Recently I listened to a “Focus On The Family” broadcast with hosts President Jim Daly and John Fuller. The two-part radio broadcast was titled: “Building The Passion In Your Marriage.” The focus was on the physical relationship in marriage, sex and how couples can build physical and emotional intimacy.
“Focus On The Family” is a Christian organization that helps to build strong families. They have a counseling team and are contacted by families all over the world about various difficulties that they are experiencing in their relationships. And from couples that are really struggling. According to Daly, many have contacted them about their problems with sex in marriage. To their surprise, even pastors and assistant pastors call in on the clergy hotline about inappropriate contact with someone of the opposite sex.
Since the physical aspect in marriage is so important, when it is unhealthy, it causes turmoil, the breakup of families and divorce. With the divorce rate of 35 percent, and since God was the one who created sex, they wanted to help couples have a healthy sexual relationships. To address this sensitive subject, they invited as guests Christian sex therapists Dr. Cliff Penner and his wife Joyce, a clinical nurse specialist. Dr. Penner has been counseling couples for 40 years and they are the authors of many books. Their recent book “The Way To Love Your Wife” was the focus for this broadcast discussion.
It was explained during the discussions that an unhealthy sexual relationship could lead men to go outside the relationship or to pornography when their sexual needs are not met. But the hosts and guest were quickly to point out that this type of behavior should not be an excuse. Instead, they should get the help they need and fight for their marriages. The title and content of the Penner’s book is totally based on research that shows that the satisfaction of the husband is the driving force in the sexual relationship. And the Penner’s made it clear that he will not be satisfied sexually until he learns how to love his wife, which was taken from the Bible (Ephesians 5:25), which says: “Husbands, love your wives,..” They explained the reason why and that is because the wife has to feel good about herself and loved by her husband to have sex. And the husband feels good about himself when he has sex. The Penner’s go on to explain that the husband must give up his rights and his way of thinking about the sexual relationship in marriage. He must do it God’s way to be fulfilled sexually.
According to the Penner’s,sex is the oil that keeps the marriage machine running and only 25 percent of couples have a healthy sexual relationship in their marriage.
To help couples get started towards having healthy sexual relationships, the hosts suggest that they take the “Date Night Challenge.”
There are many factors that can cause couples to have an unhealthy sexual relationship, but the main one would be not spending enough time with one another. The husband would have to spend time with his wife to love her and to make sure that she felt loved.
But with the schedules that couples keep today, it is almost impossible. Married couples are more like two ships in the night. When one is coming, the other is going. Everything seems to interfere and take priority over the marriage relationship. There are some careers that separate couples from each other for days and weeks at a time. And then there are the ministry opportunities that separate husbands and wives. When the pastor leaves his wife and children home while he travels across the states to preach a week revival. Or the evangelist or missionary that travels the county and comes home to visit his family once a month.
When couples are not spending time together, although they are married, they are living single, which I explain in my book “The Christian Olympics.” God never intended for spouses to have careers or be involved in ministries that causes them to be separated from each other for a period of time. In fact, the apostle Paul tells married couples in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 not to deprive one another of sex unless it is for a short time and only for fasting and prayer — in which both parties would have to be in agreement.
To be separated from a spouse to preach at a conference, a convention or a retreat cannot be a reason to deprive one another of sexual relations. No wonder there is a high divorce rate and so many pastors committing adultery. They are married living single, which makes marriage and single become dysfunctional. God never intended for the married to live single and when they do, singles no longer have a role. During the apostle Paul’s time it was the single man that was the missionary or the evangelist. Somehow through the centuries the church community has strayed away from putting family before ministry and as a result has neglected the family structure according to the way God designed it.