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What every Christian man needs to know about sex?

As a Christian man, you’re in a very difficult situation. On the one hand, there’s the church which for decades has avoided addressing the topic of sex, and then there’s the dark world of pornography and strip clubs where sex is so worldly that it’s sometimes difficult to know where the middle way is… This is the first of four articles in which INTIMACY4US will advise you on how to overcome this age-old struggle.

Life presents multiple challenges to any Christian man. There are the billboards which sometimes make it impossible to avoid an accident, and every takeaway is sold with the help of a sexy blonde on its packaging. You land on seedy websites at the click of a button (even during an innocent search for something quite unrelated!), and more and more women are taking control of their sexuality and have become man-hunters at the office. And of course, a man isn’t a rock…

“If the hallmark of the Christian life is love, then Christian men should be renowned as the best lovers in the world,” write Ryan Howes, Richard Rupp and Stephen W. Simpson in their book What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew about Sex: a Guide for Christian Men. With Jesus as their example, along with the wisdom of the Bible on sex and love, Christian men have a unique advantage when it comes to knowing how to love. Yet the authors believe that most Christian men have a ball and chain locked around each ankle. “One was slapped on by the Puritans and the other by the pornographers. The Puritan chain on your right ankle demands that male sexuality look more like the asexuality of angels,” they write, going on to explain that it dictates you mustn’t kiss a woman until your wedding day (almost impossible), shouldn’t turn your head when a gorgeous woman walks past (definitely impossible) and shouldn’t talk freely about sex with your wife (how boring!).

“Tied up with all these shoulds and shouldn’ts, a man can feel like castrating himself, because the daily guilt is too much to bear. The pornographers have an equally oppressive chain wrapped around your other leg. This chain also comes with its shoulds and shouldn’ts. You should only look at women as sex objects. You should never get tangled up in a committed relationship with a woman for the rest of your life. You should be totally uninhibited by shame or morality. And fidelity? That’s for prudes and losers.” Both Puritanism and pornography have something in common, the writers believe: “They make men cowards. Puritan sexuality makes a man about as passionate and assertive as a wet Chihuahua. Pornography encourages a man to avoid taking a risk on a real relationship.” This means that a man remains a boy and never becomes a man. “It is time to break free and become the sexual man God created you to be. For Christian men, sex and love are meant to be partners. When you have one without the other, your marriage will be boring. Great lovers see no separation between sex and love. But to become a great lover – you need to be free – free from Puritans and Pornographers, from legalism and recklessness, from repression and exhibitionism.”

So what do women wish their husbands knew about sex?
“The reality is that women and men actually wish for the same thing. We both wish for intimacy, lifelong love, trust, respect, fun, and romance. We both want hot, mind-blowing sex. The only challenge is that we approach these wishes from different angles.”

Song of Songs teaches men eight lessons about passion:

1. Anticipation is the best part of passionate love. We all know how unbelievable sex is when you’ve been away for a few days and then you see each other for the first time! Fireworks! Songs of Songs also teaches us not to awaken love until it is ready. Women enjoy anticipation – that naughty wink that you give her which makes her think: here it comes! What women don’t like, however, is abrupt lovemaking with two minutes of foreplay. Food always tastes better when you’re hungry, and sometimes, with sex, it’s necessary to work up an appetite. Keep sex full of mystery and anticipation with a telephone call, flowers or words of encouragement.

2. The value of pursuit. Unfortunately, women have begun to take a leadership role when it comes to the dating scene. Whether they did this because men became lazy, or whether men became lazy because they did this, is anyone’s guess – but a wise man understands that a woman wants to be perused. Why would a woman want to enter into an intimate relationship with a man who hasn’t proved his desire for her? In Song of Songs 7, the lady declares “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me.” There is a reason she can say this confidently: the guy has worked hard to earn her passion! First, he praises her beauty. Second, he works hard to get her attention. In 4:12, the man describes her as “a garden locked”, and “a fountain sealed”. He knows that she’s not readily available for him whenever he feels like it. This is the reason we see him constantly seeking and praising her. Whether you’ve been married for 40 minutes, or 40 years, a woman wants to know you desire her and she wants to feel special. It is difficult to experience intimacy if you aren’t sure how someone feels about you.

3. The need for foreplay. Song of Songs is full of this! Of course, physical beauty isn’t the most important quality in a woman – her heart is, but if you want to turn her on, she wants to know you desire her and that, to you, she’s the most gorgeous thing on earth. A woman who doesn’t feel this way may not be able to become vulnerable during sex. Couples with a healthy sex life see foreplay as a lifestyle. Don’t expect her to jump into bed with you after you’ve done the dishes – your foreplay should begin with the way you kiss her good morning, and should be kept up during the day.

4. The joys of physical intimacy. Song of Songs is full of couples seeking and ‘finding’ each other – and guess what happens when they ‘find’ each other? You know what happens! In the modern world, there are so many responsibilities that drive couples apart. If you leave sex until the very last thing on your ‘to do’ list, it probably won’t happen. Make it part of your schedules!

5. Pleasure and the body. Lesson five is that the body was made for pleasure. If all desires of the flesh were sinful, what is Song of Songs doing in the bible? Ask the authors. The bulk of this book describes how much the couple desires one another and the physical excitement they derive from their union. When we classify all desires of the flesh as sinful, we reject God’s plan and design.

6. Equality in sex. A man and his wife are equals when it comes to sex. There should not be a pursuer or a pursued in the bedroom, but each of you should take turns in leading the action. Both partners should have the freedom to express sexual desire and to participate equally. The structure of Song of Songs suggests this by alternating stanzas between the man and woman.

7. Passion is a couple’s retreat from the rest of the world. Song of Songs 7:11-12 suggests that a husband and wife sometimes need to be alone. This means no children, no parents-in-law or rowdy friends! The bond between a husband and a wife should be like a “seal”, as strong as death and a raging flame, says Song of Songs. Sometimes, this may mean going on holiday so that the two of you can escape. Scheduling regular times of passion with your wife and creating your own special vineyard in your home will protect your relationship.

8. Beware the little foxes. Song of Songs 2:15 says that it is the little foxes which spoil the vineyard, ruining the relationship between you and your wife. Whenever either one of you worries exclusively about your own needs, it can ruin intimacy. The other ‘little foxes’ include anger, fear, shame, resentment, apathy and poor communication. When you notice that there is something creating distance between the two of you, don’t ignore it. Remember that it’s not the big things, like extra-marital affairs, which Song of Song is speaking about – but rather the friendly lady colleague who wants to go drink coffee with you. Keep these small foxes at bay through prayer, counselling, communication or even a wonderful weekend away.

Talk about sex!
Maybe you aren’t a talker, but rather a doer, and perhaps your wife simply can’t say ‘penis’ without blushing from ear to ear! But it is vital to speak to your wife about sex! Just make sure you do it in the right way. To alert her to something which you don’t like won’t bode well in the middle of sex. So, choose your time wisely. A great lover also talks with other men – his sons, brothers and friends – about sexuality. There’s just one problem though: sexual terminology doesn’t leave us with many options! Your choice basically consists of degrading words, or medical terms. But you only have to read Song of Songs to discover the most wonderful sexual terminology. If you’re sometimes left speechless, try the following synonyms:

• testicles – apples
• male ejaculation – dew
• sexual intercourse – entering the garden
• oral sex – feed among the lilies
• interruptions or obstacles to sex – little foxes
• genitals – fruit
• penis – gazelle
• vagina – orchard of pomegranates
• penis or testicles – garden of nuts
• breasts – mountains
• female sexual secretions – myrrh
• woman’s body – palm
• vulva – round goblet
• breasts – towers
• penis (and sometimes the whole body) – vine
• the woman’s body or genitals – vineyard
• erotic pleasure – wine

Use these to form you own fun, sexy phrases:

• “I think the stag is ready to play in your garden!”
• “I feel like sampling some fruit from the orchard?”
• “I’m in the mood to climb the palm tree!”
• “Would you like me to feed among the lilies?”

Don’t allow myths to damage your sex life!
Because sex has been a taboo topic in years gone by, your source of information may have been less that reliable. There are certain myths which most of us grew up believing, and which sometimes make life difficult. If you want to enjoy your sex life to the full, you need to discover the truth behind these myths:

1) A man’s sexuality has nothing to do with his emotions. It has been said that men are like machines when it comes to sex – push a button and they’re ready for action! In reality, there are many different factors which can influence your sexuality – like self-image, mood, performance anxiety and lifestyle. There’s nothing wrong with you if you aren’t in the mood 24/7!
2) Men are more interested in sex than women. Both men and women believe this myth, which means that men begin to think there’s something wrong with them if they aren’t in the mood all the time, and women may feel ashamed if they are. Hormones play a significant role in sexual desire. Women have differing levels of sensitivity to testosterone, which differs during different periods of the month. Your wife may have more sexual desire at times, and at other times less than you. So, don’t get a fright if you have a kitty cat in bed tonight, and a tigress tomorrow!
3) Sex with the same person gets boring. Yes, selfish sex does become boring with the same person because it’s focused on fulfilling physical urges instead of intense intimacy. Sex with the same person only becomes boring when you let it, but you can still experience an exciting and fresh sex life after a marriage of 30 years – it all depends on your motivation and the effort you as a couple make to keep it fresh and exciting.
4) Christians can’t have wild sex! If you’re one of the men who believe that Christians should stick to the missionary position, you need to seriously reconsider. Sex has to do with a whole lot more than eye contact, and is an attitude, lifestyle, level of commitment and feeling of passion. What is good for intimacy is fun – which involves variety and adding new things to the relationship. Oral sex and different sexual positions can offer just as much intimacy as the missionary position, if not more. Trying new things means that you both feel safe enough to experiment. Oral sex is a powerful and intimate experience.
5) Masturbation ruins sex with your wife. Masturbation can be a potential sin. It can be a destructive, addictive force that damages lives and relationships. In itself, however, it is neither good nor bad – but it is a physiological happening. It depends on your motivation, your thoughts and the degree to which it becomes a habit. It becomes a sin when you masturbate while having lustful or adulterous fantasies. This is objectifying women and will dull your capacity to enjoy intimacy. But it isn’t always bad. Occasional masturbation with pure thoughts and fantasies (loving sex with your wife, for example) won’t hurt your sex life and there’s nothing in the Bible that suggests that it’s sinful. In the following instances, masturbation may even be helpful:

• Premature ejaculation – masturbation a few hours before sex can prolong intercourse.
• An over-active libido – some men’s wives just can’t keep up, and if they masturbate, they’re doing their wives a favour – as long as they don’t start to prefer it to real sex!
• Times of separation and illness – masturbation can decrease your sexual frustration and help you avoid temptation. Keep your fantasies focused on your wife, and keep this for when you absolutely can’t resist any more!
6) In the bed, men should be active and women should be passive. Men often feel that the quality of every sexual experience is up to them, and feel responsible when things don’t turn out as planned. A lot of women would enjoy sex more if they could be more active during participation. The best sex comes from mutual effort and participation.

Did you know?
Sex can help many other aspects of a marriage, and vice versa. Although some people regard sex as a fringe benefit of marriage… it is actually an essential part of a marriage. It should be just as important as other elements, such as communication, parenting and financial planning. Sex makes a man and a woman feel closer, like the “one flesh” which they really are, and creates a bond that holds against stress and conflict. Although sex is crucial to a stable marriage, it can’t do the job alone as there are many other areas of a relationship which facilitate closeness. If these are given proper attention, they will in turn facilitate a healthy sex life. A man can forget his frustrations temporarily in order to have sex, but a woman will find this more difficult. When she’s upset about yesterday’s argument, she’ll find it difficult to have good sex. Orgasms are not necessary for great sex, and sex is not a sporting event in which you should race for the finish line. Part of the allure of sex is the mystery it involves. You and your wife should discover each other and share secrets that no one else knows about. Sex should be mysterious, but not confusing. Puritans and pornographers have stolen sex from Christians with their lies, but each time you discover the truth, you are claiming it back!

Source: What Wives Wish their Husbands Knew about Sex: a Guide for Christian Men, by Ryan Howes, Richard Rupp and Stephen W. Simpson.