No. 10: Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

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No. 10: Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby – Conversations Christians Tend to Shy From

Listen to this episode from One Degree Podcast on Spotify. Why is sex intended for marriage? What effect did purity culture have on our perspective of sex in marriage? How will I know I’m physically compatible with someone if we wait for marriage? How can a married couple grow in their sex life?

Why is sex intended for marriage? What effect did purity culture have on our perspective of sex in marriage? How will I know I’m physically compatible with someone if we wait for marriage? How can a married couple grow in their sex life? Is masturbation a sin? What about oral sex?

Sex is a topic that is rarely talked about from a Christian perspective, but we believe it’s important to be open and honest about what we wish we knew before we got married.

let's talk about sex ep. 10 one degree podcast

A few points before we get started

While this episode will be beneficial for you whether you are single, engaged, or married, if you are struggling with sexual sin and think this episode may be more harmful than beneficial, please refrain from listening. The last thing we want to do is hinder someone’s personal pursuit of holiness.

But if that’s not something you struggle with and you’re single, we do believe there are still many things you’ll benefit from in listening to this episode.

This is a topic that is historically taboo in Christian circles, and while we don’t want to overshare, we do want to be open and honest with you, because we wish people had been open and honest with us when we were pursuing marriage. There were many questions we had that would have been very beneficial for us to discuss.

We went back and forth on whether to do this episode or not. There was a lot of discussion and prayer, and we obviously landed on doing it because we really do believe the conversation around sex within evangelical Christianity is usually thoroughly lacking, and when it is talked about, it’s often very misguided.

While this conversation best takes place in-person, in community, with people who know and trust you and are pouring into you, that’s often not happening. And we know many people are craving true, biblical perspective and conversation on this topic. So we’re hoping this is a beneficial starting point for you.

Biblical Principle #1: Sex is a gift from the Lord.

We hear this all the time, as head knowledge. But does the culture of the Church say something different? Does purity culture that you grew up in say something different? We see that it has been twisted and abused in the church context, on so many different fronts–– how we talk about it, sexual abuse, etc.

And then in a secular context, it’s obviously been twisted SO much as well. It’s been completely isolated from its original design.

In the Church context, so often we highlight the dangers and limitations, and “nos” of sex more than the beauty that it is. Once you’re in a covenantal marriage, that can and does taint your perspective when you’re able to freely enjoy this gift.

We hear “sex is bad” over and over and then we get married and are expected to flip a switch. But we need to realize that sex is always good when it’s partaken in its proper context.

We see that in Song of Solomon, regardless of your interpretation. It clearly celebrates the beauty of sex.

Biblical Principle #2: Sex is intended for marriage.

why is sex intended for marriage bed snake plant white walls

In Genesis 2:24, we see the idea of “leaving and cleaving” and being married and partaking in sex together. This design is for our good. It’s not just God withholding good things from us so we can’t enjoy them.

When you are fully known and fully loved in your covenantal marriage and able to partake in this gift, we experience the fullness of the beauty of sex.

Every wedding we’ve ever been to recites traditional vows, whether they’re Bible-believing Christians or not. At the root of the problem is we don’t take the covenant of marriage seriously. We view divorce too lackadaisically. But when we take into account the commitment that is attached to a covenant, we can see God’s beautiful intention for sex.

If you are in a place where you haven’t saved yourself for marriage, that does not define you. The harmful side-effect of purity culture that said “you’re now this trampled rose, presenting a less-than gift to your future husband” is just entirely contrary to the Gospel. We’ve all fallen short. We just want to preface that you are not less than someone who hasn’t had sex before marriage. You are only defined by Jesus’s death on the cross, so focus on living from a place of purity going forward.

But what if I want to “try before I buy” and make sure I want to be in this marriage for the rest of my life?

There’s a popular analogy of “you don’t buy a car before you take it for a test drive” when referring to having sex before marriage. But think about how selfish and demeaning that is.

To answer this question: you can, and you do grow in your sexual compatibility. Even if sex isn’t great right away, I’d rather my foundation be a relationship with someone I love, outside of the physical component. And it absolutely should be because you never know what could happen in life that would prevent sexual intimacy later.

I’d rather have solid foundations for marriage and find out on my wedding night that we have to grow in sex rather than it be the other way around.

There is science to the fact you form a physical, biological bond to someone when you have sexual intercourse. So maybe you really aren’t compatible with someone for marriage, and there are very valid reasons you shouldn’t get married, but now you’ve formed this biological bond and get married and shouldn’t have.

There was a 2010 study in the Journal of Family Pyschology that showed couples who waited until marriage to have sex rated:

  • sexual quality 15% higher than people who had premarital sex
  • relationship stability as 22% higher
  • satisfaction with their relationships 20% higher

Those who delayed sex until marriage found that they were sexual compatible, and even if they “weren’t,” they grew to be over time.

Xan: I mean, what is sexual compatibility? If you’re a man with man parts, and a woman with woman parts, you’re sexually compatible. Am I wrong?

The short story: we truly to believe God’s design for sex in marriage is best. It makes sex reserved for a committed relationship. There’s also something to be said about the patience and self-control that is developed in that waiting period during dating and engagement. But also, don’t prolong that period of time (maybe that’s a whole other episode).

Biblical Principle #3: Sex is best when both man and woman are trying to please each other, instead of themselves.

Too often in Christian circles, the wife is told to have sex every time her husband wants to have sex. In a popular Christian book on sex, there’s an entire chapter about the perfect wife and how she should have sex any time he wants to have sex.

1 Corinthians 7:3-5, says:

The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Nathaniel: I want to challenge husbands: if you’re supposed to exemplify Christ (this Philippians 2 mindset), you should actually not have sex whenever your wife doesn’t want to. You should honor and love your wife by sacrificing your own desires for her. Too often in Christian circles, part of being a “good, submissive wife” is having sex whenever your husband desires.

It goes both ways. That is the general rhetoric, but sometimes the woman has more drive.

In sex and out of sex: when we are seeking to serve the other before ourself, that’s God’s intention for our relationships.

biblical principle there is a strong link between sanctification and sexual purity let's talk about sex baby and the conversations around it that christians tend to shy away from

We talked about this in Episode 9, Money Talks, but there are dangers of money, sex, and power. They are the core temptations and root of deep-seeded sins.

1 Thessalonians 4:3:

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;

It is God’s will that you’d be sanctified. But the next thing he highlights – abstaining from sexual immorality. There’s something to be said about the fact the first step after sanctification is avoiding sexual immorality.

Christopher Yuan in his book Holy Sexuality and the Gospel talks about this definition of holy sexuality: “God intends for us to pursue chastity in singleness, consisting of purity and holiness; and faithfulness in marriage, which consists of a monogamous, heterosexual covenantal commitment.”

So what does holy sexuality look like? Fighting against porn, masturbation, lusting after others, sexual activity outside of marriage. This goes for both single and married people.

Matthew 5:27-28 shows us that even lustfully looking at someone is sexual sin. We’ve created “soft sin” out of some of these sins, and those are the ones that we don’t confess and they build up over time.

The effects of purity culture

Number one, purity doesn’t just mean sexual purity. So often we boil purity down to “Did you not have sex before marriage?” and “Did you not watch pornography?” First of all, that’s just referring to sexual purity, and second of all, none of those questions had anything to do with thoughts, which we see is on the same level in Matthew 5.

And second, just because you didn’t have sex before marriage or outside of marriage, does not guarantee that you’ll have an amazing sex life. We’re sold this idea that “if you stay pure, God is going to bless you and your spouse with great sex.” Baggage that affects your sex life can be brought into marriage regardless of whether you had sex before or not.

The first three years of our marriage, sex was really difficult and honestly felt like more of a burden than a blessing. A few months into marriage, Nathaniel talked to three trusted guys in his life about it and the common response was, “Hm that’s weird. Sex is fun.” But come to find out, it’s actually a lot more common that sex is difficult for a lot of married couples. And it makes sense that it’s difficult when: 1. the world talks about it, but not really and it’s so overly glorified and simplified, and 2. we’re sold this purity culture of “don’t do it don’t do it don’t do it” and “fight it fight it fight it.”

Just know that if you are married and are struggling with sex, you are not alone. You have a lifetime to figure it out and grow, but also don’t put your hope in sex getting better. Hopefully it does, but even if it never does, sex is less than .2% of your relationship, so focus on the other 99.8% of your relationship. And likely if you’re focusing on that 99.8% of your relationship, that will help with your sex life.

Tips for husbands #1: Sex is not about you

Sex is about giving up your conjugal rights and aiming to please your wife. If you think submission means your wife has to give in/serve you/please you every time you want sex, you’re kinda a pathetic excuse of a husband. Harsh, but if you think that, that’s not a biblical and loving view. You need to entirely evaluate what it means to be a husband, and start with Scripture. Too many Christian men have abused this idea of submission and it makes me sick to my stomach.

Tip for husbands #2: Sex starts way before the bedroom

Clean up, do the dishes, help with the housework, if you have kids, be super present with them. Take on a leadership role with housework and parenting. Write notes to your wife, buy flowers, all that good stuff. There is nothing sexier to a wife than a husband who is present with their family, and doesn’t have to be told what to do, but takes on helpful roles around the house.

Tip for husbands #3: Initiate honest conversations

Ask honest, vulnerable questions of your wife. Start with “How can I serve you better” “What would make sex more appealing to you?”

Ask questions and truly listen to her responses. Then, be honest about your thoughts, fears, hopes with sex. Initiate those honest conversations. Don’t allow pent up thoughts and angers to boil over and lead you to do something that you’re going to regret.

In the same way that men can’t read women’s minds, women can’t read men’s minds in regard to sex.

For more on initiating honest conversations within marriage, check out Episode 2: Establishing Healthy Rhythms for Couples + Families.

Tips for husbands #4: sex doesn’t necessarily have to be intercourse

A lot of times, sex can be painful for women. Just because intercourse isn’t the best option for both of you, doesn’t mean you can’t have physical and sexual intimacy.

Just focus on pleasing one another and having fun and connection.

Tip for wives #1: sex is very rarely spontaneous likes the movies

Sex is very rarely like the country songs and movies paint it out to be. Especially after having kids, it’s highly unlikely that it just happens.

Honestly, sometimes it’s best to schedule it and put it on the calendar. Knowing that it’s coming, cultivate the environment that puts you both in the mood. Whether that’s that you like to have your work done, or whatever it is. Know that it’s coming and prepare yourself for it.

Tip for wives #2: sometimes the desire needs to follow the action

We’re led to believe that sex will always be this emotional and hormonal cocktail of desire (and sometimes it is), but even with libido, sometimes you have a ton of things going on, and sex is just not at the top of your list. But you know that’s going to bring connection in your marriage and it’s a way to serve each other. So don’t wait for the mood.

Tip for wives #3: be in honest community but avoid comparison

Get yourself surrounded by Bible-believing and following women who you can have honest conversations with, but avoid the temptation to compare your marriage and sex life to someone else’s.

Common questions pertaining to sex

What’s the purpose of sex in the first place?

Marriage is a representation of Christ and His bride, the Church. Sex points us to that union, and that consummation is really just a small glimpse into heaven.

But God didn’t have to make sex feel good. It could have purely been about procreation.

And with that, sex is also about being faithful and multiplying. We are given the task to fill the earth with worshippers, and children are a natural byproduct of sex. And we definitely acknowledge that some people aren’t able to conceive, but having children is not the ultimate goal of being a woman or man. But we don’t want to divorce the act of sex from having children, because sex is about having children.

Lastly, it’s purpose is to draw you closer as husband and wife.

Is masturbation a sin?

Yes, plainly. The purpose of masturbation is inherently self-serving. So this would apply to pornography, sexting.

What about oral sex within marriage?

It could be, or it couldn’t be. There’s definitely nuisance. There’s definitely a lot of freedom within the marriage bed.

A good guide to navigating gray areas is:

  1. Does Scripture forbid it?
  2. If it’s not, are both spouses comfortable with it?
  3. Does it draw you closer to God and your spouse?

What about sexual abuse?

First of all, our hearts go out to you if you’ve experienced abuse of any kind and we can’t even imagine what that’s like. And we can’t even imagine what sex is like for you within marriage, so if that is something that’s part of your past, just know our hearts go out to you. We’d also say to talk to a counselor, pastor, trusted elder, or mentor, to work through what happened and what intimacy looks like going forward in light of your past. And then, we’d encourage honest conversations with your spouse about that.

John Piper answered the question about role play in marriage well. But if you are fantasizing about sin, that is sinful. Let everything you’re doing within sex be honoring to God.

One Degree Shift

For husbands: initiate an honest conversation with your wife, and doing something intentional outside of the bedroom for her weekly (cleaning the house, giving her a day outside the house, etc)

For wives: initiate sex more frequently than you have been. And open up the honest conversation about what your husband would prefer, what you would prefer, etc.

For singles: focus on the idea that purity isn’t just for purity’s sake. As someone who is set free from sin, by the cross, pursue holiness and purity in singleness, even if that’s what God has called you to for your entire life.

let's talk about sex, baby and the conversations christians tend to shy away from bed

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