Popular culture implies that anything goes when it comes to sex; God-honouring purity takes a backseat and we lose sight of what it means to have real and healthy intimacy in a marriage that is truly pleasing to Him. If, like many couples, you struggle to keep your marital bed pure and have gone too far in your pursuit of sexual pleasure with your spouse, here are a few ways to reclaim real physical and emotional connectedness with your spouse.
Share a vision of purity for your marriage
To be successful in re-establishing boundaries once you've gone too far sexually, you and your spouse need to prayerfully agree that absolute purity in marriage is indeed essential in living out God’s purposes for the both of you in your marriage and for His glory. Otherwise, lines will keep getting crossed and boundaries pushed. All Christ-centred married couples need to ask the Holy Spirit to convict them to uphold God’s standard in Hebrews 13:4: “Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure”.
Having a shared vision of purity entails having repentant hearts as well. When both of you are able to see pornography as sin or certain sex acts as not being entirely in line with God’s design for marriage and His attributes, and yearn to seek God’s forgiveness, then real breakthroughs can occur.
Speak the truth in love
Re-establishing sexual boundaries will require that you rise above all discomfort and prayerfully work at having deeply honest conversations about individual areas of weakness or temptation. You will need to talk about your thoughts and feelings on the use of pornography or any other sex acts that you are unsure of or feel convicted about stopping in your marriage. Here are some guidelines as you have this conversation.
- About pornography
Research has shown that many marriages have been ruined by pornography. It attacks your ability to form true intimacy, and can breed guilt and insecurity in your marriage. Because it distorts one’s image of women and men and mars what God has intended, it causes you to objectify people and erode your love and respect for your spouse. Some people might even become obsessed with the pornographic acts they have seen and feel increasingly frustrated if they cannot replicate what they see with their spouse.
- About masturbation
Even though Scripture does not explicitly mention it, masturbation as a self-indulgent act is incompatible with God’s design for sex in marriage. God designed sexual pleasure and orgasm to strengthen the relationship between husband and wife.
- About oral sex and anal sex
Some couples wonder about the appropriateness of oral sex and anal sex in marriage. It is important to note when it comes to sexual intimacy between husband and wife, God has made male genitals and female genitals to fit together perfectly. This sexual union is a picture of how He has created a man and woman for each other, to become “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24) in marriage.
When it comes to oral sex, what can guide a couple’s decision in this area is whether such an act is carried out in a mutually loving, respectful and consensual manner.
For anal sex, most women who engage in it with their husbands admit that they do not enjoy it, but feel violated. In such cases, it would not be a mutually respectful and pleasurable act. Furthermore, the anus is not designed to be penetrated, which is why tissue tears and infections are common during anal sex.
Spell out practical boundaries
As believers, we have faith that God forgives us readily when we confess and repent of our sins before Him. However, how do we walk practically in the light of this truth?
Here are some practical boundaries to consider:
- Media – Are there certain television shows, movies, music or printed material that lead you to have ungodly thoughts about yourself or your spouse?
- Physical contact – Discuss and agree with your spouse on what kinds of sexual acts are acceptable and what are not.
- Time alone – If you are struggling with pornography addiction and you are alone at home, it could be wise to stay away from the mobile device or computer. Engage instead in some physical activity or in a meaningful task.
- Social contact – Are there people you need to avoid meeting who may not be helpful to you as you are working on staying away from temptations?
Speak to friends or mentors for help
Surround yourselves with friends, mentors or pastors who will keep you accountable. Invite them to check in with you and your spouse in your efforts towards marital purity. They can be a great source of encouragement and will be an indelible help to you as you persevere to obey God in this area.
Start over when you need to
Even if you were to succumb to old temptations, there is no need to despair. What’s important is that you confess to your spouse and bring up the subject matter with your spouse to re-address it. Keeping silent about it is akin to sweeping the matter under the carpet and you would likely return to old ways. Instead, confess and repent before the Lord and your spouse, and prayerfully discuss new measures to be taken to restore purity in your marriage.
See yourselves as new creations in Christ
As God works in our lives to sanctify us, new areas of weaknesses would be surfaced as we are being moulded into His likeness. Instead of being discouraged by our past sexual mistakes, we can instead believe in our identity in Him and the power of His transforming grace.
As fellow believers, we have been called to please and honour Him in every aspect of our lives. Maintaining purity in our marriages is our act of love and obedience towards God and as we persevere in His strength and wisdom, we can look forward to a harvest of righteousness in our lives for His glory.
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