I don’t like labels. Sometimes descriptive phrases can be meaningful, but when they become labels they’re more often harmful than helpful. The labels “sexual anorexia” or “asexual” can be especially damaging because they touch on something that is close to the center of who we are as human beings.
You can search online for those terms and you’ll find definitions. But if someone has used one of those terms to describe you, what does that do to your soul? It likely leaves you feeling deeply defective, like there’s something so fundamentally wrong with the very way you were made that you might as well give up right now.
There are certainly people who don’t like sex. But is that dislike pathological? Or is it a normal response to a set of abnormal circumstances? Or could it be simply a difference in how you respond? The problem comes when one person says to another, “You’re defective and you need to be fixed.” Most often that comes from one spouse who wants their partner to be more interested in sex so they can get something they want for themselves. Not helpful!
That approach is very different from coming with a perspective of, “Are there are some walls up in my heart, some part of how God made me that is less than whole? If so, what is God wanting to do next in my journey of transformation?”
So, what do you do about it next?
If Sex Doesn’t Seem Good to You
If you’re the one who’s feeling “less than” because of your lack of interest in sex, or because you hate sex, what do you do? A few thoughts:
Ditch the labels. Who said your sexuality “should” be a certain way? Categorically refuse to accept labels others put on you. Contemporary culture and even the contemporary Christian church often paint a picture of what you “should” do or be that is not based on a healthy understanding of who we are as beings made in the image of God.
“Go there” if you’ve been wounded. Most if not all of us have been wounded sexually. One possible response to sexual harm is developing an aversion to intimacy, especially sexual intimacy. That’s a normal response to an abnormal set of circumstances. But healing is available. If that’s you, you will have to “go there.” That means inviting Jesus into your sexual story, your memories, the places you’d rather ignore. Healing is possible! For some, that might mean trauma therapy.
Embrace your style of arousal. Some people have a spontaneous style of sexual arousal, meaning you often think about sex spontaneously. Others have a responsive style of sexual arousal, meaning you don’t think about it much but can respond with a degree of pleasure if a safe partner initiates. You are not defective if your style is responsive! You don’t have to be thinking about sex all the time in order to be sexual. If you’re married and you enjoy sex once you get into it, you’re normal!
Single? Serve God that way. Marriage is not the goal of the Christian life. If you’re not married right now, that’s OK. Serve God in the state in which you find yourself. If you don’t want to be married, that’s OK. If you do, keep seeking God for a spouse with an open heart but without desperation.
Learn what God says. God created you with the need, desire, and capacity for intimacy. If married, that includes sexual intimacy. But sex does not mean one person getting something they want. It does not mean you “put up with” activities that harm you. You may need a whole new mindset. Your brain may need to build a whole new set of templates around relationships, marriage, sex, and intimacy. Invest the time and energy to learn how God created you and His design for sexuality. Sometimes this takes a long time.
Pursue intimacy. Notice I didn’t say Pursue Sex. True intimacy is a whole-person experience – body, mind, and soul. If your spouse is not open to whole-person intimacy you’ve got some work to do. But that work may not necessarily be getting into bed; it may be dealing with the other broken facets of your relationship and heart first. If you’re married, pursue intimacy with your spouse.
If You Want Sex with Your Spouse
What if you believe your spouse is asexual or has sexual anorexia? What can you do? A few thoughts.
You’re not entitled. God never promised you a satisfying sex life. You are not entitled to sex. Get over yourself. Marriage is not about getting something, such as sex, for yourself. Marriage is about giving more than getting. It’s about learning to love well. Using Scripture or anything else to extract something from your spouse is wrong. Period. Take your grubby hands off. Learn to go to God for your deepest needs. Submit your sexuality to Him daily.
Seek to understand. Look at the world through your spouse’s eyes. Put real effort into seeking to understand their heart. Your spouse has almost certainly not chosen to withhold sex to harm you. Look for the underlying reasons. Position yourself as your spouse’s ally. Be on the same team. This does not mean “teaching” your spouse about sex; it means being their partner in the journey.
BE the invitation. Do you want your spouse to want to come closer to you? Learn to BE the invitation. Love and intimacy only work when both parties voluntarily engage. What’s it been like to be married to you? Would you want to come closer to you? As you become the invitation your spouse is much more likely to respond. And isn’t that what you want anyway?
Wholeness, not Intercourse
What is God’s goal for you? What is His promise? It’s wholeness. That will look a little different for each human being as God’s character is uniquely displayed in you.
“Should” you be thinking about sex and initiating sex with your spouse often? Maybe, maybe not. Don’t let another human being dictate what your wholeness should look like. If you’re married, you can be completely whole and not initiate sex. For example, your arousal may be heavily responsive.
But it is your job to continue to pursue wholeness. Who is God calling you to become? What parts of your transformation journey is He next calling you to engage in? What does pursuing intimacy look like in His plan for you?
May you experience the kind of wholeness that brings fullness of joy.
Your Turn: Has “sexual anorexia” or “asexuality” been a label damaging you or your spouse? What kind of wholeness is God wanting to pursue in you? Leave a comment below.
Tweetables: why not share this post?
- Sexual anorexia and asexuality can be labels that cause shame, harm, and even more hiding. Ditch the labels! And then seek to understand what kind of wholeness God is calling you to pursue right now. Tweet that.
Struggling with Intimacy?
Intimacy is a challenge for every marriage! I’ve taken the things I’ve taught individual couples that have helped them build intimacy and put it all in our new online course Fully Alive Marriage. This course is not marriage enrichment; it’s helping you learn the mindsets and skills to solve problems that sabotage your intimacy and build the kind of relationship that nourishes you both for the long haul.
Don’t remain languishing in marriage misery or walk away before seeing what God may yet do for your relationship.