Growing up in a Southern Baptist church, I didn’t hear much about sex. There were no Bible studies on Song of Solomon, no discussion of what a healthy sexual relationship looked like. With all this silence on the subject, it isn’t very surprising that I grew up to think of sex as an embarrassing, dirty secret that married couples share.
Even as a teenager, when physical attraction to the opposite sex started to grow, I couldn’t imagine having sex with anyone ever. Getting naked with another person and being completely vulnerable, both physically and emotionally? No, thank you.
Where’s the Harm?
The church’s silence on sex creates a culture of Christian young people who are afraid to ask questions. We all have sexual desires, but often we associate them with feelings of guilt and shame, afraid that we’re committing a sin simply by being attracted to another person. As a result, many Christian couples go into marriage with little to no knowledge of sex and many misconceptions about what it means to “become one” with their spouses. The church's silence on sex creates a culture of Christian young people who are afraid to ask… Click To Tweet
Addressing these issues matter if we want to promote healthy, well-adjusted Christian marriages. In the spirit of seeking truth, let’s talk about a few of the common sex myths Christians believe and offer some advice about how we, as a body of believers, can better address the subject going forward.
A common belief in many churches is that kissing, or even just hugging or holding hands, are like “gateway drugs” to sexual activities. But as human beings, we crave physical affection—touch is one of the five love languages. If you’re saving sex for marriage, swearing off all forms of physical contact won’t help. In the same way, you wouldn’t go on a hunger strike if you were simply wanting to save your dessert for later. Physical affection is nourishing for our bodies and our minds, and should not be seen as abnormal.
Creating fear around physical affection will only cause frustration and potentially, severe mental blocks if/when you make it to the honeymoon. Instead of making physical attraction an idol of fear, talk to your significant other and set boundaries for your expressions of physical affection. Boundaries are excellent ways to strengthen your commitment to each other and develop communication skills. They shouldn’t be because you’re afraid of “accidentally” falling into bed together. There are a lot of steps between kissing and sex, and clothes don’t magically fall off. Be intentional about your decisions and firm on your boundaries.
Everyone’s first time is different, so don’t listen to other people’s stories to determine how you will feel. Chances are your first time having sex with your spouse will be more awkward than anything. It may be a little uncomfortable or a little painful. It might feel good, but it might not. Sex, like anything, gets easier with practice.
Don’t put high expectations on your first time, and instead remember that it will take time to get comfortable with sex and figure out what you both enjoy. Don’t buy into the lie that waiting means your sex life will never falter. Everyone experiences struggles at some point. It’s natural and even fun to figure it all out together through trial and error.
If you’ve already experienced sex before your wedding night, don’t feel like you have to carry any of that guilt over the threshold. You are a new creation in Christ and nothing that you have done—or has been done to you—can blemish you in God’s eyes. Your first time with your spouse is special, nothing can change that.
Often the church’s main focus on sex is the creation of new life. While pregnancy and a new child are both beautiful, God-given things, sex is also enjoyable in and of itself. Sex fosters greater intimacy in marriage, allowing you to be open and vulnerable with your spouse. Not to mention, it’s a lot of fun once you get the hang of it.
There’s no shame in having sex for pleasure—or in using birth control to prevent a pregnancy for which you are not financially or emotionally prepared. Smart family planning and being a good steward of what God portioned for you is definitely not a sin.
Have this conversation with your partner and don’t be afraid to seek the counsel of a trusted married couple who supports you. There is no shame in taking delight in one another, as God intended.
This misleading opinion is still surprisingly common in today’s society, especially among Christians. How many of us heard growing up that boys only want one thing from girls? Luckily, God created men and women equally in his image as sexual beings. Meaning, sex should be a mutually enjoyable expression of a couple’s love for each other. A true act of worship.
To label all men sexual conquerers is to insult the good works God does in the lives of our brothers. Likewise, to label all women desireless damsels is an affront to the God-given emotions within our sisters.
If you don’t enjoy sex, talk to your spouse about it. Open, honest communication is essential to a good sex life. Sex is and should be enjoyable for both parties. When we allow ourselves to love authentically and with mutual respect, the enjoyment is two-fold.
Too often, sex is portrayed as a wife’s duty. This idea hearkens back to the misconception that only men desire and enjoy sex. Many women believe that they are required to agree to their husband’s requests for sex, leaving them to grit their teeth and bear it until he’s satisfied. This unhealthy view of a sexual relationship undermines the image of Christlike love our relationships should be imitating.
Sex is not a woman’s obligation or concession to her husband’s desires, but something mutually beneficial and enjoyable. Both partners should want sex, or you shouldn’t engage in it. Marriage does not mean that you are anybody’s slave. You always, always have the right to say no if you do not want sex.
Of course, if you never want sex, you need to talk to your spouse about why you feel that way. Don’t be afraid to seek couples therapy, or to speak to a doctor or counselor if sex is frequently painful or uncomfortable.
How Do We Transition from Myth to Truth?
As Christ’s followers, we have to change the conversation about sex—for starters, we have to be willing to have that conversation in the first place. It’s so easy to avoid talking about sex simply because it’s an uncomfortable subject. Instead, we need to let our young people know that it’s okay to ask questions. We must be honest and clear with our answers. Simply telling couples to wait until marriage is not enough—we need to explain why sex is so sacred and precious. God created sex as a gift for his children; we honor Him by elevating it to more than a dirty little secret. God created sex as a gift; we honor Him by elevating it to more than a dirty little secret. Click To Tweet
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