Q&A: Erotica Vs. Real Touch

I think I have started confusing erotica online with real touch. I find myself loving the idea of sex but not the act itself. Me and my husband used to have a okay sex life, but now that I am feeling this it has gone way down. I just want to know if there is anyway I could just forget everything I have learned about sex, and start over? And if it’s more complicated than that, what steps can I take to get back in touch with him?

I loved this question. I thought it was so honest and I could relate to the struggle of sometimes choosing the “easy” way to arousal by using external stimuli. I think for many women we find that our minds are very connected to our arousal. For some of us it’s not enough to just be physically stimulated and we need to actively engage our minds in the process, too.

I think this woman asks an important question. After getting used to outside influences causing arousal, is it possible to retrain our brains and, if so, how do we do it? I’d love to hear your own insights in the comment section after I share mine here. I do think it’s possible to retrain our brains and I believe that much of the success of the process depends on how helpful our husbands are and how honest we are willing to be with them and ourselves. It takes a lot of self reflection to learn why we do what we do. What the motivators are that cause us to make the choices we make in our sexuality will be the start to getting free from habits and mindsets that limit our sexual pleasure in marriage. So honest prayer and introspection is key. Here are some of the important questions to ask ourselves in this process, and you could apply these sorts of questions to any sexual temptation you are encoutering:

  • What kinds of erotica am I drawn to online?
  • What is it about those things that makes me feel sexually excited?
  • Does part of me feel aroused because it feels like naughty sex?
  • Does my husband know that I get hot by the idea of this in bed?
  • How could I bring that arousal into the reality of our sex life?
  • Does married sex have any negative associations for me?
  • Has our culture’s voice saying “Sex goes down hill after you’re married” taken root in my heart in any way?
  • Other questions?

In many cases you will find that one of these questions stimulates another question. That’s great. It may help you to journal or map out your thoughts as you consider and pray about how these kinds of questions have influenced your sexuality. And if you can be honest with your husband the two of you can work together to build true erotica in your sex life. If this isn’t something the two of you have discussed before, the context with which you establish the initial conversation can significantly influence his response. Compared these two statements,

“I don’t like this about our sex life and I am bored in bed. What do you want to do about it?”

“Hey babe. I am so excited to see us become even better lovers to one another. I really want to see our sex life on fire. Can we talk about how the two of us could make that happen?”

Which one would you respond better to? Such a different tone in the two statements! How easy is it to bring the positive, proactive, same-team mentality into the conversation rather than the negative one? It just takes a change in your heart and then the good that is in your heart will flow out.

In the Bible in Romans 12:2 it says to not conform to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. It goes on to say that in doing this you will be able to know what God’s will is. His good, pleasing and perfect will. How do you think this portion of scripture might relate to the issue we are discussing? Please feel free to continue this discussion in the comment section. I am certain you have further insights on the issue.

There’s an App for that…..

My dh and I both have Android phones.  I was amazed when he showed me how many different kinds of games and applications are on this phone!  So I started searching for some games at first….

My favorite games that I have downloaded are Angry Birds, Shoot Bubbles, iSpadez, & Jewels.  I downloaded Hangman and Mole Mole for my daughter and we also downloaded Air Hockey.  Helps keep us busy on those long doctor office waits or when we are on the road.

I started finding more and more….Business apps… Quickoffice, post it notes, calculators and alarms, banking apps, several email accounts, Adobe readers, etc.  Social networks like Facebook.  WordPress so I can keep up with my favorite blog on my phone :-)  Goofy things, like Coin Flip to solve arguments between my two kids.   WebMD.  Kindles.  Amazon.com.   Flash Lights.  Navigation programs and Google maps.  Geico Brostache!  (HAHA…see above)

So once I got all these fun things, I got to thinking… I wonder if there is a menstrual calendar.  I am TERRIBLE about keeping one at home anymore and I hate putting it in my purse calendar (now, why do I need one in my purse when I can download one on my phone??)  So I did a search, and WOW, there was a menstrual calendar and calculator!  Awesome.  I can put in my menstrual dates in, and it gives me estimates of when I should ovulate and when I can expect my next cycle!  I can record temperatures in it for NFP if I so chose to do it.  I can notate when I ML to my hubby.  I can record doctor appointments…medications I am taking…. Record if and when I take an ovulation test or pregnancy test, moods, etc.   WOW!  All of this for FREE!  I am set!

But then it got me thinking more…. What else can I find on here related to sex?  So I head back to the Droid market and type in sex.   Paid and free apps … sex positions, sex offenders… sex dice…hmmm interesting….sex facts…. Cunnilingus 101…. Oh, a Magic sex ball…. Mobile vibrators (??) … sex stories… sex games….sex position of the day….explicit sex positions kinky foreplay….sexy texts… oh, my, there was SO MUCH.

Now here’s my question, though… my son also has a Droid phone.  He got my old one when we upgraded.  The more I looked at that list, I got to “Sexy Asian Girls”  Ummm.  I think this is one place where some discussion is needed.

We are in a world today where we are exposed to more sex in on our TV, in songs on the radio, on the internet…. And now on our iPhones and Droid phones as well.   The world in general is a very dangerous place for those who are struggling with porn.  Our kids can download this apps on their own phones.  People don’t think twice about sexting.  As technology gets greater, we get more temptations out there that we need to guard our hearts.  While some of these apps that I mentioned above may be harmless and useful, there are still others that we need to guard our hearts on.

If you have a phone where you can download these apps and carry them around on your phone, how do you feel about this?  What kind of apps are on your phone?  Have you downloaded any sex apps?  How do you guard your heart when there is so much temptation out there?   Let’s start a discussion on what we should be careful of and what is truly helpful.

Q&A: Admiration Vs Lust

My husband is a very visual/artistic man and says that for him, for the vast majority of the time, looking at beautiful women in bikinis, lingerie, etc is the same as looking at a beautiful car or art picture. He enjoys it for it’s beauty and it has nothing to do with his love or desire for me, nor does he use it for sexual fulfillment.

As I step out to tackle this issue, I am fully aware that there are as many opinions on this matter as there are variables to consider in determining what is right. And honestly I believe that this is one of those topics where there is not one right answer for everyone. We all have different weaknesses and areas where we are more prone to sin, and I believe that two people could be looking at the same thing and one of them could be sinning while the other is not. Your heart before God is between you and Him, and I won’t attempt to determine for anyone whether or not admiring a beautiful person crosses over into lust. What I want to do is create a space to consider what we should be aware of with this issue.

To begin with we need to keep in mind that although there is much grey in this issue, there is no grey in the fact that God is clear that lust is sinful. For more information on this you can read our article on lust, but suffice it to say that if you are unable to look at beautiful people without developing a sexual desire for them then you need to figure out how to manage that. You are going to have to maintain sufficient boundaries to protect your heart.

The grey area is in whether or not you are able to look at people who are in situations that you associate with sex, and not lust after them. Men in a Calvin Klein underwear ad. Women in a Victoria Secret catalog. Nude sun bathers on the Mexican Riviera. Artistic paintings that portray intimate acts. I can not draw a line for anyone else in these situations because our weaknesses are different. Where one person sees nudity as being redeemed through Christ’s death on the cross where he removed our shame, another person has only ever seen nudity with a connection to sexual acts. How can we possibly establish a black and white rule that would apply to both people? That is why we need the Holy Spirit to lead us, because He knows us and will guide us in how to be self-controlled in our thought life.

So I do believe that the husband, in the case of the writer of the above question, could very well be able to look at beautiful women and admire her without becoming sexually desirous or covetous of her, but if in fact he sees an attractive woman in lingerie and admires her and then desires her, he needs to be accountable for that sin. In either case, an important factor is that his wife is uncomfortable with it. In order to be loving toward her, when he is with his wife and an attractive woman is near by in a bikini I think it would be respectful of him to keep his focus on his wife in these situations. I think it’s important for a couple to be able to communicate these sorts of things to one another and so it’s good that this man could express his perspective on it and perhaps at some point this writer will adjust her own perspective and there will be more unity between them. For now, though, it would be beneficial to their relationship for them to extend a lot of grace to one another.

We need to remember in all of this that nakedness, in and of itself, is not sinful. It’s the circumstances around how someone is or isn’t dressed that determine if it is sin or not, and because we live in a fallen world, we do need to be mindful of the fact that to see immodesty is a struggle for a lot of people. This is why I believe that a certain amount of awareness of the impact of  how we dress is important. Having said that, I also believe that the onus is not on us to manage another person’s sin for them. If a man or a woman looks beautiful and they dress well, people are going to notice and will choose where they allow their thoughts to go.

Another woman wrote us the following:

My husband continues to point out beautiful women that we see in public, on the internet and on TV.  I’ve told him that this hurts my feelings.  I am a beautiful woman and I’m happy with the way I look and he agrees.  He feels it’s better that I know that he his looking at other women, than keep it a secret.  He is very communicative about all things and that’s usually a blessing, but his commentaries on beautiful women bothers me.  Should I just get over it or tell him again to please stop?

This is another situation where not every solution will be appropriate for every couple. I have friends who are very expressive with their spouse about the attractive people they see and they are fine with that, but the fact remains that if this writer has told her husband not to mention the beautiful women he sees, he should be respectful of her wishes and keep those observations to himself.

So what is your opinion on this? How do you feel about your husband looking at beautiful women? Do you think it’s ever possible for him to look and not lust? Are you able to look at handsome men and admire them without lusting? I’m interested to hear your perspective.

God, why are you tempting me?

Have you ever asked that question?  Do you know of anyone who feels that God tempts them with things?

One of my most favorite books in the Bible is the book of James.  I just love how he tells it like it is.  There is no sugar coating on James’ words in this book!  I was reading tonight in my favorite book, and I read this….

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:13-15)

I am reminded by this verse of an email we got once about the strong temptations that one reader was having in regards to staying pure.   This reader was asking for our help and suggestions for what to do and how to set boundaries.   There are some people in this world who give in to the temptation to have premarital sex and blame this strong desire to have relations with their fiancee’ (or fiance’) on God.  It must be God that is tempting me to defile my future marriage bed.   Why would God tempt me with sex when I know that he wants me to remain pure?   Dear one, it isn’t God that is tempting you.  It is Satan.   Take a look at the verse again.  James tells us that God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.   So why do we blame it on God?

Because it is what Satan is telling us to do.

Remember back in the Garden of Eden….Eve was tempted, not by God, but by the serpent, who twisted God’s words around to make Eve believe what she wanted to believe, not what God told her.   Why wouldn’t that wiley snake still be doing that to us today?

Look at all the non-believers who tell us on a daily basis, “If there is a God, why does he let this happen?”  It’s because we don’t believe in Him anymore…we have been given our own free will.   God is always there.  Whether or not we choose to include God in our choices is also our free will,  but God doesn’t ever leave or forsake us.

Is it God’s fault that I didn’t save myself for my husband?  Nope.  That would be my own bad choices.  I was “dragged away and enticed” by my own evil desires.  The desire gave birth to sin when I acted on it.  God wanted me to save myself…he told me so in the Bible, but I chose to sin.

The next time you feel that temptation to do something that the Holy Spirit is telling you “NO!”, don’t listen to Satan who is only going to drag you down and drag you away from God.   Look to God, reach out to God and seek his wisdom in all your decisions.   Even though temptations may be so very strong and irresistible, remember God’s words…

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.  (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Who will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear?  God.  Who will pull you out when you think you’re at your bursting point?  God.   So when Satan comes a knockin’ with all guns blazing, and you think you cannot possibly turn away, remember that God is there.  No porn, no sin is greater than God.  Look to him to help you out.  He’ll be there every time.

Temptation: How We Overcome

1 John 1:5 – 2:2 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Beautiful! Hope for forgiveness. Hope for sanctification. This passage is filled with so much promise. It’s a beautiful explanation of how God loves us as we are, but loves us too much to leave us that way.

We all deal with temptations to one degree or another, but when they begin to attack the solidity of our marriage covenant we need to step up our game. To be quite honest the temptations which attack our marriage are often issues which the church views as shameful and taboo. See this email we received from one woman:

I am a Christain woman and I love my husband very much and I have always had relationships with men.  However, I went through a divorce a while back and I “experimented” with women.  Mostly just out of wanting to feel loved somehow.  I have always been attracted to men but I sometimes feel sexual attraction for women too.  I have no plans of cheating on my husband period.  Whether it be with a woman or man and I am content in my marriage.  But why as a christian woman would I even feel this attraction towards a woman?  It always seems to come up and I squash it back down.  Is something wrong with me?

What a wonderfully honest email! I can not find any more fault with this woman as I would with someone who was dealing with any other temptation. And let us be clear that to be tempted is not sin. Temptation is a presentation for an opportunity to sin. What you do with the opportunity determines if it is sin or not.

For the purpose of this article we do not need to specifically address same sex attraction, but we do want to be aware of strategies to overcome temptation when our sexual focus on our husbands is threatened like this. Sexual temptation is common and whether it’s a temptation to get the attention of other men, to view pornography, to look outside of your marriage for sexual fulfillment or any other sin, we need to commit ourselves to be honest and deal with our temptations head on. I’ve had my share of opportunities to sin and God has turned what the enemy intended for harm on it’s head to teach me how to overcome. I hope what I have learned will be helpful and please feel free to share the strategies you have learned as well.

Strategy 1 ~ Supportive Relationships: These girls I co-write with on the Christian Nympho blog are among the women I have in my life who I can go to if I am tempted. They pray for me. They remind me of the truth. They neither judge me nor give me a green light to sin. So if you can bring along side of you women who you trust, it can be very helpful to have someone there who you can go to and ask for prayer. They don’t need to know every detail.

Strategy 2 ~ Prayer and Worship: This is a huge aspect of overcoming temptation. God always provides a way out and drawing close to Him in worship and prayer will help us see that way out. If we become filled with shame we, just like Adam and Even in the garden, draw away from Him and that is the last thing we want to do if we hope to overcome.

Strategy 3 ~ Declaring Truth: It’s so helpful to speak out what is true when you are being tempted. There is an aspect of deception in all sin so if you declare what is true it helps to affirm in your spirit your desire to pursue righteousness. It’s helpful to say it out loud, but even focusing your thoughts on truth is beneficial. Direct your attention on what is true and you will find more strength to chose what is right.

I loved the honest questions at the end of the email I quoted. Why as a christian woman would I even feel this attraction towards a woman?  It always seems to come up and I squash it back down.  Is something wrong with me? Well, yes, there is something wrong with this woman, but not any more than any of the rest of us. We were all born with a sin nature and it does influence us, but the good news is that the cross of Christ and His resurrection have set us free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-3). The process of sanctification will cause the influence of that nature to diminish. We really don’t need to white-knuckle our way through temptation. As we live in increasing measure in accordance with the Spirit (Romans 8:1-16) we find that more and more we are able to draw on that power of God that is in us to overcome every temptation we face.

I really want to see us all living in what God has for us so my prayer is that God will help you to establish strategies for learning how to overcome temptation. Don’t let temptation fill you with shame, but rather hold onto the truth of who you are as God’s daughter.

Q&A: Erotica and Real Touch

I think I have started confusing erotica online with real touch. I find myself loving the idea of sex but not the act itself. My husband and I used to have a okay sex life, but now that I am feeling this it has gone way down. I just want to know if there is anyway I could just forget everything I have learned about sex and start over? And if it’s more complicated than that, what steps can I take to get back in touch with him?

I loved this question. I thought it was very insightful for the writer to be able to recognize this about herself and a lot of women who have battled with the temptation to read erotica can probably relate to her circumstances. It’s so easy to get caught up in the fantasy of a sexualized story. It becomes very real to you and can effect your response to the sexual touch of your husband. Pornography distorts how we perceive sex and establishes expectations which are often not realistic or fair to our husbands. We discussed this in further detail in the article Pornography: The Spice that Destroys Sexual Taste Buds.

Our sex drive is a very powerful aspect of ourselves and if we feed it the wrong stuff it can be very difficult to get the thoughts and images out of our heads. I would encourage you to replace those unhealthy sexual memories with ones that are exciting and edifying at the same time. So if you can focus your sexual energy on your husband and allow your fantasies and desires and thoughts to be about him, the distraction of erotica can be redeemed for godly passion. Remember that in marriage as long as it only involves you and your husband, there is so much sexual fun that is available to you. There is no need to white knuckle your thoughts to being asexual. Just transfer the desires towards your marriage. Our minds are a powerful part of our sexual response so embrace your brain as being part of your sex drive and let your exciting ideas be released in a healthy way.

If you have come to possess ideas and desires that are unhealthy even for your own marriage, then I know that the Lord can help you to have redeemed mind. Pray and ask the Lord to retrain you in those areas. He will do it. He wants you to be living in sexual freedom and is completely available to you by His Spirit. There isn’t anything that you can not overcome when you are living in the life of the Spirit. (Read Romans 8.) So yes, you can “start over,” but you may not forget everything right away. As you avail yourself more and more to the Lord, though, you will someday look back at who you are now and not really recognize yourself. It’s a bit of a mystery how our Christian walk is like that.

To get back in touch with your husband, welcome him into your ideas and desires. Involve him in what you are thinking and enjoy planning out exciting escapades. Write some erotica together or you write it and read it to him. Make it about the two of you.

I hope the thoughts I have shared here are helpful to you and that you will find yourself living in greater freedom in this area of your life.

How Do I Know What’s OK?

In discerning what is and is not OK in a husband and wife’s sexual relationship when they have as much of a desire to walk rightly with God as they do to have a passionate marriage bed, I want to give you several guidelines to help you find clarity for your relationship with your spouse. We have spoken of these guidelines generally with certain topics as they have come up, but this article is focused on explaining each of them. Whether you are considering oral sex, anal sex, sex toys, masturbation, role playing, light bondage or simply even a new position, I offer you these questions to consider as you look at whether or not to include it on your shelf of spices.

Does this sexual act include anyone other than your spouse? Whether the person is physically in the room as in the case of threesomes, or if they are on a television screen in the case of pornography, or even if they are mentally in your head in the case of fantasizing about having sex with someone else, we would encourage you not to include these activities in your marriage bed. Although they might seem erotic and sexy, they will be a distraction from God’s plan for your hot and spicy sex life.

Is this sexual act something that both spouses agree they would like to try? If one spouse would like to try an activity in bed and the other feels it is wrong or simply feels really uncomfortable doing it, it should remain off the table until unity is reached. Now, there are situations where a husband or wife wishes to avoid all sex and in this case we are dealing with a sin issue of refusal which you can find information about here. However when I speak of being in agreement, I mean that if, for example, one spouse wants to have sex somewhere semi-public and the other is uncomfortable with it, the one who desires it should present it on occasion and then let the other person choose to try it or not. Strongly pressuring your spouse because you find it highly erotic and know that it would add to your sexual experience will actually make them less likely to try it. Refusing a specific act is not the same as refusing sex. Having said this, let me encourage you to try things you are a bit uncomfortable with if your spouse shows an interest. Sometimes we view something as sin either because we were taught that it is, though it may not actually be so, or because we fear it. Pray about it. If it is sin, avoid it. If it is something you fear or something someone else told you was wrong, consider trying it if you feel peace about that. Ask God to give you truth as you seek out what is and what is not sinful.

Is this sexual act one that God has clearly told us in Scripture is to be avoided? There are some acts which we are told in the Bible are not for us to participate in. Among the list are sex with animals, sex with someone of the same gender, and sex with someone who is married to someone else. Trying to justify our sin by saying that a loving God wouldn’t restrict us in these ways is harmful primarily to our relationship with Him, but also to our spouse. God planned for sex to be the way He did for a reason. When we avoid the things He tells us to avoid, then sex as He planned it to be from the beginning can be restored. Remember that before sin entered the world Adam and Eve walked around naked all the time. Sin, not God, caused them to think there was something wrong with their sexuality.

Does this sexual act move you towards deeper intimacy or further away? There are some things which could be a distraction from where our sexual energy should be focused. Fetishes would fall into this category. Dictionary.com defines a fetish as “any object or non-genital part of the body that causes a habitual erotic response or fixation.” If you love your wife’s sexy feet or your husband’s strong broad shoulders and they are a turn on for you, this is not a harmful fetish unless you require these body parts to be involved in order to become aroused. A harmful fixation on a fetish will result in the item or body part becoming a greater focus than your spouse which will not facilitate deeper intimacy.

Does this sexual act degrade or cause pain to my spouse? There are a number of sexual acts which some people participate in that are degrading to one of the people. Acts involving bodily waste (scat, golden showers, emetophilia…) have no place in a sexual relationship where the husband and wife are also seeking to live a life of devotion to the One who said that husbands should love their wives and wives should respect their husbands. As well, if you and your spouse enjoy the teasing and playfulness and trust involved in light bondage and that builds your intimacy then feel free to incorporate it, but anything in the arena of BDSM which causes pain or is motivated by a desire to intimidate the one God has given you to be your lifelong companion should not be incorporated. Violence is unacceptable.

I hope these guidelines are helpful as you honestly look at the options you have for spicing things up. Really, there are far more things that you can enjoy together, than those you can not. And for the things that shouldn’t be included, there are legitimate reasons. Don’t fight God on it, trust Him. If you don’t believe in God, try living sexually this way for awhile and see what comes of it.

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