As a doctor, I am asked frequently about sexual matters. I have studied sex from a medical perspective and from a spiritual perspective. I have heard many interesting opinions and ideas from patients about sex that are not based on facts or reality. For many it is a taboo subject, but it should not be considered taboo or shameful when it is happening in the proper context. This is why I am “boldly” speaking about it on my blog, in hopes of helping others understand sex in a healthy way.
A couple of years ago, I had a patient come in to discuss birth control with me. She was starting college and “wanted to be ready”. In talking to her, I discovered that she had been a camp counselor at a Christian camp over the summer. So I asked her what she thought the Bible had to say about sex. She told me that she knew that God wanted her to wait until she got married to have sex, but that she didn’t think anyone did that any more and didn’t think it was an option for her. When I told her I knew many young adults who were waiting until they were married to have sex, she was very relieved and encouraged. She thanked me for being honest with her and telling her what her options were, and left without a prescription but instead with a re-commitment to remain sexually pure.
I had another patient who I had gotten to know well over the last 3 years. While in high school while having the support of her parents and her youth group friends, she had taken a stand against sex before marriage. This fall she went away to college and got swept up in the drinking scene on campus. She came in to see me a couple of months ago asking to be tested for STDs and to get started on the Pill. I was very surprised by this and asked her what had happened. She explained that one night while she was drunk she had been date-raped. She felt that since she wasn’t a virgin anymore, there was no reason any more to “save herself til marriage”. I explained to her the concept of secondary virginity, sharing something like this: “it’s a decision to abstain from sexual activity, starting now and continuing until the day you get married. It’s a chance to change risky habits, to start over, and to heal past wounds. Even though you cannot physically become a virgin again, sex is much more than just a physical act. It’s also about attitude and frame of mind. You know what it feels like to hurt, to have regrets, to have a broken heart, to be humiliated, or to lose respect for yourself. So, to protect your emotions, mind, and spirit, you can make a new, fresh start.” I have shared with other patients who are not the victims of rape but are no longer virgins that they also have the opportunity for secondary virginity because God does extend grace and forgiveness when we turn back to Him.
I had another patient who had been married a few months but had yet to be able to have sex with her husband. She had been raised in a very ultra-conservative Christian home and grew up thinking of sex as “dirty” and “naughty”. I first examined her to make sure there was nothing physically abnormal (there wasn’t), and then had a long talk with her about God’s design of sex; how “things worked”; and how it was one of the ways she could love and serve her husband well. Several months later, she and her husband returned to see me in my office. He thanked me profusely and she reported she was not only able to have sex and enjoy it, but that she was also expecting their first child.
I have many middle-aged patients (40’s-60’s), both male and female, consult with me because they are worried about their decreased sexual desire and/or that they are unable to “perform” in the same way that they did when they were younger. I tell them that a decrease in hormones as we age is a very natural and normal thing. Just because Hollywood and pharmaceutical companies would like us to believe that frequent and lengthy sexual intercourse is the norm, it does not make it true. We do not need to medicate ourselves to make it true either. We can do some things to help ourselves out in this arena, such as exercising regularly; eating healthy food (avoiding processed foods/sugars/excess alcohol); getting to and maintaining a healthy weight; and considering one of our most important sexual organs, the brain, and its part in the lovemaking experience (setting the right mood, avoiding pornography, enjoying foreplay etc).
Let’s talk now about the origin of sex. It was completely God’s idea and He designed and intended for it to be a unifying and pleasurable expression of love between a husband and wife.
How delightful is your love, my bride!
How much more pleasing is your love than wine,
and the fragrance of your perfume
more than any spice!
Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride;
milk and honey are under your tongue.
The fragrance of your garment
is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
You are a garden locked up, my bride;
you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain. Song of Solomon 4:11-12
I belong to my beloved,
and his desire is for me. Song of Solomon 7:10
His left arm is under my head
and his right arm embraces me.
Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires. Song of Solomon 8:3-4
It is also intended for procreation:
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number…” Genesis 1:28
It is part of a covenant relationship that is to be honored and kept faithfully:
You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Hasn’t God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does He seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. Malachi 2:13-15
Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Hebrews 13:4
We live in a society that has often debased sex and made it ugly, politicized, violent, abusive, dangerous, exploitative, degrading, enslaving, perverted and corrupted. But all is not lost – there is hope! Each of us has the opportunity to be a voice of truth and love in our spheres of influence. The one of the greatest gifts we can give our children, friends, and church family is to arm them with right knowledge and correct understanding. This will give them a fighting chance to withstand the pressures from peers and society confronting them on almost all sides.
“We serve a Savior who is willing to pour grace upon grace into His children’s lives. The death and resurrection of Jesus is powerful enough to deal with the mess many of us are in. At the foot of the cross we find family for the lonely, hope for the hopeless, comfort for the wounded, restoration for the broken, joy for the downcast, strength for the weak and forgiveness for the sinful. All He asks is that we return to Him in repentance and faith. His divine power is equipping us with all we need for life and godliness (1 Peter 1:3) and that power isn’t going away, because we are sealed with the Spirit who lives within.” (Helen Thorne, Purity is Possible)