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Rethinking Godly Sexuality in Your Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
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July 14, 2022 6:00 am

Rethinking Godly Sexuality in Your Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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July 14, 2022 6:00 am

Dr. Juli Slattery recognizes that many couples a poor foundation for understanding God’s design for intimacy — that our sexual relationship is a metaphor for the intimacy God longs to have with each one of us. (Part 1 of 2)

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Today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly were going to address a common longing. Couples have for their marriages, but many most just not sure how to get there topic is not something that we recommend for young children, so please direct your attention elsewhere is yours, Dr. Julie Slattery with an explanation. I need a couple who will really describe sexual intimacy, fulfilling sexual intimacy. I know that couple has been on a long journey of learning to communicate money to forgive each other learn initially to the race line to seek God because it's impossible to achieve that without walking through selfishness and openness John Morgan have many many couples leaning into the to this conversation and I hope some single adults as well because what Julie described right in that clip is the desire of all of our hearts, a lifelong committed marriage where we can celebrate the intimacy that God intended for us and I don't know why but in this modern era. It seems very allusive to get there. A tragically far too many couples aren't experiencing that kind of intimacy and it's a hidden shameful secret in their lives because they don't know how to communicate through the pain and frustration with each other, let alone with a friend, a pastor or some confident person that they can go to if that problem describes where you're at in your relationship where your sexuality feels more painful and broken than healthy.

We have some important help for you today. We certainly do.

Dr. Slattery is with us here today and is a clinical psychologist and the president of authentic intimacy which is a ministry devoted to reclaiming God's design for sexuality. Julie is written a book that will be the basis for conversation today called God six in your marriage and what details in the program notes or give us a call 800 K and the word family. Let me also add John that we have current Christian counselors I want to say that right at the top of the program. So if you're you know being touched deeply by the content were about to discuss. Make sure you get a hold of us. Focus on the Family is equipped because of generous donors to be able to provide these counselors to talk with you and I would encourage take advantage of that. Julie Turney dear former colleague, Julie Slattery spent far too long. It's always good feels like coming home and hanging out with you guys in class. That's a good feeling he had at least for us to have you back so that men were talking about this issue of sexuality and marriage, and Julie. It's not a theoretical topic for you and I so appreciate your own vulnerability in the book you talk a lot about you, Mike. That's so refreshing.

I understand that you and Mike struggled for many years. That's what you mentioned, but maybe 15 years before he started to really figure out how to deal with some of these core issues. That's probably really typical of all of us that maybe longer, 20, 30 years but described that kind of desert and then finding an oasis in your communication where you could really dig in and start dealing with things yeah we did run into some problems early on in our marriage related to sexual intimacy and I think they're pretty common areas, problems, and I think where we really got stuck lives read and have a vision for what sexual wholeness looks like and that's when I found one that is so common for Christian couples is they know God's design for sex. They know it's supposed to be reserved for the covenant of marriage.

But beyond that there kind of like let's normal and is it normal for us to argue that frequency is it normal for us to struggling things from the past. Is it normal for sex not to be pleasurable for one advice and said those are some the things that we were wrestling with. And we really didn't have clear answers of elitist, settle with sex isn't gonna be great or it will always be a source of conflict for us and as you mentioned Jim and it probably wasn't until about 15 years and 10 marriage that God began to show me that there's a much bigger picture here that we didn't see and when you don't know what you're working toward. You really feel stuck if you like. Well I guess this is as good is going to be. Let me go to the bigger 40,000 foot view because Jim and I talked about this is true because as Christians, especially if you gave your life to the Lord as a teenager and you know you stayed pretty true. Maybe perfectly true in this area.

Physical intimacy until he got married and then there's this like weird sweatshirt posters throw on the go from like a total stop at the line and then you get married and then your you're supposed to just be able to know that all of this is good when you've been told it's bad it's not good.

Don't go there.

Don't ever think about it though never looked yeah you go and it's like wow a lot of people, both men and women struggle with this I hear from a lot of women there really struggle with this is so true, and there really is a journey there's a process of discovering like I designed sex to be.

And I think within the Christian community. Traditionally, we focus so much on sexual morality, sexual purity, which are biblical principles, but we didn't teach those within the context of which the bigger picture sex and actually what is it look like to be sexually mature and not just sexually immoral and so the couple that gets married and they're like okay now are married. Now we can enjoy this were not sinning by having sex together but what is it likely to grow in the fullness of the maturity of what God created sex to be. And there's no vision for that.

There's not a vision for its like okay now are good morally or following the rules, but there's still no joy there still no progress in learning to be lovers.

Part of that to its again that long conditioning. Growing up in the church. Perhaps that it's taboo and I guess I want to pull that out to you because how specifically I think for women. They really struggle with how to make the transition and some women probably in her 40s and 50s, and married a long time have still not really been able to fully embrace that God designed us that this is a good thing. In fact, I know you know the dream talking to some of her friends. That's the kind of get very skirmish and you know they just don't even know how to talk about it amongst themselves because it's uncomfortable, it isn't something that is cultural unity. Talk to a woman in her 20s or 30s today and she's less likely to struggle with that because she's grown up in a culture where it's more acceptable to talk about sex you're exposed to sexual things. There's a negative at element to that as well.

I think what you're hitting on Jen. There is so key. What I've learned in the last 10 years administering on sexual issues is that most of us have the wrong picture of like I designed sex to be. And we don't even realize it.

It's like a back story that impacts how we think about sexuality and the metaphor that I use in the book is sex is like a big jigsaw puzzle says you've got like a 2000 piece jigsaw puzzle you have to know what picture you're creating.

You pick up each piece and you say okay what is a skill in the larger picture, but most married couples are actually working with the wrong picture of what he thinks sex should be and there to predominantly Ron pictures that we can work from. One is the one that you mentioned Jim which is all about following the rules.

It's about duty. It's about the fear of getting God angry because of our sexual choices are longings and there is that shame and fear that again as you mentioned is sort of conditions that my sexuality, I guess God created it, but is also somehow shameful because of things I've experienced in the past because of sin that I still feel really guilty about or even just my body. I'm not comfortable with the sexual aspects of my body and so that's one picture that if the couple is looking at, or even the woman or the man is looking at and sing it's all about the rules. There a lot of pieces in your puzzle that aren't going to fit into that picture and see get really confused.

On the other picture that I think is becoming more predominant today is the cultures picture of sex that is filled by pornography and the idea that sex is all about your personal fulfillment. You have to be compatible.

It's always gonna be pleasurable and fine and when it's not something is really wrong and if you're working towards the wrong picture you really don't have a hope of how to make sense of the struggle. And I feel like that's sort of where Mike and I were years ago.

I know that there are couples that are dealing with much deeper things and we've encountered that make this really difficult things like trauma recovering from betrayals, but regardless of what you're walking through God has a beautiful picture for you to be working towards where he can begin to redeem even those really painful pieces it so interesting Julie because sex is a powerful thing.

Yeah, I mean let's face it, it is powerful and it can divide couples would put you in different corners that isolate you potentially overall, the arguments and whatever they might be.

It seems like moving up now if you if that's 40,000 feet what we just talked about you go up spiritually at 50,000 feet. Why do you think Satan has such a heyday in this area and it's one of the things that he uses to create division and something God created to be beautiful and to be within marriage and the two shall become one flesh, and will look out for each other will try to satisfy each other will hopefully put the other before us and all those good things. Satan comes along and just lack lack until we get upset and angry at each other know some couples we know because the contact is her focus don't go months, maybe years, with no more intimacy so angry at each other is so sad that Satan is getting that victory. So speak to that issue of Satan and the enemy of our soul getting involved in this very intimate point is that God's greater force it sick that's great insight. Jim, we have to ask the question why is sexuality under such attack and not just within marriage. We see it under attack in the larger culture and when we step back, we say okay Satan puts his resources where he knows the battle is most important right. Like any military outage yeah and so he sees the important significance of sexuality. He sees the spiritual power sexuality. One thing that I've realized is that sex will never be a neutral issue in your marriage is really their dryer together order Terry apart and I also think that sex will never be in a neutral issue in your relationship with God.

It's either going to be revealing God's goodness, or it also for so many people is a barrier to I can't get close to God, because I'm angry or because I feel shame. Now I can I join in on that was because I'm just thinking of women who are thinking I can even put those two thoughts in the same category. My spiritual development my closeness to God and my sexual life. My husband, are you kidding Julian here Oh yeah. Is that something you hear from women particularly. Yeah, I think women and men.

I think the thing conditioned to think about sexuality and spirituality being in separate categories right so I sexuality sorted this box of who we are that we certainly don't bring to church. We don't it's in the closet. Yeah, we don't pray about it right. We just think, well, that's just part of my humanity. But God doesn't really care too much about that or I'm too ashamed to bring that before him, but in reality what you're getting at, Jim, here is what is the picture on the front of the box for the puzzle and that is the reason why sex is under such attack because it the picture that were supposed to be creating and this is gonna be a paradigm shift for a lot of people is God's relationship with his covenant people.

Right now you're gonna blow my mind right.

God uses this. Yes, parallel to his relationship with a yes kidding. So we had a back up a minute and say is it true that everything God created reveals something about his nature do trees reveal something demands reveal something stars that you cannot read a chapter in Scripture without it referencing apart a physical creation to show us something about God's character and the same is true in the interpersonal world. So God is created to really powerful interpersonal pictures to help us understand his love. One of them is the picture of a father and child.

We see that predominantly through the Bible and the other one is the picture of husband and wife.

And so when we read the Scripture from Genesis all the way through Revelation sexuality and marriage are most often talked about in the context of this being a way to reveal to us how God loves his covenant people. Now that's a really complicated picture. So I think for a lot of people. They just revert to the rules. They revert to the cultures understanding of sexuality without fleshing out or missing something there, like does God's relationship with me actually teach me something about what healthy sex should look like within our marriage, Julie. Let me ask you if a person hears this and now they're uncomfortable you're pushing the button there. What should that indicate to them about Werther Heller thinking about these things because I can imagine some people what will what light you write in first of all, if you're feeling uncomfortable join the club start. I think when I first heard this. It was a real disconnect for me because I been trained for so many years without realizing it. That just don't talk about sex in front of God and certainly he must leave the room when we have sex like he doesn't.

He's not interested in that part of us, which is antithetical to everything you read in Scripture that I think the other piece of that is for a lot of people. Sex is the most painful part of their lives and so they can't reconcile the goodness and love of God with their experience of deep, deep pain or trauma around their sexuality and this is what I encounter the most when I talk about this message is somebody who is been sexually violated in childhood or repeatedly betrayed, sexually, and they'll be like, I can't. I can't even think of God having created sex because then he seems cruel to me because sex is been the source of my greatest pain and so when we talk about sexuality. This is why I love what God has called me to were not just helping marriages get better were helping people address sometimes their most significant barriers to the heart of God. Let me expand on that concept of the uncomfortableness of talking about the soon as I know you been doing the radio program will be some stations that won't want to hear this in one of things I often suggest is one of the reasons Satan is having such success. Unfortunately in this area is because we don't talk about it. We don't talk about it in churches pastors don't really preach about it. Christian radio stations are uncomfortable talking about it and therefore we, hand over the territory. Military description to the enemy because we won't talk about it in a way that is God honoring God intended. So I really applaud you for for your work and what you're doing. I think it's really critically important and would be nice if people say that that little tea party when women are talking about it while I wish my husband. I have the kind of relationship you and Bill have what it is, it should be different should be so positive in a Christian context, we are honoring the Lord in our physical relationship.

This is how you can do it to little really getting up today in your book to God sex in your marriage, your critical of some of the teaching coming from Christian community about saving sex until marriage.

I don't think you mean we need to be more liberal in our sexuality.

Describe what you're getting out there and what is that healthy you got two boys you have children in the same 1920 21. What's the message we should be communicated before marriage. Yeah. Well first of all I don't want to come across as being critical of that message because I'm certainly grateful. Having grown up in a Christian home that I was taught that sex is meant to be for marriage and that has been a blessing to me that's a biblical to yes it is, since we don't want to undo that think what we're pushing on here not just in this book, but in our conversations around Christianity and sexuality is that there is a far bigger picture than just save sex for marriage. That everything has to be within the context of the gospel story and the gospel story is that God created something beautiful.

But we live in a fallen world, our own sin. Other people sin have twisted every good gift. But Jesus came to redeem everything that's been broken and we have to apply that same message to the conversation around sexuality that created sex and gender and all that to be beautiful to be this amazing revelation of his love, but we live in a fallen world, our own sinfulness.

The brokenness of our world means that our experience of that is going to be twisted in one way or another and I really believe all of us have sexual brokenness, even if we save sex for marriage sexuality is broken. But Jesus says bring it to me and let me redeem it now. I think the message that was sort of two short and incomplete, and what we might call purity, culture, and the pastor historic teaching on sex. Just had the rules so we would just look at the passages that say thou shalt not.

We didn't paint the picture of how all this fits within the larger gospel story right of how well broken all of us have sent none of us are righteous, not wine, and we all need to bring that brokenness to Jesus in past. I think we've tried and we haven't done this on purpose, but it's made it seem like some people are broken and some people aren't.

And so that's created a lot of division a lot of shame, hesitation of people admitting their brokenness and bring it to God. It's more than a performance like if you follow the rules.

God's gonna bless you instead of God's relationship with us is about surrender and our behavior comes out of our surrender and his redemption in our life. So that's the shift that I think is so critical for estimate not only as we talk about marriage. But as we address other aspects of sexuality in our culture. Julia think that is so accurate and so encouraging for Christians to bring up to the feet of the cross around. That's where everything should come, but somehow we do kind of think of God as a grandfather figure right no one talk about sex in front of her grandfather created discover that imagery that we have like don't tell him what were doing and he knows exactly what's going on and he made it to be positive to be a good thing Fisher did and the that's the place we need to go to let me let me also ask you to describe God's design for sexual intimacy as covenant love we really need to better understand what you mean, that's were that parallel with AR's love for us what we experience in this life physically really begins to line up. Soon we were actually so what is covenant love in the context of sexual intimacy by that word covenant is something that we don't use often on our world today.

The only time I've heard covenant talked about outside of church was like your HLA covenants. What I thought is to be like that. So when we use this word covenant. I think sometimes they're confused because it's not a common word in our language.

The only way to really understand it. Covenant is to contrast it to what you typically have, which is a contract we know how to do contract in our world and most of us get married with a contract mentality, even if we don't realize that we think as long as this marriage is fulfilling to me and I'm all in. As long as my spouse is meeting my needs as long as he makes me look good. As long as our sexual relationship is fulfilling. Sounds like a scorecard and it's a deal.

It's a bargain and again I don't think any of us go to the altar, thinking that where bargaining but even our dating system is about trying to pick somebody who any in the economy of romance that Manny you really one there.

You got it, they could deal there, like we get married because this person is supposed to make me better and happier. And then we hit a roadblock. It's like that covenant gets challenged because we cannot think contract or covenant. I would covenant is loving with your character. It's loving because you promise to and that's the beautiful thing about how God loves us. If God had a contract with me, I'd be in big trouble if I have a contract with him that I only love you as long as my bank accounts full and I stay healthy. Then we don't have a long-term relationship and this is what so significant about marriage is.

It's the one relationship that God created to stretch towards that kind of love that is based on faithfulness in character and promise, and it's why marriage is so difficult and also why it's so important to fight for my grief.

I want to make sure we cover your comment about Deuteronomy 65 which is the first and greatest commandment. If you been in the church and the length of time you know this, of course, which is to love God with all our heart or soul might have a sick commandment relate to our sexuality and marriage the way it relates is that commandment is telling us to be undivided people to not have one area of my life that isn't surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and I found in my own journey as well as in ministry. That sexuality is often an area that isn't surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. And I don't just mean following the rules. I mean having territory of your heart that is never been to surrendered amine wounds that you hold onto instead of bringing to the healing power of Jesus conversations that need to be had, that are closeted conflicts that we need to work through confessing our sin to one another and because we don't talk about sex in church.

We haven't learned how to integrate guide and his power in his truth and his love into our sexuality so we just kind of do it on her own. Like when I speak to married couples on this issue will often ask, raise your hand. How many of you regularly pray together about your sex life and typically it's about 10% of married couples, and these are Christians there coming to a marriage conference you getting at preselected sample and even sell 90% of them never think to pray about their sex life because we don't integrate guide into it and so this commandment in Deuteronomy, which is really what Jesus said is the greatest commandment is I want to be part of every nook and cranny of your life. Every hidden secret.

Every wound, every struggle, and when we start living that out, and married sexuality. It's a game changer. Julie, I mean it's like pins and needles quiet about their people are listening.

This is such a sensitive area for every everybody you're married or not married, that's were we have the least amount of conversation. I would suggest not the healthiest guidance either because the cultures just, you know, pounding away at images and messaging about how we should think about sex and it permeates not just the culture of the church to unfortunately and are so much more to talk about. We've just started when I looked up and went while Raleigh through want to come back next time.

If you can stay with us and talk more about this great topic.

I think in a profound topic sex in your marriage and again you've done such a brilliant job. I'm just grateful that you taken this on this, your life's call to help so many couples do so much better in this area so we do that quickly gone with in the meantime, get a copy of Dr. Julie Slattery's great book God sex in your marriage. We have copies of that here at the ministry and/or phone call away. One 800 K in the ward family, or check the show notes for the length just like we often say if you can send a gift or sign up as our way of saying thank you for another great way to partner with you today as you can. Copy of this great book hundred 80 family or traditional notes for the behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back next time. As we continue the conversation, your family, thrive, you know, nearly 60% of American adults don't have a will in place a big number and having a will can leave a heavy burden for family left behind if you need a well but don't know where to begin. Let Focus on the Family help download our resource. 15 questions to ask when preparing a well it's our gift to my well that's my well

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