I want to talk about sex. Specifically, I’m talking to you, pastors. How is your sex life?
Things just got weird in a hurry.
I get it. Ask my wife, I fold up like a chair when it comes to conversations about sex, especially ones between Tiffani and I. To be honest, I would rather counsel a couple about sex than talk to my wife about it. I don’t know why.
But seven years of marriage has taught me something. The health of my sex life directly affects the health of my marriage. Some of you would never talk about sex, not with a spouse, not with a trusted friend, not at all.
And this is precisely the problem. Many of us (myself included) would rather have miserable sex lives than talk to someone about it. That requires vulnerability. We don’t like that word.
But let’s be honest, it’s hard for a marriage to thrive when sex is bad. Why? One word…intimacy. Marriage is all about intimacy. Sex is our greatest form of intimacy. So, if sex is dead, intimacy is hindered, at best, and on life support, at worst.
But there’s a deeper issue in play here. Let’s not forget, God designed sex. Yes, it was his idea. In their book Pulling Back the Shades, Dana Gresh and Juli Slattery say this:
“God designed sex as a powerful symbol and celebration of covenant love. It is a physical and emotional expression of the deepest commitment two people can make to each other. But sex is more than that. It represents the ultimate covenant love—God’s love for His people.”
Why does God give us sex? He wants to show us the depth of his desire for intimacy with us. So, I don’t believe it’s a stretch to say, sex is spiritual. When it’s bad, not only is our marriage affected, but our relationship with God is affected too.
I want share some reasons why pastors have bad sex lives. I share these with a hopeful spirit. I’ve come a long way in tearing down the negative stigmas and barriers around sex. Regardless of where you are, I hope you can take something from these points.
I’ve been outspoken in my battle against pornography. I’m not sure anything destroys God’s picture of sex like porn. It distorts, warps, twists and ultimately rips apart everything healthy and holy. And, according to statistics, two out of every three people struggle with porn. This includes pastors. If you’re struggling with porn, it’s impossible (that’s not a stretch) to experience true intimacy with your spouse. Most importantly, it’s impossible to experience true intimacy with God.
2.) Failure to distinguish lust from desire
We’re sexual beings. God created us this way. Growing up, the unspoken message was “sex is bad.” I heard the message spoken many different ways. The few times it was discussed, the entire conversation centered around prevention and abstinence. While I’m not dismissing either, I think it’s time we distinguish between lust and desire. The former is unhealthy, sinful objectification of another human, the latter is healthy, good desires given by God.
If you don’t distinguish the two, you will suppress both. I did. Sex was bad, so all thoughts about sex were bad as well. Every time I thought about sex, I immediately squashed it. Rather than learning to control sexual desire, I suppressed it, naively thinking I could “flip a switch” after marriage.
Instead, after marriage, I struggled to regain my sexual desire because I suppressed it for years. We’re not machines. We’re humans. And humans can’t flip switches. Rather than suppressing sexual thoughts, we must learn to direct them toward our spouse and God.
3.) Guilt and shame
Good, healthy sex is hard work. No one told me that. I thought fireworks would explode and angels would sing on my wedding night. I was tainted by years of lust and romanticized Hollywood depictions of sex. In the movies, the whole sex thing seemed awesome, life-changing even.
What was wrong with me? Where are the fireworks?
Guilt progressed to shame, which only fueled my porn addiction. It wasn’t until I visited a counselor that things started to change. He helped me see the beauty of the journey, challenging me to practice, learn and discuss sex with my wife.
4.) Little to no honest communication
How is your sex life? When was the last time you were asked that question? Maybe it’s time to include sex in our approach of spiritual maturation and growth. It’s hard to break down the toxic stigmas without life-giving conversations.
Have you ever prayed with your spouse about your sex life? If we’re going to talk about communication, we must include God. While God knows everything, I believe God wants us to verbalize our requests. I’m not exactly sure why. I have theories, but they’re irrelevant. The point is this: What if we prayed for God to give us healthy, thriving sex lives like we prayed for God to build our faith or grow our church? Communication is the gateway to change.
Some fill their schedules because things aren’t going well at home. Others fill them, and this prevents things from going well at home. Regardless, busyness can’t be a reason our sex lives are bad. If we really believe sex is God’s gift to married couples, then we must believe bad sex hinders our relationship with God.
6.) Sex is purely physical
Sex is much more than physical. But you won’t hear this message outside of Scripture. The world only sees the physical. It’s the prideful, selfish approach to a divine gift. Use sex to please self. I believe this is Satan’s work. He wants to simplify sex, separate the physical from the emotional and the spiritual. If Satan can accomplish this, he knows it’s only a matter of time before we make an idol out of sex.
Yes, God is glorified through sex. When we explore the fullness of sex inside the covenant bond of marriage, God is pleased. We must expand and explore this great gift so we can know God more intimately.
What are your thoughts? What can we do to improve our sex lives? Leave a comment below.
I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen.