From the Publisher
“The best-no-holds barred book on the basic questions that Christian women ask about sex. This book will play a large part in healing lives that have been prisoners regarding God’s plan for healthy sexuality.”
–Emilie Barnes, Author
“Intimate Issues may well be destined to become a definitive and defining work in Christian literature. Specific, practical, and scriptural, it may have more potential than any new work I have read in recent years.”
–Frank B. Minirth, M.D., The Minirth Clinic
“This is a mother-to-daughter book, a sister-to-sister gem to be shared. It is also a powerful resource for counselors and teachers, well-documented and deserving of serious attention.”
–Howard and Jeanne Hendricks, Center for Christian Leadership, Dallas Theological Seminary
“A much-needed, biblically-based handbook teaching God’s perspective concerning the wise use of His gift of physical intimacy.”
–Cynthia Heald, author and speaker
“Don’t be afraid of the word ‘sensuous.’ Linda and Lorraine present the union of two people so attractively, excitedly, and sacredly that anything less protected and binding seems cheap, tawdry, and counterfeit.”
–Vonette Zachary Bright, Campus Crusade for Christ
Read an Excerpt
You are standing in the grocery store checkout line, wishing the checker would move more quickly, when you get the urge for a piece of gum. As you reach for a pack of Dentyne, the headline from a nearby tabloid shouts:
ORGIES KEEP MY MARRIAGE ALIVE
Next to this, a woman’s magazine announces:
SEVEN WAYS TO SEDUCE YOUR MAN
Your eyes scan the magazine racks. Every tabloid and woman’s magazine screams a similar message at you. In an attempt to silence them, you look away and study the vegetables in your basket. All you wanted was a piece of gum, but you got more to chew on than you had bargained for! As you contemplate your broccoli, you pray, God, I know sex orgies are wrong, but what about a wife seducing her husband? Where do I draw the line on sexual acts? What is right? What is wrong? Can I be both godly and sensuous? I wish I knew how I should think about sex and how You, God, think about sex.
If you feel confused when it comes to sex, you are not alone. Most women have not grasped God’s view of sex. They are unsure what He thinks because His voice is often lost in the discordant symphony of voices clamoring to be heard. With so many mixed messages, it’s no wonder many are confused.
CONFLICTING VOICES CAN CAUSE CONFUSION
If we listened to the Victorian voices, we’d be confused.
“Don’t talk about it; stay under the covers with the lights off.”
“Do it only in the missionary position.”
“It is only for men.”
“Chin up, honey. Just endure it.”
If we listened to the voices of sexual pioneers, we’d be confused. Psychologists Sigmund Freud, Henry Havelock Ellis, Alfred Kinsey, William Masters, and Virginia Johnson called for women to come out from under their “Victorian covers” and be sexual creatures. While their words contained positive components, their tone often offended our sensibilities.
Here is how your body works. Plug this prescription into your body computer and BINGO, it will orgasm. It’s every woman’s right, make your “personal computer” do its thing.
If we listened to the voices of certain church fathers, we’d be confused. Augustine allowed that sex is good but passion and desire are sin. “For he who is intemperate in marriage, what is he but the adulterer of his own wife.” Thomas Aquinas thought as long as sex was not enjoyed,2 marriage was acceptable for those unable to accept the requirements of monastic existence. Martin Luther had these words to say: “Intercourse is never without sin; but God excuses it by his grace because the estate of marriage is his work.”3 Sex without passion or enjoyment? Intercourse a sin? With such a heritage no wonder Christian women are confused.
If we listened to the voices of mothers, we’d be confused. Of course, some mothers gave wise advice, but others sent negative messages:
“Only ‘those kinds’ of girls enjoy sex.”
“Sex is a man’s thing. You just endure it.”
And the least helpful response: S I L E N C E.
If we listened to the voices of some older married women, we’d be confused.
Many equated sex with duty and often complained:
“Wait until you’ve been married twenty years, it gets old.”
“After two years of marriage, the excitement vanishes. You’ll see.”
“Give him his sex so you can have your children.”
If we listened to the voice of the media, we’d really be confused.
Sex always just happens naturally.
The woman is always instantly passionate, instantly ready. She never needs love, encouragement, or foreplay. Her sexual glands activate atthe unbuttoning of a shirt.
Both the man and the woman know everything, do everything just right, and are instant perfect lovers.
Tiredness vanishes with one passionate look.
Neither the man nor the woman ever has morning breath. The woman wakes up, makeup in place, the man’s hair neatly combed.
Does any of this sound familiar? All of these voices have influenced the way we view our sexuality. God’s thoughts about His gift of sex have been so distorted that many women don’t know what to believe. Some wonder if something is wrong with them.
“In movies making love looks so simple. Couples fall into bed in fits of passion. They catch their breath, and then go at it again. I feel like something is wrong with me. I need foreplay, time to be aroused sexually. I can’t see myself spending two days in bed. I guess I’m just not very sensuous.”
“Sometimes when we make love, I have something on my mind about the children, our home, the gardening, and it’s hard for me to get into lovemaking. What’s wrong with me?”
“I grew up confused about sex. It was obvious my parents avoided one another. Now that I’m married, the magazines at the newsstand say there is something wrong with me if I don’t have this compulsion to dress up like Jane and swing around the room with my Tarzan. Whom do I listen to? No matter what I do, it’s wrong.”
There is something wrong, but not with these wives. What’s wrong are the voices. On the one hand they whisper that sex is evil, and on the other hand they yell, “Do it!” Anytime, anywhere with anyone. Multiple positions, multiple orgasms, multiple multiples!
This is not what God intended. It’s time to silence the voices who cry in the darkness and listen instead to the One Voice who whispers the truth in the light. Do you hear Him? God is calling you, pleading with you to hear His voice. He who made us has much to say about sex—He invented the idea. Let’s open our ears. Open our eyes. Open our hearts.
God’s voice—His Word—tells us why He created sex.
GOD’S VOICE DECLARES:
“I GAVE THE GIFT OF SEX THAT YOU MIGHT CREATE LIFE”
God formed Adam from the dust of the earth. Then He fashioned Eve from Adam’s rib. He could have continued creating man and woman in this way or chosen from a multitude of other options available to Him. But in His perfect wisdom, God designed sexual intercourse as the best plan for man and woman to create a new life. Beginning in Genesis, we are commanded to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (1:28). This may be the only commandment given by God that His people have consistently applied. The gift of sex gives us the unspeakable privilege of creating a child from our love. How incredibly creative our God is!
Some have wondered if God instructed Adam and Eve: “This is what you do to make a baby . . .” We don’t think so. God exquisitely crafted the man and woman’s bodies so that they would mold and fit together. Can you imagine Adam and Eve’s amazement and wonder when they discovered this? And their glorious ecstasy when they held their baby in their arms, a creation of their love?
GOD’S VOICE DECLARES:
“I GAVE THE GIFT OF SEX FOR INTIMATE ONENESS”
“A man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Isn’t this an incredible thought? Two separate beings become so bonded, so connected, so woven together in body, soul, and spirit that God sees them as one being rather than two.
The apostle Paul quotes this verse and expounds upon its meaning. He describes the one flesh between husband and wife as a great mystery. A mystery is usually something secret or hidden, but Paul makes the mysterious plain. God’s Word says our sexual oneness is an earthly picture of the spiritual oneness Christ is to have with His church (Ephesians 5:31-32).
In light of this, how can anyone say God thought sex was wrong or dirty when He, the almighty Creator of the universe, said our physical oneness is to be a picture of the spiritual oneness He wants to have with us? It’s as if God is saying, “Through your lovemaking, I’ve given you a visual picture so that when you experience the beauty of physical intimacy, you will have a glimmer, an earthly idea, of all I desire for you spiritually, a sweet union of your spirit with mine.” Such glorious oneness is almost beyond comprehension.
GOD’S VOICE DECLARES:
“I GAVE THE GIFT OF SEX FOR KNOWLEDGE”
In Genesis 4:1 (NKJV) we read, “Now Adam knew [had sexual intercourse with] Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain.” The Hebrew word for “sexual intercourse” is the word “to know.” Through God’s gift of sex, a husband and wife receive an intimate knowing of one another that they have with no one else. This knowledge brings a depth to their relationship. Mike Mason says it beautifully in The Mystery of Marriage.
For in touching a person of the opposite sex in the most secret place of his or her body, with one’s own most private part, there is something that reaches beyond touch, that gets behind flesh itself to the place where it connects with spirit, to the place where incarnation happens.4
GOD’S VOICE DECLARES:
“I GAVE THE GIFT OF SEX FOR PLEASURE”
Would you believe Scripture talks more about the pleasures of sex than it does about “being fruitful” and “being one”? God devoted an entire book of the Bible, the Song of Solomon, to the subject of sexual pleasure in marriage. Many other passages also speak of the joys of married love. Listen toGod’s voice:
Drink from your own well, my son—be faithful and true to your wife.
. . . Let your manhood be a blessing; rejoice in the wife of your youth.
Let her charms and tender embrace satisfy you. Let her love alone fill you with delight. (Proverbs 5:15,18-19, TLB)
The first part of this verse draws a beautiful parallel between thirst being quenched by drinks of cool, fresh water and a couple’s sexual thirst being satisfied by exciting, pleasurable lovemaking. The second part of the verse describes the emotion a couple experiences when they embrace. Our favorite paraphrase of this passage reads:
Let your love and your sexual embrace with your wife intoxicate you continually with delight. Always enjoy the ecstasy of her love.
It would be difficult to find stronger words than intoxicate and ecstasy. These are God’s words, this is His voice saying to you, “Enjoy your husband, give to him, receive from him. Delight yourself in the erotic feelings of sexual love.”
GOD’S VOICE DECLARES:
“I GAVE THE GIFT OF SEX AS A DEFENSE AGAINST TEMPTATION”
God’s gift of sexuality can be used as a powerful force for good or for evil. To make certain His gift was used for good—to create a child, to give unique knowledge, intimate oneness, pleasure, and comfort—God wrapped His gift within the bonds of the marriage vows. Proverbs warns young men about the temptations of sexual lust and encourages them to “Drink water from your own cistern, and fresh water from your own well” (5:15). The following passage makes it clear that sex in marriage is a deterrent to temptation:
But because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. . . . Stop depriving one another,
except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:2,5)
GOD’S VOICE DECLARES:
“I GAVE THE GIFT OF SEX FOR COMFORT”
Part of God’s plan for sex is to impart comfort. Listen to this account in 2 Samuel where David and Bathsheba’s son has died. While grieving “David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in to her and lay with her. So she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon” (12:24, NKJV). Such lovemaking is rich with compassion and love . . . no wonder it brings solace!
Janette told us that when her husband was in despair over losing his job, the most effective comfort and encouragement she gave him was to love him physically. Shelly, married to an intense man, said that when her husband had spent his day at the office slaying dragons with little success, she knew she could comfort him and help him relax by making love to him. Ginny shared this touching account with us:
My husband was heaped in a chair, deeply discouraged. A friend had betrayed him. “Honey, take off your shirt and lie on the bed. I’ve got hot oil and am going to massage the tension out of your muscles.”
As I rubbed his shoulders and back, I could feel his tension evaporate. I took off his remaining clothes and massaged the rest of his body. Then I comforted him with my love. It wasn’t a sensuous time of lovemaking or a glorious time of intimate oneness. It was a time of giving comfort. When he sighed deeply and fell asleep, I felt such joy because of the love I had been able to give.
Lovemaking comforts because it releases tension. A backrub is good for tense bodies, a sexual release even better. God was ingenious in His creation. Through our lovemaking we can create life, experience one-flesh intimacy and deep knowledge, enjoy deep pleasure, and even comfort each other in times of stress or sorrow.
LISTEN TO GOD’S VOICE
The world has desecrated God’s beautiful gift of sex. What He made pure, the world putrefied. What He made sacred, the world made sleazy. What the world did was wrong, but a wife is just as wrong if she allows the world’s desecration to keep her from embracing the beauty of God’s viewpoint. God desires that a husband and wife be naked and unashamed, glorying in the giving and receiving of exquisite pleasure and rejoicing in the intimate oneness that sex brings.
Wherever you are today, be assured that God is a God who redeems. He longs to show you that His gift can be erotic, fulfilling, free, and beautiful. But in order for you to enjoy the sexual relationship within your marriage, you have to throw out the mental tapes which play any message that conflicts with God’s voice. You need to hear His voice alone; you need to listen to the One Voice. Our gracious God will speak to you. He longs to help you. And if you ask, He will redeem His beautiful gift in your life and make all things new.
God, I choose to close my ears to the voices of the world and listen to You. I trust You to heal where healing is needed, to teach me where I lack wisdom, and to direct me as I seek to enjoy intimacy with my husband. I surrender myself to You and ask You to redeem Your beautiful gift of sex in my life.
From the Hardcover edition.