Oh, boy. So I got quite a bit of a social media whipping from some people who didn’t like what I shared about the “Ten Things My Mother Taught Me” Instagram post. Number eight was singled-out as especially offensive to some women who felt like I was relegating women to sex objects in marriage by quoting this statement:
8. Just do it when your husband wants to have sex. Don’t make excuses. Enjoy it, too.
When I wrote it at the time (Mother’s Day), I hadn’t thoroughly considered the impression this might leave. And seeing it written out like this now raises the question, “Did I really mean that a wife must ALWAYS accommodate her husband when he wants to be intimate with her? What on earth does the phrase ‘just do it’ mean?
From the way the statement is worded, it’s only logical for people to conclude that I meant yes, absolutely, and insensitively. For this misunderstanding, I want to apologize. I didn’t have the space to go into a dissection of the spirit behind the post.
When a friend first forwarded to me some of the violent reactions that ensued from this post, I thought to myself, Do I need to clarify this? I am in Russia, at a conference, trying to take care of five kids. I don’t have the time or energy to write a post to explain intimacy in marriage right now. But I did say, if the Lord gives me some kind of inspiration to do so then I will.
That inspiration came when my husband, Edric, made an important comment. “Babe, to be honest, that statement about ‘just do it’ and ‘don’t make excuses’, and then followed by ‘enjoy it’, really looks bad. It really makes it seem like wives are sex objects.”
Now, coming from my husband, with whom I have wonderful intimacy with, who also knows the heart of my mother, a woman who gives seminars on intimacy along side my father, with whom she is sweetly enjoying forty four years of marriage, well, let’s just say, it got me thinking. If he perceived it to be biased toward men given all that prior knowledge, then it must have certainly been read as so!
There were attacks by women who don’t know me at all, women who claimed things like I was promoting marital rape…SERIOUSLY? Me, a once upon a time rape victim myself whose written a book about the experience to help other women?!
Initially, I was tempted to contribute to that mean thread and mouth out all kinds of accusations in response to what seemed like their ignorant posting. However, the reactors were not my enemies even though they were lambasting and criticizing my post and my blog. They didn’t know where I was coming from. And for those who did know where I was coming from and still didn’t like me, well, then there was no point in trying to dissuade them otherwise. Years ago, I decided that my blog was not going to be neutral in its perspective, and this came with a price. I would have haters. I do have haters.
The sad thing is these are, some of these haters are wives and mothers who feel that I promote a version of womanhood that encourages the subjugation of women to men, that diminishes their dignity and capacities by focusing on biblical roles in marriage and encouraging the priorities of raising children and homemaking over the pursuit of career and business, or what may be interpreted as “personal fulfillment” and happiness by others.
For the above, I make no apology. Why?
1. The Bible elevated women during a period in time when they were treated as second-class and inconsequential. Therefore there is no need to defend a biblical worldview on women which I often refer to in my posts.
2. Roles in marriage are necessary. These Biblical roles of men as appointed head and women as their able helpmates are not about inequality. Both roles are indispensable to the health of a family, both roles are mandated to be done as unto the Lord.The husband is to lead and love sacrificially as Christ did for the church, and the wife is to submit to her husband as she would to the Lord. The context in which these roles are presented is one of grace and not of selfishness. The problem is not that the Bible outlines these roles. It is that human selfishness and pride corrupts these.
Historically speaking, therefore, women have not been treated as they ought to be, and sometimes in the name of religion, Christianity included, giving reason to fight for our rights and reject what the Bible prescribes for roles in marriage. But it isn’t this clamor for equality that will solve the root issues of male and female relationships, whether these be at home, or in professional spheres.
Let’s be honest, even at this point in time when progressive societies have given us women unprecedented liberties and opportunities, this hasn’t led to greater happiness, joy, or peace. More people are depressed today than ever before. More people suffer the effects of broken relationships. The problem is not external, it is within. We are NOT inherently good. We need the Lord to transform us into loving persons, husbands, and wives.
Otherwise, we all have a tendency to look out for our personal interests at the expense of another person’s, and this is especially magnified in marriage. So do we avoid the institution of marriage to stay “free”, or do we insist on our definitions of fairness for roles for those of us who are married?
I am not saying that husbands and wives shouldn’t share responsibilities to parent, provide, or to care for their home. It would be impossible for my sister, who lives in Sacramento, without household help, to parent four kids, cook, clean, and earn a living without any help from her husband. She does contribute financially but that is not her primary preoccupation. Her husband actively participates in home management but that is not his primary preoccupation. The two of them have agreed that certain tasks can be shouldered together, as a team, but my sister allows her husband to take the helm in their marriage, and she supports his desire to lead their family. Her husband is clearly aware that parenting four kids is a noble, praiseworthy, and tiring work, and he doesn’t expect to be treated like the center of the universe by my sister when he comes home from his own exhausting dental work.
There is mutual respect for one another’s efforts and place in the family. And while seasons may sometimes necessitate overlaps in roles, the default mode is that my brother-in-law is accountable for the overall well-being of his family, and my sister seeks to be the capable enabler where needed. She is a woman of great physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual strength, and she channels this strength towards the priorities of raising her kids, breastfeeding an infant, homemaking, and once a week, treating her dental patients.
Has she ever regretted setting aside all her accomplishments — dental school, working hard to become valedictorian, the rewards of earning a lot of money — to wholeheartedly raise her kids? Not at all! I talk to her at least once a week, and she abounds with joy and energy. There are occasions when the challenges are difficult and even ridiculous. (A frog came in to the house a few months ago and she couldn’t find it. Eventually it’s dead body surfaced. Her house flooded when she forgot to switch the laundry room faucet off because she has to run off to pick up her son from preschool.)
My sister has never thought of herself as a martyr, as the one who had to sacrifice her own dreams in order for her husband to pursue his career. She is happily married, her husband loves and treasures her, and her kids are thriving.
I understand that not all marriages and families are like this. Others are victims of brokenness and heartache, betrayal, abuse, neglect, and/or struggling to survive financially. However, after many years of counseling couples, being involved in family ministry, and watching the lives of more mature couples closely, I have seen a very obvious connection between the authentic pursuit of biblical principles for marriage and family, and the joy, peace, and blessings that follow from the Lord.
It takes just one person in a family to be a catalyst and to initiate the positive change. The transformation may not happen overnight, but God is faithful and able to do through one person what may seem impossible.
I have diverted from the introduction of this post to establish where I am coming from because it is essential for people to understand that I am not an advocate of sexual intimacy outside of God’s plan. Neither am I saying that men should force themselves upon their wives because men are the prescribed leaders and women should bow to their headship.
God’s design for sex is within the context of marriage, where he calls and instructs a husband and wife to mutually honor one another, to love each other and to be gracious to one another. It is not selfish sex. It is other-centered sex.
When a husband and wife say yes to one another at the altar, they willingly give themselves, body, heart, and soul, to each other. Sexual intimacy is the ultimate expression of this union. “AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.” (Mark 10:8)
I belong to Edric and he belongs to me. The same goes for our bodies. But more importantly, we belong to the Lord. This is why we are instructed to avoid sexual sin (sex outside of marriage such as pre-marital sex, adultery, pornography, and the like.)
“Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)
When we honor God with our bodies, we can honor our spouses with our bodies and honor their bodies. For example, because Edric tries his best to guard his eyes from pornography, he doesn’t treat me as an object, and he doesn’t compare me to unrealistic images of women’s bodies. This doesn’t mean that he is immune to sexually attractive women, but he wants to stay pure because he loves God and he loves me. Therefore, he is careful about what he watches, listens to, whom he spends time with, and where he goes. When he makes a mistake, we talk about it and work through it together because our ultimate aim is to please God.
Sadly, the reality is there is a whole lot of immorality, before marriage and in marriage, for many couples, which makes it such a challenge for husbands and wives to experience that beautiful oneness that God desires for us to have. There is distrust, suspicion of motives, fear of vulnerability, perverted forms of arousal or lack of, and withholding of sex as punishment for inflicted hurts.
Yet, this doesn’t alter the purposes for which God designed sex:
1. For intimacy and oneness between
husband and wife
2. For mutual enjoyment and pleasure
3. For protection from sin
4. For procreation
Where in the world then does “Just do it and don’t make excuses, and enjoy it” come from?! Is this Biblical? Is this right?
Allow me to explain…
Since sex is for marriage, we are not “just doing it” with any one person who wants to have sex with us. We already willingly gave ourselves to our husbands when we said yes at the altar. It is simply an affirmation of the commitment you and I made to be one with our spouses.
Secondly, if we are not enjoying it while we “do it” then we ought to sit down with our spouses and find out what the deeper issues are, because it is meant to be pleasurable for both a husband and wife. Is there sexual sin that needs to be addressed? Is there a lack of good communication? Is there unresolved conflict and hurt?
One time I asked my dad advice on a particular counseling case involving a wife who didn’t enjoy or want to have sex with her husband. His very matter of fact reply was, “Is she experiencing orgasm? If not, then the husband has to do something about it.”
Because sex in marriage is not designed to be self-centered, a husband and wife must think through how they can best satisfy one another.
We must also “just do it” because it is a form of protection. Since intimacy is such an important aspect of marriage and we do have sexual urges, can we expect our spouses NOT to struggle with the temptation to look for satisfaction elsewhere if they are HABITUALLY being rejected, turned down, and denied sex with us? Even if their approach or method may not always be our preference, and there may be times when we are dead tired and going through something or in a season that affects our libido and desire for it, we have to remember it is also our unique privilege and duty to serve our spouses in this way. This doesn’t mean that we can’t agree to take a pause from it or to postpone it to another time. But our attitude should be one of readiness and willingness to meet this need. It goes both ways, for a husband and wife. As the Bible tells us…
“The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command.” (1 Corinthians 7:3-6)
If we get into the cycle of making frequent excuses to reject sexual intimacy with our spouses, this is NOT NORMAL. It’s not normal to avoid sex with our husband or wife, unless there is a medical problem or concern, or, as explained in the passage, an agreed upon period of time to abstain from it.
However, it’s shouldn’t be for an indefinite time.
If a husband and wife are not enjoying regular intimacy together then there needs to be, as I stated earlier, an honest conversation about why this is so, where deeper issues can be unearthed. Maybe a spouse is having an affair. Perhaps there are unmet longings and mismanaged expectations leading to hurt and emotional withdrawal. These need to be addressed and dealt with. Counseling may be necessary.
Lastly, “just do it” because it’s for procreation. That’s obvious and need not be elaborated on. But here’s my tip to those who are waiting and hoping to get pregnant. Don’t be pressured by counting fertility days and timing sex. Have it frequently and entrust the outcome to the Lord. I used to feel discouraged every time I would get my period during the months when Edric and I were trying to conceive (when trying for Edan). When couples stop making the purpose of sex to get pregnant, having a baby becomes a wonderful bonus and blessing on top of being able to share amazing intimacy with a spouse. Now if you don’t want to get pregnant, then “do it” wisely!
In conclusion, I should have and could have been more specific and sensitive about quoting my mom — “Just do it. Don’t make excuses. And enjoy it.” For this, I apologize for the impression that it made on those who didn’t know where I was coming from, on those who don’t know my mom or dad and the very sweet relationship they have. I get why you got angry.
At the same time, I know that after all this elaboration to explain sexual intimacy in marriage…what I meant by “just do it” in my Instagram post, people will still react, not appreciate what I have shared, and not like me. Such is life. This is beyond my control. If you want further clarifications or you have questions, feel free to message me.
I am now going to move on to enjoy the rest of my time with Edric and my kids in Russia. And when the opportunity is there, I will just do it with Edric!