Monday, May 2, 2011

WSSID Ch 9 - Concerning Sex - Dependence

Sex is marriage an adventure of devotion, delight, and finally, dependence.

     3. Dependence

Sex is part of ordinary married life. Just as we need grace for every other aspect of ordinary life, we need grace for our “sex life.” Given all the challenges and obstacles and “issues” that make healthy, happy, holy marital intimacy more an exception than the norm, you’d think we’d be really dependent and prayerful here!

What kinds of things typically get in the way?

Certainly there are circumstantial and even physical obstacles that often get in the way. But the greatest obstacles flow from our sinful hearts. Harvey looks at three common sins that can rob sweetness from the sexual relationship in marriage (on 163ff).

What might happen if we humbly depend on Gospel grace to overcome these obstacles?
    • Sloth
The sin of sloth may go by other names and take various forms:
      • Indifference
      • Passivity
      • Unresponsiveness
      • Letting your appearance go
      • Boredom (and lazily doing nothing about it)
      • Settling for things as they are (after all, "they'll never change")
DEPEND on God for energy and strength and grace!
    • Unbelief
      • “It’ll never change!"
      • “I can’t ever please him/her."
      • “She’ll/He’ll never…”
Do you really believe that this one is beyond God’s reach?!
Do you really believe God can’t help / doesn’t want to help?!
DEPEND on God for intervention and change and grace!
    • Bitterness
      • Unbelief says, “I/God can’t” – Bitterness says, “I/God won’t!”
      • Unbelief leans away from God’s promises; bitterness slams the door
      • Where is there unresolved conflict that could be resolved? 
      • Where is there lack of forgiveness that gospel grace could reconcile?
      • "Married people turned bitter use their bodies as a weapon, a weapon that harms by withholding. A weapon used to punish the other person for sinning against us. This calls for forgiveness.” (165)
The warmth of infinite-debt paying, blood-bought reconciliation with God can melt the ice of bitterness!

There is GOSPEL grace for sloth, unbelief, & bitterness!
DEPEND! Is it not possible that "we have not because we ask not?!"

Talk about it:
  • Which of the following might be the greatest challenge you face in regard to sexual intimacy right now—sloth, unbelief, or bitterness? How can you being to apply grace to overcome these personal hindrances? (from p57 in the Study Guide)
  • What are some of the influences in your life that have shaped your view of romance and sex? How can you begin to weed their influence out of your life? (from p57 in the Study Guide)
  • Ask your spouse whether he or she is aware of sloth, unbelief, or bitterness as a potential obstacle to a God-glorifying sex life.
  • Confess any sin you need to confess
  • Ask for forgiveness
  • Talk about how to walk forward in reconciled dependence
  • Pray together and ask for grace for your sex life!
  • Talk about some ways men and women often view the issue of sex and romance differently. (Don’t be trite or sarcastic! These are gospel and glory-of-God issues!)
  • How do these differences put pressure on or cause conflict or coldness in your marriage?
  • What are some of the practical obstacles (like schedules and tiredness and kids, etc.) that you need to take into consideration and work around to cultivate healthy intimacy?
  • Talk about some of the times when your physical intimacy has been its most healthy and enjoyable and think together about why.
This all takes work. But the fact that it can and must be worked at should encourage us. Good marital sex is not for the privileged few.

I’ve had the privilege of growing in the faith with some unusually gifted people, and I would say it’s the rare person for whom creative, romantic ideas come spontaneously. Most of the folks I know pursuing romance and intimacy in their marriages are spending time planning, asking questions, investigating what is romantic to their spouses and not assuming they know. As with any artistry, there are far more discarded ideas than masterpieces. But to get a masterpiece you must be willing to work at creativity. I’ll guarantee you this, if you see someone who is truly good at romancing his or her spouse, you probably won’t be looking at a natural. You’ll be looking at someone who works at creativity, and makes careful planning look effortless. That, my friends, is art worth pursuing.
Great sex in marriage comes from conscious dependence on the goodness and sovereignty of God, who is at work powerfully to make our marriages a source of spiritual and physical joy. (167)

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