If God says sex in marriage, between a husband and wife, is good, then why aren’t we celebrating it? Yes, sexual intimacy has been perverted by the world, so we know to abstain from some of those practices. But even sadder than that, it’s been shamed by the church, the very institution that could best represent God’s view. No wonder Christian women, in church circles, find themselves struggling with even more obstacles because we as the church aren’t embracing God’s design.
What obstacles do women face?
1. “How do I say, “Yes”, after saying “No” for so long?”
Thankfully, we are raising some kids who are keeping their purity until marriage. That is truly a blessing and helpful in so many ways. But, we don’t always prepare them with a healthy mindset about Godly sexuality. They get the ’No! No! No!’ message, and not the ‘Save Your Gift for Your Spouse to Express in a Free and Honoring Way!’ message.
So, they reach their wedding night and don’t know how to transition to a new way of managing their sexuality. Awkwardness aside, who are they going to tell about their dilemma? They feel embarrassed with thoughts like, “I’m supposed to know what to do. This is supposed to be okay, but it doesn’t feel that way. Is something wrong with me?” And they don’t open up. Instead, they create a very unhealthy pattern of sexual activity without vulnerability, emotional intimacy, and transparency with their spouse. It’s the start of something very damaging.
2. “Can a Christian woman be ‘Hot’ and Holy?”
Women typically connect everything in their life together. They’re more intuitive, so knowing about the kids’ school projects, the church fellowship dinner, and their husband’s big problem at work get intermingled, all the time. But when it comes to combining their Christian walk and their sexual being… not so much.
They keep these ideas very separate. Yes, they can embrace their love for God with as much commitment and passion as possible. But honoring their sexuality (in beautiful, Godly ways within marriage) still feels very OFF LIMITS, like they’re not supposed to even think about sex… and they’re married!!
They almost have to disassociate with who they are at their core to even participate in sexual intimacy with their husband. It breaks down their identity as a woman and wife. They don’t know that they can be free to express themselves with the Father’s blessing. And, again, who are they going to tell? This is the very reason they are having the problem!! There’s no safe space to have this talk. A healthy, whole view of mutual respect and pleasure (in marital intimacy) seems to be missing.
3. “But, doesn’t the scripture say… ‘your body is not your own’?”
Scripture is often twisted. Whether intentionally communicated with a slant, for selfish motives or authoritarian control, or unintentionally perceived through a negative filter. Certain passages are highlighted that limit one’s freedom of thought and expression. This is sad for any topic it affects, but particularly harmful when it comes to the marriage bed. There are wives who feel like they have no say in their marital relations. Even though many scriptures highlight mutual respect and submission, those are not the passages they’re hearing the loudest.
These wives sense that if they displease their husband in this manner that they are displeasing God. So they are earning their place of acceptance in God by performing sexually for their husband. It’s as if their value and Christian identity hinge on measuring up to a certain sexual standard. If this pattern continues women feel if they choose to stand up for themselves and honor their bodies that means they have chosen to ‘leave God’. Why should they ever feel they have to choose between self-protection and being obedient to God? That is never how the Father wants healthy sexuality to be viewed.
4. “Everybody watches porn, right?”
Pornography is wrong in every possible way. We know that it’s not a real representation of love-making. The people are actors and often there through sexual exploitation. We know repeated pornography usage reduces one's ability to interact easily with their spouse. It also breaks down neurological connections that can cause misfiring and permanent damage. These facts are known in the secular understanding as dangers of pornography.
For a Christian wife (and/or husband) there are additional pitfalls. The Christian couple stood before God on their wedding day and made commitments to shared values. These values established heart choices towards each other and God. When a spouse chooses pornography as a lifestyle they betray their partner. Some consider this to be on par with adultery. This pornographic habit is also a choice to participate in a vulgar sin unto God. They bring that sin to their marriage bed. They have sinned against their own body and their spouse’s body as well. Shame sets in even if the activity is hidden. It not only destroys the individual but also their partner and family.
5. “I asked the church for help and now I feel worse.”
In the world, there are support groups for everything imaginable. Although the advice given isn’t always Godly or healthy, there are still open ears and kind hearts to listen and embrace. In the church, there has been some success for groups like Celebrate Recovery and a few others, but in general, there is limited support for women who want guidance for healing in regards to sexual intimacy issues.
So when she gathers her courage and seeks help through the church, but is pushed away or made to feel 'bad' about herself, she is crushed. It may cause her to shut down permanently and never get the help she needs. It’s as if her issues are doubled. The original pain has now been compiled with rejection. It’s so much hurt that she may choose to never become that vulnerable and trusting again. Once more, the very institution that could best communicate God’s message of hope has been a vehicle for darkness.
Now to their defense, I realize that we all have previous experiences and filters that shape our view. These church leaders are only operating out of their own understanding. They don’t know what they don’t know. It’s not a malicious oversight, but still, one for which they are responsible.
My prayer is for more truth to be available for the church at large so that more opportunities exist for freedom.
What can we do about It?
Let’s grow a church culture that partners with God’s view on healthy sexuality and celebrates His goodness. Let’s identify and encourage female leaders with a propensity to minister grace and truth in this delicate topic. Let’s create a safe space for talks about intimacy.
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