Calling all husbands and wives – “Does Your Marriage Need a Different Sexual Lens?”
Josh recently shared this question through a thoughtful article on the Regeneration Ministries website. And today, Josh and Kit are unpacking what it means so you can experience sex in a better way with your spouse.
Our culture tends to put expectations sex – what it should look like, what you should look like, how you should feel, when it should happen, even how often it should happen. Sex is all about what you get out of it.
In this conversation, we’re hoping to shift our gaze from what the world tells us about sex and ask our Creator what He means it to be instead.
That’s where the shift comes in.
The different lens we’re exploring transfers sex from self-serving opportunity to an opportunity to give of yourself. When you strip away the societal constructs to allow yourself to be naked in more than a physical way; you are then able to gift yourself to your spouse in a way that brings freedom and love and appreciation. The world entangles insecurity into sex.
Allow the challenge in this episode to invite depth and vulnerability and delight for you and your spouse.
If Christians begin to practice thinking and talking about sex as a form of self-giving love, that’s what sex is designed to be.
This is my body given for you – given is the operative word
What does it lookIf Sex is an act of self-giving love, then tonight we didn’t reach climax but I’m going to love you where you are tonight. I’m going to love you in this space.
Lay down the comparison of friends’ marriages or sex lives.
Pray and practice against Coveting. The words “If Only” can be like flags warning that you are wanting what others have; be aware and take notice of what you have in your spouse and in your marriage.
Take notice and ask yourself: What is our marriage like? How are we uniquely ourselves in this marriage?
Practice delighting in your spouse (laying aside criticism and comparison); what about your spouse first attracted you? What attracts you now? Be aware of parts of him/her, things about their voice and personality. Then share it with him/her.
Click for Full Podcast Transcription
Josh, you wrote a blog, entitled, does your marriage need a different sexual lens. And after I read it, while I was reading it, I really resonated with so much or actually felt challenged or refreshed, or, you know, just really enjoyed it. And thought it was very thought-provoking, so much so that I asked my husband, you know, can you and I read that? And can we talk about that? And so we did, and we had a really good conversation. And so we want to have a conversation about that today. Do our marriages need a different sexual lens? So what if you would wear what was it in you that said, I want to write about that, you know, what stirred in you and to create that desire in you?
You know, it was actually it was it’s more of a sense that I have I think, as I listen and kind of watch people talking, engaging about sex in our culture, something just wasn’t sitting right with me. And and I, it’s still kind of hard for me to articulate it. But but on some level, it seems to me when I in the in the shows you watch the movies, we see the stories that are written. And even as Christians talk about their their sex lives within marriage, I hear little hints that suggest that people are viewing sex as though it is something unto itself. It is an end goal it is. It is a prize. And even so in marriage, a husband wife might say, you know, we enjoy sex together, or we had sex together. But But if you unpack that more, there’s there’s almost, I mean, I wrote before about this even, there’s almost a sense sometimes, if you listened closely that people kind of talked about it as though it’s, there’s a husband, there’s a wife, and there’s something else also there’s something else, between them. And yes. So that’s, that’s what prompted initially. Yeah,
yeah. And so I think that, um, it created in me, and in my, in our conversation, just we kind of took pause and said, So are there times when we approach it like that it’s something we’re doing, it’s something we’re trying to accomplish something we’re trying to get something out of, versus Is this a way that we just want to be free and feel free to love our spouse? You know, to in the fullest sense, you know, in the marriage bed, you know, and in nakedness, and that it’s not about what’s going to happen. What’s the thing that’s we’re going to pursue, but more What is? Where’s love going to lead us?
Yeah, yeah. And that’s, that’s that, that my Yeah, what I was proposing in the blog is idea of shifting from any way that we might view sex as an end unto itself. And there are lots of versions of that, from the, you know, the person who’s looking at pornography, which is not about another person so much as my own selfish sexual gratification, to it within the marriage bed, where it can still be about one’s own selfish sexual gratification, and almost like we were, we’re just using each other to achieve that pleasure. And maybe there’s consent, and maybe there’s mutual understanding that this is what we’re each doing in this place. And but I think we can do better. I think that that and that’s not to minimize the pleasure, the joy of stacks. But it is to say that, I think a better goal is if Christians begin to practice thinking and talking about sex as a form of self giving love. That’s, that’s what sex is designed to be. This is husband saying to his wife, this is my body given for you. It is a wife, Sandra husband, this is my body given for you. And given us is the operative word. There are one of the operative words, because it’s it is about this is not about what I’m going to get from you. This is about me being here for you and for your good.
Yeah. And that’s just so beautiful. I mean, if that was really our deepest heart’s desire, I mean, I think what I appreciate what you’re saying is, when you said we can do better, I think we can do better, because there isn’t anything wrong with the desire to satisfy our spouse to enjoy our spouse. But if we could realize that there’s a deeper reality here. And what it made me think of Josh was, you know, how we’re always surprised. I’m always surprised how my intimacy with Jesus deepens, month after month, year after year, like there’s always this deeper place with him. And so, isn’t that true? And so I would imagine then, that God created that to be true for us in our marriages. So how could we Look at that, how can we how do we have a richer, deeper understanding of intimacy with our spouse?
And I think I think that that lens helps to, to remove a lot of the stumbling blocks that even Christian married couples run into in their sexual relationships. Like, you know, say there’s a just an example. So a couple who’s just gotten married, this is their wedding night. And there are fears about and I know that that Christian couples experienced this there, there’s fears of performance, will I be able to, quote unquote, satisfy my new bride or my new husband? Will I be able to bring her to climax? Will I be beautiful to him, I mean, all those things, I think are centered around this kind of this, this concept of I sexist, but I’m supposed to give him something as opposed to I’m giving him myself and I’m supposed to give her some things as opposed to getting her myself. Once we start saying like, this is an act of self love, we have to then begin acknowledging the reality that like I’m giving you an imperfect gift. Yeah. And, and we are engaged as two individual people trying to know and love each other with our differences. And so, you know, like, or another example would be, you know, the, the husband wife, where the wife is struggling to the husband, wife struggle with different different cycles, you know, that the husband typically can climax, so much quicker than a wife and some marriages, the wife really struggles. And that can be a point of great anxiety for the wife, and a source of anxiety or difficulty for the husband as well. If sex is the goal, if that climax is the goal, that’s what we’re here for, then that then that embrace that night is either a success or a failure, and then the husband or wife can think I succeeded or failed, as opposed to if if sex is an act of self giving love, then tonight, we didn’t reach climax. But we look, I’m gonna love you where you are tonight. We’re going to love each other in this space tonight. I think I think it just it makes it, it lowers the pressure in some ways. in other ways, it sets the bar much, much higher.
Yes, yes. I really, I really love it. I think that I think it does take a lot of pressure off. And I think it does open up the possibilities of loving each other well, so and i don’t think that that is something we understand very well, I think it is so typical to feel a sense of pressure, you know, that there has to be this, we have to do this right. And we have to, you know, accomplish something. And if we don’t, then then we failed. And that right, there is just wrong thinking isn’t it? understandable, but it’s just wrong thinking?
I think so. I mean, like, Can you think of any other area of marriage that we that we hold out that same way? I mean, like, you know, can you clean the kitchen tonight? Um, you know, I’m gonna come check on you and see if you, you know, how was it?
Did you satisfy my checklist? Did you do it? Everything right? Did? Yeah, right. We need to Looking At Sex in a New Way.
We had we had a conversation at dinner tonight. Like, was it the best ever? You know, it was great. Was it as good as last time you know it? Like, you know, you think of a better conversationalist than when we first met? You know, I mean, there’s like, we don’t, we don’t get to know that we were just we’re in that moment. And I think in those other places, we can also recognize seasons of life. You know, I have a hard day, and it was shut down. We’re at dinner tonight. And, and you you love me? Well, when you just let me be there. And I think we can if we can transfer the things into the marriage bed to it. I think it opened up some more lines of just understanding and connection and yeah, no kit like what what why do you think sex became this kind of unique? I don’t know. Third thing this as opposed to being understood in a way as this is, this is an expression of love me giving myself to you, you’re giving something yourself to me?
Well, you know, I think there’s a lot of insecurity I get when you were talking, I was thinking ash, you know, as much as it looks like we’re saying, Oh, I want to satisfy you, I want to but it’s also about us, like, I’ll feel better. If I satisfy you. I’ll feel better if it was really good. So we come into that to the whole idea of sex and marriage and lovemaking with an idea that somehow I’m going to prove myself and get some value and some work through it instead of just here I am. being authentic, being real, being fragile, being tender, you know, it’s that vulnerability isn’t something that I think we are, talk very much about or learn much about.
Yeah, you’re putting your finger on. I think that word vulnerable vulnerability is that’s key because I think you’re right, you know, doing the dishes. There’s not vulnerability the same way their conversation there’s maybe some vulnerability there depending what you’re talking about but not necessarily the same level but but with with lovemaking. You’re talking about you know, naked husband naked wife in this you know, nothing between them kind of embrace and, and maybe that’s even part of the temptation towards making sex that third thing is it’s you know that then then that can be the topic not me not. But But I think understanding that also if we if we continue to try to look through that lens of self giving, I think the other thing that does then is we if we bring in vulnerability to that, now, we also have that an added situation where we are challenged to receive the others love in our most vulnerable place. Yeah. And so I’m, I’m, I’m not able to be all that I want for you, or I wish I could, could love you better or I wish I was less selfish or, or I wish I was younger, or I wish I looked more like some model. I mean, I think that’s a whole nother conversation but and yet you love me. And so yeah, that that vulnerability actually can open us up then to it to even a greater experience of our spouse’s love. Yeah. And the greater expression which ultimately sex is meant to be, of what is divine love look like in my utter nakedness, my good, I bring the bad I bring the selfishness I bring the self I bring, God sees me completely naked, and I don’t need to be ashamed. He loves me, he loves me, he loves me.
And I think that’s a core issue. Because how many of us could say that we don’t have self doubt, or insecurity about how we look? You know, like, Who? Like, so we bring that and we’re like, you know, sorry, and wish I and maybe I can, maybe I can, if I do this, maybe you’ll see me like that. And you know, all of that. And if there could be a way for us to really soothe each other in that and say, No, that’s that. That’s not what I’m not what I’m looking for looking for something much deeper, that would be an incredible gift to give each other.
And I should say, for the record, that writing the blog, that you’re referring to talking about this conversation today, like I have a vision for this, I don’t, this is not something that I’ve mastered, I don’t think that I do this perfectly by any stretch of imagination. And it’s a journey I think we’re all on. And so I think it would be good in the last few minutes, we have this podcast and maybe talk about some of the reality of our failures, or people’s failures in this and maybe some of the realities of God’s grace in this. And if there are any practical steps that we might kind of tease out of how can a couple married couple who’s, who wants to love each other better in the marriage bed, move forward in this way, and in a way that could be really helpful for them.
We know the first thought that comes to my mind, I am hoping that this is consistent with what you’re trying to get at. But I thought of my own self consciousness. And if I could let go of that, you know, and not be thinking about what’s he thinking about how I look, and that I would be somewhat I’m not present. I’m not present, like I want to be present not thinking about that. But just thinking about I want to be present, looking into his eyes, and receiving his gaze into my not thinking about all that other stuff of my own my own insecurity, my own self consciousness. And so how do we just allow ourselves to accept, accept ourselves, this is what I look like, this is how old I am. This is it. And Lord, you, you know, it’s, this is good and beautiful to you. And so it’s good and beautiful. And let me think about it that way.
So it said practicing laying down self consciousness, I think is gonna be a corollary to that certainly would be and I hate that we have to say but we do would be just to how this I think underscores how important it is that husbands and wives are not looking elsewhere, that there as much as possible laying down the comparison game. And the coveting game, you know, if my husband were more if my wife were more this or that even even being aware in Christian circles, about conversations about, you know, sexual relationships between husbands and wives, that there is a variety of temperaments, timetables, that kind of thing. So it’s
Yes, again, the goal is not mean so just the comparison there like you know, the husband, not trying to throw husbands under the bus. I know this can go both directions. But so if a husband is for example, has a habit of lusting, it’s going to be very difficult for him, to have his mind fully focused on giving himself to his wife that this is the one I’m trying I’m seeking a love. And but, but laying his lust aside and doing what he can to lay last aside then can also makes the that marital embrace a safer place for her because she’s not being measured against somebody else this is either for her and her alone. In a similar way a wife might, you know, hear her friend talking about, you know, that has been took me out to take me out to dinner once a week to a fancy restaurant. And you know, we have sex three times a week on a schedule, and it’s wonderful and blah, blah. Well, you know, a couple makes a lot more than we do. And I can’t afford to take you out each week, and we got seven kids at home and he’s a very different man than me. And so the objective isn’t like, I want you to be something, I want you to bring me something else as opposed like, this is my opportunity to love you. I meet you here. Yes. So So laying down a comparison game, I think is
so huge, being able to say what’s our marriage? Like, what’s how are we uniquely, you know, ourselves in this marriage, it doesn’t matter what other people do, what matters is what we do, what we choose what we want, and really feeling free to have a vision for that, you know, an understanding of mutual understanding like that, you know, this is good for us to decide and to let grow. And I think that’s really important. So it’s the comparison thing. And then also just like, you know, having a vision saying this is our marriage, hey, we get to do we get to, like figure this out together, grow in this together. And that’s exciting.
Yeah, I think another practical would be practicing delighting in your spouse as an active practice, yeah. The old marriage vows are how do they go? there? I the worship, which is really grates against our our idolatry sensibilities these days, but but I think the concept was, I delight in you. And so we’re, we’re lost with say, I’m looking for a certain type. No. Love says, I’m looking for you. And so what do I delight in you? Yeah, the the the certain curves and spaces that you know, how you look, specifically, the parts of you that specifically delight me. Yeah, the things about your personality and your voice, your temperament that specifically delight me. And that does mean, also making the choice sometimes to lay aside the criticism of parts that don’t delight as much, you know, because because an embracing those as a part of the whole and put a point on it, like, you know, I wouldn’t trade these aspects of you that I delight in to get rid of the other pieces. Because everybody’s a human. We all have, we have just places where we don’t connect the places that we do. I love you. So yeah.
Yeah. And to and to really pay attention to what do I delight in and to pay attention to sharing that?
Yeah. Yeah, those are good things.
One, one final one that was very practical and kind of poignant, I think, is, and this is, I don’t have a I get to think more about it to get it more practical. But I think in the marital embrace during sex between husband or wife, I think it’s, it’s really helpful just to keep in mind that although you may not do it perfectly, you aren’t doing it perfectly, most likely. seeking for how can I give myself to you in love right now, and continue to have that conversation before you to talk about it together, but and love being not just giving you pleasure, that can be an aspect of it, but but I’m here for your good. giving myself to you for your good. Yes, that’s got to be in there somewhere. And again, yeah, if
you give yourself to the other person for their good, you’re experiencing, not just a beautiful physical pleasure, but you’re experiencing a whole lot of other beautiful things. Yeah. If you’re if you’re really able to do that for one another, that’s just that vision, that wider vision that we could explore and just think about and pray about and talk about.
Yeah. And real love will end with this real love, always the side of heaven include sacrifice. So there will be times where it will mean real level mean abstaining. It might mean I know couples who would say you know if if you’re not coming to camp climax, neither am I. Because I’m here with you. And you’re with me and nothing everyone, every couple needs to do that. But that’s one example. I think of really choosing like we are going to love each other and not just this act. So what Jesus, we’ve all got a long way to go. We just want to submit this to you, Lord, this is not about perfectionism, or some kind of moralistic, uptight teaching Lord, it’s really we’re just trying to, to lift our eyes from the morass. of the way the culture views sex as something unto itself. Or do we want to have eyes to see people as you see people, similar for every married couple listening and every hope every person listening who hopes to be married someday I pray that you would continue to grow our clarity about your design for sex, your heart for sex, Lord, that we could become people who love better and better and better and always including the sexual arenas of our life. We ask all these things, Lord, through your grace, with faith in you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
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Original music by Shannon Smith. Audio engineering by Gabriel @ DelMar Sound Recording.
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