Sex problems for Christians
Marriages sometimes fail or struggle because of unresolved sexual issues or problems. That is a well documented fact. Christian marriages are, unsurprisingly, no different. We think differently about sex itself, of course (which is always, at least, some of the answer). But Christians also suffer from loss of libido, sexual sin, mistrust and physical difficulties.
It’s amazing then, how little Christian help is on offer. I guess most pastors would be prepared to do some marriage counselling, but feel incredibly awkward about any kind of sexual counselling. In one sense, that’s exactly how it should be. Sexual intimacy within marriage is a private picture of a spiritual reality. Any kind of talk or involvement from others outside the marriage feels like a violation. But sometimes such talk is needed. And where’s the help?
You don’t find much Christian sexual help. A very few good books (and Mrs R and I have written another, which is on its way – A biblical view of sex). But very often in these cases couples don’t want or need another book slapped in front of them. There’s little in the way of accredited help. Partly that’s because accreditation means signing up for principles that Christians cannot always accept (as Mrs R and I have discovered), particularly in the case of sexuality, and prayer.
Wonderfully, there is some wisdom in the world. I particularly value the insights of Suzi Godson, writing in The Times. She’s not a Christian, and some of her comments have to be filtered, but very often the advice she offers is rather Christian in its worldview. Take last Saturday. Responding to a question from a woman who has a lower libido than her husband, and worries that “maintenance sex” is less than good and a sign of the end, she replies:
Life would be a lot easier for everyone if married men and women experienced synchronised sexual desire. But in any long-term relationship, sexual appetites are influenced by different factors: stress such as work, or money worries; low mood, poor health or hormonal fluctuations; conflict in the relationship, parenting challenges or family responsibilities. With so many independent variables pulling you in different directions, it is unrealistic to think that you will always feel like having sex at the same time, or indeed as frequently as one another. Yet sex is the very core of your connection. It is what differentiates your relationship with each other from all the other relationships in your lives, so it has to be protected. Maintenance sex could be described as a compromise but it is more constructive to regard it as an investment; a deposit in the love bank that will tide you through times when, for one reason or another, your libidos are out of sync. Most women have been raised to believe that they should never have sex when they don’t want it, so the idea of sex being a marital duty jars.
More pertinently, however, the Bible has a huge amount of light to shed on this subject, not least because all through its pages there is a correlation between the love God has for us in Christ and marriage, in particular sex within marriage (read Ezekiel 16 for a classic example). It seems to me the church needs to be better at talking about these issues and better at helping people resolve them. I would go so far as to say, it’s the Bible way.