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What We Need to Know about Sex
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In our sexually explicit society, it seems almost inconceivable that anyone could be uninformed about sex. Yet we run into that problem all the time.
In the thousand-plus couples we've counseled in the past twenty-five years at Marble Retreat in Marble, Colorado, we have found a disturbing number of struggles in the area of sexuality. Indeed, 46 percent of those surveyed in our work indicated problems with sex.
Most married adults have a basic knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the reproductive system, but that's about as far as their knowledge goes. Wives and husbands know they react differently to sexual drive and stimulation and that their sex drives vary, but they don't understand the intricacies of their two very different systems.
For example, most women don't realize testosterone creates a physiological drive in their husbands that demands expression every few days. Without that kind of hormonal insistence, women have less physical drive for sexual release. Rather, what they crave is the relational closeness that leads to sexual intimacy.
Likewise, many husbands assume their wives will get aroused and reach climax as quickly as they do. But most women are only in the early arousal stage when their husbands achieve orgasm. So a wife feels cheated when her husband falls asleep just when she's getting interested. And a husband feels inadequate as a lover because he has failed to bring his wife to orgasm.
Lack of knowledge about technique is only one kind of ignorance. Another has to do with expectations. Where did you get your ideas about a "normal" sex life? Probably by picking it up here and there-from movies, romance novels, a college roommate, or a sex manual. But did you ever talk about those expectations, ideas, and beliefs with your spouse?
For many couples, sexual expression has narrow boundaries. They think intercourse should take place only in bed, in the dark, under a sheet. A couple can certainly find intense pleasure and oneness with this routine, but a few variations could substantially improve the experience for a lifetime.
That's what we'd like to do for you in this book-take the covers off the whole subject of sex. We'll explore different areas of sexuality together, answer questions, and help you and your spouse move toward a healthier, more robust appreciation for each other as sexual beings created to pleasure and enjoy each other.
Mary and Bill: What They Wish They'd Known
Mary and Bill had been married for twenty-one years. They were leaders in church staff positions, and their moral principles were beyond reproach. They were committed to fidelity.
The problem was that Mary had never experienced an orgasm. She had sex with her husband only because it was her duty. Bill had always been troubled by his wife's lack of enthusiasm in lovemaking, but he had no idea she had never had an orgasm.
During counseling, we explored this couple's sexual history. Bill and Mary were astonished by the discoveries they began to make about each other. Bill found that Mary secretly wondered what was missing in their lovemaking and was eager to explore her own sexual responses. Mary learned that Bill was not an oversexed pervert; rather, he had a normal male libido and normal male ignorance about a female's sexual needs.
For years, fearfulness and embarrassment had kept this couple from talking openly about sex. Once they opened up, guilt and disappointment gave way to hope-and a sense of fun-about how this part of their relationship could be improved.
Why We Need Sex
For physical relief. It all starts in the body juices! Our hormones affect the sexual drive center in our brains. That center stimulates the production of seminal fluid, vaginal and penile secretions, and genital pheromones. These are the basic ingredients of the mating instinct that drives procreation. In men, the production and accumulation of seminal fluid demands release through ejaculation. This relief of vague pelvic pressure will occur-whether through nocturnal emissions, masturbation, or intercourse.
Some women experience heaviness deep in their pelvis when they are in need of sexual release. It feels something like the onset of a period, but not quite. They aren't always aware of the connection between that sensation and sexual need. More often, women are driven by the need for sexual intimacy. We've heard some wives express it this way: "I wasn't aware that I needed sexual release, but after my orgasm I sensed a wonderful peace and calm."
For true bonding. Sexual intercourse is so much more than coupling. We like to think of this union in the same way that Paul did in his letter to the Ephesians. He said that becoming one flesh in sexual intercourse is a profound mystery-like the spiritual union of Christ and the church.
What's So Great about Sex?
The union of man and woman in sex is profoundly beautiful because it offers the following:
A way out of isolation. No other experience allows us to dissolve individual walls and blend with another person so completely. We join with each other not only physically but also with the kind of erotic exhaustion that brings us to collapse in each other's embrace.
True intimacy. Within a faithful marriage, sex offers the gratification of being in a unique relationship. Within this relationship, sexual intimacy is absolutely private. No one else can be joined with us when we are so vulnerable. The way we look, the way we feel, the smells of our bodies, the rhythm of our pelvic thrusts-all are private and reserved only for us.
Deep affirmation. We can be praised for our appearance. We can be complimented on our clothes. We can be thrilled when someone flirts with us. But only my marriage partner sees me naked and vulnerable in asking for sexual union. There's nothing quite like hearing "You're a fantastic lover" to affirm one's adequacy as a sexual person.
Sex in a Relationship
Great sex doesn't just happen. It begins with a good relationship. The important elements in any relationship include:
Knowing how and when to apologize
Q & A Are There Rules for Married Sex?
Is there a uniquely Christian way to make love? I mean, should married Christian couples limit their sexual expression based on certain biblical rules? If so, what are those rules? Are they relationship rules or physical rules-or both?
Louis: Lovemaking between a Christian married couple should be the most passionate, erotic, playful, and satisfying expression of sexuality known to humankind. Our sexuality is a powerful gift of the Creator. We're free in Christ to delight in our physical being. When we follow God's guidelines about relational faithfulness, loving-kindness, and mutual submissiveness, the resulting sex is free from guilt and doubt.
So is there a Christian way to make love? Yes, but only in the sense of showing mutual respect for each other and physically expressing the desire to celebrate the oneness of marriage. In my opinion, the Bible contains no specific rules or guidelines for lovemaking between husband and wife. I've heard interpretations of Song of Songs that suggest positions for intercourse, the delights of oral sex, and the proper use of perfumes. However, I personally see those poetic passages not as instructions but as expressions of erotic images reflecting God's approval of marital sex.
What's OK and What's Not
Wondering about oral sex, initiation of sexual activity, positions for intercourse, and mutual masturbation? We find no scriptural injunction against any of these sexual behaviors.
Paul's admonition in 1 Corinthians not to withhold sex except by mutual consent provides some guidance. It acknowledges the legitimacy of sexual desire yet reinforces the principle that all sexual practices within marriage should be agreeable to both husband and wife.
When it comes to sex, most married Christians do what works for them. If they have discovered something that brings satisfaction, pleasure, closeness, and climax, they most likely will continue that practice. However, some are plagued with guilt because they wonder if what they're doing is sinful.
Wouldn't it be nice to have a list of sexual practices categorized as either sinful or OK? Is there such a list? Would everyone agree with the list? Is there a solution to this dilemma?
We'd love to offer something that could forever settle niggling doubts about sexual practices. But that's not possible. Different communities of Christians have different understandings about sexual practices that are based on a few general biblical principles. No list would be acceptable to all Christians. Still, we do want to provide some guidelines that will help you enjoy the gift of your sexuality to the fullest-which is what we believe God wants for each of his children. So read on.
Excerpted from Real Questions, Real Answers about Sex by Louis McBurney Melissa McBurney Copyright © 2005 by Christianity Today International. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted January 1, 2012
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Posted January 28, 2011
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