Sex Q + A (part one)

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We have done a lot of talking this week about sex and covered topics how:

Now it's your turn to ask the questions!

Below are some of your questions that were submitted anonymously on the topic of sex:

Sex Question #1a: Sex just hasn't been the same for me since having a baby. Part of the problem is I'm always tired and I typically go to bed earlier now, since I'm usually the one getting up during the night. There just never seems to be a good time for it and before baby, sex was something that happened naturally and we never had to carve out time for it. (Just doesn't seem very romantic when it's something you need to schedule!) And also, my sex drive just hasn't been what it used to be; I don't really put much effort into trying to make it happen. I miss the intimacy of it...but it just seems like so much work! Any tips?
Sex Question #1b: Especially now with a child, sex is left for when he is sleeping and the house is put back together. So pretty much the last thing before our bed time. Im exhausted! Im always thankful and reunited with my husband when we do have sex, but how can I keep myself in the mood more often? I also struggle with reaching the big o during sex, so sometimes I just don't feel its worth the extra energy as much as I want to be close with my husband and provide the pleasure he desires. Any advice would be great. Thank you.

We were asked questions like this multiple times. As you can see, you are not alone. Everyone's sex life goes though changes and adjustments during and after having children. The danger here is letting Satan get a foothold in your marriage. The last thing he wants is for you and your husband to be thriving in the bedroom. He loves to take a God-pleasing thing like having children and use it as a wedge between the intimacy of a husband and wife.

It's easy as moms to see the constant needs around us like the kids, the messy kitchen and unfolded laundry. Being intimate with our husbands can feel like an optional extra when the time is right, when we have energy or when the mood finally hits. But the truth is, it's not an extra and it IS important. Sex is a powerful bonding, unifying and stress relieving blessing for both husband and WIFE.

That being said, staying connected in your sex life is no easy task, especially for the burned out, tired, mama! However, if we have the mindset that sex is actually one of the important aspects of our marriage, then it will help to make some adjustments of less important things in your day to allow more time/energy for it.

Here are some practical tips:

Take a nap when the kids do. If you can do this, you might find that you have a bit more energy at the end of the night for your husband. Yes, the dishes might not get done or you might have to clear the laundry off of the bed in order to use it, but I'm pretty sure your husband won't mind :-)

Take some less important things out of your day. As moms we can start to feel that every task we do during the day is of utmost importance. While they all matter, the truth is some things that feel important can actually be put lower on the priority list. Take a genuine look all the things you do during the week and see if you can cut back on some less crucial things in order to have a bit more time and energy for you marriage.

Flirt and initiate. It's way to easy to fall into our mom roll and forget the flirting and fun of sex. Communicating to your husband after work in the evening what your "plans" are once the kids are asleep can go a long way. As woman we love being desired. Teasing your husband by flirting and getting him thinking about sex before you are able to have it will often lead him to continue the flirting and get both he and you thinking about the evening activities before hand.

Talk through and be open about your struggles with sex. Please don't say silent about how sex has changed for you after kids. Your body went through a huge physical change and it's ok to have to re-learn what pleases one another and what doesn't. I'm guessing your husband realizes that the physical end of sex isn't as easy for you anymore. As long as you approach it with grace and gentleness, it's very likely he would love to be able to talk through and learn what pleases you.

Don't leave sex for the last thing before bed. Start your evening (or afternoon on the days you may have that opportunity) with your husband before bedtime rolls around.

And finally, pray for God to give passion to your sex life. 

Sex can take time and effort, but so do many other things we do every single day for our husband and kids, that doesn't mean they aren't worth doing. Keep working at it! The lie is that having to give more effort takes away the romance. It's not true. Lots of great things in our lives are things we have to work at.

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Sex Question #2: My husband has struggled with an addiction to pornography for most of his teen and adult years. He's been clean for about a year now and I've forgiven him. When we're intimate, sometimes I fear that he's still thinking about the pornographic things instead of me. How do I get past that?

Several of us writers at Holy Hen House have gone through this struggle in our marriages as well. I recommend praying during sex. It has helped me have sex with my husband when it was the last thing I wanted to do and even helped me enjoy it more. Our minds and bodies are a unit. If I have stressful thoughts I will have tension throughout my body which will become rigid and sex will be more painful. Through prayer, the tension in my heart fades away and so does the tension throughout my body which makes sex more pleasureful.

While having sex with my husband and fearing that he is thinking about pornography I repeat several things to myself and pray through the difficult time:

- God, you are always faithful. You are my Rock. - Satan is the enemy. Not my husband. - Lord, make my thoughts your thoughts and take these images far away from my husband and I. - Sex is not disgusting. We are married and our sex is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. (Philippians 4:8) - My husband is mine and I am his. Even now I am his helper.

- Sex is also for me to enjoy. Lord, help me find joy with my husband right now.

Following prayer during sex, I find an overwhelming feeling within my heart to love my husband more and show him physically. Our sex life is better than ever before! There is hope and our help comes from the Lord (Psalm 121:2), the one who designed sex. As Katy mentioned yesterday, Sex + Intimacy with God is a must to having a great sex life.

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Your response to ask questions about sex was so well we decided to add extra days of Q+A!  Sex Q&A (Part Two) - How did your religious education affect your view of sex? - What did your mom tell you or what do you wish she would have told you about your wedding night?

Sex Q&A (Part Three) - Is it normal for your husband to desire sex more than you? - I struggle with the sin of masturbation. I think there MUST be another woman or two struggling with this out there, and would like for them to not feel as isolated as I do. But how does one simply bring it up in conversation...? 

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Overcoming Pornography: Thoughts for the Struggling

FIGHT2Header My husband has penned the last few posts on this topic. For years, neither of us wanted to talk about porn. We had no desire to be vocal about its part in our life, let alone talk to others about it. But the power of God and the joy of the freedom found in him, bring out our feeble voices. So, this is our story and we are fervently praying it will encourage others with their own stories. Jesus has overcome all darkness and with his strength, you can too. If you missed the first two parts of my husband's story you can find them here: Overcoming Pornography: The Struggle, Overcoming Pornography: The Moment of Truth

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It is said that you don’t know what you don’t know. This was true for me with pornography. In the midst of the battle, there was simply so much I didn’t know. However, in the years since I overcame this sin, God has revealed so much to me. I’d like to end my portion of this blog series, by sharing some thoughts with those still struggling with pornography.

Thought 1: Humble yourself and confess your sin.

If you’re addicted to porn, it means you’ve failed over and over on your own to overcome it. The time has come to confess it to another Christian so you may experience healing.

"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." - James 5:16

This is going to require you to humble yourself because the moment of truth is a shameful time. Pornography is a terrible sin that carries a lot of guilt and it is the fear of this sinful side of you being revealed that has caused you to fight against porn on your own for way too long. However, you must overcome any pride or worries, and see that the freedom you’ll gain is worth it.

Also, be encouraged and remember 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

When you humble yourself and confess your sins, God is good and loves you. He will forgive you for your sins and pick you up. You may be at a very low point when you confess, but God will bring you up from there and rebuild you into a new creation.

Pray for the humility to confess your sin to another Christian.

Thought 2: Consider everything a loss.

After you confess your sin, you need to be ready to live out Philippians 3:8, “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.”

If you are addicted to porn, the truth is you lack self-control so you need to take tough, practical steps to overcome it.

Are you willing to have a filter on your computer that tracks every site you visit? Are you willing to give up your awesome smart phone for a standard flip phone that just makes calls? Are you even willing to not have the Internet in your home? (When I was first married, we had no Internet in our place and would go to the library instead to use it.) Are you willing to cancel your cable or satellite TV so you aren’t tempted by shows?

These are tough steps you need to take. Be honest with yourself. You’ve proven that you are not able to overcome these temptations so get rid of them. God is worth more than a phone, or 200 TV channels, or the Internet, so consider them all a loss so you don’t fail and sin.

Thought 3: Gain self-control.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." - Galatians 5:22-23

Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. In order to gain self-control, you need to grow in your relationship with God. This means getting in the Bible and working on your prayer life. It really is that simple. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

While I say that this is simple, it often isn’t. While you may believe in God, your love for Him is weaker than you know (it is something I didn’t know). The truth is an addiction to porn damages your relationship with God. Day after day you are choosing yourself over Him. This same temptation will arise when it comes to spending time with God. Your sinful nature is going to want you to do something more fun or easy. You must overcome this urge and begin investing in your relationship with God. You can’t have a strong relationship with someone you never spend time with, and the same is true with God.

Thought 4: Win early.

You need to overcome sin at its earliest moment – when the first thought of it enters your mind.

"Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." - 2 Corinthians 10:5

Do you allow yourself to look at the magazine covers in the grocery store line? Do you watch the trashy TV commercials? Do you allow yourself to check out the girls you pass throughout the day?

Let’s continue being honest; the answer is yes. These sins all start as a thought, so you need to work on overcoming them every day. You are used to giving yourself a free pass, as if these actions don’t matter, but they do. The way you win the big battle is by training yourself to win the little battles each day.

Final Thought: God is worth it.

“My people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols. Be appalled at this, you heavens, and shudder with great horror,” declares the Lord. “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:11-13

You have the Spring of Living Water. However, right now you are digging your own cistern thinking you can do better. The pornography you are pursuing will never bring you lasting satisfaction and joy. So stop digging! See the mistake you are making; become appalled at it; shudder with great horror! Return to the Spring. God is so worth it! He will help you overcome it just as He did with me. To Him be the Glory!

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Overcoming Pornography: The Moment of Truth

FIGHT2Header My husband will pen the next few posts on this topic. For years, neither of us wanted to talk about porn. We had no desire to be vocal about its part in our life, let alone talk to others about it.  But the power of God and the joy of the freedom found in him, bring out our feeble voices. So, this is our story and we are fervently praying it will encourage others with their own stories. Jesus has overcome all darkness and with his strength, you can too.

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This is a continuation of last week's post. If you missed it, you can read it here: Overcoming Pornography: The Struggle

The Moment of Truth

I call it the moment of truth because in one instant what had been hidden in darkness for so many years was brought into the light. It was also the moment that Truth set me free. When I look back at that moment, I see it as the beginning of the end. Years later, it has proven be a triumphant instant, and I am so thankful it happened. However, placing myself back in that room that evening, I remember it as it really was, a moment of overwhelming shame, of total fear, and much silence.

God was present that night. I had no intentions of telling my fiancé about my struggle. I was still living in self-denial that somehow I’d overcome it before we were married or, if not, maybe marriage would solve it. But God placed the thought of confession in my head and it grew all night until I spontaneously told her.

Her shock and hurt were expected and awful, but God was still there and He filled my fiancé with grace and she forgave me. I was able to leave her that night so thankful to know I hadn’t lost my best friend.

God’s Refining

While I spent all the days after trying to earn back her trust and restore our wounded relationship, God was unknowingly continuing His plan of redemption in my life, and it all began with a simple swollen finger.

Sickness

It was during this same time that one of my fingers swelled up for no known reason. I went to the doctor and they figured I must have injured it, so they recommended taping it and letting it heal. This didn’t work and the swelling remained.

Fast-forward a year. I’m now married and the swelling had spread to numerous fingers, my wrists and toes. The inflammation in my feet was particularly bad and made walking quite painful, forcing me to limp around all day. I was seeing one specialist after another and was being put on one drug after another, but nothing was working and to make matters worse all the different medications had only left me feeling more sick.

Unemployment

While this was happening, I was struggling to find a job. During my final semester at college I had been interviewing for a great position at a good company and was nearing the end of the interview process. I was supposed to meet with the president of the company (I was hoping it was to shake hands on the job), but suddenly two weeks went by with no word from them. The call finally came and it wasn’t good news; the company was going on a hiring freeze because the economy wasn’t looking good. The job no longer existed.

My plan for a post-college job was gone and I had no back-up plan. I ended up continuing at my internship making $10 an hour. However, even this could only go on for so long and before I knew it, I was totally unemployed.

Anxiety Attacks

Thankfully God provided a job after three months without work. It was nice to have a full-time position doing what I majored in at college. While I was still searching for answers with my sickness, this job was an answered prayer.

Then it happened, I had only been at the company for several months, when one day I suddenly felt like I couldn’t breathe and my heart was racing. I had no idea what was happening and I called my wife panicked. She quickly came and took me to the ER where they concluded I had suffered an anxiety attack. I had never heard of that and thought they must be wrong.

They weren’t. For the next six months, I suffered from life-debilitating anxiety attacks. I was terrified to go anywhere or see anyone. I never cry, but this brought out the tears, and many nights I lay in my wife’s arms an emotional wreck feeling like I was losing my mind. I had no control over this and it was defeating me. It was the final straw and it broke me.

I needed God.

Made New

While I was at my sickest and only weighed 128 pounds, I had no cure; I needed God. While I was doing everything I could to find a job, I couldn’t force it to happen; I needed God to provide one for me. When I was at my lowest moment with anxiety attacks, feeling totally helpless and scared, I had no solution; I needed God to rescue me.

Through the course of all these trials, God revealed to me the root of my problem: I was my first love and He wasn’t. Though I had a faith in Him, my life was self-serving and really, I had no need for God beyond my salvation. When we look at God’s laws, we either will obey them because we are afraid of the consequences or because we love Him enough to do what He says. With pornography, I loved myself more than God and I didn’t have enough fear of the consequences so it was easy to choose sin.

One of my biggest regrets is that I initially overcame pornography for my wife. She said she would leave me if I ever slipped up again, and I believed her. I didn’t want that to happen so the consequence was severe enough to stop me. However, now that God has made me new and drawn me into a deep relationship with Him, He has become my first love. I am able to overcome temptation based on my love for Him alone

Amazing Grace

In the months to come, God slowly began to rebuild me. My prayer life and time in his Word became essential parts of my day. He provided an answer to my sickness. God also helped me to find complete freedom from the anxiety attacks through Him alone.

I’ll always remember driving to work one day after all this had passed listening to Chris Tomlin’s Amazing Grace. I found myself overwhelmed by the lyrics because all of a sudden I truly understood the gravity of what God had done for me. “My chains are gone. I’ve been set free. My God, my Savior, has ransomed me.” This truth has transformed my relationship with God and also healed and blessed my relationship with my wife.

The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen. - 2 Timothy 4:18

 

To read about the lessons I learned about overcoming pornography you can read the the last part here: Overcoming Pornography: Thoughts for the Struggling. You can read the other post in this series here: The Pornography Epidemic, Going on the Offensive Against Porn

 

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Overcoming Pornography: The Struggle

FIGHT2Header My husband will pen the next few posts on this topic. For years, neither of us wanted to talk about porn. We had no desire to be vocal about its part in our life, let alone talk to others about it.  But the power of God and the joy of the freedom found in him, bring out our feeble voices. So, this is our story and we are fervently praying it will encourage others with their own stories. Jesus has overcome all darkness and with his strength, you can too.

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I was addicted to porn, but now I’m free. I was living a life of constant guilt and shame, but now I understand more fully God’s amazing love and forgiveness. I was a walking lie, but now the Truth defines me.

How did I do it?

One word: God. However, the journey He used to set me free takes many more words to tell.

The Struggle

I had been struggling with pornography since 8th grade and I was incredibly ashamed of it. I knew it was wrong and I was committed to winning the war. But day after day, month after month, and year after year, the battle continued.

I can’t explain how awful this sin is and how incredibly addicting it becomes. At 14, I was just a curious male teen, giving into a sin this one time. But soon a one-time sin became a one-more-time sin, and before I realized it I was losing control of the situation. I had allowed darkness into my life.

I’ll always remember my prayers: “God forgive me. Don’t give up on me. Don’t leave me. I’m so sorry!”

While I needed God so badly, my guilt and shame pushed me away. I felt undeserving to even touch God’s Word or go to Him in prayer. Why would God listen to me anymore? Why would He continue to put up with me?

While God knew the real me, no one else did. I was just a “great” Christian guy that people respected. I strongly desired to be that guy, but I was locked in the chains of this sin.

College Days

During high school I feared that God would punish me for these sins by not letting me find a wife. However, in college that worry quickly faded when I started dating a girl our freshman year. Right from the start, we became best friends and our relationship flourished. Life was great.

The problem is I was still living a double life. College had brought new freedoms and the struggle was even worse. My girlfriend only knew the “great Christian guy” version of me, which I rationalized was okay because I was still determined to overcome this sin and she would never have to know.

Fast forward to our senior year. We were now engaged and had a wedding planned for after our graduation. One part of me was on top of the world, while the other was overwhelmed by the darkness I had let into my life nearly a decade earlier.

I knew the truth: I wasn’t going to be able to overcome this addiction on my own, but Satan used my shame and fears to keep me trapped in this never-ending cycle of guilt, remorse, and failure.

We were spending time together in her room after having completed our homework for the night. Nothing was unusual. It was just a normal night. But something happened. The Truth happened. God opened up my mouth and in one unplanned instant I broke my silence. The entire course of our lives had just changed.

To be continued... You can read part 2 here: Overcoming Pornography: The Moment of Truth

Note: If you missed the other posts in this series, you can find them here: The Porn Epidemic, Going on the Offensive Against Porn

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Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking // Part Seven

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::: WHEN IT'S HARD TO PRAY FOR ... THEM :::

"Jesus wants to give you five things: extravagant compassion, moral clarity, sacrificial courage, persevering hope, and refreshing joy." - Gary Haugen

What are we to make of the offender? The john, the pimp, the prostitution client, the parents that sold their 5-year old daughter to a trafficker, the patron at the strip club, the teacher obsessed with porn? Our world certainly doesn’t seem to be about mercy, certainly not extending it, especially to those who are in clear need OF mercy. It may not exactly be your first impulse to feel mercy towards men (and women) in these acts.

Here comes the disclaimer you may have come to recognize: over these years, the Holy Spirit has been illuminating my eyes, my heart, and moving my feet to the concept of justice, especially in regards to sex trafficking and sexual exploitation, and I pray you will come alongside, gentle reader. I will be speaking in some candid, explicit terms, so if you’re a young adult, please ask permission before reading. Better yet, read it alongside an adult. Before going further, would you mind praying with me? Please pray that the Spirit will soften your heart and align it to His? That He will not be quenched, and that He’ll remain in your presence. Thanks for joining with me, bearing with me, all these weeks.

There is an illusion in the sex industry – it’s a farse, a lie, and the devil knows how to work it, really, really well. “What a person desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar.” – Proverbs 19:22. When we get right down to it, that’s the core, and that “love” is twisted, peverted, and synthesized to attain power and control over someone else, fill a lonely void in the cavern of a human soul with money or authority or status or pleasure.

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But none of these things will last or satisfy. In a recent study by DePaul College of Law, “...most pimps are “average Joes” who were victims of sexual exploitation themselves … The majority of interviewees were victims of violence during their childhood. 88% of them said that they were physically abused in their childhood, and 76% of them said that they were victims of sexual abuse. 88% of them indicated that they grew up with domestic violence. 84% of them stated that they witnessed substance abuse in their home environment during their childhood.”

"Sex trafficking is like fire: fire needs fuel, oxygen, and ignition, otherwise it goes out. Trafficking needs vulnerability, criminal enterprise, and the market for sex to thrive." – Bret Mavrich

This is in no way watering down, excusing, or justifying these reprehensible actions, please hear me loud and clear, there must be consequences for wrong actions. Even in understanding this brand of evil, it’s still evil. A time will come when everyone will come to the realization of unrepentant sin. The medley of empathy and consequence, compassion, grace, and forgiveness has always perplexed me, something I find myself wrestling with. Maybe that’s why Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection is so startling … and paradoxical. And that’s why I’m not the Judge. And I’m writing as someone who will be judged in the End.

We are not in the place of God. For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” – Hebrews 10:30. By the enablement of the Holy Spirit, as lovers of Christ, you and I both need to move from condemning to compassion, and to grapple in light of God and His Scriptures what that looks like in our daily lives, in our families, with our friends, our coworkers, our Twitter followers, and acquaintances in Facebooklandia.

Maybe some of you reading know John 3:16 by heart. Maybe you know it as the “Gospel in a Nutshell.” But read on …“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” – John 3:17. And what about, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." – Matthew 5:7? It’s a lot easier to recite that Christ died for the pedophile locked in his sin just as much as he died for me. But to live in that mercy towards another human being who has hurt you, seeing each person as someone else’s child, as well as in the very image of the Father, is not easy. The fact alone that this can be so complicated, speaks to our human condition and to our reliance on Mercy Himself to enable His mercy in us. Joe Boot, an RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries) adjunct associate and former RZIM director in Canada puts it well,

“Without an awareness of our fallen condition, there is no good news and consequently no conflict. Nevertheless, the pain, violence, and confusion that fill human experience demonstrate that the Bible tells us the truth about ourselves … Yet we must always be mindful that this is not a battle waged against human beings but against, “ the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” - Ephesians 6:12.

I guess this is what I’m saying: there’s a prisoner in a Thai go-go bar, a prisoner paying for the girl in the go-go bar, and a prisoner when we harbor bitterness and resentment and unforgiveness. We are all unfathomonably broken-up people, searching for meaning, in desperation for the Living Water. The misery we inflict upon each other can be unbearable. “But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe … It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – Galations 3:22, 5:1.

I appreciate what a man named Ohad, once a trafficker for 11 years, now married and working with vulnerable youth to prevent them from going into the sex industry says: “I’m ashamed that I used to be a person like that. I can’t even call myself a person. It’s sad. It’s really, really sad. But God is bigger than that. I was captive of one thing, she was captive of another thing. But God wants to set the captives free.

Freedom

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners … “ – Isaiah 61:1.

Today, I implore you to pray for both the used AND the user, the exploited AND the exploiter. Perhaps you need to ask the Holy Spirit for the will to pray for the latter. Intercession for both is vital.

 “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” – Matthew 9:13   :::   “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice,
and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” – Hosea 6:6

If you’d like to read Holy Hen House’s five previous posts on the difficult, but crucial matter of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking, they can be found here via these links: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, and Part Six. Thank you for taking the time to read and to pray.

<ps> I will be taking some time off from writing, but have been hoping to create a list of helpful resources on this topic for anyone interested. Maybe that time will come, maybe not. But I’d much rather let God pursue you and the resources He brings to your eyes in His time, as it came to light that it wasn’t in the making for this “last” post (trust me, you don’t want to read those loooong rambles, at least not yet, ha!). Meanwhile, please feel free to contact me via email at kristie.cooper.kc@gmail.com with any thoughts or questions!

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