Let's Talk About Sex

This is part one of a three-part open letter from Dave & Cindy Lanuti to married couples about sex.

Part one: Sex & God

Part two: Five Questions About Sex Married Couples Should Be Asking (But Probably Haven’t)

Part three: How to Protect Your Marriage When It Comes to Sex

Go ahead and think about sex right now.

Seriously, it’s OK…think about sex for a second or two.  We’ll wait… OK, time’s up.  Did you think about God?  Probably not. But you should have, because sex was His idea.  Sex was God’s invention.  We live in a culture that is constantly bombarding us with images, shows, movies, songs, advertisements, articles and websites about sex.  It’s in front of our face so often that we forget to consider where sex came from in the first place.  The very first few pages of the Bible tell the story.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  And the man and his wife were both nakedand were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:24-25).

This is the first marriage in history and for a brief time, it was perfect. Their sex life was perfect.  Adam and Eve were completely naked physically and emotionally.  They had no fear, no shame and no need to cover up or turn off the lights.  They were fully accepted, fully approved and fully loved.  This is marriage in perfection.  Unfortunately, if you turn the page in your Bible, you’ll see this intimacy was quickly broken and it’s been broken ever since.  Fast forward thousands of years and here we are in a world totally confused about intimacy and sex.  But we should be careful before we go declare sex as dirty or evil (and worse…teach that to our kids), we need to be reminded that sex was God’s idea!  Sex is good!  In our broken world, we can only possibly understand intimacy and sex the way it was intended because we were first fully loved and accepted by God. He loved us first and gave us the example of love and intimacy we are to try to match in our relationships. God gave us the gift of sex as a tiny glimpse of the intimacy we were created for, and to make it even sweeter, He gave us THE venue to live out that gift: marriage.  At Hope, starting from middle school, we teach:

  1. Sex is good.

  2. Sex is powerful.

  3. Sex needs to be respected.

Cindy and I both wish we had learned these three simple truths about sex at a younger age.  A misunderstanding of any of them can wreak havoc on you and your relationships.  Many husbands and wives have been taught (sadly by many churches) that sex is evil or dirty.  Now they struggle to fully enjoy the freedom of sex the way God wants for them in their marriage. It’s hard to “flip the switch,” so to speak, from hearing before marriage that “Sex is bad. You shouldn’t be doing this. This is wrong.”  While it’s true sex is intended for marriage, sadly, many married people continue to categorize sex as dirty after marriage.  It’s worth repeating: Sex is good.  But we can’t forget the other two items on that list: sex is powerful and it needs to be respected.

Many young pre-married couples get tripped up on #2: they don’t fully understand the power of sex.  Rather than following God’s design for us and waiting for marriage, they instead follow what feels good and what culture tells them, leading to all kinds of issues. They have no awareness that the power of sex clouds over a host of relational brokenness and incompatibility that is never addressed before their wedding date.  It’s amazing to us what incompatibilities pre-married couples overlook when they’re sexually active.  Perhaps worse, this clouding effect for these sexually active pre-married couples is stealing their opportunity to build a lasting friendship. That’s not a recipe for a successful marriage.  We need to respect sex in the venue God intended us to enjoy it: marriage. (More on what’s permissible in sex in Part two).  Saving sex for marriage, and only marriage, is not an unfair restriction God imposes on His children to limit our enjoyment of His gift.  He’s a loving Father.  He desires for us to experience His very best.  So obeying Him in this is literally the way we can experience the best sex possible, the way He intended.  Even secular research now supports this.  Check it out for yourself, secular research says if you want to have the best sex life possible, wait for marriage. (Journal of Family Psychology, Psychology Today, AOL health, the Economist, to name a few).

After 16 years of marriage, the most profound thing Cindy and I have learned regarding sex (and you can learn more about this in Hope’s re|engage marriage class) is that

“emotional intimacy precedes physical intimacy”

This is so true for us.  Our physical intimacy is at its best when our friendship and emotional intimacy are at their strongest.  When we’re on the same page, when we’ve laughed a lot together, when we’ve served each other, talked to each other, prayed for each other, spent time together in worship, that’s when sex is off the charts awesome!

TIP: You won’t hear or see this in any movies, but regularly praying together (out loud) is one of the greatest things you can do for your sex life.  We dare you to try making that a habit…  You’re welcome.  🙂

We believe the best sex is in the best marriages.

And the best marriages are the ones where both husband and wife are growing in their relationship with Jesus.  Where, every day, God’s unconditional love for them informs the way they love and serve their spouse, even when they don’t deserve it.  Because that’s how God loves us every day, even though we don’t deserve it. Jesus taught us to

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and [then] all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33)

Before turning anywhere else on how to improve your sex life, turn to God.  He invented it.  In his book You and Me Forever, Francis Chan wisely observes that “our marriage problems are not really marriage problems. They’re heart problems.  They are God problems.  Our lack of intimacy with God causes a void that we try to fill with the frailest of substitutes.”

God wants so much more for you than to just have a great sex life in your marriage.

He wants so much more for you than to just get along better with your spouse.  He wants you, yourself!  He longs to be with you, to spend time with you, to speak to you and to hear from you.  He loves see His kids grow and mature into Jesus’ likeness.  He invites you to join into the incredible mission He’s prepared for you.  He wants your marriage itself to be a reflection of His love for us to the world around us.  (See Ephesians 5:25-33).  There are a ton of great books and articles and therapists that can help you in marriage and physical intimacy.  I’ve read many of them, and they’ve helped my marriage.  But they cannot “solve” your issues.  They cannot “fix” your marriage.  Only God can.  So start there.  Open your Bible and engage the heart of God through His word.  If you need help with reading your Bible, many great resources are available.  Here’s ONE. Did you know there are groups of men and women meeting all over the Triangle that regularly study Scripture together?  There’s a good chance there’s one in your neighborhood. Why not JOIN them?

But before you go…

When’s the last time God heard from you other than right before a meal or perhaps tucking in your kids?  Talk to Him. He (quite literally) has been dying to hear from you.  Focus on Him first. Encourage your spouse to do the same. Talk to each other about what you’re learning from His word.  Ask your spouse how you can pray for them today.  If you’re anything like Cindy and me, what you’ll find is that God will shape you.   You’ll become more generous.  You’ll focus less on your needs and more on your spouse.  You’ll find creative ways to serve your spouse.  You’ll laugh more (you might cry more too).  You’ll play more and have more fun.  You’ll find you have a common mission and purpose together. You will become a team again.  Your spouse will be married to someone who behaves more and more like Jesus, and that’s the greatest gift you can give! And oh yeah, I almost forgot the sweet icing on the top… your sex life will be steamier than ever!

And don’t miss Part two: Five Questions About Sex Married Couples Should Be Asking (But Probably Haven’t)

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