Bridge and Groom Photo source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Mactographer
Imagine if you and your wife went to go work at a construction site and the foreman tells you that you need to wear hard hats and safety glasses. So you both put on hard hats and safety glasses and go to work. After a few months working on the site your wife decides she just doesn’t like the hard hat, it just is not comfortable for her. So you decide if she can take the hard hat off then you can take off the annoying safety glasses.
The foreman comes by and asks why you have taken off these safety items and you both respond that they are not necessary and you can go on without them. He tries to warn that these things are for your own safety and it is dangerous to go on without them.
While the above story seems ridiculous that is what many Christians do with marriage. The reality is that many Christians have great sex in the beginning of their marriage and then it all goes away not long after the first few years. It starts with stopping things like oral sex and then ends up with sex every Tuesday night, missionary style only. This does not make for a good marriage.
This is the sign that should have to be read by every Christian couple before they enter marriage(ok it should be in private and maybe on a print out) but you get the point:
Sex is NOT an option in marriage, it is a requirement.
3 The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
I Corinthians 7:3-5 (NASB)
The Bible is crystal clear here – that when we marry we give stewardship of our body to our spouse. In the greatest sense we all belong to God, but God has command that married couples are to surrender their bodies to their spouses. Obviously if we are acting in love towards our spouse we will not treat them like a sex slave – and that is not what the Bible is saying. But it is also not saying that sex is optional, or something you just do when you both feel like it.
God gave man and woman that ability to have sex in order to bring them closer together, yet so many couples miss out on this blessing.
Far too often people – most often women, make the mistake of separating sex and love. Yes it is true that you can have sex with someone without loving that person. But it is very hard to argue that you love your spouse yet you do not want to have sex with them. It may be a different kind of love, like a friendship love, but if you don’t want to have sex with your spouse then you don’t have the marriage kind of love – the kind that God wants you to have.
The sex drive is a powerful tool designed by God to draw a man to a woman. Women often times deride the male sex drive as shallow and trivial, yet they should thank God for it. They see their kind of love, based on emotional connection as somehow a superior form of love. The reality is – God knew we need both types of love for a successful relationship – we need the emotional, spiritual and physical love for a complete relationship.
Often times women – and even some marriage books, try to convince men that the kind of way a woman loves is better – and men need to change their natures to accept this truth. While the kind of way a man loves – is spit on as carnal,as small.
A woman must accept man as God has designed him, not as she would like to remake him. The same is true for a man – he needs to accept a woman as God as designed her and accept her the same. What this means is we love the other person the way they need to be loved, not how we need to be loved or how we think they should accept love.
Ladies do you realize it is your husbands sex drive, his hunger for an emotional AND physical connection to you that can only come through sex with you, that drives him to do all the things you love? Do you understand that whether it is on a conscious level or unconscious level every time he makes up with it is his sex drive that fuels most of that? When he buys you flowers, when opens the door for you, when he makes you feel special and tells you that you are beautiful – all that is fuel by his male sex drive. It’s not shallow, it’s not carnal, it is how God designed your husband.
Don’t misunderstand me – I am not saying every time I do something nice with my wife I expect sex that same hour or same day – that’s ridiculous. But what it means is – I want to build up my wife and make her feel loved, so that at some point in the future she will make me feel loved in that special unique way that God has given her, and her alone.
And now I can hear all the people who read Christian marriage books that say we should do for our spouse expecting nothing in return. That is huge topic and I will write a separate blog post just on that concept – the short answer is that is not actually true or even Biblical. It is perfectly natural within the confines of marriage for a husband and wife to expect some basic things from their spouse. It’s when you have too many expectations that you get into trouble.
What about the exceptions?
I love it whenever this topic comes up – someone will say – what about couples who cannot have sex because of physical limitations? Perhaps one or both spouses have been in a car accident, or have had strokes or simply because of age and frailty they cannot have sex.
Let me share a truth with you that I firmly believe in – “exceptions do not negate norms”. What that means is just because something is an exception to a rule, it does not make what you should do in a normal situation any different.
For those couples who cannot be together physically – if they truly love one another in the marriage sense they long to be together in that physical way and they pray for grace from God to deal with this.
And yes even with older couples who may still be able to enjoy sex, their frequency may be much less in their old age and interrupted at times due to health issues – but it never goes away completely, if they are loving one another the way God wants them too.