Are Particular Sexual Activities Wrong in Marriage?

ARE PARTICULAR SEXUAL ACTIVITIES WRONG IN MARRIAGE?

April Cassidy

ABOUT MY APPROACH TO THIS POST:

I haven’t stated my personal convictions about specific sexual activities in marriage for a variety of reasons. One reason is that last year, God convicted me that Romans 14 admonishes believers to keep our personal convictions about “disputable matters” private.

The sharing of personal convictions tends to cause a lot of division in the body of Christ.

  • Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. Romans 14:1

So I took down any posts that were about my own convictions on a number of topics. I want to build the unity in the body, not create division over trivial matters.

  • So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. Romans 14:22
🙂

I decided to write about this topic after several requests. However, I am not going to be sharing my own convictions or details about my marriage in this area out of respect for God, for Greg, for myself, and for the body of Christ. I appreciate everyone respecting my approach. 

I have decided not to have comments available on this particular post.

  • This topic lends itself toward becoming a debate that would probably not be productive.
  • I also don’t want to have any unwholesome or inappropriate conversations in mixed company.
🙂

There are some resources at the bottom of the post. I invite you to check them out and prayerfully consider each issue for yourself with your own husband. 

A FEW FOUNDATIONAL THOUGHTS:

First, I want to remember that my greatest goal as a believer is to bring glory to God in all I do.

Second, I want to remember that anything that God calls sin is something that is ultimately destructive for me or for someone else. I want to focus on God’s incredible love for His children and the fact that His motives toward us are always good and never evil. Any parameters God gives, I want to embrace with total faith and trust.

Third, I want to remember that God created sex for marriage and that it is very good.

Fourth, I want to remember that Satan wants to make sex outside of marriage and sex before marriage as enticing as possible and he wants to make sex in marriage as difficult, painful, and frustrating as possible. He wants to create division and dissension and do all he can to prevent us from having unity in every area of our marriages, including the area of physical intimacy.

Warning, dear sisters:

Be aware of Satan’s strategies and tactics and resist him, yielding your heart completely to the Lord. He wants you to think accusing, negative, terrible thoughts toward your husband. He wants you bound up in guilt, shame, fear, anxiety, pride, and self-righteousness.

It is so critical that we take our thoughts captive for Christ so that we allow God’s Spirit to control our thoughts, motives, and all that we do, not the flesh.

Jesus set us free from sin, death, shame, guilt, bondage, oppression, fear, and every toxic way of thinking! He guides us in all truth by His Spirit and His Word. He can purify our hearts and minds and empower us to be the women He calls us to be. There is so much freedom in Christ. It is not about rules. It is about abiding in Him and being filled to overflowing with His goodness and then He gives us His wisdom and healing so graciously.

  • Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh; but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. The mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace… Romans 8:5-6

Let the fruit of the Spirit be very evident in the way we treat our husbands sexually, and in every other way. May God’s supernatural love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control abound in our hearts and in our interactions with our husbands. May the way we relate to them bring great joy to God’s heart and glory to His Name!

HOW TO DECIDE IF A PARTICULAR SEXUAL ACTIVITY IS A SIN IN MARRIAGE:

I need to prayerfully ask myself some questions as I seek to allow God’s Spirit to show me His truth and goodness from the Bible – with a heart that longs to obey God no matter what He may ask of me:

1. Does the Bible list this thing as a sin? If the Bible lists it as sin, it’s out of the question. I can’t participate in that.

2. Does the activity I want to do violate a general principle of God’s Word? Is it selfish, hurtful, involving sex outside of marriage, involving lust for someone to whom I am not married? Is it an addiction? Does it involve idolatry, greed, lying, envy of others, etc…?

3. Could what I want to do cause harm/pain emotionally or physically to my spouse? I must remember that “love does no harm to a neighbor” (Rom. 13:10). Could the activity cause harm to myself or anyone else in some way?

4. If the Bible is silent about it, the activity doesn’t go against a general principle of God’s Word, and it does not cause harm to someone then it really isn’t my place to label something as sin that God doesn’t label as sin. I don’t want to put myself in the position of deciding what is sinful. And I don’t want to make up my own “sins” and put myself in bondage unnecessarily to manmade rules. I can have personal convictions that are based on my own thinking. But I don’t get to label things as “sin.” That is God’s job.

5. If an activity violates a particular believer’s conscience, then for that person, he/she is not acting in faith and that is sin for that person even if this is an area where there is Christian liberty and freedom. I don’t want to force my spouse to do something that would violate his conscience. I would seek to “bear with him in love” and patience and put my desire for a particular thing on the back burner.

6. In areas of Christian liberty, I am free in Christ to enjoy something that is not labeled as sin by God and that does not violate biblical principles.

7. My primary purpose in the sexual aspect of my life must be to glorify and love God and love my husband. Sex is not “all about me.” Yes, I can enjoy it, and that is awesome. But, as a believer, I want my mindset to be, “How might I bless my husband in this area?”

Note:

In my book, I share a number of ways that we can be disrespectful to our husbands about sex and ways we can respect our husbands about sex. The Peaceful Wife – Living in Submission to Christ As Lord

Much love to each of you in Christ!

Being a Woman of Grace

BEING A WOMAN OF GRACE

I’ve been growing intently for years now in trying to become what I would call a ‘woman of grace.’  It’s probably been the most difficult journey for me personally, even though I’m naturally kind and loving, being a true woman of grace means exhibiting maturity even during the hardest of circumstances.

Maturity.  I love this word and it’s meaning.  I love that this is what Jesus meant when He said that He desired for us to be “perfect” (Greek meaning = mature, complete in growth), like He was.

Complete in growth.  Stable, mature, peaceful… uneasily shaken by others and what they may say about you or do to you.

When people are being human, with their flaws, or even sometimes difficult personalities, I’m able to exhibit grace fairly easily.  I’m blessed to be easy going and optimistic in nature, but when I’m confronted with extremely rude or even evil people, I tend to throw grace out the window and can become like a mamma bear in all her anger in setting my boundaries or telling them off.

While I’ve come a long way in spiritual growth in this area, I still want to work to become more mature, more able to understand a difficult situation so that I’m no longer sucked into sinful drama.  Its critical to understand the motive behind our own behavior that can end up leading us to being ungraceful in how we deal with others.

A few years ago now, I read one of the most interesting books on anger and dealing with people or situations that bring out bad characteristics in us.  The book is called Overcoming Emotions that Destroy, written by Chip Ingram, and helps one to identify what kind of person they are (a Stuffer or Exploder… I’m a Stuffer that can endure for years before I finally Explode), what kinds of things hurt or anger them, and how they spiritually need to go about dealing with toxic emotions (or people) in order to have joy and peace in their life.

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Being a woman of grace means having composure, finding and being grounded.  It carries over into the realm of crisis situations, and into confrontations with catty or gossipy females.

Carrying oneself with grace means having patience when a difficult person needs time to mature, but grace also means having the wisdom to know when to move on away from a person who refuses God’s assistance to grow beyond their immaturity.

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Being a graceful woman is finding maturity through allowing God to develop in you the traits of the Fruit of the Spirit (more below), but let’s take a look at why it is so important to cultivate Grace. Let’s take a look at the ungraceful woman.

The Ungraceful Woman

To be an ungraceful woman (not disgraceful as that implies shameful), but merely a woman who lacks real grace in dealing with others, is a very painful existence for that woman, and is why I truly feel sorry for people who live their lives in such a unhealthy manner.  She constantly feels the need to control others, to criticize or “punish” them, without trusting that God sees everything and has taken vengeance into His own hands, and commanded her not to herself!

Meddling in others’ lives, watching them in order to jump on their mistakes, gossiping to her audience of relatives or friends about their mistakes or perceived lack of character… all these things are actions that prevent these women from growing in true maturity, and it always makes me very sad when I come across someone with this defect.  A woman like this is shirking her calling, ignoring her God-given talents, and being consumed with the faults of others while her own creativity withers away.  Once you understand the depravity of her actions, you no longer feel any other emotion toward her except for deep sadness at the life she’s chosen for herself.  She knows deep down that she’s wrong, that she’s behaving immaturely, that she’s deliberately confronting someone (or going behind their back to gossip) in something that is not her place and not bringing glory to God, however, she believes she is doing what is right, even beneficial to her target.  She is driven by this feeling, even though she has a nagging horrible anxiety about it.

The Ungraceful Woman Is Addicted to Attacking Others (you know… like a hobby)

Why do people attack others?  Why would someone focus so much on another’s life, devoting their words or actions to criticizing their every move?  Why would someone go into a church, sit there for an hour listening to a Bible study, and then carry out their plans to murder the people in that church because they hated members of a different race so intensely?

Even though these are situations where a person gives in to evil in lesser or greater degrees, I want people to understand that these all have one major motive in common: 

The desire to shame or punish others

When Dylann Roof, the recent aggressor in a mass shooting in an African American church in South Carolina, carried out his actions they were based on the desire to punish the blacks in that church for perceived crimes others of their race had done (or even not done) in our country.  He felt like he was carrying out a righteous duty in harming them, in exterminating them.  His words were that he had to do it because he would be benefiting society.  This is the basis of all racial crimes and genocide that has been prevalent all over the world, but it is always motivated by more than mere hatred, but by the desire to punish, shame or exterminate someone (or people)…

because they “deserve it.”

To a lesser degree, this is the same motive that takes place when a woman (or man) decides that harming someone through gossip (ruining their reputation or hurting their feelings), or punishing them by using harsh language, dismissing them or ignoring, or shaming them, is beneficial to that person or even a “righteous act.”  The can even justify that harming them is beneficial to others or a certain group.

Be it someone like Dylann Roof or a woman who punishes and shames others, the evil is shown when the aggressor thinks they are justified to treat another human being this way.  In Patricia Evans book, Controlling People, she discusses the scenarios of a person spanking a baby to get it to stop crying, and the event of a terrorist act,

While I am not in any way equating hitting a child with the quite different act of terrorism, I am pointing to the fact that they both arise from a terrifying unawareness on the part of the aggressor.  And that in most cases, when people act against other people, they feel justified.  They feel sensible.

If you have ever encountered a person who acted against you by harassing you, defining you, discriminating against you, or physically assaulting you, you may have noticed that the act was perpetrated against you as if you were deserving of it.

Whether they are experienced as horrifying, hurtful, or simply nonsensical, acts against others have certain commonalities:

1) Perpetrators usually believe that their oppressive actions are necessary, even right.  Their behavior is actually the opposite: unnecessary and wrong

2) Generally acts against others, that is, attempts to control others, eventually bring the perpetrators just the opposite of what they want.

3) Acts against others originate with a distortion or lack of awareness.  Perpetrators almost universally believe that they see clearly and are aware: the opposite of reality.

Instead of growing in maturity, an ungraceful woman develops a toxic character of constantly feeling like it is her “duty” to “call out” the sins, failures, and shortcomings of others.  She feels like her oppressive and ungraceful behavior is necessary to bring about some kind of desired change.  She attempts to control another to try to get what she wants from them (compliance), but ends up getting the opposite (a broken relationship, or being ignored, or facing the other’s indifference).

In acting in an ungraceful manner of attacking, shaming, or gossiping about another person, she is pursuing the opposite of growing in maturity.  Maturity in our actions with others is found in the Fruits of the Spirit,

Maturity through the Fruits of the Spirit:

Love

Joy

Peace

Patience

Kindness

Goodness

Faithfulness

Gentleness

Self-Control

An aggressor or ungraceful woman at times, will break every single one of these beautiful tenants of the Fruit of the Spirit, characteristics that should be growing in someone that is becoming more and more mature or Christ like, in order to criticize or punish another.

Being a woman of grace means actively pursuing each of these characteristics whole-heartedly, allowing God to change her more and more into a complete woman  – a woman who is mature.

Hope for a Future of Grace, Even in Our Failings

If you’ve failed in this way, if you’ve been the ungraceful woman, let me just tell you that I’ve been there… I’ve hit rock bottom.  Don’t let shame that you’ve failed in this area prevent you from embracing the hope and joy that God can change and heal everything, giving you that maturity and peace to help you understand how to better deal with others.

Here are some scriptures that are for those who feel like they’ve failed being a woman of grace:

“I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.  I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion (maturity) until the day of Christ Jesus.  It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I have you in my heart, and you are all partners with me in grace….”  Philippians 1:3-7

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“For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to will and to act for His good purpose.  Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.  Hold firmly the message of life.”  Philippians 2:13-14

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“Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus.  Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.  Therefore all who are mature should think this way.  And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this to you also.  In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained.”  Philippians 3:12-16

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“Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another.  Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so also you must forgive.  Above all, put on love – the perfect bond of unity.  And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts.  Be thankful.  Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”  Colossians 3:12-17

5 Rules for Having a Constructive Conflict Conversation About Money

5 RULES FOR HAVING A CONSTRUCTIVE CONFLICT CONVERSATION ABOUT MONEY

Kyle Benson

How do you fight with your partner when money is on the table? Do you argue with them over how to budget or criticize them for their “uncontrollable” spending habits?

As we’ve learned so far in the Managing Money in Marriage column, conflicts about money in a marriage aren’t really about money. Most arguments are about what money means to each person in the relationship. It is those differences, not the dollar value, that are often the root of financial disagreements.

So how do you work on those differences?

The Destructive Nature of Money Conflicts

Have you ever felt like your partner was the enemy when it comes to money? In 1969, George Bach felt that way when he published The Intimate Enemy. Bach believed that relationships failed because partners didn’t air their resentments, so he encouraged couples to “let it all out.”

He gave couples foam rubber bats and encouraged partners to take turns saying what they resented about the other person. One partner might say, “I resent you for spending our money on a stupid boat we never use,” followed by a whack with the bat. Then the other partner might say, “I resent you for spending thousands each year on clothes and heels,” accompanied with a whack.

It turns out this method only made couples feel more resentful toward one another. “Letting it all out” over money is not the solution.

It’s important to reframe your approach toward conflict. Happy couples start conflict conversations gently and allow their partner to influence them. They work with each other to compromise and find a solution. In this way, anger and frustration about money can actually be a catalyst for profound growth in a marriage. Like building a Sound Relationship House, money conflicts can be used to reconstruct the way we love each other over time.

How to Have a Constructive Conflict Conversation

Before you even start to discuss conflicts about money in your marriage, we recommend reading The Meaning of Money to discover your money laws. Below are five guidelines for making conflict conversations work:

1. Be on the Same Team

People often perceive their partner as dissimilar to them, especially during conflict. They believe they have all the positive qualities and their partner only has a few or lots of negative traits.

When you give your partner a negative quality in your thoughts, try to see that same quality in yourself. And when you identify a positive quality in yourself, try to see that same quality in your partner. The assumption of similarity is what keeps The Story of Us focused on we-ness, not me-ness.

2. Stop if You’re Flooded

Couples can only have a constructive conflict conversation if they can manage their own physiological flooding. At its peak, flooding can cause couples to verbally attack each other. Any conversation you have while being flooded will be useless, if not damaging. Regrettable words will be said and partners will put up walls as they defend themselves against one another.

Dr. John Gottman’s research has shown that a simple 20 to 30 minute break can really help you calm yourself down. During that time, do things that help you relax like taking a walk or listening to your favorite music.

3. Postpone Persuasion

Trying to persuade your partner to compromise before both of you have stated your position will lead to resentment and an unfair solution. If your partner feels unheard, they will unlikely to be motivated to open up and hear your side of the story. It is only when both partners feel understood by each other that you can begin to work together to find a compromise.

If your partner does not feel understood and accepts your persuasion, over time they may resent you or undermine the solution you set.

Slow down, understand each other, and the solution will last.

4. Express Your Needs

As a speaker, it’s your responsibility to express your needs in a way that your partner can do something about that will be successful for you. The trap most people fall into is only expressing how they want to feel: “I want to feel more loved.”

The problem is that it gives your partner no clue how to help you feel that way. A better way to ask for more love is, “I need a romantic date night once a week and an overnight to a bed and breakfast every two months.” Be as specific as you can.

5. Believe Both Points of View are Valid

When partners believe there is only one truth, they argue tooth and nail for their own position. That belief is a dead end.

There is only one essential assumption that will make the conversation about hurt feelings or the aftermath of a fight workout constructively: that in every disagreement or miscommunication, there are always two points of view, and they are both valid.

Once you accept that idea, it’s no longer necessary to argue for your own position. Now you can focus on understanding and validating your partner’s position.

Note: Validation and understanding are not the same as compliance or agreement.

This process will only work if both partners agree that there are two valid viewpoints, and if BOTH are not focused so much on “facts” as on understanding the other’s side of the event.

These five rules will guide you to stop fighting about money and start connecting in your relationship.

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