The Gospel in the Bedroom

Wives, let's chat for just a minute. I would love to be sitting down with each of you, enjoying a really good cup of coffee and getting to know your story. I've always loved learning people's stories! I rarely can be around crowds of people without imagining elaborate backstories for the folks I see. Since sitting down to coffee isn't possible right now, please let me share some of my story and pray that God uses it to encourage you!

I have the great privilege of putting thoughts down on paper, for anyone to read. One downside, however, is that we don't have the context of friendship to support "sensitive topics" of conversation. So, my only recourse is to dive right in. So here it goes...

Wives, how are you applying the gospel to your sex life?

I know this is a difficult topic to discuss, even with your closest friends! Please know that my desire is to point you to Jesus and see his truth bring greater freedom and joy in your marriage, NOT to condemn, judge, or pretend that I "do things right" all of the time. I recognize that it's God's grace alone that has allowed me to experience forgiveness for my blatant rebellion, idolatry, lust, and selfishness, and by the blood of Jesus alone find freedom from shame and experience worshipful enjoyment of the gift of sex in marriage!

I think there are three primary factors that Satan uses to try and rob us of joy and God of glory in the area of physical intimacy.

1. The Pitfall of Comparison-

Ladies, at the core of this comparison problem is a skewed understanding of our identity. We are created by God to enjoy him and glorify him! We are designed and sculpted by the Sovereign King of the universe! There is not a single part of our bodies that is "dirty" or "bad." God knows the number of hairs on your head. Your body has a purpose, and your waistline is not the sum total of your value. Your beauty is not defined by this broken culture. You are beautiful because you are created in the image of the Holy God... imago Dei should impact our self-esteem infinitely more than the numbers on a scale or the flaws we think we see in the mirror.
How has God set you on mission on this planet? What people has he placed in your circle of influence to love and with whom to share the eternity-altering Good News of Jesus? These questions may not immediately seem linked to the bedroom, but when we stop comparing ourselves to the models in magazines, the pictures on Facebook, the houses on Pinterest, and to our sisters in Christ, we can spend more time looking at Jesus and letting him tell us how beautiful we are in him! This will most definitely impact our understanding of and desire for intimate connection with our husbands.

2. Perceived Self-Righteousness-

Part of our skewed identity may include a false sense of self-righteousness. Like the older brother in the story of the Prodigal, we follow the rules, work hard for God, and subsequently expect things from Him. Perhaps we have understood sin solely as behaviors, rather than the innate state of our entire heart. We staunchly avoid the things on the "Do Not Do" list and grip with white knuckles the things on the "Do" list. Therefore, God owes us. We may not ever say those words out loud, but that idea hides deep in the recesses of our heart. God owes us health, a comfortable life, obedient children, and ultimately our spot in Heaven. We deserve that! 
So how in the world does this translate to the bedroom? If we believe that our own good behavior can earn us God's approval, then we will believe that others owe us our dues as well. Ever so subtly the mental checklists begin to form.
Who woke up more with the baby? Who cleaned up more around the house? Who works harder to provide for the whole family? Who is more communicative? Who is more spiritual?
"Doesn't he see how hard I've been working?" "He should know how tired I am!"

A heart that feels entitled cannot simultaneously look to serve the other. God designed sex to reflect his own kingdom: service and sacrifice inexplicably lead to the deepest levels of pleasure and joy.
A barrier to that enjoyment is falsely believing that we can depend on our own performance rather than God's grace alone. Apart from Christ, EACH one of our hearts, regardless of how long you've been in church or how morally you live your life, is a cesspool of every imaginable affront to God (Mark 7:20-23). We were dead in our trespasses and sins. Solely because of his love and mercy, for the praise of his glorious grace, God chose to call us out of death and into life in him! (Ephesians 2:1-10) It is God alone, through Jesus Christ, who justifies and sanctifies. I am filled with the Holy Spirit, who gives me the heart to serve when I'd rather be selfish, and gives me energy to engage when I'd rather withdraw. Trust in God's work on your behalf! Not only for your initial justification, but for your sanctification- being finally presented before Him, spotless and without blemish- and every real-life moment along the way.

3. Unresolved Shame-

A major barrier to gospel-centered sex is shame. Our enemy has perfected the craft of whispering condemnation because of our past- both things we've done and have been done to us. I know the personal prison of shame very well. At a really early age I experienced "inappropriate physical touch" by a male relative. Anyone who has endured sexual abuse, on any level, becomes a target for intense shame and crippling guilt. Sister, if you have lived with this, please know that it was not your fault! You did not do anything to "ask for it," you did not deserve it, and your King does not turn a blind eye to it. Jesus was hung up, exposed and scorned, to become your shame, my shame, so we do not have to carry it any more! Jesus came to take all of our shame and wrap us up in brilliant white robes of HIS righteousness.
And he also embodied justice! Our abusers will either accept Christ's atoning work, of which they are as equally (un)deserving as we, or they will stand before our Holy God the moment they breathe their last, without that perfect Advocate. Either way, dear sister, find comfort in the fact that those sins committed against you will not go unanswered! Sit before the cross, asking Jesus to show you how he has paid for and redeemed your specific source of shame.
Then talk to your husband about your past. I know this is scary, because Satan has very clearly whispered,
"He won't love you anymore if he knows. He'll see you for what you are, dirty and tainted." 
It is a lie!

Jesus- the One who came to live the perfect life we cannot, die the death that we deserved for our heart's rebellion, and wipe clean every stain- will never leave you. He already knows the depths of your heart and soul, and he's all in. You do not have to fear rejection, sweet sister, because in Christ you are eternally accepted.
I tasted such sweet freedom when I voiced my deepest source of shame and had my husband speak the gospel truth and his unconditional love for me! Our spouse is evidence of God's grace to us, so trust him with your hurt, and give him the chance to love you like Jesus. Dare to be vulnerable with your husband, and your physical intimacy will be just one fruit on the tree of healing and sanctification that God is growing in your life. 

I've also seen how personal and specific God's redemption is. The very physical acts that were used to victimize me, for someone else's sinful, selfish pleasure, have been redeemed! They have been restored back to their rightful purpose- worship of God and enjoyment for me and my husband. This will likely take time, as it certainly has for me. But you can trust that the Lord will remain faithful, tenderly peeling away the layers of shame in his perfect timing.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. Psalm 34:3-5

Wives are not the only ones who experience the deception of shame and desire to run from God rather than to him. As our husbands seek freedom in the Lord as well, we will have the same opportunity to extend grace, speak the gospel to them, and foster a culture of transparency and forgiveness. In their fight for purity, let us as wives help our husbands by giving them good, mental fuel. Be generous in all areas, including visually, so that they have great mental images to pull from...images of you! :)

When both husband and wife rightly understand their identity in Christ, and allow HIM to free them from shame and guilt, true intimacy will be cultivated, both in and out of the bedroom. May God be glorified greatly in our homes, as we find freedom and joy in Jesus!


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