Is it Perverted?
When one partner craves something
that the other honestly considers to be a perversion
This webpage is best understood after reading:
Stirring up Marital Passion
When Marital Relations are a Short-Cut to Hell.
If wife has suffered sexual trauma it is most important to first read:
When a Woman Doesnít Want Sex
What happens if one partner craves a particular act and the other thinks that itís more spiritual to deny oneself that type of sex? Say, for instance, Marsha, believing itís her only hope of reaching a climax, longs for her husband Terry to manually arouse her in foreplay. He, however, equates that act with masturbation and regards it as morally wrong. ďThatís what lesbians do!Ē he exclaims in horror. Should Marsha be denied, and left sexually frustrated and vulnerable to extra-marital temptation, or should Terry go against his conscience? This, and many variations on the theme, is a very real dilemma that I wish I didnít have to address, but although burying my head in the too hard basket might be a novel way of improving my looks, it cannot change the fact that innumerable couples must face quandaries of this magnitude, with one partner craving something that the other honestly considers to be a perversion.
If this subject doesnít interest you, please go to True Love
My intention is not to make a decision for you, but to make crystal clear issues that are often fuzzy in Christian minds. You wonít agree with every view expressed below. In fact, that would be impossible because Iíll explain opposite viewpoints. The idea is to provide an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to highlight whichever views your Lord wishes you to hold. Such spiritual revelation will probably not happen upon a single reading. Our Lord usually takes time to reveal things to us. Nor is it likely to happen without prayer. I therefore suggest the following as the first of many prayers you should offer God on this subject:
Please open me up to your Spirit and to your ways, and expose to me any lies of the enemy that I have unknowingly absorbed. Cause me to enjoy your gifts to the full, and fill me with your purity. Free me from false guilt, while softening my conscience to your whispers.
How easy it is for the eye to slide over those words ďlaid down his life!Ē It involved devastating humiliation Ė stripped naked, publicly exposed and branded a criminal so depraved as to have no right to live Ė and indescribable physical torture. He willingly suffered what he didnít deserve, so that we might be spared what we deserve.
Thatís the type of love God wants to foster within us; not the gooey selfishness that often passes for love in romantic fiction, but the genuine article.
It is common in marriages for one partner to seem more spiritual than the other. In such cases it is important to realize that the person who seems more spiritual may not always be the one who is right, even on spiritual matters. Remember Jesusí parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector who went to the temple to pray. The Pharisee was certain, along with almost everyone else in Jerusalem, that he was by far the more godly of the two, and the tax collector would have shamefacedly agreed. Nevertheless, in Godís eyes it was the ďunspiritualĒ tax collector, not the pious Pharisee, who was right (Luke 18:10-14). ďThe man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to knowĒ (1 Corinthians 8:2). ďSo, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!Ē (1 Corinthians 10:12).
Partners with opposite views need to approach the matter with as close to the ideal attitude as possible. Youíll see from what I describe below that the same basic attitude is expected of both partners. In reality, one partner is often more advanced in developing this attitude than the other. Thatís of no consequence. What matters is that you focus on getting your own attitude right and that you eliminate all self-righteous feelings. If you have felt superior, thoroughly, even tearfully, repent before God and your partner.
A closed mind sabotages our ability to hear from God, and strong cravings or fears scream so loudly as to threaten to drown out the Spiritís whispers. The best way to neutralize our personal bias, and so heighten our ability to hear from God, is to do all we can to nurture within ourselves attitudes and desires that are opposite of those that we currently hold. This putting ourselves in our partnerís shoes is also a valuable way of reducing marital conflict.
You will probably find the attitudes suggested below so contrary to your present beliefs as to be quite alarming. Note, however, that the aim is not to change your behavior but to break any stubbornness, close-mindedness or smugness. These attitudes sometimes even deceptively masquerade as godliness. By freeing yourself from these attitudes you will be better placed to double check what you believe to be Godís guidance. The mere fact that God has given you a partner who has an opposite view to you on this matter is sufficient reason for stripping oneself of all preconceptions and humbly opening yourself up to God to completely re-evaluate your position. If you and your partner are headed for a stalemate on this issue, this is the best way to break the impasse and it is best for you to take the lead. You have nothing to fear. You donít want to miss Godís best, and unless you were mistaken the first time, approaching the matter from the opposite direction will produce the same result.
Here is another important consideration. Issues such as these inflame deep emotions. In oneís pain and frustration it is easy to start viewing your beloved as the enemy. Instead, remember Scriptureís revelation that our fight is not with flesh and blood but with evil spiritual powers (Ephesians 6:12). You and your partner have a common enemy that would like to set you against each other. Donít give the forces of evil a victory by fighting each other. Rather, fight this battle together, in the strength of our mighty Lord.
Letís not be too hasty is assuming a guilty conscience is the work of the Holy Spirit. I was taught as a child that my conscience is from God and even that it is God speaking. That might suffice for a young child, but itís a dangerous oversimplification that could get anyone older into serious difficulty. (Scripture) False guilt is one of the devilís deadliest weapons. We all know how some people can remain so guilt-ridden after genuinely seeking forgiveness that they put more faith in deceptive guilt feelings than in Christ, and in total despair they can fall away from God. Others can feel so guilty about rest that they drive themselves to a breakdown. Remember Pastor Rob (in the previous webpage)? Satan twisted Robís wonderful compassion for the lost until he was riddled with guilt whenever he got remotely close to giving his wife adequate consideration.
There are Christians who, even when sex is strictly for procreation, believe it is an immoral indulgence of the flesh to allow oneself to enjoy the experience. If William grew up convinced that this is the view of the Holy God, you can be sure he would suffer severe guilt pangs if he found himself enjoying sex. As a young teen, Beth once yielded to seduction. Even though the moral context is a different as love and hate, Beth is likely to feel at least a trace of guilt on her honeymoon if she engages in the same act that had flooded her with shame so many years before. Sabrina might also feel guilt when her husband lovingly does something perfectly acceptable that happens to be identical to what a rapist once did to her. It can at times be most difficult to distinguish between Spirit-induced guilt and echoes of childhood misconceptions or largely forgotten bad experiences from the past.
On the other side, however, we dare not underplay the significance of someone thinking a particular act is offensive to God, even if it is nothing more than holding hands. Scripture is emphatic that if I am convinced that something innocent is sinful and I deliberately go ahead and do it, then in the eyes of the God who sees my heart, I have sinned (Romans 14:14, 23; 1 Corinthians 8:4-13).
Suppose Pamela, while waiting at the hairdresserís, picks up a womenís magazine. Ten Ways to Spice up Your Relationship catches her eye. She reads the article and goes home inspired to try something new with Don. A mixture of embarrassment and a desire to surprise Don keeps her silent, but next night she slowly introduces this new adventure into her lovemaking, sensitively allowing Don plenty of time to indicate if he feels the slightest uncomfortable about it. Not only does he not object, itís obvious he thoroughly enjoys it. Thrilled that sheís been able to give Don this special pleasure, Pamela looks forward to the next time she will delight him this way, totally unaware that from Donís perspective he has just yielded to temptation. Now heís feeling too guilty and defeated to admit it.
Such a scenario demonstrates how vital it is that a couple have full knowledge of each otherís view on every aspect of lovemaking. It is not even safe to glibly assume that oneís partner is morally comfortable with what you have been doing together for years. For your partner, it could be a serious area of defeat. Soberly talking and praying about this together is the only safe course of action. I understand the difficulty some couples have about coldly discussing such matters, but waiting until the heat of the moment is fraught with moral danger.
I suggest that Pamela should have first sought Father; lovingly submitting this matter to God as the worldís best sex expert and trusting him as the greatest authority on Donís spirit and emotions. She could have asked God that if she shouldnít take this to the next stage that he make it abundantly clear. Then, after having sought Godís face and given him time to answer, if she feels at peace, she should discuss it with Don, preferably in a warm but non-sexual setting, and pray about it together. Depending on how comfortable Pam is with praying and/or talking about such intimate things with Don, this might take a lot of courage and it might seem coldly clinical. However, thereís great power in it. The very act of praying together, especially about such an intimate thing, will strengthen the ever-deepening bond between them and it will bring their loving Lord even more into this important area of their marriage. Ideally they should yield yourselves utterly to Godís holy will and seek whatever delights him, laying their own desires at his feet and longing only for his glory and the perfection of his purposes. Never forget, however, that Godís desires include the strengthening of their marriage and the enjoyment of his gifts. They should seek Godís loving smile on all they do and be motivated not by mere pleasure nor by fear or prejudice but by a longing to be bonded more deeply and more permanently in holy matrimony, with their powerful Lord as the loving cement in that bond.
Letís bring together what we have discovered in this and the previous webpage and examine the implications for Terry and Marsha. (Youíll recall that Marsha ached for foreplay that Terry thought was perverted.)
No matter what God thinks of the act itself, if Terry believes an act is as perverted as homosexuality and nevertheless proceeds with it, he is guilty before God of a grave offense, by the mere fact that he thought he was offending. The problem is that it can also be a serious offense to knowingly make Marsha vulnerable to temptation by denying her. What a dilemma!
We seem to have a natural tendency to assume that the godly option is always to deny oneself, but Scriptures weíve examined show otherwise. We could paraphrase part of Proverbs 5:19 Drink your fill of marital pleasure; continually find total satisfaction in your partner. Paul said neither partner had the right to defraud the other sexually, and implied it is flirting with danger to even briefly deny each other. To reinforce this principle, consider Jesusí teaching that ďwhoever divorces his wife . . . causes her to commit adulteryĒ (Matthew 5:32). It seems that by withdrawing from his wife, the man becomes responsible before God for every subsequent sexual temptation the woman is subjected to. She is still responsible for her actions, but her vulnerability to temptation is the ex-husbandís fault. (See Note) Can you see how this same principle could apply if the man didnít divorce her but nevertheless didnít do what he could to satisfy her?
After working their way through the steps outlined in The Perfect Attitude maybe Terry and Marsha could begin their quest to find Godís will by praying along these lines:
Empower us to gather our every trace of sexual energy and focus it solely upon each other. Cause us to give and to receive total sexual fulfillment in each other.
By the power and authority of Jesus we break in our lives every concept, every thought, every fantasy and desire and every fear and revulsion that is not of you. Free us from every inhibition and from every attempt of the Evil One to spoil your best. May we not miss the tiniest fraction of all the delights you have prepared for us. Cause us to tap into your infinite love and to express as freely as possible the vastness of the love you give us for each other.
Your will is perfect for us. It's our security, our wisdom, our joy. In your immense love you want to pour out your blessings upon us, withholding not one hint of pleasure, unless you know there is an even higher good awaiting us. So with confidence we yield to you, laying at your feet our own imperfect desires and understanding. Expand our mind. Flood us with your purity. Rid us of selfishness. Make us like you.
Cause us to think highly of each other, even though we presently differ. We thank you that good is already coming from this matter because it is causing us to involve you more than ever in this precious aspect of our union. We bring our differing views to you and ask that you reveal your holy will to us. Cause us to soon become one on this matter, so that we can say with utter conviction as they did in the book of Acts, ďit seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us . . .Ē
Surely a couple is free to believe they have divine approval in banning from their sexual repertoire any act that neither partner has a desire for. Has one the right, however, to play God by enforcing on oneís marriage a definition of sin stricter than that specifically stated in Scripture, at the expense of exposing one partner to the temptation of adultery, an act which Scripture unambiguously declares to be sin?
ďYou nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition,Ē complained Jesus to the Pharisees (Matthew 15:6). Their sincere attempts to be stricter than what Scripture spells out, led them to miss the clear thrust of Scripture. Could Terry be in danger of that same type of error? Has anyone the right to take a higher moral stance than the revealed Word of God, when so doing is forfeiting oneís scripturally explicit responsibility to keep oneís partner from sexual temptation? Terry must as carefully and as openly as he can pray through the personal implications of this.
We must be aware, however, that one can safely conclude almost nothing from the silence of Scripture. For example, although the Old Testament clearly forbids men relating sexually with men, there is stony silence about the female equivalent Ė lesbianism. In fact, reference to women seems deliberately omitted:
By itself, the omission of reference to women in verse 22 does not seem to say a lot, but when read in context, it is startling, given the specific mention of women in the very next verse. Moreover, this is virtually all the Old Testament says on the subject. One could build a seemingly strong, but seriously wrong, case from this peculiar omission that lesbianism must be acceptable to God. There in nothing in the Old Testament to clearly indicate otherwise. The gospels are also silent, as are the writings of Luke, James, Peter and John. Thankfully, God in his mercy included one verse (and only one) in the New Testament to protect us from making a disastrously wrong assumption (Romans 1:26-27). The Lord clearly, however, did not expect all the previous generations to conclude that Scriptureís silence implies Godís neutrality on the subject.
Scriptureís silences are frustrating, but much of our frustration is because we often come to the Bible as if God has died and left a book of instructions. In reality, God is our ever-present teacher and personal tutor. He has thoughtfully handed us a text book Ė a written summary of his teaching Ė but he is constantly with us to guide our reading of it and to help us with our questions.
The Bible is all that God wishes to reveal to humanity as a whole, but there are additional, personal things he wishes to whisper in the ears of individuals. Personal guidance is a glaring example. We sometimes think we need to know when we donít, but when your need to know is genuine, God will reveal it to you as you seek him. Donít, however, expect what he tells you to necessarily be identical to what he tells others, any more than you would expect the Lord to tell every Christian to go to Africa as a missionary.
There is a further lesson to be heeded from the mistake of the Pharisees. They thought they were taking the higher moral ground, when they were actually exposing themselves to the wrath of God by letting their ďmoral superiorityĒ blind them to the virtue that God values most Ė love. The partner thinking that the other has perverted desires must be very wary of this deadly trap. Love ďis ever ready to believe the best of every person,Ē (1 Corinthians 13:7, Amplified Bible). ď. . . in humility consider others better than yourselves,Ē (Philippians 2:3). ďYou, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before Godís judgment seat,Ē (Romans 14:10). If we have failed in this area, we desperately need to repent, strip ourselves of ugly self-righteousness, and cover our shame by making honor and respect for our partner shape our every thought.