Sacred Sex: Chp. 10

And so we read the last chapter of this book.  It seemed to tie everything up that we’ve read thus far.  I love the first few pages that talk about how our lives are saturated with contracts, to the point that many of us even think of our marriage as one.  We each said what we would do for each other and then we sit around watching to make sure that the other lives up to their end of the ‘contract.’  But what we entered into on our wedding day wasn’t a contract, but a covenant.  Gardner goes on to explain how a covenant has two parts; an oath and a symbol or action to back up that oath.  He references Genesis 9:11-13 where, after the flood, God made a promise (His oath) and then gave the rainbow (his “sign of the covenant”).  For us, the vows we made on our wedding day were our oath, and the act of sacred sex is our sign that consummates our marriage.

He goes on to say that wonderful marriages take work, which we all should know by now.  He says:  “…great marriages and great sex lives don’t just happen.  They are created by faith in God and by consistent, hard work…To have a great, God-honoring, soul-touching sexual relationship, we must seek our mate’s needs above our own.  We must seek oneness above pleasure… We must ruthlessly battle against any outside force (pornography, abuse, other relationships) that would seek to destroy our intimacy.  We must accept our mates just as they are, as God’s perfect gift.  We must see sex as a celebration of God’s presence.  We must enter into utmost intimacy with our mates with a perspective of sacredness, holiness, and grace.” (pg. 204)

Gardner reminds us all that love is more than just a feeling…it involves actions.  When you love someone you should want to show it.  You should want to “fill their love tank” by speaking to them in their primary love language.  And if there are hurts or things in your past that hinder you moving forward, he reminds us that:  “God is bigger than any hurt and greater than any cold relationship.  He can bring you out of the wilderness and into the Promised Land.”

I’m glad that I decided to read this book.  It wasn’t overly long and brought up some very good things for me to think and pray about.  I really haven’t mentioned much about the discussion questions at the end of the chapters, but I feel like the ones at the end of chp. 10 are some really good final questions that wrap up the essence of the entire book.  I haven’t been reading this book with my husband so he is unaware of these questions.  I have decided to do #1 on page 208 and just see how it goes:  “Make a list of three things you can do to make your mate feel more loved and cherished.  Include those things you know you’ve been avoiding.” He goes on to ask us to not mention this to our spouse, but rather to just do it and see where it takes us.  I haven’t decided on the specific three things yet but when I finish writing this article I’m going to put pen to paper and write a physical list.  I encourage all of you to read through the questions on pgs. 208-209.  They are a good wrap-up to this book.

This will be the final discussion area for the book Sacred Sex.  Thanks to all of you for taking the time to read this along with me and comment about how it has affected you.  If you have any final thoughts or key points that you’d like to bring up, you know what to do! 🙂

Sacred Sex: Chp. 9

Wow… what a difficult chapter all about the lies and broken promises of “just sex.”  After last week’s easier read, I was glad to see these topics addressed.  The example he used of “Jenna” was a sad one, but one that resonates with many of us.  I know a couple of “Jenna’s” myself.  Not with the exact same past & circumstances, but close.  People can make some bad decisions based on feeling lonely and needing to feel loved.

I agree that sex is never “just sex.”  In most of these chapters, Mr. Gardner has talked about the wondrous intimacy and oneness that sexual intimacy can bring between a husband and wife.  This chapter, however, is different.  He tackles serious subjects and discusses the things that cause sex to destroy rather than build up. Among these topics are what he calls:

The Four Horsemen of Sexual Degradation (pgs. 177-182)

  • Sexual Abuse
  • Pornography
  • “Casual” Sex
  • Broken Promises

I’m not going into lots of detail here about each one (because you have already read that) but each one of these things causes pain and destruction.  Gardner continuously points out to us that the cross  is the answer.  People who are hurting and making bad choices need to be led to the cross.  For many people, sex is tied to horrid memories of the past, and they cannot comprehend how sex can be holy.  The cross used to be looked at like that.  Thousands of years ago it reminded people of humiliation, pain, suffering, and death.  Today the cross has been transformed and renewed.  We wear it around our necks proudly as a sign of hope and God’s grace.  Just like the cross, sex can be renewed.  Gardner quoted Colossians 2:13-14 and then said:  “Jesus Christ has conquered the death of the cross and brought us life; and He can bring to life what is dead in your life as well.  And that means that He is able to redeem and heal your view and experience of sex.” He then goes on to elaborate on how grace can destroy the four horsemen mentioned above.  I bet we all can relate to one of them, or know someone close to us who does.

For some reason I’m sitting here singing an old hymn in my head now.  I know this is a simple song, but it so applies here.  Marvelous Grace

In the end Gardner does say that some cases do need professional help or accountability helpers.  There is no shame in needing a Marriage or Sex Counselor to help you work through your issues.  “Through the hope of the cross, Eden has been redeemed.”

Sacred Sex: Chp. 8

I really enjoyed reading this chapter.  All women couples everywhere should read this chapter!  “Beauty Worship” and using sex to sell things is everywhere you look.  We women are bombarded with pictures of bone thin models who many times appear to be malnourished to me…and yet many of us continue to believe the lie that sex would be better for us (or for our husbands) if we lost ten pounds or if we got in the tanning bed or if we had a boob job 😕

He isn’t saying that doing those things are necessarily wrong.  If you know that losing weight would benefit you health-wise and make you feel like doing more stuff with your kids/family and feel better about yourself, then by all means work on that!  If you honestly feel more comfortable having a tan in the summer months and it makes you less self conscious about your almost albino looking legs, then okay.  But listen to this quote from pg. 157: “…if the subtle motivation is that somehow you’ll have more worth as a person, then you’re wasting your time and your money.  If you’re convinced that you’ll be more lovable, a better person, or more valuable to others if your appearance is altered, you will ultimately be disappointed.  If you believe that having bigger breasts, a tighter stomach, or a fuller head of hair will increase your sexual enjoyment and that your emotional intimacy will skyrocket, you’ve bought into the “great bodies equal great sex” lie.”

It’s like saying if you go out and get a boob job that your husband’s orgasm will be stronger and longer than usual.  Or if your husband goes through all of these laser procedures or implants for hair regrowth on his head, that you will all of a sudden be more aroused and have a more satisfying sex life with him.  The media is working hard to condition us all to believe these lies about sex and beauty, but we need to stay rooted to what we know is the truth. Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. (He also gives us MANY more scripture references on pages 166-167!)

Have you ever allowed yourself to get sucked in to believing some of these lies about beauty given to us by our culture?  I’m not sure how many of you are reading this book with your husbands, but this chapter has some very good discussion questions at the end for couples.  Please share any thoughts you have about this in the comment box!

Sacred Sex: Chp. 7

I enjoyed reading this chapter.  I admit that I didn’t underline or highlight nearly as much as I have in previous chapters, but that isn’t to say that this chapter was lacking.  I agree wholeheartedly about the three lies of sex (p. 135).  Pleasure, Passion, and Freedom are all things that are widely misunderstood by many couples.  Yes, God does want us to delight in our spouse and have fun, but there is more to sex than new techniques or toys.  Listen to this quote pulled from page 139:  “If we pursue sex for the fun it brings, then we’ll never experience the soul connection that is promised in this holy union.  And without that depth of emotion, we cannot know true sexual freedom.  The superficial pursuit of fun robs us of the genuine freedom God wants us to enjoy.” And later on in the chapter he also talks about the freedom to say no to sex instead of feeling like you are obligated to say yes every single time.

I found the paragraphs on differentiation pretty fascinating.  I am actually at a point in my own life where I am trying for the first time to really work on being a differentiated person.  Trying to find that balance takes a conscious effort.  For me it also takes a lot of metacognition.  It seems that more often than not, I’m finding myself thinking about my thinking and thinking about why and how I’m thinking what I’m thinking.  I’m trying to understand myself better so that I can communicate and express myself better.  It isn’t an easy process but I’m finally at the maturity in my life and marriage where it is happening. (Or so I hope!)

What did you think of his “Three Sexual Encounters?”  To recap, these are taken from p. 148:

  • Fast-Food Sex: quickies and spur of the moment sex with no planning; sometimes orgasm sometimes not
  • Informal Dining: some planning; both giving to one another; not orgasm centered although it frequently happens; emotionally connected
  • Five-Star Dining: commitment; time involved (hours even days); not just sex; unconditional acceptance; this is true “making love”

It’s interesting to think back and see how often each of these scenarios apply to our own marriages.  Does your marriage have more Fast-Food Sex?  Do you and your dh often take the time to plan some Five-Star Dining in your marriage bed?  Are you both happy with the sexual encounters in your marriage?

Sacred Sex: Chp. 6

I’m not sure about you all, but I found chapter 6 to be a lighter read than the previous chapters.  Finally a chapter that I felt like didn’t step all over my toes.  (Or maybe this was the chapter that finally stepped on yours?)  I absolutely LOVE the fact that he invited his wife Amy to co-write this chapter.  It flowed well from his POV to hers.

I liked the discussion about the difference of the sexes, and in particular the part about how sex is never just about sex, but rather is always full of other things as well (p.114)  Tim tells us that men want to feel loved and desired by their wives, and having a wife initiate sex makes them feel that love & desire.  Amy then asks women:  ” …to prayerfully examine their view of sex.  Is it something you do merely to satisfy a physical urge of your husband and therefore you can say no, knowing he won’t die and not worrying too much about it?  Or is sexual intimacy a way for you to reach out and love your husband in a way that touches him on a deeply emotional level and therefore makes him feel valued and loved?”

The way they described their evenings was easy to relate to (p.115).  They each shared their expectations and hopes for how the day would end from coming home from work, dinner, putting the kids to bed, etc.  It really makes you think when you see it coming from two different perspectives doesn’t it?

I think the part on fatigue may hit home with many women (p.117).  Those two paragraphs, while short, pack a strong punch.  I have those entire paragraphs highlighted in my book.

Oh, and the part about breakfast…what a great comparison!  He asks wives if we knew that our husbands felt the most loved if we would get up twice a week and make them some eggs and bacon would we do it?  It doesn’t matter that he has the means to make it himself, nor does it matter if sometimes an outside factor makes it so that we can only do it once…the question is that if we know that is how our husbands feel the MOST LOVED, would we make it a point to do that for them twice a week?  Now change those eggs and bacon to making love… yeah, a bit of an eye opener, huh? (For more on this read pgs.124-125)

As usual there was much more to this chapter than I can write about.  They actually wrote a lot geared toward the husbands as well, talking about respecting your wives and showing them nonsexual love and gentleness.  They also talked about being sensitive to your wife’s needs.  I liked their idea of having a “Date to Communicate” (p.129)  This would definitely be a great chapter for couples to read together.

Okay ladies, what was your take on chapter 6?

Sacred Sex: Chp. 5

This chapter seemed to fly by as I was reading it!  I totally understand what he was saying in the first few pages about all aspects of our lives being interconnected with each other, but I have to admit that I still tend to try and compartmentalize everything.  I think it goes back to my um… control issues, and trying to have everything in it’s place.  I do that physically and emotionally.  I’ve been that way for so long that it’s just a given part of my personality.  But I think the fact that I realize I’m like this means that there is hope for constructive change in myself… right?

Okay, so he discusses the four bases of Meta-Sex, and last week’s chapter addressed first base, or Holy Sex.  Second base kind of hit home with me.  He said: “No couple can enjoy a mutually fulfilling sexual connection if other significant issues are being ignored.” Well, this definitely supports the notion that all parts of our lives are connected on a deeper level.  But he went a step further by saying: “And we’ll never feel that we matter deeply to another human being if our mate is nonchalant about things that matter to us.” I think I must have backed up and read that line about 7 times.  Without going into too much detail, there is something that my husband cares deeply about that I view as bothersome.  It annoys me that he cares so much about it and I am constantly dwelling on how much time and energy he puts into it.  (Obviously this has nothing to do with bedroom activities.)  Even just TWO HOURS before reading this chapter, I was on the phone with my best friend complaining about this one thing that seems to be so high on my dh’s priority list.  And then I read this chapter and got to this part.  It humbled me.  It made me feel about 2″ tall.

This bothersome thing that matters so much to my husband is something that I have struggled with for YEARS, and in one sentence I was forced to reevaluate the way I think about it.  This thing that my husband is passionate about is important to him.  Me rolling my eyes when the subject comes up or sighing heavily has a negative impact on him.  When I act like I can’t stand that particular thing, it affects him and makes him feel that he doesn’t matter as deeply to me because of how obviously put off I am by this thing that matters to him.  I give him the impression that his passions aren’t important to me and in fact are a nuisance.  Wow, look at these negative messages I’ve been sending to the man who has been by my side for almost 20 years!  This is something that I cannot just ‘fix’ overnight.  I’m going to have to coat this in prayer and carefully ask God’s guidance in reforming my views and changing my attitude.  I need to show my dh that his interests & passions matter to me, and I need to be genuine about it.

I love the examples he gives in this chapter of himself and other couples.  I also like the part on pg. 96 entitled: Catch the Foxes.  I’m not going into too much detail here but from now own when I see some type of conflict looming I’m going to try and remember to tell myself to “catch the fox” before a barrier forms.  As he says:  “All little foxes need to be chased away through prayer and open, accepting conversation.”

There are a couple of other things that I liked that I may come back and mention in the comment box later, but for now I’m gonna end this article before it becomes too long.  Did this chapter speak to any of you?  Any other things that I failed to mention that you really liked, or didn’t like for that matter?

Sacred Sex: Chp. 4

This chapter talked a lot about unconditional acceptance and how having that with your spouse is so important.  Adam & Eve accepted each other unconditionally and without shame.  But today we are bombarded with images of ‘sex’ all over the media in advertisements and magazines and billboards and the news, etc.  We see these bone thin women selling products with their sexuality and we compare ourselves to them and always seem to come up short.  I’ve been guilty of this myself, thinking things like “What if i just lost 10 more pounds…maybe he would find me more appealing/sexy and maybe the frequency of our sex would rise!?”  Mr. Gardner says (pg. 72): “If we believe that our mate sees us as flawed, we’ll enter into sexual encounters with each other fearing that we’re displeasing to the one whose acceptance of us matters most.  We’ll feel like we’re simply not enough.  And if we believe that we could never be enough, we can’t give ourselves to one another in a completely genuine way in holy sex.” Yeah, that has been me at times…thinking that my dh must see me as flawed because *I* see me as flawed!  Maybe i need to recite that catchphrase of Stuart Smalley: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people my husband likes me!”

I agree with him when he says that many sexual dysfunctions originate in the mind.  I know that not everything does, as there are exceptions to every rule, but the mind is so much more powerful that many people realize.

I underlined or highlighted so many things on all the pages dealing with shame that I don’t even know where to begin.  So much good and interesting information.  I loved his definition of shame vs. guilt.

Guilt says: I did something bad/wrong.

Shame says: I am bad and something is wrong with me.

Shame is that feeling that makes us want to run away and hide somewhere (much like Adam & Eve did in the garden).  And when we have shame like that, how can we possibly have honest freedom in our marriage beds?  How can we enjoy holy intimacy with our spouse with no inhibitions?  The answer is that we can’t.  So ladies, when we secretly compare ourselves to supermodels and think that our thighs are way too big or that our bellies must be disgusting to our husbands, that shame carries over into our marriage beds even if we try and pretend that everything is fine.  We may ask for the lights out or low lighting.  We may want to wear lingerie or clothing or complain about being cold so we can hide under the covers.  We may say that we want a certain position because we think that it hides a certain part of ourselves well.  Oh how shame can manifest itself in us, making us feel inadequate, and preventing us from connecting fully with our husbands in godly sex, as God wishes for us.  Are you carrying around some type of shame?

There is SO MUCH MORE I could say about this chapter.  (And I thought chapter 3 was good..but this one is even better!)  I can’t possibly type out everything I underlined, and I’m hoping that maybe some of you could bring out some other points in the comment section, but I do want to end this with one last quote that I thought was pretty profound, on page 82.  How many of us are able right now to do this:

“To be naked and completely unashamed means to stand before your mate and say, “Here is my body.  Here are my emotions.  Here are my thoughts about God.  Here is my history with all of my hopes, my fears, my dreams, my failures.  I stand here naked–physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Here are all the things that I’ve tried to keep hidden.  But standing before you, I feel loved, accepted, and cherished.”

Sacred Sex: Chp. 3

So the whole focus of this chapter was to show us how important ONENESS is in our marriages.  Again, I like how he used a real example for us (Brenda & Kevin) and walked us through their struggles and growth.  I highlighted his quote on page 49:  “Whenever we make orgasm the goal of sex, we will fail to experience godly sex.  In other words, the “Big O” of sex is not orgasm; it’s oneness.” Then two pages later he said:  “Orgasm delights for a moment; oneness lasts a lifetime.” How profound!  I almost want to print it out and hang it on my refrigerator or something! (almost 😆 )

When he talked about praying together (page 52) it kind of hit home with me.  We never pray together.  I wished we did, but it’s just not something we’ve ever done.  I pray often but it’s always alone.  It would be nice to pray together before making love, and not only that but it would be nice for my dh to LEAD in us praying together.  Mr. Gardner is right that I would indeed find that sexy and sensual, in an odd sort of way.  It would touch me inwardly and help to break down any barriers/walls I had up (even ones I didn’t realize were there) in order to have a more fulfilling, emotional, and spiritual ONENESS with my husband.  Anyone else see it this way?

I did relate somewhat to what he said on page 55 about people struggling with control issues.  (That would be me 😕 )  I am a very orgasmic woman and have a history of having multiple O’s in one love making session.  However, I do find myself more ‘on guard’ than not and do find it hard sometimes to, as he says:  “abandon myself to the love and care of the other.”   I have friends who would describe me as somewhat of a control freak.  I admit that losing control is a very uneasy feeling for me and not one that I experience a lot.  I think I’ve grown to struggle with this more in recent years than past years, even though I know in my head that I need to take LESS control and give God the ULTIMATE control.  I would have liked to have read more about this than just the one paragraph he gave us, but I realize that this book wasn’t written just for me and my own issues… and so I will read on!

Sex being a form of worship… umm… okay.  I will admit that it is kind of hard for me to wrap my brain around this one, but I finally kind of saw what he was saying…I think.

I LOVE that he quoted the Song of Songs!

In the last couple of pages of this chapter, he told us about another book by Scott Stanley, where Mr. Stanley uses the analogy “between the children of Israel standing at the edge of Canaan, the brink of the Promised Land, and Christians standing on the brink of God’s design for marriage.” The Israelites missed out on the blessings that God wanted to give them because of their fear and lack of trust.  Some of us are that way too…missing out on blessings in our own marriage beds because of something holding us back, like our own fears, or pride, or even our own stubborn self wanting to stay in control.

Not sure what else to say right now.  I believe that chapter 3 has had the biggest impact on me thus far.  What do you all think?

Sacred Sex: Chp. 2

The first thing that I found interesting was the discussion of  “common grace”  (pg 28).  This gift of sex is available to everyone to enjoy.  Everyone is free to enjoy the physical pleasures of sex and can also use it to reproduce.  But he goes on to explain: “Christians are the only ones who can fully grasp and benefit from the holiness of sex.”

In the next few pages he talks about illicit sex and how that factors in to things.  Unbelievers who have sex are still becoming one with each other.  And if a Christian has illicit sex with a friend/stranger/prostitute/coworker etc., he or she not only uniting their physical bodies as one, but the believer is “uniting the body of Christ with the other person.” Isn’t that something to think about?  “As believers, if we have sex outside the bonds of marriage, we have dishonored God with our bodies by becoming one in the wrong way.” Of course I have heard teachings on adultery before, but this is the first time that I’ve ever heard it explained this way.  Our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, and when we sin against our own bodies (sexually) we are essentially sinning against God.  He references those familiar verses of 1 Corinthians 6.

I think that page 37 was the biggie for me in this chapter.  God created everything and it was all good.  God created Adam and he was good.  The first thing that wasn’t good was that Adam was alone.  Sin had not yet entered, so there was nothing coming between he and God, but it was still “not good” that he was alone.   God could have done any one of several things for Adam, but He chose to give Adam, Eve.   God knew beforehand that Adam would be lonely (because God knows all)…and He told Adam that without Eve (his wife) a part of him was missing.  Listen to what he says:  “Even though Adam was created in God’s image, without Eve he didn’t yet fully represent God’s image.  The work of creation wasn’t complete until God formed Eve from Adam’s rib.” If you are reading this article without having read the book, then you may be wondering if that somehow means that unmarried people are “less.”  The answer is NO!  Not at all!  But I would like to encourage you to read this chapter to gain further insight.

I was glad to see him use an example couple (Michael and Sarah) as well.  The example he used is like so many emails that we get here at CN.  The wife has no libido of her own and feels like sex is just something on her list of things she needs to do for her husband and to have children.  I was glad to hear the resolution to this couple’s stagnant intimacy.  It is never just one person’s problem.  A marriage is two becoming one, and when one had an ‘issue’ the other is indirectly (if not directly) related to that issue as well.

I didn’t mention every single thing covered in this chapter.  These are just the points that stuck out to me as I was reading.  What stood out to you?  Anything that challenged your thinking or views?  Anything that you disagreed with?   What did you get out of chapter 2?

Sacred Sex: Chp. 1

My plan for these chapter discussions isn’t to ramble on and on about what we read.  I just want to hit on a couple of things that stood out to me in the chapter, and then have you all give your input about something that stood out to you.  The questions at the end of the chapter are for you and your spouse, however there may be one that sparks our conversation on here from time to time.  If you would like to discuss a certain quote or paragraph, please give us the page number to what you are referring to so that we can see what you are talking about.  So as far as chapter 1 goes, here are my thoughts…

There is a quote on page 8 that I love:  “The full truth about sex is this:  It is both sacred and polluted, holy and desecrated.  The sacredness of sex is not based on how we treat it or mistreat it.  Its sacredness is based on its essence, which comes from God. Sex is holy because God created it to be holy.” Basically this whole first chapter is talking about how holy sex really is, and I believe he does a good job of giving examples (like Moses with the burning bush) to help us with this understanding.

On page 11 there is a section called:  The Lies That Hold Us Back.  This section really resonates with me because I have two sons.  One will be in middle school next year and oh how that scares me!  We have had the talk and he does know about sex, but I don’t think I ever used the word “holy” with him when talking about it.  I have made a mental note to do so.

I really liked his further discussion of the Holiness of Sex on page 15 where he said:  This deeper dimension is experienced when we move past pleasure as a goal and instead seek intimate connection—not just with our bodies but also with our souls. How true!  Sex is so much more than just a way to reach orgasm.  There have been times that I have looked into my husband’s eyes while making love, and swore that I was staring straight into his soul.  It has brought me to tears.

I had not ever given thought to Gen 2:24 being the first brief description of making love in the bible.  (p. 16)

He compares sex being holy to the act of communion being holy on page 18.  Very interesting.

He talks on pages 20-21 about how marriage therapy and sex therapy are considered two different fields of expertise that focus on two separate sets of problems.  He doesn’t agree with that and thinks that it should all be combined together into marital counseling.  I read his reasoning and it makes sense, however I still feel like the two can be and should be separated in some cases.  This is something that I will continue to give thought to.

Those were the main thoughts that I took away from chapter one.  What about you?

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