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

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
July 15, 2022 6:00 am

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

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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July 15, 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 2 of 2)

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Today on Focus on the Family, we're going to be returning to a common challenge that can leave husbands and wives frustrated, ashamed, and even heartbroken about their relationship. The following conversation about intimacy in marriage isn't suitable for younger listeners.

We do recommend you redirect their attention elsewhere. Your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly, and I'm John Fuller. John, we had a very important and frank conversation with Julie last time, and really discussed why so many Christian couples struggle in this area of intimacy. I mean, not to load guilt onto all of us, but it is a struggle, and we don't seem to have a healthy understanding of God's design for sexuality within marriage. And I'm so grateful that Dr. Slattery has written this wonderful new book, God, Sex, and Your Marriage. I mean, you even blurt the title out. You kind of go, okay, is anybody going to respond to that? You can't say those things in the same sentence, God, sex, and your marriage.

I mean, those are three whammies. But it is so critically important for us to talk about this because, again, we should be the role models for how God intended this. And I'm looking forward to the conversation. If you missed the conversation last time, go to the website.

You can download the Focus app for your smartphone, and that way you've got the whole inventory of radio programs you can listen to. So I'd encourage you to listen to the conversation last time as we talk about this topic again today. And for our YouTube viewers, just go back and find the previous conversation right there so you can watch it. Do contact us if we can offer any advice, insights, or follow-up with regard to what Dr. Slattery shared last time and to get your copy of the book, God, Sex, and Your Marriage. Our number is 800, the letter A in the word family.

Or stop by the show notes for the link. Julie, it's great to have you back. Thanks for having me. Always good to be with you. Yeah, it's fun. It's fun to catch up with you. And Mike's in the audience, so everything you say has to be true. That's right. He's doing an audit, even as we speak.

He's nodding up and down or back and forth. I don't know. But it's so much fun. Last time, we talked about covenant love, which is a great reminder of what God intended.

So for those that missed last time, why don't we just start there. Quick recap on what covenant love is. So covenant love is best contrasted to a contract, which is how we usually think about marriage, how we think about friendship.

As long as this is working for me, we're good. Yeah, kind of if-then proposals. If you meet my needs, then the contract works. And I feel like in Christian marriage, like we have long suffering contracts. So we'll put up with a lot more than we will with our friends. But there's still a limit and we apply that to sexuality as well. So as long as my needs are getting met, I'll be long suffering for a season. But this is really about it being mutually beneficial. And if things get too difficult, then maybe we should consider getting out of this marriage. Well, and covenant love is really, hey, till death do us part, right? Until there's nothing that's going to break this bond and we need to continually work on making things better for each of us, right?

Is that fair? It is. We talked last time about how the picture of healthy sexuality is God's covenant love. And even if you think of the words of Jesus and of God saying, I will never leave you or forsake you.

Nothing can separate me from your love. Imagine if a husband and wife said that to one another and they meant it. Yeah, that's the spirit of covenant.

Yeah, that is really good in that that is the concept. And that is why the Lord uses this area of marriage as the metaphor to his relationship with us. That faithfulness, even to the point of faithfulness.

That's what this is about. It is faithful to me, your Lord. You know, not in how you may not be faithful in your marriage, but that's the metaphor.

It is saying, are you all in for me? Right. So the idea is that as we're working on sex within marriage, we should be learning about the nature of God's love for us. And likewise, as we grow in our walk with God and understand more aspects of his love, we then apply that to every aspect of marriage, including sexuality. Julie, you've identified four pillars or qualities of that covenant love you just described. What are the four pillars? And let's talk about.

Sure. Yeah, this was really helpful for me personally, Jim. Not just to say big picture, my marriage is supposed to be like covenant love, but to drill down into what does that practically mean? And as I look at the scripture and our journey with God, there are aspects of his covenant love that are really tangible and applicable to sexuality within marriage. So the four pillars are, first of all, faithfulness, that our relationship with God is built on a promise of faithfulness. That's the nature of that covenant. The second pillar is intimate knowing that the whole purpose of our covenant with God is that we might have deep fellowship with him. So you don't just get married to follow the rules. The purpose of marriage, one of them is that you grow in deep intimacy.

And that's true of sexuality. The third pillar is sacrificial giving, that our relationship with God is even possible because of what he gave to us so sacrificially. And my love for him is demonstrated in how I lay down my life for my Lord every day.

That's what I'm called to do. And so in the marriage relationship and sexual relationship, that's a component is how are we self-giving? How are we sacrificial with each other? And then the fourth pillar, which is a beautiful one, is passionate celebration.

If you've ever met a Christian who follows all the rules and is dutiful but has no joy, there's something wrong. Part of our intimacy with God should be celebration and thanksgiving, even in the difficult times. And that transfers over into sexual intimacy as well. That a healthy sex life, because of those other three pillars, has reason to be celebratory and passionate.

Let's dig into them. So faithfulness, you're saying, is kind of the core core. Describe how that fits into the intimacy in marriage, why faithfulness is so critical. Faithfulness is the foundation of everything else. So if you don't have faithfulness in your marriage, you can't have intimate knowing, sacrificial giving is going to be skewed, and passionate celebration is going to be short-lived.

Yeah. So faithfulness is the parameter. Like, that's key. One thing I've realized is that your character is the most important thing about your sex life. If you don't have character, you can't build a long-term satisfying sex life. So that's, you know, I feel like sometimes we want to just say, oh, faithfulness is for some couples that struggle with this.

No, every married person needs to grow in faithfulness. And it's not just about I won't cheat on my spouse. Faithfulness means I'm going to be a safe person for you. You can trust me.

My character is reliable and trustworthy. And it plays out in a lot of different ways. Yeah, that is so good. In fact, in the book, you talked about you and Mike struggling in the early part of your marriage. And Mike said something to you, I think on your honeymoon. Yes, he did. When you were struggling right from the get-go.

What did he say and why did that mean so much to you? So we started off our honeymoon and were unable to consummate our marriage because of physical pain on my part. And so we went a few days like this and we were both so disappointed. And at that point, I think starting to sort of turn against each other, like this is your fault.

No, this is your fault. Like, you know how that happens when you're hurt and disappointed. And we were staying in this kind of one bedroom log cabin so we couldn't really get away from each other.

We each went to our corners of the cabin. And then I noticed that Mike was reading his Bible, which was a good sign. I'm glad he's reading his Bible. I don't think I was reading mine. But he came over to me after a little while and he just said, you know, Julie, I know this is disappointing.

I'm disappointed too. But I just want you to know I'm not going anywhere. We have our whole lives to figure this out. And that was so significant to me because he was putting a huge brick in the foundation of faithfulness in our marriage. He was making me feel safe and that he wasn't angry with me.

He wasn't blaming me that he was looking towards the future. And so when we talk about faithfulness, the issues of pornography and infidelity are huge. But I think we also can't neglect that faithfulness is about the person I am.

And am I becoming a safe and trustworthy person? Yeah. Intimate knowing is the second pillar. You describe in the book the Old Testament Hebrew word Yadda. Describe what Yadda is and why that caught your attention. So Yadda is the Hebrew word that is often used to describe sexual intimacy between a husband and wife. So even in Genesis, it says Adam Yadda Eve. And it means to intimately know. And so it's sort of an allusion to they knew each other sexually. But that word Yadda in the Hebrew Old Testament is used over 940 times.

Wow. But most often it's used to describe the intimate knowing that God has with his people. So in Psalm 139 when David says, you know, you know me, you know the word is on my tongue before I speak it. He's using that word Yadda over and over again.

How wonderful are your works? I Yadda that full well. Really the deepest intimacy.

Right. Or when Moses is saying, I want to see your glory, he uses that word Yadda. God, I want to know your glory like a husband knows a wife. And so if you were reading the Old Testament Hebrew, which I don't know much Hebrew, but I know this word. You would be reminded continually that the deepest intimacy of a husband and wife is a reflection of the deep intimacy God wants to have with his covenant people. I mean, that even to know that it was used so many times, you know, and that's what again, we don't want to recognize these parallels for some reason that God is saying, I want to know you like, you know, your spouse physically.

I mean, it's like, wow. OK, that's where you bring that all into the sacred. I was intrigued by something else you mentioned in the book that for many couples, sex is nothing more than what you called a sanctified hookup. You describe what you meant there and how Christian couples may be missing the greater value if it's just a physical thing. Yeah, boy, I think this is true of a lot of couples, because if you even think of the paradigm that we we enter into marriage with, it's I have these lusts, I have these passions.

Finally, I have a place to channel them. God has given me a husband or a wife. And so it becomes about our bodies having a physical exchange that we negotiate and we're checking the box. And this is why compatibility feels like it has so much pressure in the average marriage. I got married to have these needs met.

Therefore, I expect that they be met. And we're just connecting physically without realizing that that's not intimacy. That's just being sexually active sometimes.

And I think this is really common, particularly when there's been pornography involved. You're physically connecting with your spouse, but your mind and your heart are not even there. You have your thoughts. Your spouse has their thoughts.

You don't know how to talk. You're not sharing the journey. And this is where I say you might be technically following the rules, but you're not working towards what God intended your sex life to be because he created it for intimacy. Julie, keeping with this pillar of intimate knowing, and again, we just covered faithfulness.

This is number two, intimate knowing. You mentioned dry seasons in a marriage where you may go for a period of time with no physical intimacy. Now, I've often thought that's not healthy. You're saying that could be good for you. OK, so go ahead and tell me. Well, it depends on why. So when a couple is just drifting away and there's no sexual activity, there's no movement towards that, I'd say that's a bad thing. There are seasons, certainly, when you might be going through stress or grief where you just don't have the time and energy.

Yes, there are seasons, but those should not be long seasons. And a key to that is talking about it so that it's not misinterpreted by the spouse. You know, that, hey, I'm just I got a lot of stress. I'm just not there right now.

Give me a few days here. Something like that, right? But when they don't talk about it, that could be really dangerous. But what I mean by this is that for most couples, they think about how often we're having sex. So we haven't had sex in six months or three weeks. It's that conversation of the activity. Are we checking a box?

And that's all they think to ask about. But what scripture is really calling us to is a continual pursuit of sexual intimacy. And there are seasons where even in order to build intimacy, you have to let go of some of the activity. Now, what do I mean by this?

Let me give you an example. Let's say you have a woman who has experienced significant trauma in her past. And so she gets married and sex, the act of intercourse is triggering for her. But she keeps saying, this is important, so I'm going to make sure we have sex. But every time they have sex, she feels in some ways objectified. She might feel re-traumatized and her husband loves her and can't figure out why she can't enjoy this. Well, there's deep woundedness that doesn't go away because you get married. And so then what happens is there's this deep conflict where they don't know how to talk through these issues. He feels rejected.

She feels bad. A couple like that might need to say, hey, let's get a time out and get some help and really look at how trauma from the past is interfering with us building intimacy. Because God's design is for mutual pleasure. It's for sharing.

It's for communication. And this couple is stuck. And so sometimes they can be so focused on, we have to have sex once a week or three times a week, that they're actually working against building intimacy, against healing, against communication, against freedom. So that's what I mean by there are seasons where it can be healthy to not focus on the activity, but instead, and this is key, instead focus on building intimacy. I think that's also the case when there's been a pornography addiction or a betrayal in order to really build intimacy. You have to address that. You can't just say, well, let's forget it happened. You have to go to the wounds. You have to go to the breach of trust and rebuild it before you can really engage.

Let's move to the third one, sacrificial love. I'm not sure if this connects, but one of the things that you and I have talked about in the past. Gary Thomas, we've talked to him about it, but you look in generally couples tend to not always.

And believe me, I hear from the folks that it doesn't fit. But the 80-20 rule is we tend to marry people who are opposite us in many ways, extroverts marry introverts. And I think in part it's a beautiful scriptural truth that, you know, we're looking for the complement of our where we're not strong.

Right. But those can be the things that really drive us crazy over the long haul in marriage. How does that apply in our sexual differences? You know, so if that's true of the milk chocolate and the dark chocolate couple, how does that work in our sexuality? Well, it's a reality that most of us are going to marry somebody with whom we're sexually incompatible.

Well, that's encouraging. I tell Christian singles that because they'll ask me, you know, why shouldn't we sleep together before we get married? Don't we want to know if we're compatible?

And I'm like, hey, let me just ruin it for you. You will be incompatible. You don't need to test.

Yes. Like even if even when you're dating, if you think you're compatible, you get married and you married a very different person with a different approach to sexuality, with different hormones, with different body parts. And so there's a natural incompatibility built into marriage. When my husband and I were wrestling with some of this incompatibility in my marriage, there was a season where I was really frustrated. And I would say I wanted to ask God, like, why would you give us this gift and then keep us from enjoying it because we're so incompatible?

But he began to show me that actually some of that incompatibility is part of the gift, that that's part of the blessing. Like, were Adam and Eve incompatible before the fall? You know, could it be that Adam was like, hey, let's yada and Eve said, I want to go for a walk and talk first? Probably.

I can almost guarantee that. So if that was before sin, then that must be part of God's good design. And it is part of God's good design because it means you can't be sexually fulfilled unless you learn to be unselfish. God wants us to love like he loves. And that means love has to cost us something.

And I think the average Christian comes into marriage expecting that God is going to give me and my spouse all of my needs met and they get angry, frustrated, disappointed when sexual love actually begins to cost them something. You know, in this area, Julie, again, I'm going to be kind of stereotypical and I don't mean to offend anybody, but oftentimes a woman can build up a lot of angst here because it becomes duty. You know, my Christian duty, I don't enjoy it or whatever the issue is or, you know, he wants it too frequently. And so I just do my dutiful thing. I'm putting the emphasis in there on purpose because I think it connects with women's hearts that that is inside how some feel, you know, just what I've got to do. But speak to that sacrificial love again to make sure we cover it correctly. I think you and Mike even had some experience there.

I think you had three young boys. You weren't feeling exactly in the mood. Right.

And you had to grapple with this. And I think it's a great illustration for a lot of wives about what to do. Part of the reason that we think that way is because we've been taught that way. I've been in many sermons and conferences where the message is women, you have the duty to fulfill your husband's sexual needs. And there's a veiled threat there that if you don't, he's more likely to cheat on you or to look at pornography. And this comes out of a misapplication and a misunderstanding of something that Paul wrote in the letter of First Corinthians. And I think it's really key that we grapple with what is this passage in First Corinthians seven actually mean in the context of the whole story and picture of what God designed marital sexuality to be. So when there's this idea of a duty and I hate that word because it's been so misunderstood. What God is really calling us to is he's saying in marriage, you have an obligation to minister to each other sexually.

Now, that's a very big difference. So let's say if we're going with the stereotype, which isn't always the case, that the husband has a higher sexual desire. Well, not only is his wife called to be a form of ministry to him, to walk with him in that journey.

But he's first, if we read First Corinthians seven, called to minister to her sexually. Now, her sexual needs might not mean I want to have sex three or four times a week. Could be emotional.

It could be. I need you to minister to my woundedness. Or I need you to make me feel so safe that I can discover who I am as a sexual person.

I need you to not put pressure on me. And so when the husband and wife are both embracing that God is calling me to minister to my spouse in this very sacred area, they begin to have very different expectations and communication. But the way it's been applied has been one sided and it's only focused on the activity of sex, not the deeper aspect of ministering and intimacy. Let's cover that last and final pillar, passionate celebration, probably the best of the four, right? Yeah. This idea that, OK, this is good. It depends who you ask.

It is good. I think a lot of women say they like the intimate knowing of us. Of course.

But cover passionate celebration. Boy, how God has designed our bodies is amazing. And I know people are uncomfortable with us using these words, but God created the orgasm. It was his idea. God created the nerve endings.

He crafted those. And again, even as I say that, some of you are. Please don't write. Yes. But but give me a reason.

No, it's true. Why he didn't create like he did that for all of it. He made it to be celebratory and passionate and feeling good. And he says to be intoxicated with sexual love, which is being drunk with sexual love.

Like this was his idea. Read the Song of Solomon, which is curious. It's the only book in the Bible that is about a human relationship. Every other book is ultimately about a relationship with God.

This is the only one that focuses on a human relationship. God didn't choose parenting to write about. He didn't just choose marriage. He chose sexual intimacy within marriage and the pleasure of sexual intimacy in marriage. And so this has a high priority in the scriptures, but we don't know how to understand it.

We've seen it so twisted in our culture that we don't know how to see God reclaim and redeem that. Yeah. And that's why we're here today. You know, Julie, I think as we close, obviously there's degrees of brokenness in this area of life. And generally we're speaking to the couples that maybe are just on autopilot.

They're going through the motions, but it doesn't have the full understanding of what we've talked about. To a degree, if a couple is in a desperate situation, that's where they need to call us as a starting point to get counseling help. And we can refer people to counselors in their area and get even more help in that way. Where there's greater brokenness, I guess, is the way to say it. So we want to encourage everybody.

A wonderful place to start, of course, is with your book. But right at the end here, what is that word for the couple? She's hearing you. She's going, OK, Julie, you got me.

That's where I've been living. Sanctified physical relationship. You know, I don't I don't get it.

I don't really enjoy it. It's my duty. I mean, everything you've said is connected. Now, what do I do? What do you say to her and him? Yeah, I say every one of us needs to take a step and that step might be different. As you mentioned, for some, it might be calling focus on the family and saying we need help.

But for some of us and this has been my step at different seasons. God, I am going to pray about my sex life for the next three months. I'm going to be devoted to asking you to give me wisdom, to help me and my spouse communicate and connect and invite you into this space in my heart. Every single one of us can do that, can say, Lord, show me the next step, redeem the brokenness. And I don't know where you are in your journey, but God just wants to be part of it. And he wants you to take that next step.

Yes, so good. I hope people will respond to that. You don't be embarrassed. We're here. We've been in ministry for over 40 years. We want to help you.

So call. I mean, why struggle in silence in this area? Let's be triumphant.

It sounds amazing, but let's really live like the Lord intended us to live in the area of sexuality in our marriages. Julie, thanks for your vulnerability again. I mean, you write so well and you talk about your own shortcomings in such a way that people are drawn to what you say because of that vulnerability. I also have to say thank you to you because you guys did a lot of training me here on the family. So I feel like you're part of everything I'm doing. Yeah, that's really cool. But I would encourage you to do the first thing.

Maybe get a copy of Julie's book. You can do that directly through Focus on the Family. It's an honor to do that, to put it into your hands. If you can make a gift of any amount, we'll send it as our way of saying thank you. If you can't afford it, we'll get it into your hands.

I mean, we're about ministry here, so don't let the finances keep you from a better sex life in your marriage. Call us. We'll get it out to you.

We'll trust others. We'll cover the cost of that. Yeah, donate as you can.

Maybe a little extra so others can also get a copy of this great book, God, Sex, and Your Marriage. Our number is 800, the letter A in the word family, 800-232-6459. Or stop by the website.

The link is in the show notes. We hope you'll have a great weekend with your family and with your church family as well. And plan to join us on Monday for an insightful conversation with Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend about finding the balance between your marriage and your in-laws.

The spouse who's got the intrusive mother-in-law has got to have the talk and say, I love you guys, but I prefer my spouse as she comes number one or he comes number one above you. And I've got to put them first. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ. Focus on the Family can help you prepare. Join us every Monday to hear inspiring stories from people who faced their own pro-life moments and experienced God's love. To learn more, go to focusonthefamily.com slash Seize Your Moment. www.focusonthefamily.com slash Seize Your Moment.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-24 07:21:04 / 2023-03-24 07:32:19 / 11

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