Are you pursuing sexual intimacy or sexual activity?
I thought this was an interesting and provocative question. Are you pursuing sexual intimacy or sexual activity? Can there room for both in a marriage? What’s the difference? Is one more likely in an unhealthy marriage vs a healthy one? If so, why?
@sd595, not a surprise here, but I disagree with this….
“”In fact, building sexual intimacy may mean saying “no” to sexual encounters that undermine relationship and trust.”
Do you see what they did there? They just prioritized emotions and feelings over doing what is right. Does the bible say this? No. Does the bible have even one verse, let alone a group of verses or a chapter that even hints at this human inspired concept? No. The bible says come together so that you will not be tempted. Anything beyond that is a game, manipulation, or you do for me and I do for you. I am completely convinced that putting ANY additional limitations on 1 Cor 7 will not serve a marriage and be a snake in it.”
I actually TOTALLY understood that quote and agreed with it. This was the very place I ended up landing through my own wrestling in this “never say no” vs “learning to say no” place I was in, while seeking the Holy Spirit.
By your interpretation of Scripture, you interpret “stop depriving” (NASB; “depriving” = (to deprive); to despoil:—defraud, destitute, kept back by fraud.) as “never say no”. I believe you are in the vast minority of that interpretation. A man is NOT being defrauded or robbed or the wife isn’t “keeping back by fraud”, when she has a rare night in her life she needs to say “no”. My husband is NOT being deprived when he is told a “no” one night a few times a year, and if he is being filled by the Spirit, self-control ought not be an issue for a night. He is not being set up for “temptation” by a rare night of a “no”.
This interpretation makes you declare that the ONLY “right” thing to do is say “yes” sexually, with zero consideration of what else is going on in the relationship. If a wife knows that taking that one action, actually negates the very thing the husband is truly seeking (true intimacy, being wanted, desired, respected and loved), isn’t she being more loving and wise, by desiring the best for her husband and marriage by saying, “No.”? No, this action of saying “yes” WILL set us backwards and do more damage to the relationship and trust…why? Because I am in the place that the only way to get through a sexual encounter is to put up self-protective walls, to shut you out, to not “feel” for you at all, to completely have an emotional disconnect or detachment, to dissociate and potentially go somewhere else, and maybe with someone else in my mind, which leads to leaving the sexual encounter feeling dirty, used, unknown, unloved, not as a protected, cherished, and loved wife. To not take into consideration where I am as your wife, says I can’t trust you, I am not safe with you, and all you care about is your own physical wants The message this gives about you as a man and husband is all you care about is yourself and your own wants, you will use and abuse to get what you want. If a wife knows that to not say “no” will open the door and lead to that, is not saying “no” the better thing to do? Is that not more like the wife of Proverbs 31, where it is said in vs. 12, “She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.“ Most men desire the woman’s heart along with her body, not just the body. And if a man knows that to not look at the whole picture rather than the one word (“yes” or “no”), he would realize he may get his wife’s body for a time, but he will not gain her heart, and may eventually lose her body as well.
It’s like you get so hyperfocused on 1 Cor. 7, you forget the rest of the gospel and NT message. You say that the Bible doesn’t “have one verse, let alone a group of verses or a chapter that even hints at this human inspired concept”…. sorry, I could give you verses and chapters that speak of LOVE, which this concept is an example of love. I could show you commands to husbands about loving their wife. Love would desire the relationship and sexual intimacy that builds up the marriage relationship and trust. It’s hard to see love when the action is to have his way in the moment (a yes of a slave), which does undermine the very thing he is truly seeking.
SD, I think you’re off and reading way too much into it. It seems you totally missed her opening paragraphs which was the set-up. She contrasts the two ideologies and cultures AND more importantly, she lays out part of God’s design for sex and marriage AND she calls people who may or may not be Christians to a Biblical, God-honoring design for sexual intimacy.
I pulled the article from Covenant Eyes (the leading Christian company in filtering and accountability software). While you are correct that in a healthy God-honoring Christian marriage with two HEALTHY individuals it might be “simple” or easier, let’s remember that there are some here on this website, and certainly to the audience written to/addressed, that aren’t as religiously perfect as you and some of the author’s suggestions are utilized in professional Christian counseling because it’s not always a spiritual issue. There are some physical and emotion issues that sometimes cannot simply be resolved or healed by faith or Scripture every time without fail (and we see that in Scripture too).
Maybe what you say seems “simple” but when put into practice by two fallible, imperfect individuals, it’s not always easy. It’s not simple to an abuse victim. It’s not simple to a person whose spouse has been addicted to porn or the addict themself, or exposed to unhealthy images or adult situations when they shouldn’t have been. The author addresses that. God doesn’t beat us into submission, He leads us with a towel and servant leadership. Jesus would would both confront (as only He could in a righteous and holy way) and other times we see him gently handling the sinners AND the religious leaders. Yet it seems like you promote the opposite when dealing with one’s spouse.
I agree with you that we tend to underestimate and God and His holiness and forget about the reverence and worship He deserves. I think you tend to forget about His gentleness and willing to meet us, individually and as a couple, where we’re at, all while calling us to a different standard and allowing us to process and proceed at differing paces. God also gives us brains, medicine and science to grow and find healing, it’s not always instantaneous or perfect like you want to make it seem.
Folks, I have been busy and just sat down to catch-up on TMB. Wow! This is going to one of TMB’s classic threads!
The comments are incredibly passionate and all of you are refining and sharing your thinking about God’s intent and joy for us in our marriage bed. Even though there are POVs that many of us struggle to understand, question, and reject, it is good to have these kinds of deep discussions.
As I read though the thread, many emotions and thoughts flooded over me. All of us are here to learn. To heal. To share. To be the husband or wife that God wants us to be. And to be the person – whole and holy – that He wants us to be and that we yearn to be.
My heart aches for those of you that ache in your own heart. My spirit flared when scripture is mis-applied. I smiled when some of you, my good friends, analyzed, synthesized, and laid out your understanding and personal conviction with clarity! I even had a tear form in the corner of my eye as I thought about my lovely, sole and soul mate, Mrs. Oldbear.
We no longer have passionate sex that knocks our socks off every time! We no longer have sex as frequently as we used in our younger, more virile years. Sometimes, (guys, believe it or not) I can’t just flip the physical switch for my dear Mrs. Oldbear. What we do have is a deep, deep, love and respect for each other that surpasses our understanding. Oh, how I love her! And I know she loves me unconditionally!
Seeking Change wrote: “Most men desire the woman’s heart along with her body, not just the body!” (! Added for emphasis – thanks JloydH for calling this quote out.) And, I’ll added, “Women want their husbands to love them, not just for their body!“
The tear in my eye is a tear of gratitude for my dear wife, our love for each other, and the fact the ‘no’ to sex for a good reason is loving and it never gets tallied up. In our sunset years, just being together, sharing our deepest thoughts and hopes, praying every night together for people and needs and thanking the Lord, lying in each other’s arms, flirting with each other, laughing with (never at) each other, is the penultimate of marriage intimacy.
My 2 cents, after having read the article before reading the comments here:
It is the quote that is under dispute in this thread that resonated with me. “You begin to establish a habit of sex around a sexual release rather than a sexual relationship. In fact, building sexual intimacy may mean saying “no” to sexual encounters that undermine relationship and trust.”
For a time, my husband and I had a terrible relationship from my point of view. We rarely talked, he was living his own life while basically ignoring me, and I was miserable. He’s done this several times throughout our marriage, and this time was when I’d decided I’d had enough. I was saying yes to sex because the Bible says you have to… but the Bible also says to be truthful. He was under the false impression that everything was fine because I wasn’t turning sex down. So in giving my body without the love and intimacy that should accompany it (else why would God want us to avoid hook up sex?), I was violating Scripture by lying through omission.
But it was bad sex, probably much like I imagine a lot of hook-up encounters are. I felt even more alienated from him afterward because I felt physically violated.
And lest you think I should have brought up my concerns with him, I did. He has a tendency to think that if he’s happy, then everyone’s happy. He won’t listen when this assumption is challenged.
So one day I refused sex. I simply couldn’t do it. I’ve shared before that I was date raped in college, and sex with Dh was starting to feel too similar to that. I didn’t want to feel that way with him.
I essentially told him what the article quote says. I no longer trusted him enough to have sex with him. Boy, the argument that ensued! But we never argued at all before. We’d just buried our feelings. So many issues came up that we hadn’t discussed. We were finally honest with each other. It completely turned our marriage around. We still have a long way to go, but we turned a corner that day.
And all because I refused sex. Intimacy in marriage is equivalent to honesty. It’s wrong to deny honesty, and it isn’t bending Scripture to say so.
I have read the articles, and many like them. I have until now avoided posting my thoughts. I have read through the comments so far. I could have guessed some of them, many of them in fact. Like many things, I believe the truth is usually found in the middle of the opposing poles, or one could say there is always a ditch on both sides of the road, better to stay in the center.
I taught a class once and I used the wording that “if you find your marriage faltering, look to the scripture and honestly evaluate yourself. It says “husbands love as Christ, wives submit as to Christ”. That tells me that the first thing we should ask ourselves is am I loving and submitting enough? Husbands, if you find your wife not responding to you, love harder. Wives, if you find your husband not loving you, submit more completely.” There is no doubt in my mind if you find a marriage where both are honestly reaching for this goal, there will be peace in that marriage.
I also know how many here might knee-jerk react to this concept. But if you do, you might miss the point. I have always said that in this case, husbands have the harder task – to love sacrificially, even when there is no submission. Christ loved us sacrificially even when we were un-submissive sinners. That is the example husbands have to compare themselves to. Do you measure up? I most often do not. I more often am thinking about myself.
Wives have a similar task in many ways, as submission requires self-denial often. And it is hard to submit to a husband who is not doing his part in love. But this is NOT a “which comes first” scenario. One does not wait for the other before responding in kind. BOTH of these things are supposed to be happening at the same time,. But even if your counterpart is not holding up their end of the bargain, you are not automatically recused from your responsibility.
We as a flawed people often look to scripture to find what we want to find. Israel did it, we do too. It is almost impossible to see scripture without the color of your life-lens changing the hue one way or the other. It is why it takes much time in study and a constant “beating down” of your own biases to get at the truth, especially if you were “raised” in a particular way of thinking about it. I tend to take questions like these and put them under the microscope of broader application of the underlying principle. The principle here is LOVE. Without it, we are all just banging noise with everything we say and do. How does the principle of love apply to this? Simple – it is the concept of “volunteer sugar.” Hear me out – I believe the simplest explanations are often the best.
If you are a parent, you will understand this perfectly. There is nothing better than your child coming to sit in your lap, looking up and saying “Dad, I love you” and giving you a kiss on the cheek to confirm it. Volunteer sugar. Now, compare that to a child you are having to chase around the house, grab by the arm and say “come here and give me a hug/kiss!” You know the difference. That is the illustration of what God wants from us. He wants us to love Him voluntarily. It is why we have the ability and option NOT to love Him. Having the option not to is what puts meaning and value to the choice. Now move to marriage. Yes, the Word says “do not deprive one another.” We could get into minutia of what deprive means, but I think we all know what it means. Saying “honey, I’m not up to it tonight. Let’s look at in the morning/tomorrow/etc” is NOT depriving. Just like missing a service once in 6 months is not neglect. Because here is the difference – IF I am loving my wife in a sacrificial manner, I am willing to deny myself once in a while to her benefit. AND if my wife is loving me in a submissive way, she is not looking to say “no” at all. However, if she reaches a point where that moment is not good for her, and she knows that will make it not good for me – then it can be loving to bring that whole thought to light and a loving husband will understand and in fact, if he’s smart, be grateful to her.
If a husband has an unwavering expectation of sex on demand regardless – he is in fact NOT loving like Christ. He is instead seeking sex by caveat, love on demand – which is not love at all. No volunteer sugar in that equation. Remember, God seeks for us to love Him because we want to.
This all speaks to the love portion of the articles, not so much the physical activity portion. The simple problem there is that many husbands do in fact confuse the two in our own minds, because they are so closely linking in our minds naturally. It is why wives are reminded to look at this as a submission issue, because God knows you won’t really understand how your husband thinks on this. Your brain is more complex in this issue so it has a hard time boiling it down like it is for us. So God simply says, “don’t over think it, just take a stance of loving submission.” Much like He knows we can’t understand salvation by grace, so just take His word for it and submit to the truth.
That article seems spot on. During the time DW and I were struggling with our sex life, we fell into a pattern where we had PIV sex, but since she could not orgasm our sexual encounters were not extremely fulfilling for either of us. We got to a point where we accepted the ‘fact’ the DW would never be able to improve her sexual satisfaction, and frankly, it was a pretty depressing time (sexually) for both of us.
To cut to the chase, we decided to try once again to find a way to improve DW’s sexual satisfaction and began a long, slow process of exploration that ultimately led to her agreeing to try a vibrator, which opened the door for her to finally orgasm. This did not happen over night; it required lots of patience, listening, many hours of just cuddling naked together discussing what feels good to us, etc. So, I would definitely say during that time we focused as much on improving our intimacy as we did improving our knowledge of what ‘feels’ good for DW.
Also, in the last several weeks we have been attempting to cuddle together naked each morning, even on days when there is no expectation of PIV sex or any kind of sexual activity. During that time we talk about the day ahead, as well as how much we love one another, how much I desire her, etc. That behavior has dramatically increased how intimate I feel toward DW. That is not to say I we are done improving the quality of the sex we are having, but I do feel closer to DW and I feel hopeful that we can continue to make progress both in intimacy and in the quality of the sexual activities.
My take is that – like nearly everything in life – it’s about intent. If your intent is just to have sex frequently and fulfill your physical desires, or your spouse’s, then you are not going to have intimacy. No amount or type of sex is going to provide that for either of you.
The desire for intimacy with your spouse should create a desire for sexual activity. Likewise, a desire for sexual activity with your spouse should be a source – not the only source – of intimacy.
Intimacy = Into Me You See
They seem like a revolving door to me, like they should be working together. “And never the two shall part.”
“Then he went on to say that he could have sexual activity without intimacy, but he couldn’t have intimacy without sexual activity!”
Yes, as I was mulling the article over, I felt the same way. I feel loved, desired and understood when DW & I have sex. Heck, I don’t even need to have an orgasm nor does she (which happens on occasion at my age) BUT I and DW still feel very loved. Then there are other times when the physical release is driving me crazy and when it gets coupled with the emotional connection with my wife, I do somersaults and cartwheels emotionally. SERIOUSLY! It means and does that much for me.
However, reflecting on back to my previous first marriage years ago, and I’d desire it but it wouldn’t help much emotionally sometimes because my then wife, didn’t help me feel the emotional connection so at that point, it was easier to not have sex (I chose not to say make love because that wasn’t happening) OR create my own “sexual activity”; no porn involved.) I’m SO GLAD that time of my life is over!!!
These are terrific questions. They require time to thinking about and through. They are also good questions to talk about between husband and wife. If it’s tough to talk about it, then there are probably other issues in play in your relationship. It will be great to see this thread develop!!
Nice post @NWNL