I was sitting with my husband at the table the other day and said, “I think I’m going to write a post about sex.” He dropped his fork.
“No you’re not.”
Isn’t it nice when you finally get their attention? “But I think Christian women need to hear more about it,” I insisted. He looked at me blankly for a moment and then said, “You’re right, but not from us.”
Amen. I doubt I’ve bumped into a blog post on intimacy that hasn’t triggered my gag reflex. Personally, I’m all for people figuring things out the old fashioned way. You know, in the dark over the course of 40 years. And if you were really desperate you could always ask your mother. I guess the assumption is that since the world is getting louder about sex, the church needs to too. A la Mark Driscoll. But I still find it all in bad taste. And think a little quietness and dignity would go further towards diffusing the world’s dirty ostentation than picking up the ball and running with it ourselves. At the same time, I do think there are things that can be said openly and frankly, because the Bible says them, like 1 Corinthians 7. The Bible also says other things, but to the uninitiated it’s all baby deer and apples. So when you’re ready to write me a poem about fruit and livestock, then maybe we’ll talk.
What I’ve started to notice is that a lot of the posts I’ve read, or the talks I’ve heard, have mostly been geared towards encouraging women. It occurred to me that it’s sad that they have to try so hard. It’s like we reach a certain age slash family size and it’s all, “Go team, go!” And it’s plain from looking at the stony faces in the audience that no one wants to go anywhere. If we did, it would only be by sheer force of will. How did we get here? Not that I know much about it, but my suspicion is that it stems from not obeying in the first place. Two culprits; bitterness and just not putting out. I’ll put my foot in my mouth later, but for starters, intimacy is a bi-product of being in fellowship. Christian marriage is supposed to be a beacon light of the gospel, shining out in the world. But, odds are, it’s a cage fight. And I imagine sex is something that only occurs on the days the wife is not mad and not tired, plus the few extra occasions when she could use a little leverage. I don’t know, I’m just guessing. Maybe it’s not so hit and miss. But it still remains that there can only be good sex when there is good fellowship. And there can only be good fellowship, between two polar opposite sinners, when there is Jesus.
One of my favorite articles is “How to be Free From Bitterness” by Jim Wilson. It points out the obvious and says Christians don’t get to be not Christians. Oh my goodness. We don’t get to be angry, bitter, annoyed, or, upset. “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” That includes your husband. Or perhaps, more specifically, your husband. Jim Wilson pointed out that bitterness doesn’t occur in relation to how big a grievance is, but how close it is to you. And who is closer to us than our husbands? And who can’t put their damn pants in the laundry when they are dirty? That’s right. We don’t stew over the travesties of the world. We stew over socks. But whatever the infraction, we don’t get to be annoyed by it. Put another way, “It may or may not be a sin to give offense, but it is always a sin to take it.” You are in charge of you. We don’t get to let sin run a muck in our pretty little heads, no matter what someone else did. We are to take every thought captive to the Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever our grievance with someone else, more sin will only enhance the problem. Put it away. “Take the plank out of your own eye and then you can see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
I think a large part of the problem is that we don’t see bitterness as a plank. We don’t even see it as a speck. It’s a part of life and we just go with the flow. However, once we recognize bitterness as an enemy, we begin to see how insidious it is. It shows up everywhere. You can see it when you’re washing dishes and thoughts keep popping up in your head about what he did or didn’t do. Or when you have imaginary arguments about what you would say, next time he says THAT. When you dwell on wrongs. Bitterness is described as a root. It does it’s dirty work in the dark where no one else can see. But eventually it comes up and it takes the whole sidewalk with it. I think what makes bitterness so sly, and why we can get away with it so long, is that it masks itself as someone else’s sin. And then goes so far as to pose as our righteousness. Which is a bald faced lie. Kill it. And once you try, you will realize how huge it is and how enslaved we are to it. I can’t tell you how many times my husband will have annoyed me, and I will start dwelling on what an idiot he is, when I will realize that I am being bitter. Pretty soon I am in a huge arm wrestling match with myself (“Stop it! No, you stop it!”), and whatever my husband did becomes paltry in comparison. There are bigger fish to fry. Do not put up with these kinds of thoughts. Do not let sin reign over you.
I asked my friend Leslie what else I could do when I see bitterness taking hold. Little instances are almost good fun. Cross fit for the soul. But sometimes a train comes. Sometimes it’s big and you just can’t get off. I can see myself being carried away with bitterness. I can practically see Satan as he’s whispering his lies in my ear, but I still can’t seem to stop. To let it go. To get off. The temptation, instead, seems to be to push the conductor off the side and start shoveling in the coal myself. And what can you do? Her advice was to simply kneel. To break free long enough to just get down on the floor. To submit. To make a space for the Holy Spirit to work. So that I can even begin to confess. Because there is no good in us. There is no help, but to fall down and say Lord. Jim Wilson described an incident where he was bitter with his wife. He kneeled and confessed it, but the moment he got up again he was automatically thinking about what she said. So he kneeled again. He said he repeated this for 45 minutes. Until he could get up and not recount his wife’s sins. I have learned that the moment the Holy Spirit softens my heart, I RUN to ask for forgiveness. When the hand of graces reaches down to you in your miry pit, take it.
Can you imagine your marriage without bitterness? Bitterness seems like a little sin, but it is consuming. Like when your husband doesn’t put the trash bag back in, when he forgets your groceries, when he watches soccer instead of talking to you, when he (god forbid) buys generic cheese, when he buys anything without consulting you first, when he takes a nap, when he helps you put things away while putting them in the wrong spot, when he drives, when he parks, when he forgets to buy you a birthday present, when he does buy you a birthday present, when he pretty much does anything. Ever. That eventually has to wear on a person. Eventually bitterness springs up and bears fruit, making many people filthy. How about reject every kind of evil? Be kind and compassionate, forgiving one another. You may have a problem you need to work on, but you can only do it with the right spirit. If you invite bitterness to the party you will not only have “a problem” to work on, but basically every single one since 2004. Bitterness is good at remembering. Love covers.
What does this have to do with sex? Because pretty much every marriage is beset by this sin. You can hardly talk to anyone without picking up on some pet annoyance they have with their spouse. Even more, no one has ever told them to can it. I remember reading the pamphlet on bitterness for the first time 15 years ago and thinking, “Wait, that’s wrong? Well, good grief, you think you could have told me earlier!” Why pastors don’t preach this every week is beyond me. Immediately I could see all my bitterness, all my annoyance. All the long red lights, rude customer service, bad drivers, dumb husbands, spilled cups, dirty feet, and deaf children. That I DIDN’T get to be upset about. More importantly, that I didn’t have to be upset about. It was no longer my problem. I didn’t have to let other people’s offenses rob my joy. “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control.” That other stuff, it’s sin. Don’t. Because if you’re not waging war on it, odds are you are wallowing in it. And since it is a sin of proximity, there is no more obvious victim than our husbands. The men who love us the most. “Wait, you didn’t put your laundry away again today? Well see if I have sex with you again, sucka!” (And whatever you do, don’t try to reason with us. Because there’s more where that came from.)
Once you get rid of half the problem, which is wives being perpetually pissed off at the retards they’re married to, you still have the other half of the problem. Which is, we could care less. At least, we don’t care as much as they do. And they care way too much. Other people, we have Things To Do. Some day I will get really exciting and write a post on submission. You will love it. Until then, I will just say we are about our husband’s business. We were created to be his helper, we are here for him. And I could have swore it was the other way around. Because I do need someone to move the heavy furniture and appliances, clean up vomit in the night, pick up things at the store, work 40 hours a week in the hundred degree weather, and get things down of the high shelves. I mean, he certainly doesn’t ask for anything. It’s easy to forget that I am here for him. I don’t know about you, but my husband works like a dog to provide for us. Then he comes home and works more. He gives himself away. That’s what marriage is. A man throwing himself at your feet. All he is, all that he has, all for you. Until he dies. Just so he can have the exclusive right of being with you. God knows why.
The Oracle has suggested that men put up with us because they are driven to achieve rapprochement. Oneness. For the woman was taken out of man, for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother. And they will cleave together and become one flesh. But this is where it gets tricky. Getting some is more than just getting some. The standard, less perceptive male, equates “oneness” with how much sex he can get, wherever he can get it. Yee-haw. And off they go. Oddly enough, he is never satisfied. For all that “oneness” he is never made one.
Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love.
A marriage is where one man is joined to one woman, to become one flesh. Not because he simply has sex with her, but because she receives him. She is for him. She is his. There are lots of ways that we can show ourselves to be for our husbands. And some women, more than others, are happy to tout submissiveness. But it all comes to naught at the end of the day, if, when he collapses into bed next to you with some tentative missives of interest, and you roll over and turn your back. Usually it ends there. Because the husband isn’t simply interested in getting the job done, he wants to be received. And if not, what’s the point? That is the opposite of marriage. There is not much oneness in a blockade. In my mind, the dead beat husband, who watches football, doesn’t go to work, and eats Doritos, is comparable to the pseudo wife, who cleans her husband’s house, makes him four course meals, tends his children, changes his sheets bi-weekly, but has sex with him less often. While she considers herself dutiful, she is missing the boat. Because it is not about the requisite sex (yes, I do that), it is about the oneness. The welcomeness is not in the act, but the readiness. If you want to fuel a healthy marriage, then start by saying yes.
I spent the beginning of my marriage playing defense. Not intentionally, I just let the chips fall where they may. And by 10:00 they were generally quite sleepy. But once I was convicted of the damage my indifference was causing I decided to not refuse overtures again. I mean really, it’s not that hard. Lukewarm at best. Not saying no is almost as good as saying yes. Sorta. To help out my good intentions I started to sleep, shall we say, more “approachably.” I figured he had a better chance if he didn’t have to convince both me and last year’s Christmas flannels. Nothing like open season. What I didn’t realize was that all this good practice would eventually help me move from defensive, to offensive. It’s a whole new ball game. And to think, we could have spent our whole marriage arguing about sex instead. Which is a total waste of time. It’s like going to the gas station and putting in $5.00 and then barely rolling into to the next station before having to call roadside assistance. Why not travel with a full tank and actually go somewhere? Keep your husband sexed. They are so easy to keep happy. It’s even kind of sad. Now, I think of sex as my department, not his. This is my job. I keep a mental note of how long it’s been so I know when I need to go to bed early. If he comes home early from work I try and book the afternoon. I even found a tracking app for the iPhone because bar graphs mean business. But I never saw myself here. If I would have remained selfish and stoutly egalitarian I wouldn’t have this problem. I would be cool as a cucumber. Instead I’m the new Peg Bundy.
When we think of our responsibilities as wives I wonder if sex even makes the list. For instance, if I ever put anything up on the whiteboard, my husband will usually come by later and put “Me” under the column entitled “Do.” Eventually, I realized he wasn’t even being funny. In the male hierarchy of priorities that’s at the top. So how did it somehow end up at the bottom under “optional?” The modern assumption is that sex is a magical reaction fueled on romance and roses. And if you don’t feel like it, you don’t. No one is going to up and tell you that it’s your job, and to do it anyways. I mean, that’s not romantic. But there is just a huge difference between thinking about sex as a supplemental activity versus a foundational one. When you consider it, the world runs on sex. It is the gas in the tank, the impetus behind civilization. When men, the idiots that they are, have low tanks, Satan is right there to provide them with other options. Talk about easy targets. “Like an ox to the slaughter.” So do your job. If you don’t, there are enough aggressive pop-ups out there to do it for you. I think of sex as the battlements on a relationship. In which case, keep the walls high. There is all this consternation about the porn problem among Christian men. But I can’t help but wonder if among all the brouhaha, anyone dared to stop and tell the Christian wives that maybe they should have sex with their husbands. You know, every once and a while. “But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.” Sounds like good advice, maybe we should take it.
I don’t know, perhaps it seems callous to insist that you all should just have sex with your husbands constantly? I mean, didn’t I mention that we have Things To Do? Don’t we all have babies that need fed, floors that need swept, beds that need slept in, five pounds that need lost, and make-up that never got put on? Well sorry sister, that’s not changing any time in the next ten years. There’s nothing for it but to reconfigure the things at the top and bump a few down to the bottom. Carolyn Mahaney said that if worse comes to worse, make PB&J for your husband for dinner so that you are free to have sex with him afterwards. If we have to make excuses, they should sound a little more like this; “I’m sorry we’re having spaghetti again for dinner dear, but I wanted to have time to have sex with you later.” And he will eat spaghetti with a gleam in his eye. It’s a matter of priorities. And the simple question of whether your husband is one of yours.
The other problem is that there are a lot of women who might agree with me up to this point, but can’t get over the fact that they just don’t feel like it. I’ve had people guiltily admit to me on more than one occasion that they don’t have any sex drive at all. Thank God. They are the ones with that problem. And you can see where it’s got them. This isn’t a case for envy. Neither is it a case for guilt. If you have a sex drive, good. If you don’t, maybe you’re not wired that way. But you can still enjoy your husband, simply because you enjoy him. My practical advice is this; practice makes perfect. Just do it. It may take a few years, but I think you’ll get the hang of it. Like it says in Galatians, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Wait, you don’t think that’s what it’s referring to? Are you questioning my hermeneutic? You’re no fun. But really, don’t listen to lies. Don’t be insecure. This is the way God made you, and you are the wife God has made for your husband. I think the world gives us a lot of guilt for not feeling or being “sexy” enough. I really don’t know how many of us are actually adult film stars. But rest assured, while Maxim magazine may be picky, surely it has been demonstrated over again that men are not. You’re alive, you’re female = everything he ever dreamed of. He only wishes it was more often. Be confident in your husband’s love. Listen to what HE says and then don’t insult him by choosing to believe someone else. You are enough. I noticed this when I would bounce back and forth between having kids. My body was on a roller coaster ride and my tendency would be to focus on the more unpleasant aspects of each administration while my husband was just enjoying the change of scenery. There’s no explaining it. They are what they are. Count yourself lucky.
A while ago my husband bought me a Jambox speaker. He immediately outfitted her with the “sexy voice” option. A husky and somewhat eager brunette. She made me jealous, and Marc might possibly like her better than me. She is always ready to go. She has this muscular resiliency, like the Proverbs 31 woman who laughs without fear of the future. She is constant. She is confident. Unshakable. She is for you. And if you get too close, there is always the risk that she would slam you up against a wall and take advantage of your person. (But, don’t worry, you would like it.) And I wonder, why am I not like that? And then I take it as a challenge. My role model is a wireless speaker. I can’t help but notice how I smile whenever I power her up. Everyone who comes to the house is captivated. She usually gets introduced and then they run home and download her for themselves. Because she makes you feel good. And she is just a voice recording. But there is something so powerful in her affirmation, in her confidence, in her eagerness. Like she has captured what men look for in a woman, and she didn’t even have to show them her boobs. Because perhaps men aren’t really looking for sex, they are looking for welcome. To know that all of you, is there for them.
“I am turned on, and ready to go.”
P.S. And if you are wondering, in the end my husband edited and approved this message. 😉