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Three things are too wonderful for me;

four I do not understand:

the way of an eagle in the sky;


the way of a serpent on a rock,


the way of a ship on the high seas,


and the way of a man with a virgin.

The Meeting of Jacob and Rachel: William Dyce

Do you see the hidden pearl in this proverb? In each case, two different but complimentary creations of God become one, moving in a beauty that would not be possible without the other. The fourth example is so profound Agur cannot comprehend it: the way of a man with a virgin. It is a mystery, but the marriage bed is honorable, and magical when it flows within the boundaries God ordained. The sexual relationship within marriage is like a pure flowing river, restoring, renewing, and reviving.


But a river that exceeds its banks brings death, destruction, and despair.


In my own life, when I came to Christ as a young wife, God redeemed both my view of marriage and the marriage bed. I had an unrealistic perspective of marriage, thinking it would be able to meet all of my needs. Though my husband tried so hard, he couldn’t fill up the God-shaped void in my soul. It was so unfair, but I was perpetually angry with Steve for this. That, as well as guilt for sin in my past, lessened my enjoyment of the sexual relationship. I was blind, and my blindness was taking our marriage into a downward spiral.

Then Christ found me and made me His own. I had been carrying a burden of guilt, but didn’t even realize it. Though Steve was the only man I’d ever known (in the biblical sense), we’d been intimate before marriage. I justified that, yet as Romans 2:15 explains, God had written his law on my conscience, so I felt guilty – sometimes accusing myself, other times, excusing myself. But when Christ found me – He first showed me my guilt clearly, and then took it!

I also had blinders on my eyes. In part, I had no idea how desperately I needed God in my life. I had been demanding that God’s gift of marriage fill up the emptiness in my soul – and now I saw that it could never do that – even though I had been blessed with a wonderful husband. Only God could fill up the emptiness in my soul, and when He began to do that, I left Steve off the hook and began to appreciate him anew – not demanding that he be what he was never intended to be.

To my astonishment and to my husband’s delight, both my marriage and my enjoyment in the marriage bed began to change. When I didn’t demand of them what they could not give, they returned to being delightful gifts.

One day at the dentist’s office I picked up Redbook and read an article entitled: Sexual Pleasure: The Surprising Results of 100,000 Women. What was so surprising? I smiled as I read. The women whom the editors thought would enjoy sex the least enjoyed it the most! At the top of their charts were “strongly religious” married women! I could tell from the responses that the “strongly religious” women were primarily born-again Christians. The editors scratched their heads. Weren’t “strongly religious women” prudes? Weren’t the women who had been “freed” from sexual prohibitions supposed to be the ones who would really enjoy sex? Though they didn’t understand, they had the integrity to report the results accurately.

When I got home, a letter to the editor flowed out of my heart:

Dear Editor,

I am thankful for this survey, for it shatters the notion that strongly religious women don’t really enjoy sex. In fact, it shows that the reverse is true. I’d like to offer a few points of explanation for this:

  • A woman who has a close relationship with God has experienced healing forgiveness for anything in her past. A woman who hasn’t drawn near to God may, without realizing it, be carrying guilt. This is bound to affect adversely her sexual relationship.
  • A woman who has a close relationship with God has experienced a peace in Him that’s going to affect every aspect of her personal life. A woman who is far from God has an emptiness that cannot be filled with anything but God. She imagines and hopes other things will fulfill her, but they won’t.
  • A woman who is reading her Bible realizes sex within marriage to be good and pleasurable. Proverbs 5:18–19 tells husbands to “rejoice in the wife of your youth . . . let her breasts satisfy you at all times, and be thou ravished always with her love.”

Dee Brestin
Akron, Ohio (Redbook, Dec. 1975)

My sister called me from Utah: “I can’t believe my little sister is writing about sex in Redbook.” A neighbor stopped mowing his lawn and crossed the street to tell me he’d liked my letter. Acquaintances stopped me in the grocery store to remark on my letter with a smile. It was a bit awkward, yet I thought, Yes – He changes every aspect of our lives – and He created sex, so of course, He wants us to enjoy it.          Indeed, the Creator of sex knows what will bless it and what will spoil it. Like a pure river, the sexual relationship renews and replenishes when it stays within the boundaries God ordained. This is why God tells a husband and wife to enjoy the marriage bed and to not deny one another. When we give ourselves to one another within the safety of the marriage bed, our bond is renewed. The gift of sex does what the Maker of it purposed for it, in part, to do.

And in a mysterious way, as Ephesians 5:32 tells us, this oneness that occurs in the marriage bed portrays a much deeper picture. It is a picture of the unity God longs to have with us spiritually and emotionally.Likewise, when sex is used outside of the boundaries God ordained, it brings death and destruction, like the raging river that floods over its boundaries. God uses the picture of adultery to portray sin, to show throughout the prophets that sin is not breaking a rule, but breaking His heart. It hurts not only Him, but it ravages our relationship with Him, in the same way that unfaithfulness ravages a marriage.

I realize this may be a hard week for singles — but next week we will see how this all points to Christ, so please do this foundational part. You haven’t missed the best — the best is yet to come.

Sunday Icebreaker

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study

There are so many passages we could look at for the marriage bed is important to God. He says it is wrong to forbid marriage, and it is wrong for couples to forbid one another, but to give freely and generously within the boundaries He ordained. Often when I would not feel “in the mood,” but wanted to obey the command not to forbid, God changed my heart, my mood, and His mighty power washed over us, cleansing, re-energizing, and renewing our covenant.

In reading through Leviticus recently, when I came to Leviticus 18, he gives so many commands not to let the river flow outside the boundaries. I thought, Why couldn’t you just say keep sex between one man and one woman in holy matrimony for life? But I realized, our hearts are so deceitful, He needs to spell it out, don’t uncover (a euphemism for sexual relations) your father, or your mother, or your father’s wife, or your sister or your mother’s daughter…on and on — because our hearts are so deceitful, we can justify sin.

The passage we are looking at this week is an important one, so we will stay here so that you can look carefully and not feel overwhelmed. I like it in part because it contains both the negative and the positive admonitions on sex.

2. Read Proverbs 5

A. What is deceitful about a “forbidden” woman? (vs. 3-6)

B. What are some forms of deceitful sex, or sex that exceeds the boundaries God ordained?

C. What instruction is given to the young man in verses 7-8? How could you apply this?

D. What reasons are given for keeping the river in the boundaries in verses 9-17? Find at least six.

E. What command is given in verses 18-20? What comments do you have on this?

F. What closing comments are in verses 20-23?

        3. Summarize and comment on how the following passages apply to you.

A. Hebrews 13:4

B. 1 Corinthians 7:1-5

C. Challenge: Proverbs 30:18-20.

4. If you are single, how do you talk to your soul so you can remain celibate?

5. Tim Keller often says Christians should be stingy with their bodies (except in marriage) and generous with their money — a reverse to the world. How are you doing?

Thursday-Friday: Keller Sermon (You may already have it — otherwise it is 2.50)


6. What are your notes and comments?


7. What is your take-a-way and why?

Leave a Comment

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  1. Elizabeth, I really liked your comparisons from the Hebrews passage on honor in earthly marriage and spiritual marriage.
    God’s command to give honor to marriage and be faithful is  of utmost importance in both of these. Your comments made me  think about my relationship to Christ also. To honor Him and search my heart for idols is really important.
    Just as I need  to show honor to my husband and be faithful in all ways.

  2. 1 Corinthians 7:1-5  this is very difficult for me. I know with the Lord all thing are possible.

    1. Liz – love your honesty on the 1 Cor 7 passage. 

  3. 5.  Keller’s quote about how we should be stingy with our body(except in marrage) and generous with our money-the reverse of the world……currently, I’m more at peace with where we are in our marriage than in some time….however, I really needed the generosity reminder – and God’s prompt there was specific!  I responded to his prompt.  I also think that a kind of generosity that the Lord has been calling me to over the past few years is a generosity of my TIME – often MUCH harder for me than the $$s!  And He seems to be giving me plenty of opportunities to follow Him in that regard…. 🙂

    1. You’re so right about time being a gift that goes beyond finances more often than not.  I see that in you with the prison ministry you’re doing.  ‘I was in prison and you visited me’.  That is huge, Jackie.  And the women there don’t need your money…….they need the time and care that you are giving.  Such a good reminder.

  4.         3. Summarize and comment on how the following passages apply to you.
    A. Hebrews 13:4
    Does “keeping the marriage bed “pure” include some of the deceitful sex things we spoke of in the first scripture reading in Proverbs?…… like flirting? Or wearing provocative clothing? Or, is it strictly sex? (Kind if reminds me of Bill Clinton here!) In this case I might have been considered an “adulterer.” Do I have no chance in the end? I will be judged for that? If I apologize to my husband and he accepts, am I forgiven by God?
    If you don’t keep the marriage bed pure, you will be judged by God in the end…..but, what if someone had an affair in the past, and hasn’t been totally honest with his/her mate, but plans confession at some point and wants the marriage to continue…….Does this passage mean that no matter what, you’re are not forgiven by God? If the person tries to make amends, is he/she forgiven? 
    Jesus took it all; paid the price for us. I expect He would want the adulterer to “fess up,” apologize, accept the consequences (perhaps divorce?) and never do these things again.
    B. 1 Corinthians 7:1-5
    So hard; I give excuses to my husband (mainly I’m too busy), because I have never been “into sex.” I can find a jillion other things to do……and it’s messy; like swimming, eating BBQ ribs, and walking in the rain! It means you have to take a shower, re-do hair and make-up, and have “wasted” time!!! All about me…..Is it something important enough to me that I would do all of that? To him, yes, to me, unfortunately, no.  Our schedules are total opposites which makes it hard. Our kids are around, also VERY difficult. Our doors don’t lock and stay shut, another hurdle. There is so much to consider that it make me tired before anything happens! 
    He thinks it shows our love for one another. I think not. To me, love is about caring for our kids; showing that you love them (don’t we all have different love languages?) To me, love is when we are dancing (he doesn’t really know how), it’s not this “act,” but alas, if I want to follow the scripture then somehow I suppose things will need to change. I can’t lie, I’m kind of bummed about this. Praying.

    1. Laura, I, too, have struggled to be “into sex.” God has begun a work in my heart to be able to respond though all the hurdles (kids, doors, etc) still are hurdles. But each time I pray God will work in my heart to love my husband and respond to him. 
      Have you ever considered sex as the ultimate dance? The most intimate and lovely of dances? 

      1. Jill – I like your “ultimate dance” description – made me smile…..and I know you’re speaking Laura’s language too!!

      2. Jill, I haven’t really thought of it that way before. I am (as I said) a hard nut to crack! I wasn’t really struck by the SOS  study we did last summer, too much “fluff” that I didn’t understand (although Dee and everyone did a great job trying to help me), so I am hoping this study helps to convince me of that very thing…..that it is important enough to take the extra shower, chance the kids, and forget about the doors!

    2. Laura praying right along with you.

      1. 🙂

    3. Laura, I admit I focused more on your answer to B. than to A. You ask some really good questions in A.  I’ll wager that keeping the marriage bed pure involves more than just being faithful to your spouse. It would be possible, for example, to be with your spouse intimately yet fantasizing about another person at the same time. I would think that would not be keeping the marriage bed pure. As far as God judging the adulterer, I believe that if someone commits adultery and genuinely repents of it to the Lord, there is forgiveness through Christ.

  5. 3. Summarize and comment on how the following passages apply to you.
    A. Hebrews 13:4
    Trust is so very important to me…to allow myself to be vulnerable to my husband, I need to know that he is faithful and true, that his love is pure and genuine.  If adultery took place, our relationship would never be the same.  I could forgive (because God tells me I have to), but I doubt it could be something that could be forgotten or that I could live with; I envision that mistrust and doubt would always surface and a wall would be built around my heart for protection that would never fully allow my husband in again.
    B. 1 Corinthians 7:1-5
    The purpose and intention of intimacy for my first husband was very self-serving; I mattered little, other than being the other participant needed.  Sex felt obligatory to me…it wasn’t something I looked forward to, but endured.  I didn’t feel cared for, respected, etc….I felt used.  This could not be more different with my husband, Greg.  He is loving, kind, gentle, giving, considerate, respectful, thoughtful…our intimacy is mutual; it is both giving of ourselves and receiving each other.  I am incredibly blessed and a day does not go by that I don’t give thanks to the Lord for the blessing He has bestowed.  20 years ago I would have cringed to read this passage…”And the wife should give her husband what he deserves as her husband.  The wife does not have power over her own body. Her husband has the power over her body. And the husband does not have power over his own body. His wife has the power over his body. 5 Don’t refuse to give your bodies to each other.”…had my first husband been aware of this passage, it would have been used against me, as a weapon.  My experience in my second marriage differs significantly…I can welcome the text…I welcome intimacy with my husband…it is a special, wonderful, sacred time and union that we share.

    1. Nanci, the comparison between your first marriage and the one you have now…wow. I am glad for you that you have been so blessed with such a sweet husband!

    2. Nanci,
      A beautiful testimony of God’s grace in your life! 

    3. You truly have been blessed Nanci.

    4. Nanci, This is beautiful..What I love is that you included the story of your first marriage and contrasted it to your beautiful union now. 

    5. Nanci, every time you speak of your husband, your words just exude love and respect.  🙂  So refreshing.

  6. D. What reasons are given for keeping the river in the boundaries in verses 9-17? Find at least six.
    Looking at different translations helped me with this one…
    1. Loss of your honor after falling to temptation
    2. Giving the remainder of your life to the cruel and merciless
    3. Strangers will obtain your wealth
    4. You become a slave of foreigners
    5. Disease. The NASB translates verse 11 as “your body is consumed” and the Living Bible says “when syphilis consumes your body”.
    6. Regret. “If only I had listened…oh why wouldn’t I take advice.”
    7. Public disgrace.
    8. Illegitimate children
    E. What command is given in verses 18-20? What comments do you have on this?
    The command is to “let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth.” The cross-ref for “fountain” is Song of Songs 4:12,15 which describes the bride as a spring sealed up and a garden spring, a well of fresh water. The imagery of rejoicing in your wife and remaining faithful to her is like a pure, unpolluted spring of water. This water is life-giving.
    Another command is to “let her breasts satisfy you at all times; be exhilarated or intoxicated with her love”. In other words, be passionately in love with your partner! I know someone wrote a book called Hot Monogamy…it is possible even after many years of marriage to have times of passion; unfortunately many people think the way to renew passion is to find it with a stranger.
    Verse 20 asks the son why he should be exhilarated with an adulteress? He already has this in his wife, so why look elsewhere? It doesn’t say this, but if the passion is not there in the marriage, why not find out why and start working to rekindle it instead of looking elsewhere.
    F. What closing comments are in verses 20-23?
    A warning that the Lord sees everything. Sin is a trap that you yourself will fall into, and there is no escape, “He will be held with the cords of his sin.” That’s a powerful picture of the power of sin to hold, to bind, to trap. It isn’t that easy to just walk away, to stop doing it. If wise instruction is not followed, it leads to death.

    1. Thanks for the different translations Susan. That helped!

  7. 3. Summarize and comment on how the following passages apply to you.
    A. Hebrews 13:4
    B. 1 Corinthians 7:1-5  Um, not so sure how this applies to me… (except prayer & self-control, but not in this setting).  Self-control is mentioned again in v. 9, following “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.”
    I know that self-control is listed as a fruit of the Spirit — and I’m curious to know more about self control because I don’t like the phrase!!  I have sicko connotations of self-control: a combination of grin and bear it (sometimes without the grin), holding my breath and forcing myself to do something, and making myself do something I don’t want to do.  The words “self-control” confuse me because it seems I should be Spirit-controlled.(Besides, during my worst dieting days, I was told I had too much self-control).   Question: Does self-control in the NT mean more than it appears to mean on the surface?  The other fruits of the spirit include characteristics that some unbelievers have, at least to a certain degree.   It’s the word “self” in there that confuses me (and that’s a can of worms, too!)
    C. Challenge: Proverbs 30:18-20.    I read vs 8-10 first, by mistake — was confused, at first, but they spoke to me so much — and then I looked at the question again!  Vs. 8: “Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me.”  What he provides IS sufficient for me because HE IS.  The first part of the vs “Remove me from falsehood and lying” also stood out — and vs. 20 also speaks of an adultress who is deceiving herself.  I’m often oblivious to temptation because I may be telling myself deep down that “it’s okay, I’m not that tempted” — and then get smacked in the face with temptation.
    4. If you are single, how do you talk to your soul so you can remain celibate?  This is difficult to think about right now, not in the sense that it’s painful.  It’s just not what I’m needing to talk to my soul about right now.  I have to talk to my soul to get out of the house, get work done, etc (am a tired zombie right now) and I don’t know how I’ve talked to my soul about this.  The most important part is being with someone who is like-minded about sex outside of marriage  — and that rules out a ton of temptation.  But also, I sense that part of talking to my soul will be reminding myself that God is truth and asking him to remove falsehood from me so that I am not caught off guard.

    1. Renee – your thoughts about self-control were so thought provoking that I had to check that out in the fruit of the Spirit!  My study Bible notes simply say that “self-control” is indeed synonymous with “Spirit controlled”. 
      Loved how the Spirit used your getting off on the wrong verse at first……the tie in to v. 20 was intriguing!  God has blessed you with an amazing way of seeing things that blesses me time and time again as we study together!  So thankful you took Elizabeth’s challenge to hang in there this week!  🙂 

    2. Renee–I appreciated your answer to “4”–really needed the reminder to speak truth to my soul today. I have let the Control idol into my marriage bed with the Lord–ever since my speeding ticket this morning! ugh. Thank you for your honesty, it’s helping me break my defensive walls today. 

    3. Renee I am so glad you stayed here this week I so appreciate reading your posts. The self control vs spirit controlled. How you read the wrong scripture ( I have done that before and it was no mistake come to find out it was what I needed:) You especially caught me when you said you are often oblivious to temptation because you tell yourself deep down that its okay I am not that tempted and then get smacked in the face with temptation! I just had something somewhat similar happen. Again glad you are here  

    D. What reasons are given for keeping the river in the boundaries in verses 9-17? Find at least six. 
    1. You will loose your strength and wealth to others
    2. Your years will be given to someone who is cruel. 
    3. Regret. 
    4. Come to ruin because of lack of listening to wisdom. 
    5. If you keep your streams to yourself they will be blessed waters. 
    6. Your hard work will enrich another’s home instead of yours. 
    E. What command is given in verses 18-20? What comments do you have on this?  My husband engraved Prov 5:18-19 on my engagement ring the day before our wedding (because my wedding band was too small for engravement). 
    The command is to not just stay faithful but to be captivated by her love, that her body would always satisfy him. I have always heard if a man has a Cadillac parked in the garage he won’t go shopping for a station wagon. Not meaning that you need to look perfect but referring to a satisfying relationship. And so as much as this command is to the husband it definitely speaks to me as well. How can my husband be captivated by my body if i never let him look at it? Or how can he be satisfied with my love if I do not let him drink of the water? This is love. To come to someone imperfect and know they love and delight in you anyway. And so is the gospel. Naked I feel anything but sexy and lovely but my husband loves me and delights in me. So, too, when I am spiritually naked I am ashamed but he comes and loves me and delights in me and covers me. But if I do not come, do not undress, do not present myself then the blessing is stopped and I am stuck in pride for want of safety and no embarrassment … And yet it is so unfulfilling.  The more I think on this the more I see a picture of the gospel in sex. The response. The vulnerability. So much more. 
    F. What closing comments are in verses 20-23? You cannot hide sin from God and evil deeds will ensnare and kill you. “He will die for lack of discipline.”

    1. I think that is much of  my problem, Jill; your answer to E. I am extremely self concious of my body. I think that has a lot to do with ballet oddly enough. when you are a ballerina, you constantly look in the mirror to correct EVERY imperfection. A small adjustment here, and then there; you get the idea. It’s AWFUL, and I suspect has helped to lead many young girls to be anorexic. I don’t feel beautiful AT ALL, yet when I look at some “plumper” women I do see beauty! Just not in me 🙁 it’s so weird. I don’t allow mirrors in our dance studio incidentally…..

      1. Laura, that is sad about ballerinas…they are not lovely because of their physique but because of their grace in motion. I think that is great you don’t allow mirrors! (And how is that endeavor going with the new class?) 
        I know for me, a lot of the time, it comes to a choice. I do not feel beautiful or lovely. But He says I am because of Him and so it is a choice to believe Him because He does not lie and He does not look at the outward appearance but the heart. And many times when I choose to believe Him (or believe my husband that he does desire me) it takes me past ME and I then can delight in the process, either in God speaking and moving in my life or, more specifically applicable, sex. =) Praying for the nut to crack! 😉

      2. Interesting thoughts, Laura.  I didn’t know why the mirrors were so important and problematic at the same time.  Agree with Jill about the beauty of the ballerina being in the graceful movements.  I’ve seen your dance videos and you are beautiful!    I also enjoyed hearing  your counter-culture approach and that you chose not to  have mirrors in your studio.   

    2. Jill – your answer in part “E” goes right straight to the heart of so much of the picture of sex in marriage and how it mirrors our relationship with Christ.  So well said and we all can profit from thinking on your words!

  9. I decided I would either have to be vague on this week’s topic or lose my “face”–so I decided on transparency and hiding behind a gerber daisy gravatar 😉 And Renee–I noticed your “face” has gone missing as well!
    3 B. 1 Corinthians 7:1-5- 
    I hear in these words a call to selflessness, to releasing control, submission—all only possible in the presence of TRUST. Intimacy was a struggle from the night of our honeymoon to about 10 years ago. The first half of our marriage. But as we worked through hard “issues”, and I really began to trust my husband—the ability to be exposed and yet embraced became a reality. 
    C. Challenge: Proverbs 30:18-20.
    Today when I read this, and re-read Dee’s opening, I was struck too by how he speaks of a created being, and then it’s place of belonging. The eagle in the sky, the serpent on the rock, the ship belongs at sea, and the man belongs with his wife. But I got confused with the contrast of the adulteress-? I haven’t read commentaries (or comments above yet!) and I need to. All I could think is that the way of an adulteress cannot be predicted (such as the eagle in the sky) or traced—it is sneaky and subtle (like the snake on the rock), and seeps its way in. At her heart is denial “I have done no wrong”. For me, I ask—where are the areas I have let sin creep in, areas I may be in denial? Where am I not guarding my heart and mind–things I let my mind linger on, magazines, or covetous thoughts.  And with the Lord, where I am excusing sin? I missed Bible Study today because I got a speeding ticket on my way. I actually told the officer I was on my way to Bible study—I think somewhere I though he might be more “merciful” then. It took me until I got home, after justifying and ranting to my husband that he was a mean policeman, (“I have done no wrong”) to realize what a poor witness I had actually been. Where do I allow myself to go, forgetting I am His Bride. 
    4. If you are single, how do you talk to your soul so you can remain celibate?
    I’m not single, but I liked this from Tim Keller’s article “The Gospel and Sex”- “we abstain from extramarital sex in order to witness how God works in the gospel. God calls his people into an exclusive relationship, a marriage covenant, and to give him
    anything less in return is unfaithfulness.”

    1. Elizabeth and Renee….come out from hiding!   Altho I love the red daisy!

      1. I like mystery 😉

        1. I like the mystery you create!  Waiting with bated breath to see what your next gravatar will be 😉

  10. E. What command is given in verses 18-20? What comments do you have on this?     Previous to these verses, the proverb says to ‘drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well’ and then goes on to warn us not to share our springs of water in the public square etc.  It could be said something like this:  “Your husband/wife is yours alone.  Let him/her satisfy you.  He/she is like a fountain, your own personal source of enjoyment, fulfilling and blessing.  Keep him/her.  Treasure him/her.  Don’t share that source with the public.  He/she is yours and you are his/hers.  Neither of you are available to be enjoyed sexually, by anyone else.  Don’t make yourself available to others or share with another what only belongs to your spouse.”    Pretty basic instructions, really.  Reminds me of the quote by the late Paul Neuman, who was married to his wife for many, many decades….an oddity in Hollywood, it seems.  He is said to have remarked:  ‘Why would I go out and eat hamburger when I can have steak at home’.  In a meat lover’s vernacular…..I guess maybe that says it.   
    F. What closing comments are in verses 20-23?     If you are drawn in by another or you pursue another to captivate you sexually, you cannot hide this from God.  Every thought and action is exposed to Him as He knows and examines your journey.  You will be trapped in the dishonest web you’ve stepped into.  Everything will be complicated and family relationships will be at risk.  You will be bound by the deceit and sin and lose the freedom you had to love purely and with God’s favor.  your foolishness will bring you to spiritual deadness.  You can’t grow in the Lord when you entertain sin in your heart and life.  

  11. A. Hebrews 13:4          “Marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed kept pure for God will judge the adulterer and the sexually immoral.”       Honored = respect.   Marriage should be treated with respect, thought of highly rather than the subject of jokes, ridicule, avoidance or something to be feared.  One’s marriage should not be compromised, casually given up, or treated as unimportant.   And sex is for married couples.  Adultery and sexual sin will be judged by God.
    B. 1 Corinthians 7:1-5    Again the over-riding theme is RESPECT.  Respect the bond you have in marriage and keep the one flesh as a prominent value.  No adultery.  No manipulation.  No force.  No selfish withholding.  But a respect for each other’s needs.   Neither partner can claim the other’s body only for their own needs and desires. Give in to each other whether that is to engage or refrain from sexual intimacy.  Watch that you don’t disregard your spouses need and open the door for them to seek satisfaction elsewhere.

    1. Wanda – yes, yes! You said this very well. 
      Marriage should be treated with respect, thought of highly rather than the subject of jokes, ridicule, avoidance or something to be feared.
      I have been grieved for years over primetime TV’s approach to marriage. Marriage and husbands are the butt of many jokes! I honestly haven’t watched “TV” in years but I think it is one of the main contributors to marital dissatisfaction in this country!

    2.  Wanda  I enjoyed reading your thoughts on both of these scriptures. I am still working thru them.

  12. 5. Tim Keller often says Christians should be stingy with their bodies (except in marriage) and generous with their money — a reverse to the world. How are you doing?
    Not very well here for me…..at least the money part. I am  “stingy” with my body as I am married (sometimes even with my husband) and try to give money to the entities who need it (church, missions, etc.), however I am submissive to my husband in the money department and he has a control idol that is money. He knows God always provides, even says this to me often, but when the next money issue comes along he freaks out again. I’m telling you, God ALWAYS provides for us! I pray my husband learns this, but I am also so glad I am not the one in charge of the finances in our house! Such a struggle.

  13. 6. Keller sermon- What are your notes and comments?
    Three things-the glory of it, the purpose of it, and terrible power of it. 
    The Glory of it-The negative flows from the positive. The Bible says do not commit adultery but have great sex in marriage.
    Sex is not just permitted in marriage, it is commanded. Verse 19-in marriage it is commanded..let her breasts satisfy you, be captivated by her love. Whenever you get into scripture and see God’s view of sex it strips your puritanical views if you have any. As soon as you let the sexual delight go out of your marriage you run into all kinds of problems in your marriage. 
    Sex is a joy and a delight-captivated means intoxicated. If the words read from the text make you feel uncomfortable you are more under the influence of the Greek notion of the body than the Biblical. If you are more pure than God somehow something is wrong. You don’t have a biblical control on your heart, you are being controlled by something else. 
    V18: Fountain means your sexual desire. the word blessing means satisfaction-a spiritual deep fulfillment. Sex is an appetizer, a teaser, a sign pointing to something very profound-a foretaste of our future union with Christ when we see Him face to face. Romans 7: 1-6. Just as a woman puts a man in her arms and the fruit of that union is born from that union so as a Christian you put yourself in Jesus arms and good things come out into the world through you. Sex is like union with Christ. Great sex is a parable of the Gospel. The ecstasy and joy of sex is a foretaste of the complete ecstasy and joy of union with Christ. In the future we will see him face to face and there will come an experience that angels long to look into. A closer, a complete openness, absolute safety yet total vulnerability. Before God through Jesus Christ for the first time in our lives we will be naked and so delighted in that we will be unashamed. We will be seen. The foundations of our lives will be laid bare. We will be seen by someone who we utterly respect. Naked and unashamed. HE will look at us through Jesus and say I love you. We don’t know what this is like now, but we will in the future. We will be absolutely known, yet know the one who loves you. 
    The purpose of sex: It is a covenant between two people. God invented sex as a way for one person to say to another I belong completely and exclusively and permanently to you. Since sex is an analogy of the human soul clinging to God as a result of uniting with Him by faith, into us comes his life, love, grace and power. The physical union becomes a visual aid for a complete union-physical, emotional, spiritual, social. 
    The Power of sex: V21 ‘path’. Sex creates trenches in your heart, a covenant cement and once you use it a certain way it will create trenches in your heart where the water flows through. It will ensnare you unless you use it the way God designed it. Is there any hope? When the father says, “WHY” be captivated by an adulteress..this question gives us a lot of hope. You don’t have to be captivated. Titus 2: The Grace of God teaches us to say no to ungodliness..the knowledge that you are accepted through Jesus because he died for you because of his performance, not yours..you are loved utterly. The Grace of God teaches us to say no.
    How do you deal with temptation? God will get me, it is against my principles, etc.. if you say those things you won’t get out of your trench. You have to say, Before the Lord God I am naked and delighted in and in that I am unashamed. Until you know the love of Christ in the Gospel-then to be naked before anyone else will become a disgusting or consuming thing. You are either going to be a prude or a pagan when it comes to sex. Either you will be disgusted being naked before someone because you never felt acceptable before God or consumed by someone because you never understood the grace of God. 

  14. 3. Summarize and comment on how the following passages apply to you.
    A. Hebrews 13:4
    Marriage is to be honored by all, and purity kept in the husband-wife sexual relationship. God will judge those who commit sexual sin.
    This applies to me in that if I do not honor my husband, then I am not honoring marriage. It’s not just the idea of marriage that is to be valued, it’s the two people in it. Love, honor, respect, and value the person you are married to. Sexual purity means not only to be physically faithful to my husband, but also to guard where my thoughts travel…fantasizing, daydreaming…even the movies or TV shows I watch can invite the wrong kind of thoughts.
    B. 1 Corinthians 7:1-5
    Both the husband and the wife are to fulfill their marital duty to each other. I assume marital duty means sexual relations. The reason is that their bodies belong to each other, so there is to be an unselfish giving of our bodies to one another. Well, as others have stated, this can be very hard. I have my own reasons why this is hard. If my husband has been verbally abusive to me, calling me names and using foul language, the last thing I want to do is be with him physically. I just can’t put that all aside. Even if he says he is sorry, I can’t forget what was said. That all seems to come right into the marriage bed. What also bothers me about this passage is that Paul uses such a sterile term, “marital duty”. That doesn’t sound anything like making love.
    C. Challenge: Proverbs 30:18-20
    Verses 18-19 describe things of beauty and wonder; things that are amazing and beyond human understanding…the way of an eagle in the sky. The marvel is how this huge bird just glides and sails on the air currents. The way of a snake on a rock. How it bends its body like that and moves so smoothly on its belly on a rough hard rock; its movements look effortless. I certainly can’t crawl flat on my belly like that; it wouldn’t be a pretty picture. A ship, sailing proud on the waves of the sea is beautiful to behold, and the way a man falls in love with a maiden…mystery, wooing, the drawing of two different people together. All of these things have beauty and dignity.
    There is no beauty or dignity in the picture of an adulteress wiping her mouth after eating her fill. I have a feeling that “She eats and wipes her mouth” is not talking about eating a meal of food but rather after seducing and getting a man into her bed. Then she claims “I have done nothing wrong.” There is no beauty in this kind of love-making; in reality it is all about satisfying one’s lust and selfish desires and it is ugly and deceitful.
    Last summer I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I get the picture of the one character, Lucy, who became a vampire and her friends were horrified when they saw her and what she had become. She tried to seduce her fiancé but he was repulsed by her, by the evil creature she had become.

    1. Susan, this hit me.  “It’s not just the idea of marriage that is to be valued; it’s the two people in it.”   I can see this applying to me because I am very glad to have been married to my husband for 34 years.  Yes, there have been some rough waters but we’ve never thought of not being together.  And I have no question but that we will be until we die.  BUT there are times, many more I would like to admit, when we haven’t respected each other or treated each other with respect.  THAT is the essence of marriage; not just the years that we’ve been together.    Also, now that I read your answer for Proverbs 30, I can see that once again, I took a verse too literally.  I was thinking of the woman as engaging in adulterous sex and then going on her merry way, like literally feasting: eat, drink and be merry and saying that she had done nothing wrong previously.  No conscience.  While that is probably part of it, I see now that the act of adultery itself, was the meal and she wiped her mouth clean of any consequences.  Or so she said.  So glad I can get the insights of everyone here.

      1. Wanda, you mentioned respect also in your take on these verses; respect for each other’s needs. The Proverbs description of the adulterous woman also reminded me of one of the psalms we studied where there was a verse about “devouring” people.

    2. Susan I understand your reasons for 1 Corinthians 7:1-5. I struggle too. I so want to follow the Lords instructions yet as you shared it is difficult to just put everything aside and go there, and then the guilt I carry for not.  I never felt I could keep up with the demand. Who can compete with pornography? Was I the cause of that?   The adulterer wipes their mouth after eating their fill and claim they have done nothing wrong. Am I stating I have done nothing wrong not following instruction despite a circumstance?  I sometimes wonder would it be different if my circumstance was different? Not that I am looking for that. Sorry for my venting. More prayer.

      1. Liz, I’m so sorry. Pornography is devastating to a marriage. Is there a pastor or counselor that you trust that you can talk to? Praying for you.

        1. Susan I have gone to counseling. My insurance does not cover it and it gets very costly. An expense I would be willing to pay yet I was not really feeling I was getting anywhere. Maybe that was because of me not sure? I may go back. I have been to Leslie Vernicks site and she has had some materials I actually have been searching for and not finding. Prayer is powerful! I just need truth. Truth on my part and my accountability and obedience , and truth of the direction I should take. Proverbs 3:5,6 is a life verse. 

      2. Liz….so sorry….much prayer for you.

  15. 3. Summarize and comment on how the following passages apply to you.
    A. Hebrews 13:4:  Obviously, this is a command to stay away from sin in the marriage bed (or rather outside the marriage bed, probably both?). I find it interesting the adulterer and sexually immoral immoral are separated in this passage. It makes me think of emotional affairs, and when Jesus referred to the lusting after someone in our hearts is adultery. Many brush off these “lighter” sins by saying “nothing happened, I didn’t DO anything” but it is still grievous sin that does not honor marriage or keep the marriage bed pure. 
    I cannot not help but think that God wanted to protect this image of marriage and the marriage bed for the sake of His object lesson. If Adam and Eve had never fallen sex would have been easy. Love would have been easy. But even when He created their union He worked in how to speak to us powerfully on the other side of the garden. How we have devalued and tarnished His picture of intimacy and love. The part that sticks out to me in this verse is “honored BY ALL”. I think this means that we honor our own marriage but also everyone else’s marriage (either current earthly, future earthy, or for those who are called to singleness their marriage to Christ only on this earth). It also should be honored as an entity. All these TV shows and others who disrespect marriage … I won’t go on but it is so very sad. 
    B. 1 Corinthians 7:1-5: Ok. This is my second attempt to write clearly what I am thinking. Paul wrote that it is good to be single but not good to burn. So he offers that each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. Then he addresses that each person loses a part of the rights to his/her body. While I have always taken this as sort of “possessive” and somewhat harsh, in context it is a reminder that a promise in marriage was to “relieve the burning with passion.” Then Paul reminds again to be careful to not stay away from each other too long because you will, again, burn and be susceptible to temptation. The amplified version says “give to his wife his rights”… The “give” was enlightening. When people marry they are giving a promise (in this context) to help each other by giving each other their conjugal rights (amplified Bible) so then to refuse that is to go back on a promise and to put our loved one in the way of temptation??? This definitely takes the harshness out of the passage for me. I am no theologian, though, so correct me if I am wrong! These thoughts just hit me this morning as I took a cue from Susan to read all the translations. 
    C. Challenge: Proverbs 30:18-20: I think Susan said this very well. There is beauty in an eagle, snake (sorry Elizabeth and Laura!), a ship, and a man with a maiden. They belong together. There is not beauty in an adulteress. 

    1. Jill – I love how you amplified “honored by all” – marriage, that is.  Our own marraiges as well as others – as well as singles married to Christ, etc.  What that kind of honor might look like has intrigued me and this verse will be one of this week’s take aways for me.  I tucked away your thoughts – helpful. 

    2. . But even when He created their union He worked in how to speak to us powerfully on the other side of the garden.      

      So well said, Jill.   It always amazes me to see the whole of the Bible and how God always had a plan.   The union of Adam and Eve.  The oneness of Christ and His bride.  The imagery was always there.  

  16. My husband recently gave a sermon entitled:  Two Women Calling” based on Proverbs 1: 20-33 and chapter 9: 13-18.  These two passages talk about the way wisdom calls and the way Folly calls to a person.  They also give the consequences for listening to each “Woman who is Calling Out.”  I could not help but think of this when I read Proverbs 5: 7,8.  I think, whether it be in marriage or in life, in general, many of us have failed to understand and apply the wisdom of listening for Godly instruction, but have mastered the ability to follow Folly’s invitation and promises.  So often we look to short term gain (follow this diet and you will lose 20 pounds in 14 days, buy this car you need now, even though you still have a car that is functioning well, upgrade today to the newest phone, etc…) without thinking through the long-term ramifications.  
    Marriage is a long-term commitment and should not be entered into lightly.  Lots of issues should be discussed prior to marriage.  Several  that are usually left until too late, according to my husband, involve financial decisions, children, and career moves.  I am not sure he has ever dealt with the issue of the marriage bed apart from fidelity to your spouse, but we have had to deal with it for years personally as we have faced health challenges, careers that took too much energy, and just dealing with kids and guests in the house.  How precious when you can discuss openly and honestly with your spouse what you are feeling, what works and what doesn’t, etc.  In this way, deprivation is minimized.

    1. Sherryl,  Wise words indeed.  “The wisdom of listening for Godly instruction”……taking the long view.  Thanks for the timely reminder.  I needed that tonight.   🙂

    2. Sherryl, I agree with Jackie. Wisdom indeed! It is so important to look at the long term ramifications of decisions before we make them and look to Him for mercy when we make foolish decisions.  So many conversations do need to happen before getting married. For someone like me who was in a different place when I got married-not even seeing my idol issues, I can attest He is faithful to complete the work He has started in me. He is a beautiful tender of gardens. :)))) He has used my marriage to drive me into the Word, expose my daily bend toward idolatry and bring me to a higher place with Him.  Helping me to grow in confident humility-put it that way..The Gospel is melting my foolish heart but I need so much more melting. :)))  I think reading Idol Lies and doing the Bible study in the back should be a pre-marital counseling requirement! 

      1. Rebecca – love your Idol Lies/pre-marital counseling connect – let’s start a movement!   🙂 

  17. D. What reasons are given for keeping the river in the boundaries in verses 9-17? Find at least six. 1. You will lose your honor to others 2. You will lose your dignity to those who are cruel 3. Strangers will take advantage of you. 4. Your hard work will not matter 5. Your life will be miserable at the end 6. It will do nothing but get you in trouble.
    E. What command is given in verses 18-20? What comments do you have on this? – To enjoy your wife from your youth and to let her breasts and love satisfy and intoxicate you for your whole life. This is encouraging to me but in the same way sad. There are so many marriages now where spouses just don’t care to work hard at the relationship and let the enemy in to their hearts. I think this is why so many marriages end in divorce. It takes hard work to make a relationship work and especially with someone you are with all the time. Of course there will be dry times, but the fire needs to be rekindled over and over to make it interesting. People are just to tired these days to try and the court system makes it too easy to end a marriage.
    F. What closing comments are in verses 20-23? – He is posing the question again why do you need to wander. The Lord will see everything you do on the outside of the marriage. He warns about the sins of our lives keeping a hold on us.

  18. C. Challenge: Proverbs 30:18-20.     I read that Agur was probably a wise man like Ethan and Heman which doesn’t tell me much but one thing I do know is that he liked to make lists!  
    I looked at the whole chapter.  Here’s what stands out:
    vs. 3,4  attributes and works of the Holy One.…who has gone up to heaven and then came down.  Came down……this sounds like the Incarnation to me.  And then the verse says, ‘What’s His Name?”  “What is the name of His Son?”   The Son of the Holy One.  A Messianic reference?
    There are several lists of ‘4 things’.   To me, the pattern of these lists could be described as ‘3 things’ and then a ‘zinger’ of a 4th thing.  The punch line comes last.  What was interesting to me is that the list in 15,16 is somewhat an antithesis of the list in 18,19.    Not a total antithesis but there is somewhat of an opposite correlation.
    vs. 15,16:  Three things that are never satisfied:  1) the grave.  2) the barren womb. 3) the land-thirsty for water.
    and the thing that never says ‘enough.’   the ‘zinger’  4) FIRE  
    vs. 18,19:  Three things too amazing:  1) the way of an eagle in the sky. 2) the way of a snake on a rock. 3) the way of a ship on the high seas.
    and the thing that is too amazing or wonderful to understand: the ‘zinger’ 4) the way of a man with a maiden.
    Now, maybe I’m way off base…..but here’s what I was thinking of in an opposite correlation:  
    the grave robbing it’s victims of life, entombing them in death contrasted to the of a soaring, majestic eagle: a very symbol of life and freedom
    okay…..I don’t have a plausible correlation for the barren womb and the snake….except the absence of life and the presence of life.
    the dry and thirsty land, crying out for water and a ship on the high seas at the mercy of the over abundance of water.
    and most significantly.…..the way of a man with a maiden…in pure, unashamed, faithful married sex vs. the burning FIRE of sex that is running amuck outside the boundaries of faithful marriage.
    Then Agur goes on to describe an adultress who mocks God, mocks the beauty of faithful, pure love of a married man and woman and mocks those in the home that she has just taken down in chaos, distrust, hurt and anger and says,  “I have done nothing wrong”….as she casually wipes her mouth and presumably goes on her merry way.  This certainly pertains to a male adulterer as well.  
    And lastly, I want to comment on the last list of 4 things:  
    These are 3 things that make the earth tremble:  1) a servant who becomes King (let’s hear it for the underdog!)
    2) a fool who is full of food.  3) an unloved woman who is married.   This made me wonder if it means, as my note suggested, one wife of several in a polygamous marriage, who is neglected and unloved.  I truly do ‘not get’ that the culture of Bible times allowed for many wives and concubines and then taught about marital faithfulness.  Do not understand this….but that’s another topic.   Or might it mean that the earth trembles in joy when an unloved woman falls in love and is married?  I don’t know.  Just a thought. 
    And then comes the ‘zinger’:  4).  a maidservant who displaces her mistress.   Again, there was a culture of the time that accepted more than one wife BUT today, we would call this ‘Adultery’.  And that makes the earth tremble……It shakes marriage, families, and friends with repercussions that are broad and wide and long lasting.

  19. Summarize and comment: Hebrews 13:4
    Honor your marriage and its vows and be pure; for God will surely punish all those who are immoral or commit adultery.
    This applies to my giving honor to my husband as I honor God, giving him respect and loving selflessly. This command is very clear that God designed sexual intimacy for marriage and punishment will be given to those who do not follow his clear command. Physical and emotional judgment is often soon reaped from disease and emotional pain when one disobeys God’s plan.
    I Corinthians 7: 1-5
    Paul thinks it is good not to marry, but usually it is best to be married, each man having his own wife and vice versa, because otherwise you might fall back into sin.
    I am having to get used to a new computer that is very sensitive and i lose what i type rather easily… just lost a paragraph. Simply I had just said that my sexuality teaching was minimal as i am a product of the 50’s and 60’s. Also I never heard any good pastoral advice about sex except to avoid premarital sex.(Even when I married-after I had conceived). So much harm I was to see with my patients in my  nursing career.
    Tim Keller’s sermon is beautiful and I wish I had that information before I married! Those 3 points are the best: The glory of sex, The purpose and the terrible power.
    No, sexuality cannot be escaped. The modern world is obsessed with it and has been since I became a young adult-50 years ago!
    His first point is that sex is a joy, a delight in marriage.

  20. 5. Tim Keller often says Christians should be stingy with their bodies (except in marriage) and generous with their money — a reverse to the world. How are you doing?
    The first part of this almost makes me laugh….because it is not hard to be ‘stingy’ when you have a pretty low regard for your physical appearance.  The last decade has been pretty hard on my self esteem, with losing a breast to cancer and then all the issues I have with my legs, knees and now my feet.  The knee I had replaced grinds and pops and crunches so loud you can hear it across the room.  Not exaggerating!  And then there’s the weight gain, which has been an issue for a long time, but since my knee replacement, it’s gotten even worse.  On top of that, every time I go to the clinic, they list my height as shorter than the time before!  Honestly, according to their records, I’m an inch and a half shorter than I was a year ago.  Which obviously, makes the weight gain even worse.  UGH!  And then there’s the allergies that I’m trying to get control of, but which have symptoms that make me even less attractive.  And I’m thinking…..’no problem’ keeping this body to myself!  Of course, I’m sorta playing the devil’s advocate here.  It’s all true but the lesson I need to be mindful of, is to accept myself as my husband does.  He still compliments me and treats me as he did when he first loved me.  That is humbling. And so, I keep working on it.  Giving myself to him has changed emotionally for me since my mastectomy especially, but in spite of it all, we are doing well.  I am very grateful for his regard for me.  
    I really love being generous with money and resources.  I think it’s wrought in my very being, but it’s also something I’ve learned through the generosity of others.  When we were young parents of three under 3 1/2, with my husband working full time and going to school full time and myself at home, caring for the kids; one with demanding physical needs….we almost never had enough money to meet our monthly bills.  And yet, God provided amazingly through the generosity of others.  I kept a file marked ‘blessings’ and I still pull it out and am amazed by God’s hand.  I always wanted to pay it forward and have tried to do that in many and various ways.  I personally make very little, with just a very part time job for the past 6 years since I resigned from my much more stressful part time job.  I never pursued a career in teaching though I got my teaching degree, because of the desire to be with my kids full time when they were little and with my daughter’s health, there was no way, I would have worked full time or at a professional job.  I have been ‘over qualified’ for every job I’ve had but I’m okay with that.  Just to be able to contribute some to our income, to give to others and to support my husband, who has always worked 2-3 jobs (he does seem to thrive this way….I can’t really explain it).  I also think I am compelled to give to others who are going through the same kinds of things that I have at times.  Ex:  my friend, whose daughter also has CF and is hospitalized for an extensive time right now, just had her birthday yesterday.  We only know each other through common experience with CF and have never exchanged gifts, but I’ve come to really admire how hard she works and how hard she tries to do the right thing for her kids (as a single mom with a lot of ‘stuff’ to rise above).  I felt compelled to get a fairly significant gift card from a store where she can buy groceries or spend it on something just for herself during this hard time.  I’ve been there.  I’ve stayed for days and weeks in the hospital with a very sick daughter and know how encouraging boosts like this can be.  A little motto I heard once was something like, ‘When you give, don’t remember it and when you receive, never forget it.’  

    1. Wanda – over the top awesome answer – both parts! – to question 5!  You made me smile, chuckle, get VERY teary….and think deeply about my own life’s patterns…..and reflect about those who have helped me so much in so very many ways all of my life!  I love your heart.  AND your sense of humor too! 

      1. We both think Wanda is awesome:))

        1. Susan – 🙂

    2. Wanda, this is a beautiful post. Those physical issues you write about are very real and very hard to cope with; the mastectomy and how it changes your body image, and knees that give you problems and legs and feet that make it hard, I’m sure, to get exercise. (Have you ever considered swimming? I have a friend who has trouble walking but she can do the swimming as no stress on her joints) And the grace your husband gives to you, “He still compliments and treats me as he did when he first loved me…”yes, he finds you beautiful. And then your “blessings file” – what a neat idea! And you are being a blessing to that single mom with a daughter who has CF; remembering to reach out to others who are hurting even though you have your own problems. I love your closing motto, too.

    3. Thank you for this post, Wanda.   It helps to lighten up and laugh a little 🙂    Also, encouraging, challenging words about generosity.   

    4. I love the blessing file! 
      And I think you are awesome, too! =)

    5. Wanda, It seems as though God is using your post! So many of us can relate and it is refreshing to hear a mature, godly woman like you has the same struggles most of us have.  🙂

    6. Wanda….you are do giving and loving.   I love that last sentence of yours.

  21. Susan…I do have a membership to an ‘over 50’ warm water pool.  (It’s actually on the campus of a retirement/assisted living/nursing home complex!)  I do like swimming there a lot….and feel a lot less self conscious since many times I am on the ‘younger/fitter’ end of the spectrum.  Ha!  It helps my back the most.  It’s true that joints feel great in water, so great that I have to be careful or I overdo it and pay for it later! But, you are SO right.  I do need to do this regularly.  Not to mention paying for it and not using it enough makes me feel so guilty! 

    1. That sounds like a great place to swim, Wanda! Yes – not to worry about being self-conscious as you are “younger/fitter”:))

  22. I have been following this study silently and this is hard because my husband has stopped having sex with me over 10 years ago. I have no idea why. He is very affectionate and romantic, but he has rebuffed all of my advances. He won’t talk about it or see a doctor or counselor.  I feel very deprived, alone and cheated.

    1. Echoing Dee’s prayer for you, Vi…I’m sorry for the pain you are experiencing in your marriage.

    2. Vi so thankful you ae here. Such a difficult topic for many. I think the loneliness  gets magnified as we do not discuss this with anyone in general. My prayers are with you as well. Lord thank you for Vi. Bless her today with more of You and let her know she is not alone. 

    3. Vi – I agree 100% with Dee’s suspicions that this has nothing to do with you, but rather something entirely inside your husband.  But knowing that with your head and getting it to your heart is a very tough thing – I had to come to that place with a different issue (anger) with my own husband.  I knew it in my head all along….but my heart has only recently begun to come on board!  Praying along with others here for your peace in the storm……for wisdom for your words…..healing in your heart. 

    4. Vi, such a difficult circumstance. I am adding my amen to prayers for healing in your marriage and for answers to come. 

    5. Vi….your courage to speak here, impresses me.  I also will pray for you.  I hope you feel welcome to join in any time.  This is a place of encouragement and grace.

    6. Vi–thankful you shared here, praying for you too

    7. Vi,  I’m sure that you represent many silent bloggers and am so grateful that you had the courage to speak up.  I hope that you feel as welcome and encouraged here as I have been.    Lord, we often need you to speak peace to the storm.  

    8. Sweet Vi-I have read your posts and am praying for a softening of your husband’s heart..I hate that you, my sister, are hurting! Thanks for being so transparent. 

  23. Yes, Wanda, your posting has touched my heart as well. Real beauty comes from the spiritual joy and yet each of us always seems to see our deficiencies. Intimacy is a gift for our marriage and yet it takes on a new look as we age and I, too, am too aware of my bodily changes even though I was never a beauty queen!
    God’s provisions are new every morning, and He does prompt us to be generous and give to others as we have been blessed.
    Challenge question: Proverbs 30:18-20
    There are 3 things that amaze me: the eagle in the sky, the snake on the rock, the ship on the sea and the way of a man with a maiden… This is the way of an adulteress, she eats and wipes her mouth and says, I’ve done nothing wrong.
    This is  so ugly, so selfish and results in such devastation to the marriage she has destroyed. As I have had to face this continually as my daughter struggled when her ex moved in his stripper gf, and that person still has no shame. It is a forever sin and strips the family of the honor which should have been there. All affected suffer.

    1. Shirley, such a great point about how all suffer. It is the forever, overflowing sin of the adulteress and adulterer. Such a great picture of the flooding of the lake going over it’s boundaries. 

  24. This is wonderful because God loves us and knows  what we need and i delight in being a woman loved by God and my husband and to rest in the comfort and safety of my relationships firstly wit God and with my husband of 30 years, and our children grand children and great grandchildren.  God is indeed love. Kathleen Hope

    1. Welcome, Kathleen!  Thanks for sharing your joy and gratitude!

    2. Welcome Kathleen, beautiful testimony

    3. Hi Kathleen, Love this..So glad you are with us!

  25. 5. Tim Keller often says Christians should be stingy with their bodies (except in marriage) and generous with their money — a reverse to the world. How are you doing? Being stingy with my body in the world is not a problem…being un stingy in marriage is a work in progress. I heard a pastor say something to the effect of using a decrease in sexual desire as a litmus for how the entire relationship is going. My conviction is that it can’t stop there. If the litmus test indicates a problem then it needs to become a priority to address and reconcile before it becomes a habit or a new normal. Cuz then you have the problem of decreased intimacy and the problem that caused the decreased intimacy. 
    Money is also a work in progress. I would like to say I give freely and trust but truthfully I give as the budget allows and then stop. I need to listen for his leading and trust. I also find pride in my heart when giving to strangers…I wonder, what are you going to use that money for? Is it worth me giving it to you or better used somewhere else? Essentially instead of trusting God that He has purpose for my actions (and His money), I would like to be the judge of whether the money will be used wisely ….hmmmm ….convicting. 

  26. Wanda, beautifully put.  Generosity should be a part of all of us.  So glad you continue to persist in giving.  It is a true model of what Christ did for us.  I am reminded that historically those closest to “not having enough” give at a higher percentage than those who have never struggled.  Likewise, those who remember clearly and daily why Christ is needed in our lives are able to share His love more freely.  You continue to remind us all of the daily little and big things He does for us.  Thank you.

  27. 6.    Oh my!!  WHAT a powerful teaching by Tim Keller on this section of Proverbs…..or I guess I should say, on the 7th commandment.  I took SO many notes – and I’m terrible at organizing notes into something reasonable!  Rather than sharing all of my notes, I’ll just share a few take aways – though there were so MANY…….
    1.  I love the “taking back the glory” introduction to this topic.  How Keller shared his hearts’ desire that one day his church would be an example – that  the world would be  able to look through the windows and SEE the glory of marriage. To see, unapologetically,  the role of sex in marriage.  How incredibly POSITIVE and glorious it is. That it is a beautiful picture of the gospel. 
    2.  A somewhat humorous – though possibly valid – follow up thought on marital sex being a picture of the gospel :  THAT might be the gospel that my husband could read!!  Truly, I don’t mean to be at all disrespectful here.  Keller just somehow got my thoughts going in that direction, and it’s something I’ll be pondering.  What I AM pondering is asking my husband to listen to this message.  He is currently in a place of wanting to work on our marriage in a fresh way……this could be very encouraging!!
    3.  Numbers 6:24-26 has long been one of my favorite Scriptural examples of a “blessing”.  I loved the way Keller mentioned this passage when speaking of the BLESSING of marriage and sex within marriage.  That God’s face is turned toward you when He is blessing you in this way – and that, in the marital bed, there is that kind of  God’s-face-upon-you kind of blessing!  That spoke deeply to my heart.
    4.  Great sex is a parable of the gospel and a foretaste of the ecstasy of the total union with Christ that we will one day experience.  Face to face. 
    5.  The purpose of of sex:  a way on earth to say what FAITH says!  Exclusive, permanent and complete trust. 
    6.  Oh how I could relate when Keller compared the desire for illicit sex with the desire for fatty foods!  Ugh.  I am SO there with the fatty foods!  I do eat a MOSTLY clean diet.  But that craving for the bad stuff cannot be denied – it’s right there within me!!!  BUT THE SAME NATURE THAT CRAVES THE FATTY FOODS WILL BE VIOLATED IF I GIVE IN TO THE FATTY FOODS.  And so it is with illicit sex.  I was built for sex in total safety and commitment.  Anything short of that destroys me.
    7.  The visual of the wagon ruts to explain the word “paths” in v. 21 of Proverbs 5.  The idea that sex creates trenches in your heart – for good or evil.  Those trenches will either be teaching us to trust or wrecking out ability to trust.  Freedom or bondage.  Nothing in the middle.  The wagon wheels, over time, are going to go where the path leads.  Where the trenches have been made. 
    8.  Titus 2 .  The grace of God teaches us to say no.  Grace of God.  A beautiful and Life Giving phrase!  But we learn to say no because we learn how LOVED we are by God.  How very valued we are.  How totally accepted we are in Christ.  That before God we can be naked and unashamed.  Unashamed.  And so the marital bed may be a lovely picture of that nakedness with no shame.  Building trust and giving us freedom to fly!

    1. Jackie, your notes helped me to get a deeper understanding especially of the trenches in the heart built by sex, “the idea that sex creates trenches in your heart – for good or evil.” I never thought of sexual sin, and even of my past sexual sin, in this way. And the fact that some of those trenches are still there – still imprinted, in a way…there is a need for further healing from the past. What can God do with those ruts, I wonder?

      1. Praying for that Susan. 

    2. Jackie, Your notes are wonderful and so reflect the message of Tim Keller’s wonderful sermon!
      I cannot add anything and just applause. I had the same thought : to share the sermon with my husband. We came from a rather diverse and
      somewhat opposite background with the topic of sexual intimacy. The picture that reflects our union with Christ is a jewel.

  28. 7.  My take away from this week:  this has been exhausting and exhilarating!  I’ve shared perhaps too much about how my marriage has been in a very hard place for years.  Currently in a little hopeful place.  These Scriptures, the Keller teaching….and perhaps most of all, everyone’s reflections on the Scriptures and the teaching…..have left me with a sense of HOPE.  HOPE is my take away!  May God be praised. 

    1. Amen Jackie!!!! :))) I have grown so fond of you and am so so glad you are with us.

  29. 7. What is your take-a-way and why?
    This was a hard week but so good. Some upsetting things have been exposed I am unable to mention but God is bringing healing and honestly my favorite posts of Dees are the ones that cause an internal struggle and this one has. I hate to say this but I am learning that pain is a friend for it tells me He is coming to my rescue. Pain alerts me to listen and encourages me that He is here and the stirring in my heart is Him. He is coming to make me beautiful-He will finish the work He has started in me and He is my comforter in the pruning. “Over the mountain, Over the sea, here you come running, my lover to me….do not hide me from your presence, pull me from these shadows..I need you..Beauty wrap your arms around me, sing your song of kindness, I need you.”…And Psalm 18…And I have stones of remembrance of how He has come. 

    1. Rebecca, I like your “take” on pain; that you welcome it and that it even encourages you because it alerts you that He is stirring in your heart and coming to make you beautiful…I see that in you always.

      1. Susan, I see His beauty in you overflowing.

    2. Beautiful take-away Rebecca, encourages me

    3. Rebecca, Your takeaway is precious and I love your way with words and the quote you gave, also.
      Yes, the hardness of the topic and the pain we must deal with are  all to our good.To work through the difficulties-
      even the trenches(what an analogy this is).

  30. 6. What are your notes and comments?
    Really good sermon – had time this week to listen twice. Keller does a great job debunking the myth of Christians and the Bible teaching that sex is bad. He said that in the 1950’s, Puritan writings about sex were unable to be published because they were considered too racy. I guess I always thought that the Puritans were prudish!
    The Glory of Sex:
    Sex is not just permitted, it is commanded. The translation, “May her breasts satisfy you” is better translated as “Let her…Be thou captivated…”
    Derek Kidner quote, “When marriage is chiefly a business arrangement, not only is God’s gift of sex misunderstood, but human passion will seek other outlets.”
    Sex is a joy, a delight. If you are offended or uncomfortable with what the Bible says about sex, then you are more under the Greek notion (Plato) of the body as being bad than under what the Bible teaches. Are you more pure than God?
    Sex is a blessing. It is a sign pointing to something profound. Great sex is a parable of the gospel. The ecstasy and joy of sex is supposed to be a foretaste of the complete ecstasy and joy of total union with Christ.
    We will one day see Jesus face-to-face. At that moment, there will be a closure, and yet a complete open-ness and a feeling of absolute safety, yet total vulnerability. We will have an experience before God, through Jesus Christ, that we’ve wanted all of our lives. We will be naked, yet so delighted in, that we’ll be unashamed. Naked = being seen; absolutely known and to know the One who loves you.
    “Therefore, we must never use sex without regard for its heavenly analogy. The Lord looks at you and delights in you; in Christ you’re accepted. That is the reality of which great sex is a shadow.”
    The purpose of sex:
    Sex only works between one man and one woman in a permanent, exclusive covenant called marriage. Sex, on earth, is a way to say to the other person exactly what faith means when we say something to God. It is saying, “I belong exclusively to you.” It is a unitive act. If you have had sex outside of this covenant, do you remember how strange it felt? Sex is meant to soften your heart, to help you to trust. Misusing sex does just the opposite.
    The Power of Sex:
    Interesting explanation of verse 21, the “paths” of a man are “wagon marks” – deep ruts made by a wagon going over and over the same path. Sex creates trenches in your heart and the waters of your emotions will be forced to flow down them. When the writer asks, “Why be captivated by an adulteress?” This can give us hope – you don’t have to be captivated. Titus 2:11 says that the grace of God has appeared to all and it teaches us to say no. (I really like this verse. Keller explained it in a way that reminds me to preach the gospel to myself to break the power of sin)
    His ending was a powerful statement: “Unless you have learned to be naked and unashamed before God; unless you’ve come to know the grace of God, to be accepted, you’ll either be a prude or a pagan; either disgusted by the idea of being naked before someone because you never felt accepted before God, or you’ll be consumed by the idea of it.”

    1. great notes Susan

  31. 7. What is your take-away and why?
    Whew…I think this is the first time in a long time that I’ve reached the end of the study to the take-away part! Initially I had wanted not to participate much this week but I’m glad I kept with it. I have a lot to think about, actually. After listening to Keller’s sermon and hearing about the glorious picture that human, earthly sex is supposed to represent (our ultimate closure, union with Jesus…being naked, seen, vulnerable, yet loved) I am wondering how far I’ve gone in the direction of spoiling or marring the picture? What about my past sin, and how does this work when I am married to an unbeliever? When we are not spiritually one and my husband has no interest in the Lord, how can my sexual relationship with my husband ever be a true picture of this? How can one person experience this while the other person is not…in other words, how can our intimacy ever be on that level? Not to mention that my own attitude about sex has been negative…I honestly feel most of the time as if I could live without it for the rest of my life. When there are other problems in our marriage, like poor communication and disrespect and an inability to share my deepest feelings, it affects my desire for sexual intimacy. I guess I feel kind of “fallen” in this area, and I wonder if there is any hope for me or for my husband for full restoration.

    1. Susan-very good questions coming from an honest heart. I have found even when married to a believer the same kind of disconnect can happen when one or both are in the arms of their idols. I am wondering too. I know God can change the stony hearts of Kings who don’t know Him as well as move in the hearts of those who do.  How do we respond if our husbands whether believers or not refuse to respond to God? Especially if they hurt us and it is an ongoing thing. 

    2. Susan your words were so right on to things I was coming away with this week! And things Rebecca and Jackie shared on the take away as well. I have so much experience thru difficult circumstance with the Lord to know He is faithful and He loves us as there is GREAT HOPE! I am encouraged as this week. Omes to an end even though it has been painful in many ways. I know much growth in my life has come thru pain.. I cannot see the future but have faith that if we keep our eyes on Him with hungry hearts and listen and obey what He shows us He has  our best interest at heart. I need to put aside my expectation of what that will be and be ready for what He will have for me. I know that is far better than anything I would ever expect for myself.  I cannot change other people I can only allow the Lord to change me. I am willing. I can pray. Praising Him this morning as I begin a new week of expectancy of what the Lord has in store.  That is the grace of God for sure. thanks to all who have offered up a prayer. I pray the Lord Bless you back as you have blessed me. 

  32. Yes, we ponder when there is disunity on any level.
    My idol of control, thank goodness I have at least recognized it, wants to jump in, and work on fixing, but this is only possible through God’s grace.
    I will be grateful for the daily blessings, as Wanda pointed out. When we are deficient in any way, God knows our needs and supplies.
    We will draw close to God, know that He hears our hearts and is at work in our lives. Yes, there is hope.

    1. Amen Shirley

  33. Welcome Vi… and Kathleen and thank you for being brave enough to come one.  
    This has been quite a week of discussion! 
    Susan…I especially appreciate your situation …so sorry hon.

    Like I said before my husband….not a spiritual leader in our home at all…nut may have his own private feelings for God.
    He is also impotent from diabetes. ..but still has desire….but nothing helps….very frustrating for us.   It’s almost a relief for me anyway tho…
    It’s been quite a week of sharing and I’m praying for you that need prayer in this  situation.   Love you all.

  34. I really like the presentation and pray you should keep it up.