It’s been said that “It doesn’t matter where you get your appetite as long as you eat at home.” If it really doesn’t matter, then is it okay to get one’s sexual appetite revved up by X-rated movies, Playboy, Cosmopolitan, etc. as long as you only “do it” with your spouse?
We disagree with the statement quoted. It does matter where you get your appetite; it matters a great deal. Jesus explicitly forbade pornography in His teaching in Matthew 5:27-28 — You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Pornography’s design is to encourage the people who watch it to engage in illicit sex. Have you ever heard of pornographic material showing a husband and wife enjoying normal, marital love-making? No, it’s intent is to make us lust. Lusting is not the simple acknowledgment, “God really made a beautiful body when He made that one.” It’s not even the biological changes that are involuntarily triggered by pictures of nude bodies. It is allowing your mind to dwell on the pictures and nurture the arousal. Jesus did not condemn lust because He wanted to spoil our pleasure. He, our Creator, knows how devastatingly dangerous and destructive it is when we allow it to get a hold on us.
Because pornography depicts sex devoid of love, commitment, mutuality or responsibility, when we watch it, it imprints on our minds those same values, as well as permanent mental pictures. Even Christian couples who think they use pornography to enhance their sex lives, will eventually begin to use their partners and focus on self gratification instead of focusing on shared pleasure and the joy of mutual love. Pornography is also addictive. People who use it, find they need more and more of it, and eventually believe they cannot function sexually without it. If you have allowed pornography into your life, you have welcomed in a powerful enemy. But it is an enemy that can be defeated by the power of the Holy Spirit. It’ll take more than prayer, it will take your consistent obedience to the Word of God. Read Chapter 2 of Experiencing Oneness for instructions and Scriptures on how to take control over your thoughts (as 2 Corinthians 10:5 puts it, take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ). Use those thought-stopping techniques, decisively replace them with positive memories of mutual love-making with your spouse, and depend on the Holy Spirit to renew your mind.
What about fantasizing?
This question was partially answered in the previous response. Fantasizing about having sex with someone other than your mate is lust, and, therefore, sin. However, fantasizing about making love with your mate is perfectly permissible. In fact, we encourage it. Throughout Song of Solomon (which, remember, was inspired by the Holy Spirit), Shulamith and Solomon spent a great deal of time thinking erotic thoughts about each other. Fantasizing about an especially wonderful memory of sexual intimacy, or a fanciful dream of one, with your mate before and during love-making can enhance your mutual pleasure and fulfillment.
What is the most loving and effective way to tell your mate, who is presently trying to seduce you, that you are not feeling like making love tonight?
Gently…very gently. You could say something like, “I’m too tired to get much out of sex tonight, but if you will wait ‘til tomorrow, I can promise you a good time!” Then follow through with your promise and plan toward a romantic encounter. Just make sure “Not tonight, Dear” does not become a habit nor an excuse for not wanting to make the effort. Catch a nap, turn the TV off earlier, change your schedule — do whatever you have to do to make love-making a priority in your marriage.
How important should spontaneity be in love-making?
Spontaneity is highly overrated! Some of the best lovemaking encounters are those which are planned for and anticipated by both mates. Usually, women are not quick igniters sexually. A woman needs time to think erotically about her husband, time to reflect upon that sweet word he whispered in her ear at breakfast. (Husbands, take note.) Sexually, most women are like a tea kettle. If a tea kettle sits on a shelf all day, it will take a lot of heat to bring the water to boil. But if the tea kettle has been simmering on a back burner all day, it doesn’t take long at all for the water to boil. Often a woman needs time to “simmer,” and planning toward a romantic, sexual encounter allows that to happen. The saying that “SEX BEGINS IN THE KITCHEN” is true. (You may want to read the book by the same title.)
Some couples think that after they get married, only the “spontaneous” times really count. That is simply not true! Planning for romantic encounters enhances enjoyment. And besides, with some of the hectic schedules that many couples have today, planning for those special encounters may be the only way they are able to occur.
Will it still be fun when we’re old and gray?
The factor which determines continued sexual intimacy as we grow older, is our consistency of sexual intimacy all along. Couples naturally slow down sexually as they age. Let’s face it — everything about us slows down! But even though older couples may not be able to have intercourse as often as they used to, they still can have a full, satisfying, enjoyable sex-life. As long as we live, we continue to be sexual creatures…even at 80 years old and beyond.
This reminds us of a funny story we heard a few years ago. A local newspaper reports it to be a true story. It happened in a small town in southern California well known for its abundant Senior Citizen Population and mobile home parks. One summer evening, in a Senior Retirement park, some men were standing around talking about the good old days, when they heard a faint cry for help. “It sounds like it’s coming from Ed and Gracie’s. What could be wrong?” The men grabbed their golf clubs and cautiously approached Ed and Gracie’s mobile home. Again, they heard Gracie’s cry, “Help! Help!” Finding the front door unlocked, they slowly and vigilantly crept inside. “Sounds like it’s coming from the bedroom,” one whispered. With golf clubs raised, they tiptoed to the culprit. When they flung open the bedroom door, there was Gracie, naked as a jay bird lying on the bed with her wrists tied to the headboard with pink ribbons. “Ed! Help Ed!” she pleaded. There in a heap beside the bed was Ed, wearing only a Bat Man cape and mask. It seems he had knocked himself out on the ceiling while jumping from the dresser to the bed. Ed and Gracie moved to Florida shortly after this incident.
Should you be submissive to your spouse even when you don’t want to make love and they do?
Making love is all about loving. And that means that sometimes you defer to your mate out of love and have sex because he/she desires it, even though you don’t feel particularly passionate. It also means that you will sometimes defer to your mate and not have sex because he/she doesn’t desire it, even though you do. 1 Corinthians 7:3-4 teaches that The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Paul teaches a mutual giving in these verses. Not one partner demanding or refusing sex, but a mutual giving of themselves to their partners for the benefit of their oneness.
We must confess that when we first started teaching GTO marriage enrichment retreats, we believed, practiced and taught the philosophy that anytime one mate wanted sex, the other should give it. But after a time, we noticed something negative happening in our relationship. Bette’s sex drive was lowering dramatically. After talking at length about this, we concluded that if one partner simply gives in a majority of their sexual encounters, after a while sex is not going to be very exciting to that mate. On the contrary, negative memories of unfulfilled sex build over time to cause that mate’s sex drive to lower. We were actually sabotaging our own sexual relationship. Also, we weren’t taking into consideration the whole context of the 1 Corinthian passage. Both partners are urged to give themselves to each other. And sometimes that means to have sex, and sometimes that means to not have sex. In the answer to the question about masturbation, we suggested that one mate can lovingly bring the other to orgasm by manual stimulation. This kind of loving, sexually intimate response can also be used by couples when one partner is passionately desiring sex and the other is not.
We hope these questions and answers have been helpful to you (they are excerpts from the Leader’s Guide of Achieving God’s Design for Marriage and Experiencing Oneness). If you have a question about sex, we encourage you to send it to us. If we don’t know the answer, we’ll try to find it.
(Image Credit: Colin Kinner)