July 14, 2011
Okay, here goes nothing. Amy asked me to write a guest post for mom’s about sex.
And if I were you, I’d be skeptical too. I’m a man –who am I to write about sex from
a woman’s point of view? What do I know about spending the day changing diapers, wiping up messes, calming down screaming kids, collapsing into bed, only to hear, “So, honey, are ya in the mood? I admit you’ve got me there. I’m not going to pretend to know what your day is like, and I’m not going to give you the “Nike line” (you know, “Just do it!”). I’m not going to lecture you about the emotional needs of men and women.
Instead, let me make two points. First, the church has probably not done a very good job teaching you about sex. Oh, you’ve probably heard pastors, youth group leaders and well-meaning Christians say plenty about sex. Even if you’ve never set foot inside a church building, you’ve heard the church speak loudly about sex – usually in the form of a negative. “True Love Waits!” “Don’t do it!” “Sex Is God’s Wedding Gift; No Peaking!” For the record, I believe that all these are true. But incomplete.
Consequently, a generation has been raised with a negative view of sex. Many feel
subtle guilt – even within marriage – over sexual enjoyment. Almost as though God were frowning when people have sex. Many women have been told that “good girls don’t do that sort of thing” and many women have resigned themselves to a mediocre sex life. It’s a chore, one more thing to check off an already too long to-do list. It’s something more for your husband’s enjoyment.
It’s impossible for me to *ahem* flesh out everything the bible has to say about sex here. I want to offer you one idea towards a more complete and positive theology of
sex. The story of sex begins already in the second chapter of the bible. You probably
already know that Adam and Eve weren’t created wearing clothes. In fact, the writer of Genesis goes out of his way to make that point; after a beautiful and theologically rich description of creation, the account culminates with this: “They were both naked and they felt no shame.” (Gen. 2:25) In fact, this is the very last word before sin enters the world. What does it mean?
Biblically, to be naked is, among other things, knowing one another at the deepest level of our being. God made us for intimate, personal almost-sacred relationship with others. In Eden, Adam and Eve were naked and that meant that they knew each other – mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and at a sexual level. Intimacy was a complete package– far from being simply a physical act, sex was created as a way of sharing the totality of one’s being, right down to the most personal part of themselves: their sexuality. Having sex was a part of sharing whole-person intimacy; Adam and Eve shared emotions, laughter, ideas, work, or beauty. But the most personal layer of intimacy is sexuality, and in being “naked and unashamed” Adam and Eve were able to fill their need for deep intimacy. In simple terms, sex is God’s way of allowing us to share connection at every level of our being.
What does that mean for your marriage today? Primarily that sex is not – and was not –intended to be a physical act only. Couples get it wrong when they assume that sex is just a physical act. Husbands get it wrong when they figure that their wives should be in the mood without putting in any effort to foster whole-person intimacy beforehand. Wives get it wrong when they figure that their husbands are just looking for physical satisfaction. Husbands and wives crave intimacy – you long to be known, and so does your husband. You both go about it differently, of course. For many wives, sex is the completion of intimacy. That means that sex is what happens after the intimacy has been cultivated with your husband. After he encourages you. Listens to you. Shares himself with you. When you feel close to him, you want to make love to him. For many husbands, it’s the opposite. Husbands view sex as the beginning of intimacy. Your husband usually doesn’t want sex just for a physical release or to “feel good”. He wants sex because he wants to feel close to you. For your husband, sex is where intimacy begins!
You can see how God created a symmetry here. True intimacy is best cultivated when both husband and wife seek the needs of their spouse. When husbands are sensitive to their wife’s need to build closeness beforehand. When wives are sensitive to their husband’s need to build closeness through having sex. True intimacy, then, requires a husband and wife to love the other person by setting aside their own needs, and looking to the needs of others. Let me close by challenging you to discuss this with your husband. How are you meeting each other’s needs? How are you learning to “know” each other, heart, mind, soul and body? May you seek to enjoy the goodness of Eden!
- Rob Toornstra is a pastor, father of three, and my husband.