Sex as a Good Gift?
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Today's question says, "I've been married for 10 years and we have children ages two through five. My husband and I have been to Christian couples counseling on and off for years because of my aversion to sex. Because of this, I'm terrified to talk about sex with my kids. How can I pass on that it's a good gift from God when I don't feel that way?" Listen in as Elizabeth Urbanowicz breaks down the question into three parts: why sex is a good gift, how to communicate that to children, and recommendations for the listener.
Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.
Today's question says, "I've been married for 10 years and we have children ages two through five. My husband and I have been to Christian couples counseling on and off for years because of my aversion to sex. Because of this, I'm terrified to talk about sex with my kids. How can I pass on that it's a good gift from God when I don't feel that way?" Now, this is an important question for us to think through because whether you've experienced this situation or whether you haven't, you'll know someone in your life probably who will experience this situation in their marriage. So it's important that we think through this ahead of time to know how to counsel others or if we find ourselves in this situation.
Now, I think as we're thinking about this question, there are three distinct parts in answering this question. That first is just why is sex a good gift? Anytime we're wanting to teach truth to our children, we need to make sure that we first understand that truth so that we can present it correctly, accurately, and biblically to them. So that's the first thing we're going to look at. Why is sex a good gift? The second part of this question is then how can we then communicate that to our children? And the third part to this question that I'm going to include is just recommendations for you. If you find yourself in this situation, what are some things that you can do that would be helpful?
Now, I do want to have a caveat upfront that as we're talking through this situation, I want to say upfront that if you are in a situation in your marriage where you are in a situation of abuse, abandonment, addiction, or adultery, or any other situation where you find yourself and your children physically unsafe, this podcast is not for you. I'm going to be talking to regular ordinary situations, not extreme situations or situations that involve abuse. So if you find yourself in one of those situations, what you need to do is you need to seek help. You need to reach out to your local church. You need to reach out to the authorities to get you and your children to a place where you are safe.
Okay, now back to answering this question, the first part of this question, okay, why is sex a good gift? Now, I think what we need to make sure that we understand is that anything that we receive from God, whether this thing is pleasant or it's painful, it is a good gift from God because it is something that God has given us and that we are to offer back to him as a sacrifice. And we know from Romans eight that God is using all things that he allows in our life to conform us more into the image of his son. And this includes our sex life within marriage, whether it's something that we greatly enjoy and receive intense physical and emotional pleasure from, or whether it's something that's difficult and might bring physical pain, that we know that God is using this to conform us more into the image of his son.
Now, as we think specifically about the good gift of sex within the marriage covenant biblically, there are three purposes to sex. The first purpose to sex that we find in Genesis one and two is that sex within the marriage covenant enables humans to be faithful to the command, to be fruitful and multiply that sex is meant to lead to children. Now, we often don't understand this in our current cultural context because of Margaret Sanger and the huge push for chemical birth control, we tend to decouple sex from procreation. We tend to decouple sex from life where God has given us sex within the marriage covenant as a good gift to bring forth children. And that's what we find right in the opening chapters of Genesis.
The second biblical purpose that we find is sex, which is woven throughout the Old Testament. And then the New Testament is that sex is a good gift that God has given as a way for spouses to get to truly know one another. The Hebrew word that is most often used to describe the sexual act in the Old Testament, specifically sex within the marriage, covenant is the Hebrew word yada (לדעת). And yada (לדעת) means to know that God has given us the good gift of sex within marriage so that spouses can truly get to know one another.
And then the third biblical purpose for sex that we find in the New Testament, specifically in Ephesians chapter five, is that sex within the marriage covenant is a living picture of Christ's relationship to the church. That Ephesians chapter five makes clear that as husbands love their wives, as they daily lay down their lives for the good of their wives, they're reflecting Christ as he has laid down his life for the church. And wives, as they daily submit to the godly leadership of their husband, they are reflecting a picture of the church as we as the church daily submit to the loving leadership of Jesus.
Now, remember again, this does not mean submitting to abuse. Sex was meant to paint this picture of Christ and the church. Now our culture with the way that our culture views sex, our culture does not understand at all these purposes of sex. And our culture simply views sex as a purely physical act of genital stimulation for the sole purpose of physical pleasure. Now, from the book of Song of Solomon, God has made clear that he did design sex within the marriage covenant to be pleasurable. That God designed sex to bring pleasure. Now on this side of Genesis 3, sex does not always bring physical pleasure. However, if you are in a marriage relationship where you have a sex life that brings you and your spouse great physical pleasure, praise God for that, that is a good part of God's good gift. However, we need to recognize that biblically speaking, physical pleasure is never the ultimate goal of sex. That never in Scripture is physical pleasure portrayed as the ultimate goal of sex within the marriage covenant. And so sometimes we misunderstand this and we think that in order for sex to be a good gift, we just buy into the narrative of our world that in order for sex to be considered a good gift, it has to be intensely physically pleasurable. Now again, if it is, praise God for that. However, Scripture never portrays sex as needing to be intensely physically pleasurable in order to fulfill these three purposes of being fruitful and multiplying, of spouses getting to know one another, and being a living picture of Christ in the church. And I think sometimes as Christians, we tend to misunderstand the concept of a gift from God, and we think that anything that God gives as a gift is something that should bring us intense pleasure. Now, some of God's good gifts, they do bring physical pleasure and praise God for that. However, as I mentioned before, all that we have received is a gift from God. And everything that God has given us is to be offered back to him as a sacrifice. And sometimes those gifts that God give us are things that we greatly enjoy, and sometimes they are things that we do not enjoy.
Now, I've mentioned on previous podcasts that I am not married, I am single. And so I'm not married, never been married. And so while I have zero firsthand experience of the sex life within the marriage covenant, I do have experiences with gifts from God and how I am to view the gifts that God has given me. And one of the gifts, the gifts that God has given me in this season of my life is the gift of singleness. And in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul makes clear that singleness is a good gift from God. Now, if I'm being honest with you, I do not enjoy singleness. I would prefer to be married. However, Scripture is clear that singleness is a good gift from God, that people who are single do not have the same distractions that those who are married and have children have, and therefore the single person is free to honor God with their life and offer up their life as a sacrifice in a way that people who are married or have children cannot. And so I understand that singleness is this gift from God. And even though I might not enjoy singleness, singleness does bring me intense joy because I know that it is this gift that I can offer back to the Lord as a sacrifice to him.
Now, just as a little caveat, I'm sure that 90% of you listening now are now racking your brain of all the single Christian men that you know and who you could potentially set me up with. Now, just so you know, if you try to contact our organization or me personally about who you would like to set me up with, we're not going to respond because that is not why I share this. But even just the thoughts that have gone through many listeners minds reveal how we misunderstand this concept of a good gift, that singleness is a good gift. And even if we don't enjoy a gift that God has given us, we're not just to try to seek to give that gift away or to reject it or to give it back. We are to receive it as a good gift from God and trust that as long as we have that gift, God will be able to use it for his honor and his glory.
So now getting back to the question that was asked, even if the physical act of sex within your marriage covenant never brings you physical pleasure, it can be a joy because you know that sex is fulfilling these three biblical purposes that God has given it, and it is something that you can offer back to God as a sacrifice.
And so your sex life within the marriage covenant is a good gift because it's led to the creation of your children. And so your children are a good gift that God has given you through the act of sex in the marriage covenant. Also, it has allowed you to get to know your spouse in a way that hopefully no other person has ever known your spouse. And it allows you, it has allowed you and will continue allowing you, to paint a physical picture of Christ and the church. Now, for any husbands who are listening, where you might be facing a similar situation in your marriage where your wife has an aversion to sex or it's physically painful for her, or she just doesn't know why, but she doesn't really want to engage in it, husbands, this is your opportunity to reflect Christ in your marriage by laying down your life for your wife, for seeking to help her in these difficulties that she's experiencing, not for the purpose of being able to have sex more frequently, but out of a desire to love her well and seek what is best for her.
So for a period, it may mean having sex less frequently than you would like or then you desire, but this is a way that you can lay down your life for your wife. Wives who are listening, who may be in this situation where you have an aversion to sex. For some reason, this is an opportunity for you to reflect your call, to reflect this picture of Christ and the church as you daily lay down your life for your husband by choosing to engage in sex within the marriage covenant. even when you do not feel like it, it is a way for you to reflect this picture of Christ and the church.
Now, for both husbands and wives who are listening, or even single individuals who are listening, our call as Christians is to deny ourselves daily, pick up our cross, and follow Jesus. Now, when we think about the cross, the cross was an instrument of torture. Not only did the cross not bring Jesus any physical pleasure, it brought him intense suffering, pain, hardship, agony. As we read the accounts of Jesus in the garden before the crucifixion, we see him in anguish that he is praying. He's pouring out his heart to the Father asking that if it's possible that this cup would pass from him. Jesus had no desire to go to the cross. However, Hebrews 12 tells us that it was for the joy that was set before him that Jesus endured the cross. If Jesus did not desire to go to the cross, how is it that the cross, somehow there was joy that was set before him? Well, Jesus's primary desire was to do the will of his father and his father's will was to reconcile us to him himself. And so Jesus, even though the cross brought him no physical pleasure, it did bring him joy because he was submitting to the will of his Father. And as we submit to God in any situation, in any pleasantry or hardship that he has placed before us, we are following this call to deny ourselves, to pick up our cross, and to follow Jesus.
So now the second part of this question is how can we present this as a good gift to our children? Now, I'm not going to spend a long time talking about this simply because we try to keep this podcast short and we have a number of other Foundation Worldview podcasts where we talk about how to talk to our kids about God's good gift of sex. But I think just on a really basic level, what we can do is present the three purposes, the three biblical purposes of sex and how sex within the marriage covenant fulfills each of these purposes.
First, we can help explain to them through Scripture, through Genesis one and two, that sex fulfills the purpose that sex is fulfilling the biblical purpose of being fruitful and multiplying. For those of you talking with little kids, you can even say, you know what? If God didn't give us the good gift of sex within marriage, you would not exist, but you are one of the benefits that God has given us because mommy and daddy came together, you exist. So sex exists to be fruitful and multiply.
Also talking about spouses getting to know one another and saying, this is one of the reasons why God commands that sex is just for within marriage, that when you grew up and you get married, that you should be the only one who knows your spouse in this way, that your spouse should be the only one who knows you in this way.
And then talk about sex being a living picture of Christ and the church that as a husband lays down his life for his wife daily. As a wife joyfully submits to the godly leadership of her husband, they are portraying a picture of Christ and the church.
Now specifically thinking about the person who wrote in this question and how sex right now does not bring you physical pleasure. We can be really careful with the words that we're using with our children to make sure that we don't set our children up for failure, that we can talk about how for many people, sex feels really good. And that can be something that is enjoyed within the marriage covenant, that if sex feels really good, that's part of God's good gift that a husband and a wife can enjoy within marriage. And for other people, sex might not feel quite as good or it might not feel good at all. But no matter what it feels like sex is a good gift because it fulfills the purposes of being fruitful and multiplying of spouses getting to know one another and for a husband and wife to be a living picture of Christ and the church.
Now, I'm sure most people watching or listening already know this, but just as a reminder, we do not want to be sharing details of our sex life within marriage with our children. That's just not appropriate. So even as you're careful with your language about, for some people this feels really good for some people it doesn't. If your children ask you, well, what does it feel like for you? That's something that you could just say, well, you know what? Sex is this really special gift. And remember, it's a way for husbands and wives to get to know one another so no one knows me the same way that daddy knows me. So that's a question that's just for me and daddy. So that's a question that I won't answer right now. As our children grow, as they become teens and young adults and they move closer to marriage, we can share more with them about sex, but it shouldn't be particularly about our sex lives.
Now, the third part of this question, just as recommendations for the person who wrote this question in, I don't know your situation. You may be someone who has a godly husband who daily lays down his life for you, but you have an aversion to sex because of past abuse or trauma, or maybe you just don't enjoy physical touch. Or you may be someone on the opposite end of the spectrum who has a husband who does not seek to love you as Christ loves the church and you don't feel safe around him. And so therefore, emotionally you struggle to actually give yourself physically to your husband. You may be in one of those extreme situations, or you may be anywhere in between. I don't know what your situation is, but I think these things that I'm going to recommend can be helpful no matter the situation. Again, with the caveat, this is not if you're in a situation of abuse, abandonment, addiction, or adultery.
So if you're not in one of those situations, the first thing that I recommend is that you talk to a trusted brother or sister in Christ in your local church who is of the same gender as you. Someone who loves the Lord, knows his word, will be faithful at offering you biblically grounded counsel, will pray for you, will pray with you. Just confide in this person. This is a difficulty that my spouse and I are having in our marriage. Like, what recommendation do you have for us? Can you pray with me? Can you pray for me? Also, recommend that you seek out biblical counseling. Just a counselor who is grounded in Scripture, who is a licensed biblical counselor. Who can offer you counsel over many months or even if needed over years. If that's not an option for you, either because there are no biblical counselors in your area or because financially that's an issue. Another thing you can do is you can call Focus on the Family. They have a counseling hotline where they have Christian counselors that you can talk to for free. So if you can't see a biblical counselor in your area, reach out to Focus on the Family.
Another recommended resource is the ministry Authentic Intimacy. It's run by a woman named Julie Slattery, and she is, I believe she's a licensed professional counselor. And she experienced a lot of pain and difficulty her first decade of marriage within the sexual relationship with her and her husband. And she just had to work through a lot of different issues. And so she now runs this ministry helping Christians understand biblically what sex should look like within the marriage covenant.
And then finally, a book that I have to recommend to you that's a little bit of a caveat. I normally do not recommend books that I have not read. However, as a single individual, it would be unwise for me to spend my time reading books about sexual issues within the marriage covenant. So I have not read this book. However, when I used to live in Chicago, my Bible study leader Barbara Wilson, who is a biblically grounded Bible study, teacher when she was teaching a Bible study called Wife of Noble Character, this is a book she recommended, so I trust her judgment. So the book, Intimate Issues, it's specifically written for Christian women just on questions that they may have about sex that they've never felt comfortable asking anyone, and also issues that women sometimes experience within their sexual relationship with their husband.
So I hope that this information that was shared and just biblically grounded counsel is helpful for those of you who find yourself in this situation. And also for those of you who do not find yourself in this situation, but may one day be counseling a member and your local church who is in this situation.
Well, that's a wrap for this episode. But as always, my prayer for you as we leave this time together is that no matter the situation in which you and the children God has placed in your care, find yourselves that you would trust that God is working all things together for your good by using all things to conform you more into the image of His Son. I'll see you next time.
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