I was heading to the Men’s Study this morning when I had to stop the seek feature for some Pat Benatar. The lyrics remind me of our plight as fallen people.
Your love has set my soul on fire, burnin’ out of control
You taught me the ways of desire, now it’s takin’ its toll
You’re the right kind of sinner, to release my inner fantasy
That sets us up for what I hope is the final post on sexual chaos, working thru a redeemed sexuality in the midst of sexual chaos. Since my last post I remembered another story of how not to do this. I was working at Ligonier when I had a call. I’m not sure what prompted the call, I can’t see R.C. Sproul having mentioned this, but this older woman told me that oral sex was wrong “because that’s what homosexuals do.” I responded with “they also kiss, hug and hold hands; does that mean we can’t do any of them either?” With that, let’s try to sort all of this out.
1. Consensual- redeemed sex is consensual. It is wrong to force your spouse into any sexual activity whether proper or improper. Consent is necessary, but insufficient for determining the appropriateness of a practice for a Christian. As I mentioned before, this seems to be the only criteria you find in many of the Christian sex blogs. It is a starting point, but not the whole canoli.
18 Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, 19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. Proverbs 5
2. Permissible- There are very few sexual acts actually mentioned in Scripture. Some are spoken of positively. The Scriptures positively refer to foreplay and oral sex, generally speaking. Most of the references to oral sex are symbolic, or veiled. They are typically in the Song of Solomon. Permission is not to be confused with necessary. Both spouses must consent, and some may not be comfortable participating in this aspect of lovemaking.
There are some practices that are probably not permissible on the basis of Scripture. Back to Romans 1.
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Here in the context of homosexual sin, Paul refers to natural relations and those contrary to nature. Their attraction to the same sex is contrary to nature. But there is a difference when talking about the men. They commit shameless acts with men. I take this to mean that anal sex, regardless of who is penetrating whom, is not permissible. Doug Wilson, in critiquing Mark Driscoll’s section on sex in Real Marriage, brings this up. It is contrary to how we are made. That doesn’t belong there. This argument is not particular to Wilson, I’ve heard it before. Many people find this pleasurable. That is not really the point. Some people are grossed out by this. That is not really the point. Anatomically, it violates the design and function of the human body.
3. Edifying- Does it enhance one’s dignity or exacerbate their depravity? Everything else that a married couple might do should be examined in this light. Allender and Longman talk about dignity and depravity in their book Intimate Allies. I’m just applying this concept to the sexual arena. There are some practices, often discussed in the Christian sex blogs, that undermine the dignity of one or both spouses. One person may feel worthless, and want to be treated in such a fashion. In other incidences, someone may look down on their spouse and want to see them humbled or humiliated. Those acts which necessarily humiliate one or both persons should be avoided. Sometimes it is not the act itself, but the attitude which can corrupt a permissible activity. Oral sex or role play can be used to humiliate the other person. At least the first is permissible, but can be corrupted.
Some acts like bondage and ‘golden showers’ are intended to humiliate. Often one person enjoys being humiliated and the other enjoys humiliating them. This is not how Christians are to engage in sexual activity. If you read the Song of Solomon, you see them edifying each other- not putting one another down. The sexual activity must help them feel better about themselves and their identity as a Christian. It should not create or add to feelings of shame or superiority. You shouldn’t feel dirty after sex with your spouse.
This really gets to the heart in many ways. It can lead to self-examination and loving dialogue. Why do you want to do something or not do something? If the person says they feel degraded, that should be a big clue. If they want to feel degraded, there is something that needs to be explored and remedied.
Guarding the dignity of your spouse is very important. This would mean not seriously considering seemingly common practices with predictable outcomes. Video taping yourselves is just setting yourself up for disaster. You risk it being seen by others, including your children. Unless there is something wrong with your wife, having others watch her having sex with you would be quite disturbing. At least for a godly woman. The same goes for asking her to send you pictures of herself on the cell phone. How often have you sent the wrong thing to the wrong person? It happens. It unnecessarily puts her modesty at risk. The turn on is a reflection of our darkened desires.
The marriage bed, for a Christian, is not someplace to merely release all our inner fantasies. It is a part of Christian discipleship to deny ourselves, particularly when it comes to such dark desires. Many of us have them. We submit to the Word of God, instead of our desires, enjoying all that it allows and forsaking that which it does not allow. We don’t have to understand all the whys. One of your purposes as a married Christian is to enhance their dignity, not tear it down. That can happen in many ways, and sexual activity is one of them.
These criteria will help you sort through various practices toward a redeemed sexuality that pleases God and your spouse. God is glorified as we enjoy one another in godly expressions of our sexuality. As His children, He grieves when Christians do things that harm one another. Don’t get the notion that God is waiting to pounce on your expressions of a broken sexuality. He’s like a parent grieving the poor, self-destructive choices of his children. He wants something better for us than we often want for ourselves.