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Intimacy - what too many churches get wrong

Discussion in 'Married Couples' started by WolfGate, Aug 4, 2020.

  1. WolfGate

    WolfGate Senior Member

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    First, the absolute positive is that, unlike when I grew up in the 1960s and 70s, many churches are now willing to talk about sex within marriage. However, there are a couple of areas I've seen where many teachers within the church can dramatically improve.

    One of those is in presenting majority situations like they are the "normal". For one example, while studies have shown that in 70%-80% of marriages the husband has a higher desire for sex than the wife that still means that roughly 1 out of 4 women want sex more than their husband. That makes their marriage completely normal. Yet too often I have seen teaching address the issue like the majority situation is pretty much always the case and therefore it creates the impression that anything else is different or abnormal. "Now Ladies, your husband wants sex more than you - that is how God made him so it isn't wrong. When you understand that, it's easier to be intimate with him when he's in the mood but you are not." (actual quote). Same can be said of studies that show a majority of women have more desire for words of affirmation than their husbands and teachings that are directed at men in response to that.

    Wait though, did you see what else the author did there? "Intimate". Perhaps it's because direct sex talk is still uncomfortable to some, but somehow "intimate" has become a euphemism for "sex" in the church. In doing so it has minimized intimacy in marriage and relegated the non-sexual needs and desires of a spouse to second class status.

    Intimacy is not just sex. Intimacy is seeking to meet the love language of your spouse. Intimacy is dreaming together for the future. Intimacy is transparency. Intimacy is openly discussing the hardest topics - finances, weaknesses, spiritual health, sex. Intimacy is knowing you will love each other even though imperfections are laid bare. Intimacy leads to a long loving marriage with knowledge that you will enjoy each other as long as you both live. Intimacy is so much more than making love. Intimacy makes making love so much better.

    In every marriage, there are going to be intimacies where one spouse has a higher desire than the other. When considering Ephesians 5:21, it is not just sexual intimacy where the lower desire spouse is called to serve their partner by assuring needs are met. That is true with all areas of intimacy, which in almost every marriage means both spouses will be called to serve the needs and desires of their spouse. You can't put sex in a silo and expect that to be the only one or even the most important one. The intimacies all intertwine. If any of them are not being met in a marriage, then all of them suffer and the marriage will not meet its full potential.

    In a way, viewing intimacy in marriage how it is in reality is a wonderful cycle. Both partners in the marriage get to serve the other, and to be served by their spouse. That builds a history and love and bond that can last forever.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2020
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  2. mkgal1

    mkgal1 His perfect way sets me free. 2 Samuel 22:33 Supporter

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    You are so right!

    There's actually a lot packed into that subtle twist of phrasing there.

    That spin on things (calling obligatory sex "being intimate") creates a whole list of dysfunction and heartache. Another belief that's interpreted from this is that the wife can transform his selfish desires into intimacy. It doesn't happen to the husband....because the stereotype is never portrayed that way. If there's a disconnect in the marriage....it's implied that it's up to the wife to repair it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2020
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  3. Dave G.

    Dave G. Well-Known Member

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    I'm mostly interested if Jesus and the Holy Spirit are even in the church these days, than considering their view on how people get it on. Just sayin......
     
  4. kdm1984

    kdm1984 Member

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    There's certainly something of an over-focused tendency, especially in Reformed churches, where the stereotype of the guy wanting sex more than the woman comes up a lot. They have trouble conceiving of women like me who are nymphos and just salivate and swoon over hot hot hot handsome men.

    The answer is finding a hot dude for marriage, leaving Reformed churches, and yet remaining a believer in spite of these generalities. :)
     
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  5. WolfGate

    WolfGate Senior Member

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    I'm a big believer in people seeking to meet the needs of their spouse regardless of the type of intimacy involved. That too can be twisted by some into being "obligatory", but they would be wrong to do so. The difference in serving and acting in obligation is huge - as much for the one being served as the server. Obligation breeds entitlement and self focus. Service breeds gratitude and desire to respond in kind. One of those is destructive, the other constructive.
     
  6. WolfGate

    WolfGate Senior Member

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    I too am most concerned if people know Christ and if churches are teaching the gospel and following both the bible and the Holy Spirit. But that doesn't mean there can't be concern, and posts, for healthy marriages and sexual satisfaction as God intended. There are lots of bible passages about both of those topics as well.
     
  7. mkgal1

    mkgal1 His perfect way sets me free. 2 Samuel 22:33 Supporter

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    I agree. I think what encourages genuine giving is mutuality. If the giving is one directional....and even encouraged that way in teaching/conferences....that only breeds resentment and disconnection.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2020
  8. Dave G.

    Dave G. Well-Known Member

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    Post away !!! It was just a point is all, no intents to stop your thread.
     
  9. Endeavourer

    Endeavourer Well-Known Member

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    This sounds like that ungodly book Love and Respect, which teaches a number of marriage damaging philosophies.

    Pertinent to your quote here, the ungodly book eliminates the expectation of the wife's need and enjoyment of sexual fulfillment. Transitioning sex to be a male entitlement and an obligatory female sacrifice disrupts the beautiful marital harmony between the husband's incentive to participate in loving intimacy (not sex) in the relationship so the wife stays in love with him and desires/enjoys sexual connections.

    We all know how behavior changes when a person feels entitled to an outcome vs when they are participating in producing the outcome.

    It grieves me that many churches are promoting this book and its ungodly, damaging "revelation".

    This ungodly book is a major culprit in redefining and augmenting complimentarianism in a Pharisaical way, changing the beauty of mutually satisfying marital sexual relations into something gross that the wife must endure as her (b)ibilcal duty of submission to her husband.

    The Bible references marital sex only in a mutual way and gives *NO* hint or expectation that a wife's submission to her husband includes sexual slavery, as this book purports.

    Thinking something sounds Godly doesn't mean it is Godly.
     
  10. mkgal1

    mkgal1 His perfect way sets me free. 2 Samuel 22:33 Supporter

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    Exactly. And the way that was phrased ("Now Ladies, your husband wants sex more than you - that is how God made him so it isn't wrong").....there was no room allowed for the possibility that a husband can have selfish sexual demands. Instead....it projects the selfishness onto the wife for having her own needs.

    All of us have work to do in order to shed our selfish and destructive desires and habits. I doubt there're many people out there that we can say that how they are now is how God would prefer them to remain.

    Just because someone or a situation is a certain way...that doesn't mean God is responsible for it. That creates a whole other host of problems as well.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2020
  11. WolfGate

    WolfGate Senior Member

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    The quote was not from Love and Respect, which I've read and agree is problematic. I do believe the person who I quoted was in no way intending to define sex as a male entitlement - rather I saw her intent being to address the also not uncommon conclusion from lower drive spouses that something is wrong with their spouse who has a much higher drive.

    Even teachers who would never advocate for sex being an entitlement can fall into the trap of generalizations and unintended messages - and the damage those bring along with them. In that case some of those damages are clear. Women who heard her teach and have a higher drive than their husbands could now feel like something was with their marriage (or them, or their husband), when it really is normal. Teaching about serving related to differences in desire for sex alone, when there are other needs in the marriage which have the same issue of different levels of desire, both implies that those needs are less important than sex and remove the whole concept of spouses seeking to serve the needs of their partner. It actually allows selfishness to creep in even if the intent was the opposite.
     
  12. Hidden In Him

    Hidden In Him Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Greetings in Christ.

    I think that when emotional and mental intimacy is there, sex - good sex - is a virtual given in most marriages, and meeting the needs of both partners becomes a foregone conclusion. The stress on sexuality alone at the expense of psychological intimacy, however, undermines the very purpose for which the teaching is given. What may be happening in many churches is that teachings on mental and emotional intimacy dig too deeply into the personal lives of people to be a comfortable thing to preach on, so it remains a peripheral issue for marriage counsellors alone to deal with, or for pastors to try and deal with in private. But then only those who feel they need marriage counseling will ever hear it, and if they think they are "normal" they never will.

    About your last few sentences (which are very good), marriage is about sacrificing personal desires for one's partner, and even modifying one's own character to satisfy their needs. And we are SO different psychologically that this can only take place through a type of crucifixion of the self for the sake of our spouses, in the midst of learning just how differently they approach life, see issues, and value different things... But self-crucifixion must be mutual, or the trust will break down. It's why ultimately I believe Christian marriages must be ordained of God. If two people are called together, they will both be willing to embrace the cross, and conform more perfectly to each other's will. It's also why marriages work best when two people are deeply in love from the start, and work hard to remain that way throughout their years.

    Just my thoughts.

    In Christ,
    Hidden In Him
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2020
  13. NerdGirl123

    NerdGirl123 Active Member

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    This is absolutely amazing. As someone whose needs have been largely ignored and neglected for many unhappy years, reading this makes me want to cry. Just to know that someone out there understands.
     
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