I have a couple of questions about sex. Actually, a couple questions regarding what I commonly hear about sex from Christians. I'm a 24-year-old man and I'm not married. I'm a virgin, so the only things I know about sex (other than the biological/mechanical aspects) are what I've heard other Christians tell me. I hope to be married someday. What I talk about here is always with that in mind.
Everywhere, without exception, I have been told that when it comes to love, men are interested in sex and women are interested in romance. That men are visual and women relational. That is the more balanced view found in various books.
The view that I hear from the people all around me is that men are lust-driven beasts interested only in women's bodies, and women are pure-minded and are interested in forging interpersonal connections and building intimate attachments.
First, about man's desire for sex.
As only one being, I cannot refute the stereotype of men that I commonly hear. However, I can and do refute it being applicable to me. I am not just a lust-driven beast only interested in a woman's body. I do want to have a close emotional attachment to one woman (if the Lord chooses to bless me with a wife). I do want to be an intimate confidant with her. I would love the chance to practice romance. However, I also want a wife "to have and to hold." Does this last part mean that I'm still a lust-driven beast, but just domesticated a little?
Everywhere I have read about modesty, dating, courtship, marriage, relationships, sex ... they all focus completely on men's struggle with lust, while giving the impression that a "concession" has been granted for the sex drive in marriage. The entire focus is on the terrible consequences of the male sex drive.
It's really hard to control. It will cause you all kinds of problems. It will continue to do so for as long as you're breathing. Girls will continually have to be wary around you because "they know what you're thinking." As such, they also have to be so very careful to keep you from stumbling. Oh, and as a side note, God has taken pity on you and said you are allowed to let a little steam off in marriage.
I was under the impression that Satan was incapable of creating anything. That means God must have designed the male sex drive. Didn't He originally make it good?
If my attitude sounds bad here, it's because this hurts. A lot. On many occasions, I have had it said to my face, "Yeah, well you're a guy and everyone knows that guys are perverts" or variations on that thought.
Question 1: Why do I have to go around feeling ashamed and having people think of me as a disgusting pervert simply because I desire something (in marriage) that God invented?
Next, about a woman's desire for sex.
This one, I really have no idea about. I could claim some knowledge about the stereotype of men. I cannot do that about the stereotype of women; I'm not one.
Several married men and women have said that women are fairly indifferent/apathetic about the sight of the male form at best, and repulsed by it at worst.
If God wants me to be married, I am very much looking forward to being with my wife and being able to admire the beauty that God has blessed her with. The female form is beautiful and pleasing (Is this just the lust-driven beast speaking again?). Women as a general rule have no similar desires? What do they mean when they say that a guy is good looking or cute?
They also told me that they will "be with" their husbands because the Bible tells them to (in the case of some), or the more caring/godly ones will do it simply to please their husband and because they know that he enjoys it.
I heard one speaker say that men give love to get sex and that women have sex to get love. This sounds horrible and selfish! I already said that I want to love a woman (I am not just a lust-driven beast)! However, I do also want a woman. If a woman wants to love a man, does she also want him?
Question 2: I want a wife. I want a wife who also wants me. Is this wrong? Weird? Naive?
I've heard these things all of my life. Over the past few months, I've heard so many pastors, speakers, married men and women, books, websites and blogs say these things that I'm coming close to despair.
Am I just a lust driven beast? If so, I don't want to inflict myself upon some girl. Am I right, and these stereotypes wrong? I'm hoping so. If they are true ... should I despair? Should I stop praying that God would give me a wife, and start praying for the gift of celibacy?
Wow. You've asked what requires a book to answer, but I'll do my best to summarize.
Quickly, no, I don't think you're a pervert or lust-driven beast, at least not that I can tell from how you've described yourself. Your desire for sexual intimacy within the biblical context of love is God-given, so don't be ashamed. So let's explore how we should think about these things.
We can't answer your question until we understand something critical about marriage as God intends. For all of its "practical" benefits — sexual pleasure, happiness and health, etc. — marriage, and intercourse, is not first about that.
I cannot emphasize this enough. If marriage is ultimately and primarily for me and my needs, or her and her needs, if it is primarily about us, about self, then I will always struggle with disappointment because there is never enough for me. Never.
I use the words primarily and ultimately purposely here. Clearly, biblical marriage benefits me, and as such it is a great gift to me, but it is not first and foremost about me (or my spouse).
Paul teaches in Ephesians that the mystery of marriage is this: It is primarily and ultimately about Christ and the Church; it is a living, breathing human parable on display to the whole world about the relationship between Jesus and His Bride.
Understand that intercourse can't be detached from the whole of marriage in a biblical relationship; it's part of the whole of two people becoming one, but let's focus on it for a moment and explore at least one way that it illustrates this Christ/Church love.
There are few actions that illustrate a total giving of oneself to another like the act of intercourse. When rightly lived out, it is an act of completely giving oneself away, a total abandonment to, and complete trust of, another. Sound familiar?
Christ gave everything of Himself for the Church. We are to give ourselves completely to Him. "Greater love has no one than this," He said, "that someone lay down his life for his friends." The throbbing heartbeat of the cross of Christ is a complete emptying of one for another, the complete giving of oneself for the good of the other. It is in losing our lives that we find life.
This is biblical marriage, and intercourse, at its best. It is the polar opposite of the world's idea of a sexual relationship (and much of what you described negatively). The world says sex is about take. Our old nature wants to make it about us. At best it is a game of give and take, of scorekeeping, of what's fair! And sadly, as you've testified, many Christians have bought the world's way.
But that isn't God's way. That doesn't illustrate what Christ did for His Bride. Paul goes as far to tell the Corinthians that if you're married, your body is not even yours anymore. It belongs to your spouse.
Because that is how Christ loved.
If a husband makes intercourse about taking, or if a wife makes it a short-term loan of her body for a moment, they miss the incredible, indescribable beauty of it. They're just using one another to get whatever it is they need out of it.
Intercourse in the context of biblical love (giving yourself away wholly) is what glorifies God. It is a falling into another's arms in total trust and abandonment, a receiving of another completely, wholly, flaws and all. Again, a powerful human illustration of the work of Christ on the cross and our response to Him.
I've painted a beautiful picture of intimacy, but note that my wife and I are still — after 16 years — growing in this, and I assume we'll continue to grow more into this in the years ahead. We didn't stand before the minister, say "I do," and suddenly give ourselves perfectly to one another. Oneness starts there and is hammered out over a lifetime.
We were clueless when we started. We are, however, much further down the road than we were 16 years ago, even five years ago. Sadly, we know many Christians who after many years of marriage only view intercourse from take and scorekeeping — from self. What they don't realize is that only in giving away do we find the pleasure we were looking for all along. The mystery of God's kingdom! It is in giving that I receive, not in taking!
A final thought. To give oneself away to another person in such a way as I've described here requires great trust in the One who brought you together with this other person. Does He know what He is doing? Do we trust that He can heal when we stick our heart out there to another human and get hurt (because even in a growing Christian marriage, both husband and wife will experience hurt)?
Do I believe that God is big enough to catch me when the other person doesn't? Only in completely abandoning ourselves to Him first can we give ourselves in this way to another. And giving ourselves away to another, especially in sexual intimacy, is a beautiful way for us to express our trust in Him.
There's a lot more to say on the topic, but I hope this gets some wheels turning for you.
Copyright 2009 John Thomas. All rights reserved.