Sex is a Thermostat

Valentine’s Day was last week and it can be easy to start seeing marriage, sex, and love through the world’s eyes. In the wake of Valentine’s Day, my wife’s post on marriage relationships is extremely helpful. “I never understood the inward feelings of inadequacy that my man often felt, and really all men often feel,” Marci writes. In this post, she shares what she wishes she had known about grace, following Jesus, and how sex can keep a marriage stable.

What I Wish I’d Known About Sex and My Husband

When I married, I knew the importance of regular physical intimacy, and that sex was a thermometer for gauging the temperature of our marriage. But I never realized that in many ways sex is also a thermostat; it can keep a marriage stable when conditions surrounding you are anything but.

Early in our marriage, we faced daunting challenges, many of our own making: we started a business while still in graduate school, we moved to another city, and we bought a ranch. We were fools really, and our poor choices brought unnecessary stress. Under stress, my husband wanted assurance and peace with me physically. Under stress, I wanted to retreat in the closet and cry.

I never understood the inward feelings of inadequacy that my man often felt, and really all men often feel. I wish I had known that making love with my husband assures him that he is desirable, that he is not alone. Sex gives him strength and confidence because he knows he is loved and cherished by someone—me.

Sex can keep a marriage stable when conditions surrounding you are anything but.

In For Women Only, Shaunti Feldman writes, “Making love is a solace that goes very deep into the heart of a man.” When my man is tired, cranky, and so bothered by things that he doesn’t want to talk, I know then is the time he needs what only I can give him—physical comfort.

What I Wish I’d Known About Grace

I grew up in church, in an Arminian Holiness tradition. Through that church and the relationships built there, God saved me when I was eleven, but I thought my life as a Christian was all about effort. That was a heavy burden for a girl who already had established a good-girl persona. I knew how to make my parents proud and impress the teachers. Why would God be any different?

I confused holiness with perfection. I was completely unaware of the Holy Spirit’s power to produce spiritual fruit through me. I had no idea that reflecting on God’s grace would naturally allow a slow maturing into Christlikeness. Now, I know that by abiding in Jesus and turning my gaze off me and onto him, the power of Jesus’ resurrection (Phil. 3:10) is not just for my eternal future, but for my right now.

Back then, grace defined as “unmerited favor” made little sense. I was doing just fine in my own power, thank you very much, but deep within me the struggle between the sin of my flesh and the spirit was more than I could handle all on my own.

I knew how to make my parents proud & impress my teachers. Why would God be any different?

It wasn’t until much later in life, when I came to a situation that I couldn’t fix with my effort no matter how hard I tried, that I admitted defeat. I am a sinner who thinks more highly of herself than she should, and despite my self-reliance that should offend him, Jesus loves me anyway.

I knew at eleven that Jesus died for my sin and gave me forgiveness. Now, I know that Jesus died to save me from myself and give me new life.

What I Wish I’d Known About Following Jesus Anywhere

Our house was rented, our belongings packed or given away, and all I had left to do was get on a plane and travel 15 hours to a city I’d never visited and begin a new chapter of my life as an expatriate American in a Muslim country. Could I trust the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding (Prov. 3:5)?

Our family members thought we were crazy; some friends did too. But I had seen firsthand what happens when a person totally surrenders his/her life to Christ. My husband had prayed that dangerous prayer, “Lord, I’ll do anything and go anywhere you want.” Now, was I willing to say the same?

Our family thought we were crazy; some friends did too.

In John 6:67–69, Jesus challenges Peter’s commitment and Peter responds, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” When you come to believe those words of eternal life, the Holy Spirit loosens your heart and your tongue to follow wherever Jesus leads you.

So I got on a plane. I pressed in to Jesus like never before, and Jesus did through me things I never wished for or planned. I never thought I would be a pastor’s wife. I never thought I’d adopt a child from Africa. I never thought I’d live so many places in such a short span of time. And what the world may think looks like a haphazard, circuitous journey is actually not. In all my ways, by God’s grace, I have acknowledged the Lord and he has made my path straight for his glory.

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