By: Allie Joy Hudson
5 min. read
Sex and Fire
I always like the analogy that compares sex to a fire. In the right context, like a fireplace, a fire is a beautiful thing. It’s warm, comforting, and purposeful. It sustains life. But, when a fire occurs outside of the right context, it’s destructive, relentless, and is never satisfied. A fire like this has the potential to hurt people.
The same principle applies to sex. Consider sex in the confines of the marriage covenant versus sex outside of the protection and commitment of marriage.
Getting to a place of flourishing marital sex involves a serious look at your mind and eyes, your relationships, and your sex life with your spouse. It involves discipline. Let’s take a quick look at what this means for you and your marriage now.
Our Thoughts and Our Gaze
Let’s first examine our minds and our eyes. Be honest with yourself: How are you thinking about the people you see? When you look at others, do you linger and visually consume them? What are your thoughts dwelling on? How do you think about your spouse?
Our gaze and intentions are often closely linked. (Consider Jesus’ words to His followers in Matthew 5:27-28.) I love the way my pastor talked about our gaze recently. He explained that when Jesus talks about looking at someone with lust, He is talking about “looking in order to.” This “in order to” is key to uncovering our motives.
With our motives in mind, what does it look like for us to be disciplined with our eyes and minds? A great resource for this subject is Every Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker. The authors are open and bold about their charge to married men. They write, “You are sexually pure when no sexual gratification comes from anyone or anything but your wife.” What an awesome goal to aspire to!
Arterburn and Stoeker give us ways to practice discipline and fight for our marriages:
- Starve your eyes and only draw sexual encounters and visuals from your wife. (Proverbs 5 calls your wife your fountain – a dynamic, unending spring.)
- Bounce your eyes immediately upon seeing someone attractive.
- Fill your mind with truths and with Scripture as your weapons.
I love these practical solutions that Every Man’s Battle provides because they are concrete and attainable, and because they take seriously the importance of discipline in this area of our lives. Sexual satisfaction is a good, God-honoring thing, but we must learn the discipline of finding sexual satisfaction only from our spouse. This shapes the way we look at and think about others and our spouse.
In addition to practicing discipline with our thoughts and our gaze, we have to be disciplined in our relationships and interactions with others, especially people of the opposite sex.
Unfortunately, much of the church has taken this well-intentioned thought to an unhealthy extreme and has advised married people to cut off all contact with the opposite sex. But Jesus calls us to live in community with and to love one another. How do we do that well if we’re cut off from each other?
Bronwyn Lea gives us a fantastic framework to answer this question in her book Beyond Awkward Side Hugs. We need to start by remembering that we as believers are brothers and sisters in Christ. This is the lens through which we must filter all of our relationships. When we see a woman we aren’t married to as a sister in Christ rather than an object or merely a temptation, this is a much healthier place to start.
But, we also need to keep these things in mind:
Do we need to put ourselves in wise scenarios? Absolutely.
Should we be aware of people’s perception? Yes.
Should our relationship with our spouse be our most important human relationship? Definitely.
Do we need to be aware of our mental state and attraction to others and act accordingly? Yup.
We need to practice both sides of this equation well. Discipline in our relationships with people of the opposite sex is a balance. This balance means having boundaries and being wise with the situations we put ourselves in and remembering that we are brothers and sisters under the same Father.
Related: Let’s Talk About Sex
If we are protecting the sexual integrity of our marriage, this also means that we need to care for our sex life with our spouse well. This is hugely important.
In his book A Celebration of Sex, Dr. Douglas E. Rosenau writes, “Discipline doesn’t have to destroy the fun and spontaneity of sex or put pressure on you. The truth is that if you don’t plan sex into your schedules and take advantage of optimal times, you will never make love with any frequency! . . . keep a time sacredly reserved for sex.”
Sit down with your spouse and discuss how often you’d like to have sex. Reach a conclusion together as a couple, and make it happen! We need to make sex a priority because it is important. This is time for a husband and wife to come together, focus solely on each other, reunite, and connect emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
Making love with your spouse is truly precious and sacred. Continue to pursue each other both inside and outside of the bedroom. Exhibit discipline, with the help of your spouse, and make sex happen.
Spiritual Disciplines: Building Relationship
Discipline in your marriage has many facets to it. It involves filtering your gaze and thoughts, being mindful of your relationships and interactions with people of the opposite sex, and making sex with your spouse a priority. All of these concepts are so important to a healthy sexual ethic as a married person. We need to practice each one of these things, and we can do that with Jesus’ help.
[As a quick side note, you might notice that I pulled from a lot of different books in this article. There are really great resources out there, and I encourage you to look into them. Each one of the books I’ve listed has shaped my perspective and has been a help to my marriage. I hope they help and challenge you too.]
I like the concept of spiritual disciplines, including practices like prayer, reading the Bible, and worshipping in church. These actions are habits that we need to work to put in place. And even though the process of bringing these things into our life can be difficult and can take time, they will ultimately strengthen our relationship with Jesus and make us more like Him.
Consider this concept with your marriage too. Just as we practice spiritual disciplines to strengthen our relationship with Jesus, we also practice discipline to guard our marriages and allow them to flourish. Let’s practice these things together and fight for our marriages well.
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Allie Joy Hudson is first and foremost a daughter of the King. She has worked with Proven for two and a half years and serves as the Content Manager. Allie graduated from Liberty University with a B.A. in English and minors in Spanish and Psychology. She completed her Senior Honors Thesis on the presentation of postmodern sexuality in short fiction. She enjoys reading, writing, playing the viola, running, singing, and photography. Allie is passionate about her ever-growing C.S. Lewis collection, cultivating relationships, and proclaiming truth in the twisted arena of postmodern sexuality. Allie lives in Pennsylvania and is overjoyed to be married to the love of her life.