Sex & Spiritual Warfare

Mark Driscoll has been releasing a series of lectures about spiritual warfare. Like virtually everything Mars Hill puts out, it's worth listening to. I'd encourage you to download the series if you want to consider Driscoll's thoughts on "Spiritual Warfare".

Specifically, though, within this portion of the lecture series (part 2 out of 4), he has some interesting thoughts about spiritual warfare and marital intimacy worthy of our consideration. On the surface, this may seem totally different from anything you've ever heard. But pull out your Bible and hear what he's saying:
"If you want to help people, you've got to know your Bible and you've got to be very theologically precise. Because so much of what constitutes spiritual warfare is false teaching; it's heresy. Sometimes it's very obvious, sometimes very, very subtle.

"... Let me start with the "ordinary" demonic. When people think of the demonic, they tend to think of the extraordinary [things]... bizarre exorcisms, those kinds of things. The ordinary demonic is very subtle. I've got a list of examples: sexual sin.

"1 Corinthians 7:5 says that a married couple that is Christian should have sexual relations frequently; they shouldn't deny one another but by mutual consent and for a time. Otherwise Satan will get in there and destroy everything.

"How many of you would think that a couple that doesn't have enough sex is experiencing demonic spiritual warfare? It's true. How many Christian marriages divorce? Well, statistically, more than those that are not Christian. When non-Christians can work it out at a rate that is more successful than Christians, that would indicate to me that Satan really has found a way to climb into bed between a husband and a wife and, in one way or another, cause devastation.

"When I'm meeting with a couple, and the husband says, "my wife's not been very nice to me, so I'm gonna deny her sex. And until she's nice to me, I'm gonna withhold it.", that's demonic. The wife who says, "ya know, I'm just never in the mood, and I know you love me and we have a decent marriage, and there's no reason... , but I don't feel like giving it to you",... that's demonic.

"To be sure, there are sex addicts in marriage who are unreasonable in their expectations of their spouse. But what I'm talking about is the common situation where one person in the marriage wants to be intimate more often than the other, and they're rejected. They become bitter. Satan comes in and feeds that bitterness, baits the hook of their flesh with the temptation of the world. And all of a sudden, Satan puts in front of them images, people, and opportunities to lead them astray. It doesn't make anyone a victim, because we all of our own choosing sin. But it does mean that you're giving Satan an opportunity to literally sleep between you and your spouse.

"...Are you having enough sex? ...I rarely have had a counseling appointment where they both say, "I'm satisfied with the frequency and freedom of our sexual relationship." One says, "yeah, I think we're fine", and the other person says, "I'm totally frustrated. It's not very often; it's not very fun; it's very predictable; it's hard for me to rejoice in the wife of my youth." Sometimes it's the wife saying, "He doesn't pursue me, he doesn't touch me,
he doesn't desire me, he doesn't compliment me. I've got other men who compliment me, pursue me emotionally, and are desirous of me." And I say, 'Wow, Satan is here. He is at work.'

"I want you to have that image-- that a couple that's not having free, frequent intimacy-- when they go to bed, just think of Satan lying in the bed between the two of them. That's what Paul's talking about in 1 Corinthians 7:5. It really is a big issue. It's not just, 'I'm more amorous than you are'... this is demonic. It's demonic. "

Some people might feel that Driscoll takes this thing too far. I personally think he's spot on. Have you ever thought about sex this way? Read back through it and consider if Satan might be trying to get in between you and your husband in this way. Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy-- and that includes stealing, killing, and destroying marriages, as our culture readily shows. Driscoll gets it.


Lara said...

I'm newly married (almost 4 months!) so we don't have that kind of problem yet, but my Mum has often used that kind of idea to describe what's happening to me during particularly tough times, e.g. when I just don't seem to have the energy to serve God or when my anxiety and depression are preventing me from doing much of anything. She describes it as a spiritual attack.

In our society, and in churches wary of extreme forms of spiritualism, it's sometimes tempting to think that this kind of stuff doesn't happen, but the Bible is very clear that there is a spiritual realm and it's not all good.

I agree - Driscoll is spot on!

Mrs said...

I've just finished reading "Sheet Music" and now my hubby's reading it. Last night we went and saw "Fireproof" with Kirk Cameron. This morning, here's your post.

I hear you, Lord. Loud and clear.

darci said...

wow jess, thanks for sharing this. AND for directing me/us towards some good sermons to listen to /read. I have NEVER thought of it this way. I know we have prayed about our sex life throughout our marriage, having known it is a gift from God, meant to, in a way, reflect His glory and intimacy. But I too, think this guy is completely on the mark..isn't it sad and crazy that 'Christians' divorce as much or more as 'non-C's'. God bless you. darci

Courtney said...

Right on. Thank you for posting this, I'm going to share it with my husband.

Rachael said...

Thanks for this! I have been sharing your posts about sex with my small group. We're studying Intimate Issues: 21 questions Christian women ask about sex which is an incredible book.

Kathleen said...

Wow, that's a really good sermon. I think he has it right. I always remind myself that it seems that the devil does everything to get people in bed when they're not married and everything he can to keep married people out of bed. There has to be a deeper spiritual reason for that than even the obvious. A strong Christian couple that is strong in all areas, including intimacy, is a very big threat to him and his evil agenda.

Laura said...

Love love love Driscoll. His series on Song of Solomon is shaping up to be outstanding too!!

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say this was exactly what I needed to hear this morning. I'm almost seven months pregnant, have a 2 year old and have been "excusing" myself from these special times with my husband more often than not (no medical reason, just too tired, feeling too fat, etc.). He is very patient and loving anyway, but I have been feeling so convicted about it and this post has really opened my eyes to the fact that I need to fix this before it gets out of hand. Thanks for these words of wisdom!

MichelleWebb said...

Jess, great post - I'm going to start reading your blog more often. When I first found it almost a year ago, I think, I didn't realize it was yours! Ha ha! Blessings, Michelle W said...

This is SO SO SO true. People think I'm crazy when I mention this, but sex truly does matter in a Christian marriage. I think Satan likes to convince us that it doesn't matter if we have sex because we're "spiritually connected" and something "as small as sex" wouldn't affect that.

God has given us (as married couples) so many ways to connect. There's the engagement/wedding, which binds us in law. There's sex, which binds us in body. There's praying and reading together, which binds us spiritually.... it goes on and on! :) God is great!

Anonymous said...

I completely agree. It's amazing the ordinary attacks that we are so accustomed to, to the point where we don't even see them for what they are. It is easy to say, "I'm just not as amorous as you" (or vice versa), and you're right - that's not it at all. On occasion is one thing, but our intimate lives with our husbands are what ground our marriages. Otherwise we just have roommates...

Shyla said...

I think this is right on as well, and is a huge way that the enemy has subtly gotten into so many Christian marriages and brought about destruction. Thank you for shining a light into this oft dark place.

This is also something I've been thinking about increasingly the past week as I am currently expecting our seventh child, and due to a sub-chorionic hemorrhage have been put on bed rest (going on two full weeks now), which of course includes full "pelvic rest" for an indefinite amount of time. Pair this with a husband who is having to manage his own construction company, plus now manage a home and six homeschooled children, and you've got a stressful situation.

Now, don't get me wrong, my husband is amazing. He has taken care of me and our children with nary a complaint. His attitude is amazing and he is a wonderful husband and father, as well as a godly man who loves the Lord with all his heart. But no one is perfect, and I have been contemplating how to be supportive of him, including helping him through this period of abstinance. I want to help guard him against temptation. Any thoughts?

Jess said...

:) That's funny. Sometimes God really DOES speak to us all about one issue from many different angles, huh?

Thanks for your comments- I always appreciate how you dialogue and think through issues with me!

I'm a huge Driscoll fan too. I've been holding off listening to his SOS series so I can devote a good block of time to really take it in and consider it. Maybe I should go ahead and dive in?

Glad to hear this was a good nudge in the right direction.

:) It's fun to "find" people you know like that! Glad to have you around!

Mandy & Mirror,
Thanks for adding your thoughts too!

In addition to praying for him and encouraging him as you normally would, perhaps you could regularly spend some time focused on him? That's something that I've done at times (like post-partum) when I'm unable to participate... we can still have times where (in other ways) we can still be together intimately. If you want more specifics, feel free to e-mail me @ . Though I talk about the subject (in general) quite boldly, I'm still pretty private about specific and details.

Blessings all,

Tonia said...

Hi Jess

I've only just started reading your blog. It's really good and always gets me thinking about a lot of topics.

I have also listened to the 4 part sermon series by Mark Driscoll on spiritual warfare . It was fantastic ! ( He's also one of my favorite preachers.)

I went to the media library (which is fairly new on the Mars Hill website) and found a lot of older sermons.
One I've listened to is called "Good Sex, Bad Sex" where Mark preaches from 1 Corinthians. This is excellent and goes a lot further into this topic . I am still trying to get my husband to listen to it because after 16 years of a happy marriage, I have NEVER thought of sex in this way.
There's also a lot of older sermons (one even from his wife Grace) specifically aimed for women. Just type in Grace Driscoll in the search box of the media library.

Thanks again for a great blog.


Jess said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Tonia. I have listened to (and recommended here at MH) "Good Sex, Bad Sex"... I haven't heard Grace's talk... I'll need to look that up sometime-- thanks for the tip!

Dave Carrol said...

agreed... it's really good teaching

jarmstrong said...

I too love Mark Driscoll. But I'm wondering, where do you all find the time to listen to the sermons? With 4 kids under the age of 7 and homeschooling, I just can't seem to find the time to listen. By the time evening comes, I'm just too wiped to be able to put the proper concentration into it! Isn't it great how he can just state it all plainly for us to understand? I recommend him all the time and take his podcasts with me in the van when travelling long distances.

Jess said...

In the post on Saturday, I told about how I listen to sermons in general... I just work them into my iTunes list for the day.

But sermons about sex-- well, they're on during naptimes or in the evenings after the kids go to bed. I don't watch hardly any television, so perhaps that helps as far as having time for it?

Catherine R. said...

My cat's name isn't Satan but he does lay between us many times. Sometimes I think his name should be Satan. We just throw him out or spray him with a water bottle when we want to get rid of him though.

I am convinced at this point that it's okay to have a sex schedule. Many people would say this is unromantic or whatever but why is it bad to look forward to sex even if you know it's on certain days? The reason we started this is because the schedule causes us to have *more* sex than we would otherwise. I think that's key.

My hub is always afraid of "bothering" me no matter how much I tell him he's not, so on our sex nights I just tell him he has to do his "husbandly duty" no matter what : ) I know he wants to he's just has a problem initiating. At first I got all offended but now I take it light heartedly. I know for a fact he wants to, he just needs encouragement, no biggie!

Jess said...

Catherine R-- probably most cats' names ought to be Satan. :) No offense to the cat lovers of the world out there.

I have many friends who have found that scheduling is a GREAT way to "do it"... that they have time to gear up for it, and that they both look forward to those nights together that are "marked" on the calendar.

Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...


I intend to make time this week to listen to Mark's sermon. I adore him and have listened to him often, but not regarding this topic. As you know, this is a very, very difficult issue for me. I want to thank you for your encouragement. I needed kicked in the rear and you gave me a good, swift one. I also want to thank other commentors who gave supportive advice and just lifted me up in prayer. I have let down my guard a couple times and my husband and I were able to really talk and love each other. It hurts so much for me, and I guess I can see that Satan is using that fear and anger to turn me against the one person in this world who really cares whether I live or die.

There is still a very long road ahead of me, and I am sure I will stumble thousands of times. Keep posting on this topic. You are shining a light in a very dark place.


darci said...

shyla i was going to give you a few suggestions too (nudge nudge wink wink) but it's probably better to email jess. :) We've all been in the pre and post partum stage. :)

Laura said...

"Laura," first, can I just say PRAISE GOD for your encouraging word, which brought tears to my eyes, dear sister!!! I'm continuing to pray for you. May our Father's richest blessings be poured out on you in abundance, even as he has already don in Christ!

Jess, yeah, girl... go on 'head and listen to those SOS sermons. I'm heading over to the site to take a listen to yesterday's right now.

Anonymous said...

I have 4 kids, ages 3-12; I homeschool grades 1, 3, 7 and a budding preschooler; I completely agree with all you said (except for Mark D. being one of my favs...I have some issues with him on a few areas, but overall appreciate most of what he says) - I've even encouraged others and taught the 'sex in marriage is spiritual warfare' concept. But today (and in the season the past few months have brought) I am COMPLETELY tired, can barely keep up with life, and to be completely honest, this post made me want to cry. I simply feel like I cannot be 'good at' everything, all the time. And whoever asked above about how you have time to listen to sermons - I think maybe it gets harder the older they get (at least if you're homeschooling) b/c school takes so much more time and planning on my part (*read every spare moment*)... So somewhere I'm asking God for more grace to cover my 'less-than-fireworks' sex life right now - because if I take on any extra guilt right now, it's liable to push me right over the edge.

Terry, Ornament of His Grace said...

Thankfully, after almost 14 years of marriage I can never think of a time when our relationship was so strained that intimacy was hindered for a long period of time. Chemistry has never been our problem. And the truth is that while I used to think our relationship was TOO defined by our physical chemistry I have come to appreciate that it has actually made it impossible for us to stay angry at each other and more recptive and ready to put disagreements away quickly. So I definitely can see where the reverse would be true. I hope that makes sense.

Ashley said...

hi jess, GREAT post. the Lord is convicting me in this area as well and has come from many different angles. it seems like sex is always the first thing to go when things are busy with kids and work and sleep is scarce. i am trying to do better and blessings are flowing as a result!

"laura", i am a new reader of this blog, so i am unaware of the darkness you are talking about, but i am very curious. could you explain here? if not, i understand.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your posts on this topic. They have helped in my views about sex and marriage (and sex in my marriage!!). So this is a bit off topic, but I have heard that Marc Driscoll is part of the emerging church movement. That he cusses in his sermons, and doesn't mind frequenting the local pub. Is that true? I have also heard that he does all that to get closer to the lost, and that his doctrine is very sound. So I have to ask is he in the world and not of the world? Are his tactics appropriate for a pastor? I admire and respect your opinion so I am anxious for your reply.

Jess said...

To the two recent "anonymous" commenters:

The great thing about Mark Driscoll is that you don't have to purchase CDs from him or some such thing-- you can listen to him for yourself and SEE what he has to say about drinking, HEAR if he cusses or not, and whether or not you think he's appropriate-- for FREE.

As for whether or not he's part of the emergent church movement, you can read about it. Just google it. He used to be a part of the movement, but they strongly part company on doctrine. I'd wager that not one-tenth of churches in America would "put up" with the amount of thoughtful, biblically-sound doctrine that Driscoll serves up in his sermons. Most churches in America are about as "Christian" as most Muslims in the world are Muslim (hint: not very). And a large portion of that is because of doctrine. When we lose (or never have) doctrinal soundness, we lose our ability to heed the Word of God. When you lose biblically sound doctrine, you no longer worship the one true God.

Is Driscoll perfect? Surely not. And sometimes even I (and I have a pretty high tolerance for this stuff) raise my eyebrows at a joke he tells. But for the most part, I find myself raising my eyebrows with delight at his willingness to preach the Word, the WHOLE Word, and nothing but the Word. I find it refreshing to hear someone who actually engages on the hard issues-- the "gray" ones-- the ones most pastors have been unwilling to touch for far too long. He addresses these issues because they are REAL to the congregation he leads. And he handles them, as far as I've seen, very biblically.

Plus John Piper loves him, and that goes a long way in my book. Check him out for yourself. Don't buy into hype about anybody whose words are so readily accessible. Read them, hear them for yourself... and decide what you think. I've made up my mind, and he is one of my favorite podcast pastors. My kids and I listen to him multiple times a week.

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

I could really feel for the anonymous comment who said that this post made her want to cry. There are times in our lives where our lack of intimacy is not an act of rebellion,but a season. I think we must be so careful to not heap burdens on each other by making things so "black and white". After being married for over 20 years, having two children and very difficult recoveries, homeschooling each child through high school, and going through several surgeries and many health issues, I can tell you that God has bonded my husband and I in a way that I never imagined possible, and intimacy was just a part of the picture...sometimes more frequently that other times...but He has used our "living life" together to bond us and strengthen our marriage. During the times when intimacy has been less frequent, we have relied on the holy spirit and been true to our calling and vows. We have not been tempted to stray. Not that we are above it, but we have "done life" together. It is something to be aware of,and work at like any other area of our marriage...but I think it needs to be kept in perspective.

As for Mark Driscoll. He is not perfect. the fact that John Piper approves of him doesn't make him perfect, and you are wise to encourage others to check it out for themselves. I have seen some good things from him, but also some things I do not feel comfortable with and that I do not feel glorifies God. But if you looked at my life you would see the same thing. Pray for him that He will see what he needs to see...especially since so many people look to him. Pray that we would see what we need to see as well. And be careful not to be a "follower" of any man. It's easy to do.

Miranda said...

YES! I listened to this lecture about a month ago and the THE EXACT SAME THING! It hit my heart with a new perspective. I have learned a lot from those lectures...they are great. Hope your well :)

Anonymous said...


I only recently started reading your blog after having enjoyed so many of your posts in the SL forums (even those I don't agree with make me think through my own opinions, which is great!).

Thanks for posting this today--it has really opened my eyes.


Bethany Hudson said...

I think Satan's biggest lie about sex is that it's dirty. Sex in marriage is amazing, beautiful, fun, and...well, sexy! It's also one of the most fantastic ways to bond as a couple. Hurray for sex! It's funny that you're listening the Mark Driscoll, too. I never think of him as being this international success, because we live in Seattle, and I think of Mars Hill as just any other mega-church :)

*~Tamara~* said...

Whoa. Never thought of it that way!

I'm going to try to find time to listen to all this for myself. Very interesting points!

Love you, girlie. :-)

J Matt Miller said...

Hi Jess, I have newly discovered your blog and am enjoying it so much. Last night my husband and I watched Mark Driscoll's first sermon in his Song of Songs series and we loved it. We have been married for almost 10 years. Sex has always been good but the greatest thing is that it keeps getting better. God is teaching us so much about our marriage this year and we are happily drinking it all in. Keep up the great work that you are doing. I was raised very quietly on the issues of sexuality but the underlying message was sex is gross, for men more then woman, and most of the time it is a sin. I love the fresh perspective. I am going to link to your blog with my xanga blog.
Thanks again ~Diana Miller

Rebecca said...

I completely agree. While we don't have problems in this area, I would still like to move it higher in the priority arena: maybe above mowing the lawn and home-made desserts. I know my husband would like to see it move above dishes, but I'm not quite there yet. ;)

a woman found said...

Wow! Great post. I'll have to click on that link and listen to this message.

I agree 100% that often times that spiritual warfare is easy to overlook because we make excuses and reasons for why we don't engage our spouses sexually or in other areas of life where we find that we are the exception to obeying God's instruction and design. Satan is the Father of lies... meaning He lies real good!

thanks again for sharing this

Sanders said...

Wow, good stuff! Thanks, I needed to read that too!

Anonymous said...

Here's an analogy I might share for consideration... I'd like to use it on my own web site and writing if I'm ever so bold to give voice to my thoughts in those ways.

I've been educated repeatedly about the dire importance of emotional intimacy to a woman's ability to share sexually. I believe there's importance there and that a husband who loves his wife will take steps to nurture the emotional tenderness and bond the two have.

Please imagine now a husband and wife having a conflict about something like toast-burning, or in-laws, or something along those lines. The husband handles the feelings of emotional conflict by locking his wife out of the house. He also cancels their joint checking account.

She expected to be secure in the relationship and to work though problems lovingly but he has decided to allow the conflict to be connected to and spread to other parts of their life together. "We are not close so I'm not letting her sleep in the house or have access to our checking account.," he says.

If your husband responded to problems this way, how would you feel about the condition of the relationship with him? No, really, you expect him to love you and to lovingly provide for you as the two of you work through conflicts.

I can speak as a husband that what a husband experiences when kicked out of marital union could look very similar to the emotional impact of being kicked out of the home and onto the street. This is how I had understood the biblical situation: you've created a one-flesh relationship (shared house). You've given your bodies away to one another (shared house) and have authority with respect to intimacy with one another (shared checking account ... both of you have signature authority!).

If this analogy is somewhat on target, what does your husband feel to find the door is locked; or if he discovers that his signature has been removed from the checking account?

Are you living in the same house with your husband? Do you each have a key to the house?

My point is to encourage you to give your husband a safe and secure HOME that transcends the minor conflicts and irritations of the day. He wants to know that your love for him is bigger than the conflicts of daily life.

I would propose that for husbands, marital union is far more emotionally motivated than you might possibly imagine (if you are tempted to think it's "just physical").

Probably it takes an attitude of actively loving and accepting and actively endearing yourself to your husband rather than only giving yourself away to him. (Opinions on that last idea, please?)


Post script: I think it can happen in some cases that some wives may damage the relationship themselves with disrespect towards their husbands, and then because of the relational distance, withhold marital union *also* because the emotional bond is not as close as what they want it to be. Please, please, be mindful of this possibility!!!

These Three Kings said...

okay wow!! please be in prayer for me... the LORD has just used this greatly in my marriage!!!
thank you sooo much for posting this!! please remember to pray for all those whom satan has entered their bedroom

love you sister!