By Juli Slattery
part of Understanding Your Husband's Sexual Needs series:
5- Sex Is a Spiritual Need 6- Sex Is a Relational Need
Read what the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church:
It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. … I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.
Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. (1 Corinthians 7:1B–3, 7–9)
Paul commanded husbands and wives to be sexually available to each other to avoid temptation. He then encouraged Christians to remain unmarried, unless they have a strong sexual desire. According to Paul, battling sexual temptation is a significant reason for Christians to marry! So, what happens to the man who marries because he "burns" only to find that his wife doesn't "burn"?
Dr. Archibald Hart writes, "Most men face a lifelong struggle to control their sexuality. The struggle is between their hormones and their higher aspirations. It is a battle between their seemingly uncontrollable urges and the fear of succumbing to these urges. Ultimately, it is a struggle over integrity, right and wrong, uprightness and wholeness."1
Hart's statement explains why sex is a spiritual need for a married man. He likely battles daily to stay pure. His walk with the Lord and his integrity are largely determined by how he handles sexual temptations and impulses. When he gives in to lust, pornography, or inappropriate sexual relationships, he carries a tremendous burden of guilt. He may doubt his salvation and feel disqualified from the body of Christ. Because he feels so ashamed about his struggle or failure, he may feel that he can't share his burden with anyone else.
Initially, Sheila and Mark really enjoyed their sexual relationship. The first couple of years of their marriage was the honeymoon stage that most couples hope for. As time wore on, though, their sexual desires changed. Sheila was busy and exhausted taking care of their young children, and she lost interest in sex. While Sheila seemed content to put their sexual relationship on hold for the time being, Mark responded by initiating more frequently. If he was a deer panting for water, she was a camel who seemed capable of walking through the desert for months at a time without a water break.
When Mark got the message that his advances were likely to be thwarted, he stopped asking for intimacy. He had no idea how to express his frustration and despair to Sheila. Her loud sighs and condescending expression at the mention of sex communicated that she could never understand how critical their sexual relationship was to him.
Over time, Mark began to direct his sexual needs through masturbation and light pornography. A few nights a week, he would stay up late, surfing channels, hoping to catch a glimpse of something sexual. The guilt and shame he felt only intensified the rift of intimacy in their marriage. Although he rationalized his actions, Mark knew that Sheila would be devastated to discover what he was doing. More than anything else, he longed to be pure, to share his sexuality only with Sheila. But life was too busy, his desire too strong, his will too weak, and the gulf between them too great.
Like Mark, your husband depends on you to be his partner in his battle against sexual temptation. Although you aren't responsible for his actions, you are a key component in his victory. You're the only woman in the world whom your husband can look at sexually without compromising his integrity!
Again, please understand: You aren't responsible for your husband's sexual behavior. Don't be motivated out of fear that he will act out if you don't meet his needs; rather be motivated out of love and a desire to share his spiritual journey with him.
1. Hart, The Sexual Man, 70.
From No More Headaches, published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. © 2009 Julianna Slattery. Used by permission