Want a great sex life for 20–30–50 years of marriage? Here are some principles that will affect the end results! After many years working with youth and counseling families, my husband and I have seen the devastating results when one chooses to violate God’s principles; yet we have seen the wonderful freedom that comes when someone understands what went wrong and then works to correct the problems God’s way (2 Tim. 3:16,17).
Jon and Mary dated and were certain they were headed to a blissful marriage since they were so in love. Their affection turned to prolonged petting and eventually to frequent premarital sex. Both knew this violated 1 Thes. 4:1-8 and felt ashamed. They tried to regain self-control and avoid fornication, but kept failing. Neither knew how, and began to blame the other. Fights got worse until they eventually ended their relationship, both devastated and feeling life and ministry were ruined forever.
Defeated, Jon came for help first. He didn’t understand how something that had started so beautifully could have ended so ugly. Mary was slower to reach out for help because she carried such a heavy burden of guilt and shame. She had used birth control to avoid a pregnancy, but had an abortion she had not even told Jon about for fear of her reputation. Jon and Mary did eventually get back together, but had a lot of baggage to work through before they could have the blissful marriage they anticipated as teenagers. So much pain could have been avoided by just following God’s design for their engagement and marriage!
Ignorance of Biblical Sexuality
Sex was God’s idea from the beginning (Gen. 2:23-24), and it is good. Throughout Scripture, sexual purity is God’s plan. Yet our culture has ignored that standard. Instead, many view sex as recreational, to be casually enjoyed by any willing participant, having nothing to do with a covenant relationship.
God’s plan includes a covenant of marriage with a binding commitment to love, serve, honor, protect, and provide for one another’s needs in every way possible. Culturally, living together before marriage has become acceptable. Yet statistically, a much greater percentage of couples that cohabitate end up divorced than couples that wait until they’re married to sleep together.
Sue and Bill were both from progressive families that encouraged them to be independent and to move ahead in their careers. When they moved in together, it was celebrated as maturity. They had an exciting career and love life. Then with a child on the way, they decided to take the next step and get married.
That’s when the trouble began. Bill complained Sue wasn’t as much fun anymore. Sue complained Bill wasn’t taking his role as a husband and father seriously, he still wanted too much time out with the guys. Soon Bill was spending time at the bars instead of helping Sue with the baby, and then he met someone else that brought the excitement back to him. He left Sue and their daughter for another woman.
Sue was crushed, but came to see how God used the divorce to bring her to Christ. She came to understand how the foundation laid in cohabitation wasn’t strong enough to weather the storms of marriage and parenting. After years of growth and healing, Sue is now married to a godly man in a solid and satisfying marriage.
When we talk to teens about building beautiful and healthy relationships, we compare it to building an ice-cream sundae. The bowl is the foundation to give shape, just as the spiritual is the foundation to relationships–two believers walking together through life in agreement (Amos 3:3; 2 Cor. 6:14). Ice cream represents the social–sweet fellowship, enjoying common activities together. Fruity or nutty toppings may give one a clue as to how the mind works, the intellect, communication, and conflict-resolution.
With these three spheres, we have the making of a great friendship, and we encourage teens to focus on just that. In time, adding the whipped cream represents an emotional and long-term commitment to that friendship. Then in the covenant of marriage, the cherry represents the consummation of that relationship through a physical, sexual union. It is a beautiful relationship, constructed in the correct timing and order!
Unfortunately, we see many relationships built upside down, built on emotional, ooy-gooy whipped cream that has gone flat, with smashed cherries, served up on broken hearts. When the proper order is ignored, it can get ugly fast! It is very difficult to recoup what has been so very damaged, yet God gives hope that even the worst of sinners can be redeemed (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
Lack of Self-Control
Youth are repeatedly warned in Proverbs to avoid bad friends (Pro. 1:10; 6:24; 13:20). Connecting with the wrong crowd corrupts good morals (1 Cor. 15:33). The presence of bad companions encourages an unrestrained lifestyle. Some pitfalls in youth start patterns that, if continued, prevent a happy marriage or fulfilling sex life later on. Bad company encourages these behaviors. Modern electronics only magnify the possibilities of bad friends, bad morals, and bad marriages.
Viewing pornography may begin without much thought to the future, but it puts images in the mind that are very difficult to ignore. The lack of eye control (Job 31:1) may be the reading of erotic materials and fantasizing about the forbidden. We are clearly commanded to focus our thought control on that which honors God (2 Cor. 10:5; Phil. 4:8). The law of diminishing returns pulls the porn viewer deeper and deeper into a very destructive pattern that destroys healthy marital relations in the long run.
Masturbation is a lack of body control that often begins in youth, but carries devastating effects into marriage. God’s plan for sex is mutual satisfaction in marriage, but masturbation establishes a pattern of selfishness that diminishes sexual satisfaction for one or both. Rather than immediate gratification of lust, God teaches patience and self-control which enhance sex in marriage. The body belongs to the Lord (1 Cor. 6:19-20) and to one’s spouse (1 Cor. 7:2-5), so masturbation has no part in a God-honoring marriage.
But There Is Hope!
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:19-24) and can be matured through dying to self and learning to live out God’s Word (Rom. 12:1-2). Patterns learned in youth may be hard to break (require death to self!), but by God’s grace, anyone who desires to can learn to put off patterns of the old life and put on godliness through discipline.
Related: How to Quit Porn–6 Essential Steps
A verse I learned as a teen that has helped me throughout my life is Philippians 1:6. I still cling to the promise that I don’t have to live this life alone. Christ Jesus has committed to complete the good work in me that He began so many years ago. That work is making me more and more like Jesus, and less and less like the sinner of my fleshly desires. In Christ, I am free to love my husband and to enjoy our married life just as the Lord planned!