Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

Posts tagged ‘romance’

Making Sexual Advances Toward Another is OK…IF…

SOURCE: Taken from an article by  Family Life/Barbara Rainey

The Power of a Woman

I have come out to meet you, to seek your presence earnestly, and I have found you. I have spread my couch with coverings, with colored linens of Egypt.
Proverbs 7:15-16

Few things are more abhorrent to me than seeing women make sexual advances toward married men, either on television or in real life. We should recoil at this kind of behavior. But just because flirtation is often corrupt doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with making sexual advances toward one married man — the one you’re already married to.

I believe we can learn something from the powerful woman described in Proverbs 5–7. Although she is an adulteress and would not typically be seen as a positive role model, perhaps there is a pure use of this power when these tactics are directed toward a woman’s own husband.

For example:

  • Her lips “drip honey” and are “smoother than oil” (Proverbs 5:3). There was a time during the dating season when gentle, soothing speech came easily. But now in marriage, it’s all too easy to gripe and complain. Words are powerful. Use yours well, and you’ll melt him like butter.
  • “She seizes him and kisses him” (Proverbs 7:13). What would be the look on your man’s face if, when you first saw him at the end of a day, you grabbed him around the shoulders and really planted one on him? There’s not a man alive who wouldn’t wonder what you’d had for lunch that day — and who wouldn’t hope you’ll have it again tomorrow.
  • She captures him “with her eyelids” (Proverbs 6:25). We wives can tend to get sloppy with our appearance around the house. That’s understandable. But every once in a while, make sure you look good when he comes home. Really good. Use your eyes to engage him. “Capture” him with your physical attractiveness.

A wife who understands her allure as a woman is protecting her husband from temptation. She’s like a magnet, drawing him home from the seductions of his day.

She’s got power. And she knows how to use it.

Pray that God will never let Satan, who knows how to twist it, steal the joy of sexual attraction and romance from you.

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Rebuilding Friendship With Your Spouse

SOURCE: Adapted from an article by Kyria/Tim & Julie Clinton

Aren’t we all suckers for love? Tender, passionate, embracing love. Love that lifts and protects. In this fast-paced, hectic world, we need love–and we need that wonderful person we’re in love with–more than ever. God designed and desired it that way.

But often life’s demands soak up our energy and attention, leaving nothing to fuel passion. Stoking that fire becomes a real struggle.

Paradoxically, friendship can turn the struggle into a labor of love.

True, intimate friendship is love in action. An intimate friend is there physically, emotionally, and spiritually when needed. Friends build on the other person’s strengths; they understand, challenge, and sometimes ignore the other person’s weaknesses. Friends sometimes read each other’s thoughts. They laugh and, at times, their tears mingle.

Acting as an intimate friend can re-ignite the fire, can turn a predictable marriage into that kiss against a sunset. How can you revitalize your friendship with your spouse?

1. Work at becoming your spouse’s best friend.  Decide to be attentive, to listen, to see the meaning and the merit. Get morning coffee and the evening tea, care about his comfort and the lotion on her back.

If you’re persistent, you’ll both begin to break the crusty residue of hassles and distractions. Man and woman were not designed to be alone (Genesis 2:18), so stop being alone. Pray together and share Scripture as that friend your romance needs.

2. Show interest in what interests your spouse.   He likes sports? Have popcorn with him during the playoffs. Does she adore classical music? Go to a concert with her.

3. Recognize that you two are different.   Couples often believe they have to behave, think, and feel alike–and if they’re not alike, they embark on a plan to change the other. It’s best to respect and celebrate differences.

If you do, you’ll find that a husband’s strengths support his wife’s weaknesses while his weaknesses are buoyed by her talents. By supporting each other, you become a force for one another and God’s kingdom.

4. Allow your spouse to be himself or herself.   Forgive mistakes.  Praise achievements. Correct your spouse gently, but never demean.

Friends can laugh and get silly with each other. Start some pillow and water balloon fights, and snap a few towels. Playing like children will lead you to play like married adults again.

As friends, look into one another’s eyes and allow the sparks of friendship to rekindle the romance. For romance is friendship at its deepest and purest level.

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Dr. Tim Clinton is president of the American Association of Christian Counselors. Married for 28 years, Tim and his wife, Julie, have two children.R

What Does God Think About Sex?

SOURCE:  Dennis/Barbara Rainey

When you and your spouse married, I’m sure you expected to have a healthy and active sexual relationship together. That’s great—that’s what God intended. Unfortunately, the daily stress of life often gets in the way of sex, distracting the attention of a husband and wife from each other and from pleasing each other.

Sex can become a marital battleground, even in young marriages, because of emotional and mental baggage from histories of sexual abuse, inappropriate sexual behavior in past relationships (or even with your spouse before marriage), or pornography. Even if these experiences or issues do not apply to you directly, our culture’s messages about and portrayals of sex can unconsciously influence the way you and your spouse respond and relate to each other in bed.

To build an intimate marriage, husband and wife must be committed to meeting each other’s physical and emotional needs. Because most men and women have differing ideas, standards, and expectations about sex, it’s no wonder that many marriages suffer in this area.  One of the best things you can do is learn about God’s purposes for sex.  After all, He is the Designer—He created our bodies.  And you may be surprised to know what He had in mind.

God’s purposes

The Designer of sex made numerous statements integral to the sexual aspect of marriage. First, sex is the process He gave us to multiply a godly heritage. He commanded us to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28).

But God also designed sex for our pleasure, to be enjoyed in the marriage bed. Sex is meant to be a bonding experience with your spouse. Scripture talks significantly more about enjoying the pleasures of sex than it does about being fruitful and multiplying! As Dr. Ed Wheat wrote, “God Himself invented sex for our delight. It was His gift to us—intended for pleasure.”

The Song of Solomon, though full of spiritual meaning and application, provides an excellent description of God’s intention for a husband and wife’s sexual relationship. According to Solomon, the man has the freedom to enjoy his wife’s body, and the woman has the freedom to enjoy his. Here’s a sample of how the lover and his beloved expressed that freedom in the Song of Solomon. The lover (King Solomon himself) said:

How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O prince’s daughter! The curves of your hips are like jewels, the work of the hands of an artist. Your navel is like a round goblet which never lacks mixed wine; Your belly is like a heap of wheat fenced about with lilies. Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle. … How beautiful and how delightful you are, my love, with all your charms! (Song of Solomon 7:1-3, 6)

Men, these words give us three points on how to be great lovers for our wives.

First, Solomon readily praised the young Shulammite woman, his beloved. He told her how beautiful she was with vivid and picturesque language that communicated his admiration to her. I often ask the husbands at our marriage getaways, “When was the last time you wrote your wife a love letter that praised her and told her how beautiful she is?” Solomon understood how important this is in communicating love.

Second, Solomon was romantic. His poetic words describe his beloved’s entire body as a source of delight. Some husbands have an easy time being creatively romantic, but the rest of us need help in this area.

Third, Solomon’s focus was physical. A wife may be tempted to resent her husband’s sex drive and physical focus, but she should understand that much more than a woman, a man is stimulated by sight. And God designed him this way deliberately.

A lovely lover

What about the bride’s approach to sex? Some of her comments about her lover indicate that she focused on what she saw (Song of Solomon 5:10-16):

My beloved is dazzling and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand. His head is like gold, pure gold; his locks are like clusters of dates, and black as a raven. His eyes are like doves, beside streams of water, bathed in milk, and reposed in their setting. His cheeks are like a bed of balsam, banks of sweet-scented herbs; his lips are lilies, dripping with liquid myrrh. His hands are rods of gold set with beryl; his abdomen is carved ivory inlaid with sapphires. His legs are pillars of alabaster set on pedestals of pure gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as the cedars. His mouth is full of sweetness and he is wholly desirable. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.

She also spoke of how she felt in her lover’s arms (7:10-12):

I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me. Come, my beloved, let us go out into the country, let us spend the night in the villages. Let us rise early and go to the vineyards; let us see if the vine has budded and its blossoms have opened, and whether the pomegranates have bloomed. Then I will give you my love.

Then she revealed her feelings about physical passion (8:5-7):

Beneath the apple tree I awakened you; … Put me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, jealousy is as severe as Sheol; its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love; nor will rivers overflow it.

These passages illustrate the two main aspects of a woman’s approach to love: the physical and the relational. The Shulammite woman described her lover’s body as richly and colorfully as Solomon’s depiction of her. But she then focused on him as a total person and their relationship.

Men often make the mistake of focusing only on the physical side of sex. Sex is much more than a physical act that ends in a few minutes. Sex actually brings two people together in body, soul, and spirit. When the soul and spirit parts of sex are missing, the woman will feel empty, undesired, and used. One woman I counseled confessed that her husband approached her only one night a month. “He never shares his life with me,” she said. “He slips into bed with the lights off, we make love, and that’s it.” I will never forget her next comment: “Making love with him is like a bread-and-water diet.” Ouch!

If a marriage is going through a rocky spell, or a spouse is struggling with an emotionally difficult issue, the problems will almost always manifest themselves in the sexual relationship. Sex acts like a gauge, measuring the depth of a relationship. For the woman I just described, the physical experience left her lonely and longing for true companionship. For sex to be truly satisfying for both partners, each has to be totally open and vulnerable to the other. Each person must feel needed, wanted, accepted, and loved sacrificially.

Sexual adjustment takes time in every marriage. Enjoy the process—that was God’s intent when He created this awesome experience for intimacy in marriage.

Adapted by permission from Rekindling the Romance, by Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2004.

Marriage As It Was Meant to Be

Adapted from:   Different By Design by John MacArthur

Ephesians 5:22-33, Luke 1:38, Genesis 2:24, Deut. 22:6
Our entertainment-saturated society helps feed all sorts of illusions about reality. The fantasy of the perfect romantic and sexual relationship, the perfect lifestyle, and the perfect body all prove unattainable because the reality never lives up to the expectation.

The worst fallout comes in the marriage relationship. When two people can’t live up to each other’s expectations, they’ll look for their fantasized satisfaction in the next relationship, the next experience, the next excitement. But that path leads only to self-destruction and emptiness.

Marriage is the capstone of the family, the building block of human civilization. A society that does not honor and protect marriage undermines its very existence. Why? Because one of God’s designs for marriage is to show the next generation how a husband and wife demonstrate reciprocal, sacrificial love toward each other.

But when husbands and wives forsake that love, their marriage fails to be what God intended. When marriage fails, the whole family falls apart; when the family fails, the whole society suffers. And stories of societal suffering fill the headlines every day.

Now, more than ever before, is the time for Christians to declare and put on display what the Bible declares: God’s standard for marriage and the family is the only standard that can produce meaning, happiness, and fulfillment.

Divine Directives for Wives

One of the most explicit passages of Scripture that outlines God’s standard for marriage is Ephesians 5:22-33. Wives often bear the brunt of that section, but the majority of the passage deals with the husband’s attitude toward and responsibilities for his wife. Nonetheless, here’s the wife’s responsibility before the Lord:

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything (vv. 22-24).

Submission in no way implies a difference in essence or worth; it does refer, however, to a willing submission of oneself. Wives, submission is to be your voluntary response to God’s will–it’s a willingness to give up your rights to other believers in general and ordained authority in particular, in this case your own husband.

Husbands aren’t to treat their wives like slaves, barking commands at them; they are to treat their wives as equals, assuming their God-given responsibility of caring, protecting, and providing for them.

Likewise wives fulfill their God-given responsibility when they submit willingly to their own husbands. That reflects not only the depth of intimacy and vitality in their relationship, but also the sense of ownership a wife has for her husband.

Keep in mind that the wife’s submission requires intelligent participation: “Mere listless, thoughtless subjection is not desirable if ever possible. The quick wit, the clear moral discernment, the fine instincts of a wife make of her a counselor whose influence is invaluable and almost unbounded” (Charles R. Erdman, The Epistles of Paul to the Colossians and to Philemon [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1966], 103).

Elisabeth Elliot, writing on “The Essence of Femininity,” offers a fitting summary of God’s ideal for wives:

Unlike Eve, whose response to God was calculating and self-serving, the virgin Mary’s answer holds no hesitation about risks or losses or the interruption of her own plans. It is an utter and unconditional self-giving: “I am the Lord’s servant … May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38). This is what I understand to be the essence of femininity. It means surrender.

Think of a bride. She surrenders her independence, her name, her destiny, her will, herself to the bridegroom in marriage … The gentle and quiet spirit of which Peter speaks, calling it “of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:4), is the true femininity, which found its epitome in Mary (John Piper, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood [Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 1991], 398, 532, emphasis added).

Divine Directives for Husbands

After giving the divine guidelines for the wife’s submission, Paul devotes the next nine verses of Ephesians 5 to explain the husband’s duty to submit to his wife through his love for her: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church” (v. 25). The Lord’s pattern of love for His church is the husband’s pattern of love for his wife, and it is manifest in four ways.

Sacrificial Love

Christ loved the church by giving “Himself up for her.” The husband who loves his wife as Christ loves His church will give up everything he has for his wife, including his life if necessary.

Most of you husbands would give verbal assent to that–literally dying for your wife is such a remote possibility for most of you. But I would speculate that it is much more difficult to make lesser, but actual sacrifices for her.

Husbands, when you put aside your own likes, desires, opinions, preferences, and welfare to please your wife and meet her needs, then you are truly dying to self to live for your wife. And that is what Christ’s love demands.

Purifying Love

Christ loved the church sacrificially with this goal in mind:

That He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless (vv. 26-27).

Love wants only the best for the one it loves, and it cannot bear for a loved one to be corrupted or misled by anything evil or harmful. If you really love your wife, you’ll do everything in your power to maintain her holiness, virtue, and purity every day you live.

That obviously means doing nothing to defile her. Don’t expose her to or let her indulge in anything that would bring impurity into her life. Don’t tempt her to sin by, say, inducing an argument out of her on a subject you know is sensitive to her. Love always seeks to purify.

Caring Love

Another aspect of divine love is this:

Husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church (vv. 28-29).

The word translated “cherishes” literally means “to warm with body heat”–it is used to describe a bird sitting on her nest (e.g., Deut. 22:6). Husbands, you are to provide a secure, warm, safe haven for your wife.

When your wife needs strength, give her strength. When she needs encouragement, give it to her. Whatever she needs, you are obligated to supply as best you can. God chose you to provide for and protect her, to nourish and cherish her, and to do so “as Christ also does the church.”

Unbreakable Love

For a husband to love his wife as Christ loves His church he must love her with an unbreakable love. In this direct quotation from Genesis 2:24, Paul emphasizes the permanence as well as the unity of marriage: “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh” (v. 31). And God’s standard for marriage still hasn’t changed.

Husbands, your union with your wife is permanent. When you got married, you had to leave, cleave, and become one with your wife–never go back on that. Let your wife rest in the security of knowing that you belong to her, for life.

Just as the body of Christ is indivisible, God’s ideal for marriage is that it be indivisible. As Christ is one with His church, you husbands are one with your wives.

Paul goes on to say, “This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church” (v. 32). Why is submission as well as sacrificial, purifying, and caring love so strongly emphasized in Scripture? Because the sacredness of the church is wed to the sacredness of marriage.

Christian, your marriage is a testimony to the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church. Your marriage will either tell the truth about that relationship, or it will tell a lie.

What is your marriage saying to the watching world? If you’ll walk in the power of the Spirit, yield to His Word, and be mutually submissive, you can know that God will bless you abundantly and glorify His Son through your marriage.

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