One of the most well-known passages of Scripture is the love chapter of I Corinthians 13. We LOVE this inspiring, poetic description of love! Even those who are not particularly fond of the Bible may have this passage on a plaque in their homes or have it read at a wedding ceremony. Why? Because it beautifully expresses an ideal love.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Truth be told, this is the way we want to be loved but not necessarily how we want to love others. While I Corinthians 13 is viewed as a romantic, inspiring passage about love, I think it’s actually pretty unromantic. Love isn’t fun when it requires me apply these verses in my marriage.
When I have to meditate on I Corinthians 13, that means that I probably feel like doing the opposite. I don’t want to be patient and kind. I’d rather be proud and tell my husband why I’m right and he’s wrong. I feel justified in being selfish, angry and reminding him of the ways he hurt me. To always protect, always trust, always hope and always persevere means the opposite of the romance. It means choosing love when that’s my least natural response.
Romance is a beautiful gift, but love is an even greater one. I can see that God allows marriage to be difficult because we don’t learn this kind of love until the superficial feelings of romance have disappeared.
Christians often buy into the culture of romance and self-fulfillment which tells us that the ultimate goal is to “be in love” rather than to “walk in love.” We can even project onto God our desire to experience the tingles and elation of a romantic high. How many men and women have justified leaving a marriage because they “fell out of love”?
Here’s the catch… we can’t love anyone like this without God’s help. The best of you is not enough to persevere through disappointment and discouragement in your marriage. But God… God calls us not only to love, but He gives us the daily strength to walk it out.
How is your “love life?” You may regularly tell your husband you love him, but does the plumbline of I Corinthians 13 confirm your love?
When I talk to women about sex in marriage, one of the most common concerns is their bodies. “I’m just not sexy!” Practically every woman feels like she is either too old, too fat, too flat-chested, or too plain to be sexy.
We live in a world that has definite opinions on what is attractive and sexy. Marketers spend millions of dollars and countless hours transforming naturally beautiful people into virtual goddesses with makeup, lighting, stylists and photo editing. As a result, we each carry images in our mind of unattainable standards of beauty. We can never be young enough, thin enough, or pretty enough to be sexy.
Like most women, I’ve gone through seasons of insecurity, wondering how in the world my husband could ever view me as sexy when I’ve given birth to three children, have stretch marks and wrinkles and score all “A’s” in my cup size. Mike has seen beautiful women and been impacted by the seductive and pornographic images that are so prevalent in our culture. No way I can compete with that!
Fortunately, God has created a husband to be excited and sexually aroused by his wife even after decades of marriage and even if he has seen women far more beautiful than she is. The average husband has the capacity to be sexually captivated by his very average-looking wife. But it may take some effort on your part to continue to capture your husband’s imagination.
While most men appreciate the work we do to look healthy, fit and attractive, they are even more appreciative of the energy we put into the mental state of sexiness. Let me explain.
Men are visual. Yes, they are sexually stimulated by what they see, but they are sexually enticed by an invitation. Pornography, prostitution, and affairs offer more than naked women. They present an invitation… an invitation to have fun, to be wild, to let go, to be served and to be accepted. I believe that most men choose these options not because the women are more beautiful, but because the women are more available… more enticing.
Solomon wrote about an immoral woman seducing a young man. Read what he wrote and notice how little he says about the women’s appearance in contrast to her availability:
He was crossing the street near the house of an immoral woman, strolling down the path by her house. It was at twilight, in the evening, as deep darkness fell.
The woman approached him, seductively dressed and sly of heart. She was the brash, rebellious type, never content to stay at home.
She is often in the streets and markets, soliciting at every corner.
She threw her arms around him and kissed him, and with a brazen look she said, ‘I’ve just made my peace offerings and fulfilled my vows. You’re the one I was looking for! I came out to find you, and here you are! My bed is spread with beautiful blankets, with colored sheets of Egyptian linen. I’ve perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let’s drink our fill of love until morning. Let’s enjoy each other’s caresses, for my husband is not home.’ She seduced him with her pretty speech and enticed him with her flattery.” Proverbs 7:8-21
Without knowing anything about this woman’s appearance, we can tell that she is sexy. She is confident, enticing, available and eager. This is what men respond to and what they often never experience with their wives.
The word “sexy” has a negative connotation. What does it actually mean to be “sexy?” The dictionary defines “sexy” as “sexually attractive or arousing.” According to this definition, it is a very good thing to be sexy with your own husband. While I don’t want to be seen as “sexy” to the average guy (I don’t have to worry about that!), I do want my husband to think of me as his “sexy wife.” I want him to think of me as confident, enticing, available and eager.
I can remember many years ago being a brand new mom. One day I was walking down the stairs with my newborn son and saw my image holding him in the mirror. In that moment, motherhood dawned on me. I could now “see” myself in this new role. Becoming a mom happens the moment you get pregnant but it takes many months to grow into the role of motherhood.
This is also true as a wife. You became a wife on your wedding day, but it takes months and years to realize what that means - particularly related to your sexuality. You have to “learn” to become sexy. It’s not something that just happens. In fact, you may need to relearn being sexy as you transition into different stages of marriage and confront new challenges.
I love how Linda Dillow says it. “It’s not what you got, but what you do with what you got that matters in the bedroom.” Linda is in her 70’s and has been married for over 50 years. As bodies age and break down, a mindset of pleasing and enjoying each means that you can still have a smokin’ hot relationship in the golden years of marriage.
As women, we can spend far too much energy worrying about what we look like. That time and energy will be far better spent if we learn what it means to be enticing, exciting and available for our husbands.
The woman you read about in Proverbs 7 used her sexuality to entice a man she wasn’t married to. However, we can learn from her about how to use our sexuality to entice the man we are married to! Here a few practical things you can do to grow into a wife who is comfortable being sexy with her husband:
Entice with words. She seduced him with her pretty speech and enticed him with her flattery. Proverbs 7:21. As a married woman, you say a lot of things to your husband. You ask him to pick up milk at the grocery store, you scold him when he tosses the baby in the air and you might thank him now and then for being a good husband. But how often do you use your words to entice him sexually? Just read a few verses from the Song of Solomon and you will meet a wife who did just this!
Entice with your clothes. The woman approached him, seductively dressed. Proverbs 7: 10. Wearing something black and lacy may not be for your husband as much as it is for you. As ridiculous as you may feel at first, wearing sexy nighties or underwear helps you get in the mood and can encourage you in believing that you have something wonderful to offer your husband.
Entice with your bedroom. My bed is spread with beautiful blankets, with colored sheets of Egyptian linen. I’ve perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Proverbs 7:16-17. In the throws of normal life, your bedroom can become a pretty unromantic, uninviting place. How about a bedroom makeover, creating a space that says, “It’s time to be sensual and have fun together”?
Next time you wonder if you’re really sexy, skip the article in Cosmo and remember that sexy is a state of mind. You can choose to be all that your husband needs and desires.
This month we celebrated our country’s birthday. The Fourth of July is typically associated with fireworks and freedom. Fireworks are the celebration of the freedom we obtained on July 4, 1776.
This weekend, I’ll be celebrating fireworks and freedom in a different way. Saturday is my 22nd wedding anniversary. On July 16, 1994, Mike and I committed our lives to each other as husband and wife. On that day, the Lord gave us a gift of fireworks and freedom in our sexual expression for each other.
As you know from other times I’ve shared, the fireworks and freedom took time to “sink in.” I doubt that our founding fathers had the same kind of celebrations in 1776 that we now enjoy in on July 4th. They were still fighting for the reality of America’s independence. The same is true of my marriage (and probably yours). Like me, you’ve probably had to “fight” for the freedom and fireworks in your marriage relationship. You’ve had to fight fear, images from the past, wrong thoughts and attitudes about sex, and your own selfishness.
Why fight for “freedom and fireworks” in the bedroom? Isn’t that kind of a shallow pursuit? I don’t think so… Some Christians have a pretty negative attitude towards sexuality. We see all the ways that this great gift has been exploited and twisted in our world. While the world’s attitudes may be discouraging, God actually wants us to pursue the true gift of sexual expression within the context of committed love.
The Old Testament book, Song of Solomon, shows us that God created sexual intimacy for a husband and wife to experience both freedom and fireworks in the expression of their love for each other. Out of sixty-six books in the Bible, why would God include one that seems to exclusively focus on the love relationship between a husband and wife? He wants us to know that sexual intimacy was designed for freedom, for pleasure and for covenant. As frustrating as it is to see the gift of sex exploited in the world, it’s just as discouraging to see how many marriages settle with a less-than-fulfilling sex life. It is a God-honoring pursuit for a husband and wife to learn to passionately love each other.
I’ve talked to many women who feel as if sexual pleasure in marriage is somehow wrong. The Song of Solomon clearly teaches that God created men and women with sexual passion and that sexual intimacy was created to be a blessing.
One of the greatest challenges to obtaining the ideal of anything is finding practical steps to get moving in the right direction. I think this is particularly true with sexual intimacy in marriage. There are so many obstacles that can discourage us in the pursuit of genuine passion in the bedroom: fatigue, boredom, physical issues, conflict, shame and guilt from the past to name a few.
Obstacles and frustration are normal. I’ve met a few couples for whom seems just seem to “click” but most couples can identify with frustration, conflict and discouragement in their sexual relationship. Building intimacy in your marriage will take commitment, effort, creativity and prayer.
This Thursday night, we will be hosting a live webinar to talk about some of those first steps toward “freedom” and “fireworks..” Steps like how to engage your mind and body in sexual intimacy, how to get past negative thoughts and images from the past, and how to start talking about sex within your marriage.
If it’s been years since you and your husband have experienced true joy in sexual intimacy, this event is for you. Join us this Thursday at 7MT/9ET! Register today!