This is a message especially for wives. Next week we’ll look at the other side – a message especially for husbands.
Should you always say Yes when your husband wants sex? How long do you pursue your husband if he does not pursue you? Is it OK to “just say NO” because you’re “not in the mood”? What’s the big deal about pursuing intimacy with your husband anyway?
There’s been controversy – and sometimes violence, guilt, and shame – arising from Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians:
“The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (1 Corinthians 7:3-5)
First, some perspective please. This Scripture does not condone marital rape or God-talk domination and condemnation. Its purpose is not to load you with more oppression. We’re talking woman-to-woman here, and let’s be honest that the enemy has twisted this Scripture and incited some to use it to bring enormous destruction and pain.
Let’s also be honest that some of us women have twisted it too. Some have used the “devote yourselves to prayer” as an excuse to refuse sex with their husband. Ok ladies; are you praying for nine months? Or five years? If you’re working a job or cleaning your house or joining girlfriends for coffee, you’re not so “devoted to prayer” that you can’t connect with your husband.
But this Scripture IS in the Bible. What does it mean? Everything God says has a reason, and is for our good. So what is it here?
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What are you so worried about? What are you so afraid of?
The Bible says we should not be anxious or afraid. There are approximately 100 times where God says in some way “Fear not.” Followers of Jesus are not to be carrying worry. Here are just a few such Scriptures:
- “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 MEV
- “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with gratitude, make your requests known to God.” Philippians 4:6 MEV
- “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Mattthew 6:34, NIV
Can you imagine Peter, John, or Paul stressing over where their next meal would come from? Or worrying about what other people thought of the life they were living for Jesus? Or wringing their hands over what the devil might be up to? Or lying awake at night, fearful they would mess up the mission Jesus had entrusted to them?
Of course not!
Fear and anxiety can be expensive, debilitating, and keep you from the Fully Alive life that Jesus came to give each one of us. If fear and anxiety has been your way of life, you know how hard it can be to break free. Your thoughts and feelings can seem out of your control. Doesn’t God know that?
Thank God there is a way out! “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (1 Timothy 1:7)
But how do you get there?
The Path to Fearlessness
The men and women who knew Jesus best didn’t start out confident and unafraid. The disciples nearly lost it in fear when the storm engulfed their small fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee. “Don’t you care that we’re all going to die?!” they shouted at Jesus.
In the midst of storm Jesus stood up and rebuked the wind and the waves. And then He rebuked His disciples. “Why were you afraid? Why were you afraid when I was with you?” (See Mark 4:36-41)
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One of the most common sentiments I hear from married people is, “I feel stuck in this marriage.” Yes, you’re miserable. You’re needs aren’t getting met. There’s little or no intimacy or sex. Your spouse doesn’t get you.
But I’m here to tell you, you’re NOT stuck in this marriage!
Perhaps if you’re reading this from some middle-eastern country that might be true – sort of. But even there we regularly hear stories of women who refuse to be stuck. Some may be whipped, imprisoned, or killed for trying to leave – and that’s NEVER NEVER ACCEPTABLE! But the point is you always have options regardless of your gender.
That also illustrates that your choices have consequences. In most of the world you have the choice to get a divorce, to leave the marriage. That choice may involve financial difficulties, trauma to your children, emotional and spiritual baggage, and a change in the way others see and treat you socially. But that is a choice you can make.
So get it out of your head and your vocabulary that you’re stuck. Remember the maxim that insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results? It’s time to do something different if you want a different outcome. Now that we’ve illustrated what may be the extremes, let’s consider some of the various choices you have if your marriage is not the way you’d like it.
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Do you feel like a member of the Lonely Hearts Club? Were you disappointed on Valentine’s Day? You’re not alone.
So, no secret admirer surprised you with a card or box of chocolates yesterday. Your spouse didn’t overwhelm you with flowers and chocolate-covered strawberries for a romantic evening. Perhaps you’re buried up to your eyeballs in bills, diapers, and dirty dishes and that kind of love seems a distant memory. Or you’ve avoided retail establishments and worked extra-long hours this week just to forget that you don’t have a Valentine this year.
I know what it’s like to be lonely. In medical school a group of us single girls gathered one February 14 at the first and only formal meeting of the LLU chapter of the Lonely Hearts Club. I lived single until I was 48 years old, and I’m single again now that my husband is with Jesus. And pink doesn’t look good on me anyway!
But just because you have a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t mean romance and love are guaranteed. Some of the loneliest people I talk with are married. It’s not your Relationship Status on Facebook that’s at issue; it’s the status of your heart.
The State of Your Heart
We as human beings were made for connection. Deep, secure, long-lasting, intimate connection. We long to be known, to be affirmed, to be cherished, to be desired, to be sought after, to be loved. We want to be Number One to someone, and we often struggle to survive – let alone thrive – when we’re not.
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Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. It’s not a national holiday, though for retailers selling flowers, cards, and candy it might as well be. I’m not a “pink” kind of person, and I truly get tired of pink by February 15. But love is always a good idea. And what could be a better plan than to show love on Valentine’s Day?!
I remember so well the years I spent as a single woman desperately wanting someone to show me that they cared, that I was Number One to them. Eventually I learned two things:
- I’ve always been Number One to God. Jesus can become my Enough if I let Him.
- Giving love to others fills my heart more reliably than always looking to receive it.
Regardless of your Relationship Status, let’s use this day to focus on giving love. And I promise your heart will be fuller than you ever thought it could be. (And don’t worry; I’m not denying loneliness and disappointment. Watch for a follow-up on that later this week.)
Hopefully you will put a little more thought into showing love than just picking up a cheap box of chocolates on your way home. Now stop moping around, get over yourself already, and prepare to show a little love! Here are a few ideas to get you started.
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