We are almost finished with our long series called Nuptially Challenged. We’ve got this week and next week to close out this series.
We’re spending a month and a half talking about all kinds of challenges that are present in this thing called marriage. Every marriage has the same sign hanging over it: Under Construction. Every marriage is in some stage of building. No marriage has ever fully arrived.
But in that building process, there are challenges. A lot of challenges. And in this series, we’ve been talking about some of the biggest challenges that are present in most every marriage.
Today, we are going to have a frank, honest, direct conversation about something that can be one of the greatest sources of joy, or one of the greatest challenges in any marriage. Today, we’re going to talk about sex.
Now, let’s lay out some ground rules. First of all, you need to know upfront that this is going to more graphic than you might be used to. For some of you who grew up in a different style of church or a different religious tradition, today is going to be WAY more graphic than you’re used to.
But you need to know this. First of all, some of this may be graphic, but none of it will be pornographic. Like I said last week, there is a difference.
And secondly, every single thing that I say today is backed up by Scripture. Some of you are going to be really, really surprised by some things that you see in the Bible today.
Now, one more ground rule for today…everybody has to lighten up. There’s already some tension in the room. So right now, everybody take a deep breath. Now, everybody smile. I’m serious. I’m not moving on until I see everybody smile.
Here’s the deal…when you’re married, sex is supposed to be fun! And so as we talk about it today, we’re going to have some fun. So feel free to laugh. Clap your hands. Hoot and holler. Smile at your husband or your wife. Whatever. But as we get started, we need everyone to lighten up. God has a Word for us today that is a lifegiving truth for marriage. So let’s all act like we’re alive. Let’s have some fun with this today.
Let me pray for us, and then we’re going to open the Bible and listen to what God has to say to us today.
This entire series is based on a verse in Hebrews 13. In verse 4, it says, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” (Hebrews 13:4, NIV)
Like we talked about last week, this verse unequivocally and unapologetically states that God created sex for marriage. He refers to sexual intimacy as “the marriage bed.” Not the dating bed. Not even the engagement bed. The marriage bed.
But this week, we’re going to see that this verse from Hebrews is God’s key for unlocking a hot and holy sex life in your marriage.
This verse gives us two principles that are foundational to the sexual intimacy you have with your spouse…honor and purity.
Now, I said that we’re pursuing a hot and holy sex life in our marriages. And I know what you might be thinking now. You look at this verse and you see the words “honor” and “purity.” And you’re thinking, “Okay, that sounds holy. But it definitely doesn’t sound hot.”
Seriously, what guy says to his wife, “Hey baby, what do you say we go upstairs and I’ll honor you? I’ll honor you all night long!” That sounds weird!
Hang with me. Don’t check out on this. As with anything else in life, God’s way is the best way. That’s true for sexuality, too. Our world thinks they have mastered this issue, when in reality, our world has twisted it, corrupted it, and damaged it. But God can still redeem it. God doesn’t just want to redeem your soul for eternity. He wants to redeem your life now. Your whole life. Including your sex life. But He can only redeem our sex lives if we’re willing to apply His principles instead of listening to our culture.
Honor and purity are the keys. Let’s start with honor. God said that marriage should be honored by all. Let’s talk about what that looks like in the marriage bedroom.
In Philippians 2, the Bible says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4, NIV)
Admittedly this is not a verse specifically written about sex. But the principles of this verse apply to every part of our lives. What if we applied the principle of this verse in the bedroom? Read the verse again, this time thinking through the lens of the sexual relationship in your marriage.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4, NIV)
In the very first message in this series, we laid out a foundational principle to a healthy marriage. My marriage is not about me. That is the starting gate for marriage. If you want a marriage that is joyful and healthy and fulfilling, this where you start.
Marriage isn’t about you. And the marriage bed certainly isn’t about you. It’s about serving your spouse. It’s about his needs or her needs. It’s about you sacrificing your desires for the desires of your spouse.
So we’ve got to begin with understanding what the needs and desires of our spouse really are. And it sounds silly, but that means we’ve got to remember that men and women are different. And it’s not just differences in the plumbing. Men and women are fundamentally different by God’s design. And those differences show up in every conceivable way in the bedroom.
The way that we honor our spouse is to recognize how he/she is different from us, and then go all out to meet them where they are. Instead of complaining about the differences, we embrace them. Those differences are opportunities to honor and serve our spouse.
Wives, you need to understand how your husband is wired. His sexual wiring is very different from yours. He was created by God to be visually stimulated.
For a lot of women, this sounds completely foreign to them. And that’s the point. Ladies, knowing your how your husband views sex gives you a prime opportunity to serve him. To put his needs and desires ahead of your own.
Your husband is a visual creature. And he is bombarded with sexual visual images everyday. Now, if your husband is a man of God, he fights against those images. He turns his eyes. He changes his focus. He does everything he can to fight against those images.
But ladies, you have to understand that your man is a visual creature. In her book called For Women Only, Shaunti Feldhahn refers to it as a visual rolodex. When a man sees something that is visually stimulating, he remembers it. It could be the Playboy that he snuck into his bedroom when he was 15. It could be a billboard that he saw yesterday. But the bottom line is that he remembers those images.
A godly man will fight against these pictures. They can pop into his mind from out of nowhere. And ladies, I know you might be thinking that this sounds weird…even crazy. But every guy in this room knows that I’m laying down some truth today. These images are there. They are burned into our minds. And it’s a constant, daily battle to fight against them.
But ladies, you have a powerful weapon to help your husband in this fight. The powerful weapon is you. You are the most powerful weapon that your husband has in this visual battle. When a sinful image pops into his head…when he remembers something from his teens…or when he sees the cover of Cosmo in the checkout aisle at the grocery store…here’s what a man of God does. He immediately replaces that sinful image with an image of his wife. But ladies, he can only do that if you’re giving him plenty of pictures to put in that mental rolodex.
Now, the Bible does tell us that godly women dress modestly. And I’m all for that. I hate when I get bombarded with an image that I didn’t ask for, simply because a girl didn’t finish getting dressed that morning.
A buddy of mine emailed me last week, just because he needed to rant and he knew that I would listen. His email said, “When are women going to realize that yoga pants and a painted on tank top are not appropriate attire outside the privacy of your own home? I just about can’t hang out at Starbucks on summer afternoons anymore. It’s like there’s a memo that everyone needs to go to the gym in their underwear and get coffee afterward.”
I hate that. It makes a godly man’s fight so much harder. Godly women are called to dress modestly.
But there is one exception to that rule…when the kids are asleep and you’re alone in your bedroom with your husband. Speaking for all husbands here today, ladies, this is when you throw modesty out the window.
You want to give your husband a gift? Don’t always come to bed in those old flannel pajamas that he couldn’t see through if he had X-ray vision. Leave the lights on. And come to bed wearing something that will give your husband a “wow” moment.
I will guarantee you there are a lot of wives in this room who are secretly thinking, “I can’t do that. My body is too ____________.” It’s rare that I can make a blanket statement like this, but this one is true. And it’s one that all husbands need to be keenly aware of. There is not a woman here today who is happy with her body.
Husbands, if you want her to openly share her body, then you have to speak up…a lot. You have to affirm what she’s doing. You have to tell her how much she excites you. You have to tell her how beautiful she is. And not just in the bedroom. You tell her that in every room. You tell her that everyday.
Here is the Biblical picture of sexuality. In 1 Corinthians 7, the Apostle Paul writes, “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” (1 Corinthians 7:3-4, ESV)
Ladies, your husband has authority over your body. Once you get married, your body belongs to him. And he wants to visually inspect what he owns! That means that lingerie is a godly investment. It is you serving your husband, putting the needs of your husband ahead of your own. In doing so, you honor him.
You honor him by meeting his needs and his desires. And you honor him because you give him the weapon he needs to fight against our sex-saturated culture. When he sees an image that he needs to fight, he can replace that image with the smoking hot picture of you that he has filed away. And if he has a whole lot of pictures of you to choose from, it gets even easier.
Now, what is that picture that he’s looking for? It’s a picture of his wife who wants him. That’s a truth about your man that he probably doesn’t know how to express, so I’ll tell you for him. Your husband wants you to want him.
Wives, when you’re in bed with your husband, he is looking for you to respond to him. Use his senses. Your husband is moved by what he hears, sees, and feels during sex. He is looking for you to be creative, to lose your inhibitions, to be confident and free. For some of you, it might feel awkward or forced or even a little embarrassing. But you honor him when you put his needs ahead of your own.
A godly woman honors the man that she married in all ways, including in the bedroom. She recognizes that he has needs and desires that are different from hers, and she goes out of her way to serve him by meeting those needs and desires.
Now, gentlemen, the very same Biblical principle applies to us. You don’t have authority over your body. Your wife does. And that means that you take all your sexual cues from her.
Let’s read it again, guys. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4, NIV)
We are called to honor our wives. To sacrifice for our wives. To serve our wives. That applies in every area of our marriage, including the bedroom.
Guys, we have to understand that, for our wives, sex is about an emotional connection. You are visually stimulated, but your wife is romantically stimulated.
Here’s what that means…neglecting your wife’s needs all day and then expecting her to “open for business” at night is ridiculous. In fact, it is sinful because it doesn’t honor her.
For a woman to feel sexually attracted to her husband, she has to feel connected to him the other 23 ½ hours of the day. And guys, a lot of us are failing miserably in that connection. We give the best of ourselves to our job or to our team or to our friends. Then our wife and kids get what’s left…and what’s left is often a cranky, out-of-sorts, exhausted grouch.
Husbands, if you’re a grouch in the living room, don’t expect your wife to be a wildcat in the bedroom. You haven’t given her the fuel she needs for her fire.
James Dobson wrote, “Love is linked to self-esteem in women. For a man, romantic experiences with his wife are warm and enjoyable and memorable—but not necessary. For a woman, they are her lifeblood. Her confidence, her sexual response and her zest for living are often directly related to those tender moments when she feels deeply loved and appreciated by her man.” (Love for a Lifetime, James Dobson, p. 44)
That’s spot on, isn’t it ladies? Guys, we’d better get this right.
It comes down to one word: pursuit. Are you actively pursuing your wife? And I don’t just mean pursuing sex. Pursuing sex is part of the overall pursuit of your wife’s heart.
Nothing will make her feel more treasured, more valuable, and more loved than when her man loves her enough to keep pursuing her.
Here’s the way that Jeff & Shaunti Feldhahn describe it in their book For Men Only. Speaking to husbands, they wrote, “Think of the deals you’ve struck in your life. Your first car. Your first real job. Your first house. You saw what you wanted, did what you had to do to get it—and you came home with a done deal.
No deal compares to winning a wife, though. You pursued her with all the creativity and resources your could muster, and the deal was done. Your wedding day was the day you proved your love to the world, and to her…Your marriage feels like the most obviously closed deal in your whole life.
Well, not exactly…it just feels closed for you.
No, your wife isn’t still out looking for other suitors. But in an unusual and powerful way that married men don’t really understand, your wife doesn’t feel permanently loved once the marriage papers are signed. Yes, she knows you love her, but there are periodic times when her feelings need to be convinced and reassured.”
That’s what I mean when I talk about pursuing your wife, gentlemen. We need to understand that inside our wives, there is always an insecurity about whether their man REALLY loves them. This is true even in the best relationships.
We talked earlier about how wives can give their husbands the weapons they need in their fight. The same truth applies here. Men, you can give your wife the greatest weapon to fight this constant insecurity battle. The weapon you can give her is your constant pursuit.
Let me ask you a few questions, guys…
What did you do to pursue her when you were dating? What did you do to win her heart?
And now, a harder question. Why did you stop doing those things? I know…you liked it, so you put a ring on it. I know you thought the deal was done. You need to understand this truth about your wife…the deal is never done. Pursuit is a constant theme in a healthy marriage.
In Proverbs 18, Solomon wrote, “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.” (Proverbs 18:22, NIV)
He who FINDS a wife. That means there the man is actively looking. He is actively pursuing. There is nothing passive here. It is intentional. It is active. And it doesn’t stop after your wedding day. Your job is to find your wife everyday. And if you commit to pursuing her like this, you will find what is good. You will receive favor from the Lord because you are living like a man of God should.
I know there is probably some guy here who is thinking, “I was all excited because this was supposed to be a message on sex. What does this have to do with sex?”
It has EVERYTHING to do with sex, bro. And if you don’t understand that, you need a cranial rectal extraction. This is what marriage, and love, and sex are all about to your wife. And if you don’t get that, then it is no great mystery why things aren’t going so well in the bedroom…or in any other room, for that matter.
Now, let’s go back to our focus text. “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” (Hebrews 13:4, NIV)
We’ve talked about honor. Honoring each other by serving each other and putting the needs of your spouse ahead of your own.
Now let’s talk about the second principle that will really turn up the heat in the marriage bed…purity. If you want a hot and holy sex life, you will live a life of purity.
Obviously the marriage bed is to be kept pure by a faithful monogamous lifestyle. You don’t have sex with anyone but your spouse. I heard one speaker put it this way. “‘I do’ means ‘I do you, you do me, and we don’t do anybody else.’”
Almost everyone in this room has been affected by adultery on some level. Maybe you committed adultery. Maybe your spouse cheated on you. Maybe you had a family member or a friend who committed adultery. Most all of us have seen the havoc caused by infidelity.
But we need to understand that this isn’t the total meaning of Biblical purity. If you haven’t committed adultery, don’t automatically assume that you are living a pure lifestyle.
Ephesians 5 sets the standard for us. “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” (Ephesians 5:3, NIV)
Not even a hint of sexual immorality or impurity. It doesn’t just say, “Don’t commit adultery.” It says that there must not even be a hint of sexual immorality or impurity. Not even a hint. That’s a high standard, but that’s the benchmark for purity.
Listen…there is no excuse…absolutely no excuse…for flirting with someone who isn’t your husband or wife. I don’t care how “innocent” you think it is. God commanded that we avoid even a hint of sexual immorality. Flirting is a hint. You can make all the excuses and justifications that you want. It’s a hint…and you’ve got to cut it out like it’s cancer. Be swift. Be decisive. And then take radical steps to make sure it never happens again.
Don’t give me this garbage of, “Oh, it’s all innocent. I can handle it. I know what I’m doing.”
Randy Elrod said it best. He said, “If you think you can’t fall into sexual sin, you must be godlier than David, stronger than Samson, and wiser than Solomon.”
Here’s the truth…you’re not. That’s why the Bible’s standard for us is not even a hint. Not even a hint of sexual immorality.
That means you are constantly watching your relationships and you are constantly guarding your eyes. This is a deal for men and women alike. I used to think that lust was just a guy issue, but Facebook and Twitter have enlightened me. I hear women…married women…lusting after some guy they saw in a movie. Or they are mentally lusting after some guy they read about in 50 Shades of Grey or whatever the latest mommy porn book is out.
Scripture sets the standard for us. And the standard is not even a hint. God has called us to an incredibly high standard of purity. But when we live by His standard, here’s what it does…it heats up our marriage like a snuggie on steroids.
Here’s why…you know that you are the only person in the world that your spouse sees. You’re the only person that you’re spouse shares romance with. You’re the only person that your spouse touches. The kiss on their lips is yours, and yours alone. You’re the only person that you’re spouse speaks to so intimately. You are it. It’s a role that only you can play.
That makes you feel incredibly significant. It makes you feel pretty hot if your spouse is willing to give up everyone else for you. If your spouse sees so much in you that he/she is willing to focus everything on you alone, you must be something very special. And that will lead to a sexual relationship that is very special.
It comes down to these two principles. Honor and purity. That’s what a godly marriage is all about. That’s what a godly marriage bedroom is all about.
Now, I can’t close this out without touching on this. I know this has been direct. We’ve had some fun, but I also know that for some people, this has actually been really difficult because we’ve been talking all morning about something that has become a huge issue in their marriage.
Maybe your marriage is suffering because of past sexual mistakes. Or maybe it stems from abuse…something that you didn’t do, but something that was done to you. And you’ve just never been able to leave that baggage behind.
Remember the words from Genesis 2. When God created man and woman, his creation was perfect. Sin hadn’t messed everything up yet. Everything was still God’s picture perfect design.
And in that picture perfect design, Genesis 2 tells us, “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” (Genesis 2:25, NIV)
There is no shame in healthy, vibrant, free, uninhibited sexual expression between a husband and a wife. It is pure. It is holy. It is 100% shame free. Like I said last week, God doesn’t deal in shame. And if that’s where you’re living, you need to start by knowing that it isn’t God who is planting those thoughts and feelings inside you. Shame and guilt are tools of Satan, not God.
My prayer is that you will be set free from your past. My prayer is that God will use this message to begin the process of healing.
Maybe there are other hindrances to sexual expression in your marriage. Maybe it’s a medical condition. Seek help. Just seek help. I know it’s hard. I know it’s embarrassing. But swallow your pride and seek help.
Maybe you need to seek the help of a counselor to work through some issues. Maybe it’s a medical situation and you need to consult with a doctor. Whatever the deal may be, don’t let pride stop you from seeking help.
Pride is a horrible decision maker. And if pride is stopping you from seeking the help you need, you need to remember the words from Proverbs 16.
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18, NIV)
Pride goes before a fall. In this case, it is the falling apart of your marriage. You can never separate sexual health from overall marriage health. The Bible never does that, because it’s not possible. The Bible never talks about a sexless marriage. That is a completely foreign concept to God. It’s not the way that He designed marriage.
A healthy sex life is a huge part of a healthy marriage. Don’t let pride stop you from having the marriage that God has planned for you.
Now, as we close things out today, I realize that this has been a surreal experience for some of us. There are some people here who are still trying to get this all straight in their mind.
I mean, we came in today. We sang songs of worship to God. We took the Lord’s Supper to remember Jesus’ death on the cross. And then we started talking about sex.
Isn’t that a massive contradiction? No, it’s not. Christ willingly gave His life for you and for me…the worthy for the unworthy…the sinless for the sinful.
But we all have to understand this truth. Jesus died to redeem my life…my whole life. He died to save my soul for all eternity. But He also died to give me a second chance at life in the here and now. That second chance applies to every aspect of my life.
In the book of 1 John, the Apostle John reminds us that, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” (1 John 3:8b, NIV)
It doesn’t say that Jesus appeared to hamper the devil’s work. He didn’t come to hinder the devil’s work. He didn’t come to slow the devil’s work down. Jesus Christ came to DESTROY the devil’s work.
Some of the devil’s most powerful work is done when he damages marriages. Because if he can damage a marriage, then he can damage the family. And if a family is damaged, then the very foundation of an entire society is damaged. That’s why your marriage is in Satan’s crosshairs. Because he has a whole lot to gain if he can hurt your marriage.
But Jesus came to destroy the devil’s work. He came to destroy the devil’s work in your life. He came to destroy the devil’s work in your marriage. You want to know why we are so bold and unapologetic when we preach about something like married sexuality? This is why. Because we want to see Jesus destroy the devil’s work in every marriage.
And the beauty of the gospel is that no one is too far gone. No life is too messed up. No marriage is too messed up. No one is too sinful or to screwed up. God’s grace is bigger than any of us will ever understand. Second chances are always available. And it’s all because Jesus paid the price for ALL our sin. His death and His resurrection are enough to destroy the devil’s work.