing I've noticed about this is that other cultures have a heritage of expecting women to look different as women than they do as girls-- and REVELING in that difference. Like here in Turkey, the images I've seen of "alluring" women in paintings, etc., often will show very voluptuous women with bigger hips, etc... that's expected and normal. In America, we have this ridiculous image of "beauty" that we're supposed to meet-- that we should be every bit as thin and perky as we were when we were 15, 15 years later, after a couple or more kids... and it's simply unrealistic. It's hard to get past it, but it's worth it for us to strive to claim a right sense of what's "normal".


Ashley,
Thanks for adding your thoughts... it's good to hear others' perspectives on these things.


ClaireBoe,
I absolutely agree. You're wise to link this with what we put into the minds of our daughters! Thanks for sharing that thought!


Lady in the Making, Gina, and Serena,
Nice to see you all here- thanks for sharing your thoughts and encouraging me along in this series. :)

Blessings to all!
Jess

Mrs. and Mama Knifton said...

I love what you said about only finding things of our husband sexy. It's so true!

Also, the more we dwell on what he isn't, the more he'll pull away. Men need to be encouraged and respected for who they are, not manipulated into something they're not. I married my husband, not some nice looking guy who's been in movies. HE is who our children will look like and the only man who should turn me on, so I need to focus more on his positive traits, not what he lacks.

Mrs. and Mama Knifton said...

PS: To those women struggling with self-image...Your husband married you because he thought you were sexy! He knew he was committing to having sex with only you and agreed to it! You are sexy to him!