Ask Pastor Nancyposted on February 4th, 2013 / by Nancy Houston / 4 Comments
Pastor Nancy Houston is on staff at Gateway Church as an associate Pastor in Unity, Gateway’s marriage and family ministry, Nancy was in private practice as an LPC for 10 years. She is also a certified Christian Sex Therapist. Destiny in Bloom asked Nancy to participate in a question and answer based article to answer some of the widely asked questions on sex, relationships and marriage from our Christian perspective. She did just that with great grace and tenderness. These are her answers:
-Is masturbating wrong, or sinful?
We could discuss this topic for hours and all reach different conclusions. I think the important thing is that each believer needs to seek God’s heart and ask the deeper question, “What is God saying to me?” When the Bible doesn’t directly address an issue, it is important for us to consider passages that will help us make decisions based on God’s principles that will guide our heart decisions. If sex is about lust and lusting after another person, then that is never a good reason to do anything. Lust is a poor substitute for real love, connection and commitment. With that said, I also don’t think we should by any means be rigid on this topic. The apostle Paul gives us some excellent advise, in 1 Cor. 6:12 he says, “Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims.” In other words, Paul is encouraging us to not let anything enslave us. So for those whom masturbation has been the solution for loneliness, fear, grief, or boredom, I would encourage this person to stop resolving non-sexual issues through sexual behaviors. Sexual behaviors can never be a substitute for emotional or spiritual intimacy. God wants to meet the deeper needs of your soul, and he wants you to experience true intimacy with him and others.
For some, masturbation is characterized by lustful fantasy, addictive compulsion and human isolation. This type of masturbation creates habits that are counterproductive to true marital sexual intimacy. This type of activity is self-focused, quick and immediate, which is the opposite of making true love to a husband or a wife. However, for others, masturbation may simply represent a legitimate means of dealing with sexual urges and hormonal buildup.
I think it is important for us to remember that masturbation is incomplete at best. We were created for intimate sexual knowing in a covenant relationship.
-Is oral sex “sex”? If I’ve only had oral sex am I still a virgin?
Oral sex is sexually erotic behavior, so yes I would definitely call that sex, even though President Bill Clinton said it wasn’t. Intercourse behavior includes oral, anal and vaginal sex. All intercourse behaviors and mutual orgasms are biblically inappropriate outside of marriage, even though our culture debates this. So much of our focus is on outward behavior and technically what defines virginity and what doesn’t. I think virginity has a lot to do with the condition of our heart and less about what is technically okay, and what isn’t. Our sexuality is a precious gift and propels each of us to desire genuine relational connection with God, ourselves, others and our mate or a potential mate. Our sexuality includes sexual desire and our gender, masculine and feminine. We are all sexual creatures. Sex is the sexual behaviors we engage in. Virginity is really more about a soul attitude of waiting faithfully for our covenant partner than about having had sex or not. And then once married, it is about reserving our sexual behaviors for our husband or wife. My friend, Doug Rosenau, describes soul virginity like this: “A soul virgin is one who continuously seeks to value, celebrate and protect God’s design for sexuality—body, soul and spirit—in oneself and others.”
-How should my husband and I handle having crushes on someone beside each other during our marriage? This hasn’t happened, but I hear it’s “bound to happen in your marriage!” What can we do to protect each other and not end up hurt?
It is naïve to think we will never be attracted to the opposite sex once we are married. However, it is really important that we protect ourselves from letting that attraction move into anything else. Affairs are far more common then we realize and create so much pain and destruction. I would encourage every married person to practice “soul virginity” and to place a high value on protecting him or herself from the slippery slope of flirting with the opposite sex. When attracted to the opposite sex, I suggest that you acknowledge God for creating a beautiful person, then think of that person as someone’s husband, boyfriend, brother or son. We mustn’t think of others as sexual objects but as God’s kids with a heart, soul, body and mind.
-I just found out that my serious boyfriend has had a more “colorful” past than me and I’ve been really struggling with this. I love him, and I truly feel that he is the one for me. How can I get past this and forgive him?
We have to let go of our judgments and find out what his values are and what his character is. People act out for all kinds of reasons. Some have experienced sexual abuse and are acting out what was done to them. Others use sex as a solution to non-sexual issues and develop addictions to sex. And of course, people have sex because they have sexual urges and surges. I would suggest that you communicate your struggle with him, but in a non-judgmental, non-critical way. Communicate how much you care for him and then really listen to what he has to say. If you have some red flags or a check in your spirit about something he says, check it out—don’t ignore it. Sexual history can be just that, or it can be a flag to deeper issues that need to be addressed. Also realize that this struggle may be more about your insecurities than his past behavior. We women often compare ourselves to other women, which is so destructive for our self-worth and value. No one can compare to you. You are your own unique person.
If you both are considering marriage, at some point before engagement I think it would be helpful to really explore what God thinks about sex and how will that influence your beliefs and attitudes. In other words, make sure you are on the same page and share similar values and beliefs.
-What are some tips you could give to a married couple to spice up our sex life?
Focus on deepening your connection with each other. Really listen to one another; give each other gifts during the day … a cup of coffee, a back rub, vacuum the house, say thank you and express appreciation for your partner frequently. These things will spice up your sex life. Then have some fun! Be spontaneous, try something new and explore what makes you feel sexy. That is different for every woman. Maybe it’s buying some fun lingerie or having sex in a different room or during the middle of the day. Maybe it includes taking the kids over to a friend’s house for several hours once a week and then the two of you take turns planning fun sex time together. Take time to luxuriate in each other—enjoy touching, kissing, caressing. Quickies are okay, but a steady diet of that becomes repetitive and boring. In the Song of Solomon it says “she will bring familiar delights and new delights to their marriage bed. She talks to her body and says, ‘Wake up, North wind, getting moving, South wind, breathe on my garden.’” She realizes nothing turns a husband on more than a turned on wife. She then invites her husband, whom she refers to as “lover”, to enter her garden. This woman went after what she wanted sexually. She new some great ways to spice up her sex life!
-What is acceptable in the bedroom?
God really wants married couples to enjoy sex and have fun together. I would say anything goes that is mutually enjoyable as long as it doesn’t include pornography or other people. People often ask me about sex toys—I don’t see an issue as long as making love remains person focused and true intimacy is the goal. The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7, “The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out.”
Mutual pleasure is the standard for a great sex life. Being sensitive to each other, talking things through and creating a safe environment for lovemaking are essential.
-How do you have intimacy after sex without losing the moment?
Take time to cuddle and snuggle and tell each other how wonderful it was to be together. Capture this sweet moment by communicating your love and affirmation to each other. Reflect and bask in the afterglow of making love. Give feedback about what was great and what it meant to you. You might even consider holding each other and thanking God for creating something so amazing and special.
-How often should my husband and I be having sex?
That depends on the two of you. Every couple has differing needs and desires. I think the important thing is to talk about it and ask each other: “How often would you like to have sex?” If he says three times a week and she says once a week, then you have to find a way to negotiate that difference. Maybe he could tuck the kids in bed and she could take time for herself and focus on how nice it is to be together. The one who wants sex the least has all of the power, and it is always important that power is shared in a marriage.
There are too many sexless marriages. God encourages couples to come together frequently, lest they be tempted. I think the temptation is to just neglect each other and get lazy, or for eyes and thoughts to start straying from the marriage. Sex is an important ingredient in marriage; every time a couple has sex, bonding hormones are released and the attachment is deepened. Sex is a form of deep communication and a way to know (experience) the other.
With all of that said, if one partner wants sex all of the time and pouts if they don’t get it, there is a problem. Sex isn’t meant to meet all of our needs, and sometimes people can put all of their eggs in the sex basket.
If one partner doesn’t want to have sex, I would suggest that something else is going on. Is there pain during intercourse? Is there unresolved anger? Is there unresolved abuse from the past? Is there a lack of connection and partnership in the marriage? In other words, if sex is too important or not important enough that is a warning flag that something else is going on. If so, these issues need to be addressed.
-Is it possible to have an unhealthy soul tie to your husband?
Yes. There are genuine soul ties that are healthy and bond us to our spouse and then there are unhealthy soul ties. We were created to attach and bond with our spouse, but if there is an over-dependency then the relationship won’t be healthy. To have a healthy marriage we all have to be working on our own growth and development. In sex for example, if one partner thinks it is the other person’s responsibility to always be the initiator or to give them an orgasm, I would challenge that person to grow in that area and initiate sex at times or take more responsibility for sexual pleasure instead of waiting for the other person to make it happen.
In a fallen world there can be an unseen bond that affects our lives in a negative way. Soul ties involve our mind, will and emotions. They are formed through close relationships, which are often sexual but not always sexual. If you harbor some negative feelings about your spouse, ask the Lord if you have an unhealthy soul tie with him or her. Give yourself some time to grieve whatever that hurt is and then surrender it to the Lord as you choose to forgive and let it go. Sadly, we as couples do hurt each other, and forgiveness is a necessary ingredient in any marriage.