A biblical sexuality

(Read Driscoll’s previous three essays in this series here, here and here.) What’s the first thing you think of when … Continued

(Read Driscoll’s previous three essays in this series here, here and here.)

What’s the first thing you think of when it comes to sex? Pleasure? A good time?

More importantly, do you think of these things in terms of your pleasure, your good time?

The reality is that for many people, sex is a self-serving act. This is an extension of our culture that seeks to be served rather than to serve.

Against our culture of selfishness is the example of Jesus, who said he “came not to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). The greatest person who has ever lived is the  greatest servant.

When it comes to your marital sex life, are you best described as a servant or as selfish?

The biblical pattern for Christian marriage is free and frequent sex.

Unfortunately, many  couples have a horrible sex life. It’s the belief of my wife and me that selfishness is at the root of most sexual problems in a marriage.

In our book Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, & Life Together,” my wife,  Grace, and I devote an entire chapter to the idea of selfish and servant lovers. It’s  important to identify the ways we are selfish lovers and then work to eliminate them.

Here are a few ways we are selfish lovers.

Rarely have sex

We can simply decide to rarely, if ever, have sex. This is often done through repeatedly denying our spouse’s advances, which shames and humiliates them, causing them to  feel unloved, unwanted, and undesired. Eventually they may stop seeking to be intimate  with us.

Too little time, too little effort

We can do as little as possible sexually. By exerting minimal effort, passion, or interest,  we discourage our spouses from seeking to be intimate with us. Men are microwaves. Women are crock pots. For both spouses to have pleasure, time and effort are required.

Only have sex when we both feel like it

Can you imagine if everything in your marriage was governed by this same thinking, so that, for example, you only ate together or spoke together when you both felt like it?

Servant lovers serve their spouse even when they are not in the mood, and know that on another occasion their servant lover will do the same for them. And, sometimes by serving out of love we get into the mood.

We rarely initiate

In a contentious marriage one spouse is always on sexual offense and the other on sexual defense. One person never initiates and is continually on the defensive. The other spouse is forced to always take the sexual initiative, which makes them feel controlled and manipulated in addition to neglected and unwanted.

Let ourselves go

We can become undesirable by failing to bathe ourselves, groom ourselves, or thoughtfully clothe ourselves. We have spoken to spouses who intentionally gain considerable weight, stop regularly showering, brushing their teeth, and cutting their nails because they were seeking to repel their spouses sexually.

Sexual sabotage

We can conveniently get out of the habit of going to bed at the same time. Or at bedtime we can pick a fight or present a displeasing attitude that makes it unlikely sex will ensue. If this happens often, you can probably assume it is not a coincidence, but rather an intentional attempt to avoid sex.

Make our spouses earn sex

We can control and manipulate. If they do not do something we want, or do something we dislike, we punish them by withholding sex. This kind of sexual relationship is more akin to prostitution than marriage. In essence, our spouses have to earn sex and pay for it in some way.

Sharing our beds with children and pets

We can allow our children, and even our pets, into our beds. One couple we know had a very unimpressive sex life in large part because their enormous dog slept in their bed under the covers between them.

Kids, of course, sometimes have bad dreams and climb into their parents’ bed for comfort, but to regularly allow them equal access with your spouse is not healthful for the kids or the marriage.

Martial sexual assault

It is estimated that 10 to 14 percent of married women have been sexually assaulted, forced upon sexually in some way, by their husband.

This is a horrendously selfish evil, and the antithesis of marital love in which people give freely to one another.

Do you recognize yourself in the list above? If so, it’s time to make a change. Marriage either gets better or it gets bitter. Often selfishness is the cause of bitterness. Begin thinking today how you can move from being a selfish lover to a servant lover, seeking to please your spouse before you please yourself. If you both do this, you’ll have a better sex life — and so will your spouse.

More views on religion and sexuality

Panel debate: Can religion handle sex?

Mark Driscoll
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  • WmarkW

    This sounds like good advice, but what does Christianity add to the discussion of it? You can say the same things on a purely secular basis.

    And you can say the same thing about essentially any subject — good religion makes sense secularly; bad religion doesn’t. So what’s the point of adding religion to any discussion?

  • catatonicjones

    What was that saying, about a certain religious group that had sex through a hole in the sheet?
    That’s your biblical sexuality.

  • chjs

    the gospel of Jesus justifies you and frees you to love others and serve others radically. you will always seek self justification and self service, even in the good things you think you are doing, until the realization that you are radically freed by the news that Jesus has accepted you, loved you and forgiven you and that he is good, glorious, gracious, and great. until i met christ i was enslaved by my desire to justify and serve my self but now I am freed because Jesus has justified and radically served me to the fullest extent. my relationship with my wife can be defined by loving sacrifice, forgiveness and service without condition on my part because of the Gospel.

  • lauraseattle

    It’s distressing that Mr. Driscoll gets so much space in the Washington Post without criticism. His description of shaming his wife on two occasions (the first related to an indiscretion in high school and the second spawned by a hair style) is distressing. (I’d argue that it’s far more shocking than anything he writes about sex.) He is getting a lot of column inches with what appears to be absent response or critique.

  • willowest

    How little you know about the Bible, my friend.

  • willowest

    Mr. Driscoll is human, and therefore fallible, and he was quite clearly discussing a time in their marriage when neither of them were treating the other as they should. Would you think more of him if he had hidden his behavior and pretended to be perfect and faultless instead? Both he and Grace should be applauded for their honesty, not shamed for it. Being Christian doesn’t make you perfect. You won’t always say and do the right thing, no matter how much you love Jesus. That’s what repentance is all about.

  • willowest

    Perhaps because a person’s religion is the basis of their moral code, and applies to every aspect of their life, including marriage and sex.

  • catatonicjones

    I’ve read it cover to cover. It doesn’t say to have sex through a hole in a sheet, yet bible-believing people do that.
    Christianity and the other religions attach shame to any part of life it can, otherwise the ‘redemption’ story wouldn’t work. I admire the success of the design, the algorithm, even while I deplore the mindlessness of the people it operates on.
    How little you really know about it.

  • chosch

    Good article. I’m in agreement; if both partners have the attitude of serving the other they will be very happy.

  • Sara121

    But good morality can be discussed in a secular context as well. Again, the insertion of religion adds nothing of genuine substance.

  • willowest

    Funny, since I became a Christian, I have had to be ever more mindful and discerning, just as the Bible tells me I should be. If you’ve read it cover to cover, you’ll know it tells you to test everything. Yet those who wish to abolish Christianity persist with the myth that believers are all a bunch of sheep with no thoughts or opinions of our own. Ironic that in the thousands of years since the Bible’s inception, no one has been able to disprove the existence of God, yet many are quick to mock those who believe in His existence based on the very absence of proof to the contrary.

    As far as sex through a hole in a sheet goes, yes, religious people have taken plenty of things out of context and claimed they were doing it to glorify God. They’re called Pharisees, and I don’t want to ruin it for you, but things did not go well between them and Jesus, since he’d come to abolish religion and all, and they revered religion even above the God they claimed to worship. Are you seeing the parallels there? They weren’t true believers, they just claimed to be.

  • Sara121

    Upon what is your higher authority basing its morality? If it has some reasoning to it, and this is the same morality that ought to apply to us, then we should just be able to appeal to that reasoning and cut out the middle man of your higher authority. If your higher authority has no reasoning for its morality, merely whatever it says is good, then you run the risk of the sort of subjectiveness atheists are often accused of.

    Furthermore, religion has no monopoly on morality. Anti-social behavior, and the punishment if anti-social behavior are not limited to humans, nor limited to primates, nor even limited to mammals. Lots of species apply the general rule that social cooperative behavior is good and anti-social, destructive behavior is bad. Other species may not rationalize about it the way humans do, but the behavior is there. Cheaters are punished and cooperators are rewarded through the withholding or giving of more cooperation, respectively. Morality then, or at least its evolutionary precursor, predate humanity by probably millions of years.

    Lastly, just because a particular religious group has (potentially to its credit) recognized a particular idea as “good” does not mean that that religious group has any monopoly on that idea or that it invented that idea or that the idea is inherently religious. “Don’t murder your neighbors” is a good idea, and is a good idea regardless of whether one is a Christian, a Jew, a Hindu, some other religion, an atheist, or some other social species. Religion does not own morality.

  • twmatthews

    So which bible proclaims Jesus words accurately or aren’t you the least bit concerned that even books from the same bible differ remarkably in what Jesus said, who said what, when it was said and what actions were taken?

    Remember, we don’t have a single original copy of the “the bible”. We have fragments of sections that often times, differ from one copy to the other. Early copies, for the first 1500 years or so, were made by hand, by unknown scribes, with varying degrees of skill, with their own agendas and translated from a language with little or no punctuation. godisnowhere — could be interpreted as god is nowhere or god is now here.

    New testament scholars have documented over 200,000 variations between current bibles and the various versions of the fragments found to day. How can you possibly assume that we have a clue as to what Jesus really said?

  • jobu56

    It seems like most of the ways listed above about being ‘selfish lovers’ apply to lack of sex and seem disproportionately geared toward women with the implied message being, “By not having sex with your husband you are being selfish.” I know it’s written in a way that it could be applicable to both sexes, but I think there is quite a bit left out about how you can be a selfish lover in the bedroom as well as out. What about not caring about whether you both feel like it or not (with regard to 3)? Demanding too much of your partner? Or not focusing enough on your mutual pleasure during the act of sex itself? Aside from the last point, all these seem to be saying that the way to be a selfish lover is by not having enough sex. But having sex with a partner who is not into it seems to be the most selfish so-called ‘lover’ of all.