Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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The Purpose for Intimacy in Marriage

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss invites you to experience the Easter season in a fresh way.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Over the past several years I've tried to focus on Christ and His cross, His passion, in a more concentrated way during the 40-day period leading up to Easter.

During the Lenten season last year, I read through a classic devotional book by J. Oswald Sanders called The Incomparable Christ. As the Lord worked in my own heart through those weeks, I started saying, "This is a book, this is a study we need to share with our listeners. I want them to experience what I experienced as I walked through the book the first time myself."

As we prepare for the radio series, The Incomparable Christ that begins on March 9 and continues just beyond Easter, you'll get even more out of those messages if you follow along in the special Revive Our Hearts 10th anniversary edition of Oswald Sanders book by the same title, The Incomparable Christ. 

We'll send that book to you right away as our way of saying "thank you" for your donation to help support the ministry this month.

Leslie: Just ask for The Incomparable Christ when you donate any amount when you call 1-800-569-5959, or donate at ReviveOurHearts.com.

It’s Wednesday, February 23, and you're listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Today we’re going to discover how physical intimacy in marriage can bring God glory. If you have young children at home, you might want to get them busy doing something else for the next few minutes. Then listen to today’s conversation about the physical relationship that a husband and wife share.

Now we know that each couple is different. Women will be hearing this program coming from all sorts of backgrounds, dealing with all sorts of struggles. Some women are hurt by their husbands' lack of interest in a physical relationship.

We can't cover every single situation, and we urge you to get counsel from an older woman or the leaders at your church if you need it.

Here’s Nancy to introduce today’s guests.

Nancy: One of our goals for Revive Our Hearts is to help disciple women in knowing the ways of God and understanding the heart of God as it relates to every area of our lives as women.

As Christian women, our desire is that every area of our lives would adorn the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That means that every aspect of our lives needs to be brought into obedience to the lordship of Jesus Christ and that we need to be reflecting to the world the greatness and the wonder and the beauty of God’s ways.

So that means that we want to learn what the Word of God has to say about our attitudes, about our behavior, about our relationships, our values, our speech, our priorities, and for those women who are married, about marriage and parenting issues as well. 

If you’re a married woman, one very important area of your walk with God has to do with your physical relationship with your husband. Our guest this week is here to talk particularly with married women. Regardless of where your marriage is on a scale of one to ten, regardless of how intimate or not intimate you may feel that you are with your husband right now, Linda Dillow, our guest this week, is going to help us understand God’s perspective on physical intimacy.

Linda has been married for 38 years. She and her husband, Jody, have served the Lord in the United States, as well as 17 years combined in Eastern Europe and in Asia. She’s the mother of four children, and she’s been actively involved throughout her married life in ministry to women.

Linda has co-authored a book called Intimate Issues: 21 Questions Christian Women Ask About Sex. That’s the topic Linda is here to help us understand this week.

Linda, welcome to Revive Our Hearts.

Linda Dillow: It’s my joy to be here.

Nancy: Joining us also this week as another guest is my longtime friend, Holly Elliff. Holly has been married for 29 years. She’s a wife, a mother. She loves her family. She loves the Lord, and she loves me. She’s a sweet friend.

Holly, thank you for joining and helping as a married woman to give additional perspective on this issue that sometimes is a little uncomfortable for women to talk about. But it’s an important one. So thank you for being with us this week as well.

Holly Elliff: I’m glad to be here, Nancy.

Nancy: Linda, your heart, as I’ve gotten to know you, is to help women grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. So with that as your motivation, what in the world prompted you to write a book about women and sexual issues?

Linda: Nancy, believe me, I did not go before the Lord and say, “Oh Lord, please may I be Your voice on sex and marriage.” This did not happen. I was hiking in the woods behind my house and God put the message from His Word on my heart to communicate to women about this issue.

When God asks you, you have to say yes. God also put on my heart that my dear friend, Lorraine Pintus, should write the book with me. When I told her that God had put this on my heart, she just looked at me and said, “Linda, no. No! I can’t write a book on this. I want to write about intimacy with Christ.”

So God took two reluctant women and as we bathed ourselves in the Scriptures and read the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation and said, “Holy God, speak to us about Your heart on this subject,” we just fell to our knees because God is such a creative Creator.

Nancy: You must have felt that there was some need you were sensing or hearing from women as it related to their physical relationship with their husbands. What were you hearing or sensing that put this burden on your heart?

Linda: Nancy, I have seen literally all over the world that Christian women are confused about this issue. The world is so disgusting. What God made sacred, the world has sullied. What God made pure, the world has putrefied.

A Christian woman who wants to be godly looks at the world and how the world exploits the female body, how the world exploits sex, and they say, “I don’t want to be like that.”

So in marriage, they’re confused. They say, “Well, if the world overemphasizes this subject, I’m going to deemphasize it in my marriage because I want to be godly.”

Nancy: Holly, have you found as you’ve ministered to women that this is an area where there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding?

Holly: I do believe it’s an area where women need to understand God’s truth and how they relate to their husbands.

Nancy: Which takes us back to the Word of God. Actually, where we want to start and continue and end is, “What does the Word of God have to say about this matter of physical intimacy in marriage?”

So, Linda, help us get started. And, Holly, chime in here. Where do you start in the Scripture? Does God’s Word really address this subject?

Linda: God has been very specific and very thorough. That’s one of the things that I love about the Word of God, Nancy. There’s nothing that God does not address because He loves us, and He wants us to understand His ways in every area of our lives.

When Lorraine and I read through the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation, one of the questions we asked God to answer for us from His Word was, “Why did you give the gift of sexual passion to married couples?”

Nancy: Wait a minute. You’re calling this a gift, which is already a little different than what some people, how some people would think of sex. A lot of people don’t think of that as a gift.

Linda: I believe that it’s a gift that God gave to married couples. It’s a gift He wants them to rejoice in because it’s from Him. All the gifts that He gives are good and they all honor Him, including the gift of sexual passion.

Nancy: So why did God give that gift to married couples?

Linda:

  • The first reason we find in God’s Word is that we might have the joy of partnering with Him to create life.
  • Secondly, for intimate oneness.
  • Thirdly, for a unique knowledge that we have with no one else. God gave the gift of sexual passion for pleasure.

I think one of the surprises for Lorraine and me is that there is much more written about that reason in God’s Word than all the other reasons put together. He cared so much that He gave us the entire book of the Song of Solomon to show us the joy of married love.

  • God gave the gift of sex as a deterrent to temptation.
  • He also gave it for comfort.

Holly: Linda, why do you think women don’t understand that truth? Why do they not know this?

Linda: Holly, they haven’t heard it. All they’ve heard is the world’s perspective. The voices of the media, the voices of church tradition, and these attitudes have filtered down to us through the ages.

The sad thing is the information that most Christian mothers give their daughters is silence. If you don’t speak about something, then what is implied is that this is something that probably isn’t good, but it certainly isn’t something we talk about.

Holly, as a mother of eight and as a mother of four and a grandmother myself, we have such a responsibility to communicate God’s truth to our children. I see one passage in Scripture that displays God’s heart. God gave the gift of sexual passion for intimate oneness.

In Ephesians 5:31 and 32 we read that "a man is to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a quote from Genesis. Paul is quoting from the book of Genesis.

But then he expounds on what was written in Genesis in verse 32. He says, “This mystery, this one flesh intimacy between a husband and wife is a great mystery. But I’m speaking in reference to Christ and the church” (paraphrased).

What does this mean?

First, I think it’s important we understand that, in the Greek in which the New Testament was written, the term “one flesh” is speaking specifically of physical oneness. It’s talking specifically of the act of sexual intercourse in marriage. So how is this a great mystery that refers to Christ and the church?

This overwhelmed me, Nancy and Holly, when I first understood it because what is being said here is that when a wife experiences the joy and the beauty and the holiness of God’s gift of sexual passion with her husband in the privacy of their marriage, this physical union, this intimacy that is closer than any other physical intimacy is to lift her eyes to the spiritual intimacy that the Lord Jesus wants to have with us.

That overwhelms me.

Nancy: So we’re really saying that God intended that marriage between a husband and a wife, their entire relationship—physical, emotional, spiritual—is intended to be a reflection of a heavenly and an eternal reality, and that is the relationship, the intimacy, that Christ has with His church.

So a woman can’t say, “I have an intimate relationship with Christ,” and not have an intimate relationship with her husband. The one really does reflect on the other.

Linda: Absolutely. In fact, when a woman in trying to combat the world deemphasizes the physical relationship with her husband and says, “I’m just not going to be interested in this,” really she is harming the picture of Christ and the church and the intimacy that He wants with us.

Nancy: And our ultimate goal in life is to make people realize how wonderful Christ is and to call them into an intimate relationship with Christ. One way a married woman can do that is by experiencing the fullness of all that God intended for her and her husband to share, not only in their social and emotional and spiritual relationship, but also in the physical intimacy.

Linda, I think when we first bring up the subject of sexuality, it would be easy for women to think, “Can I really be a spiritual, godly woman and also focus on my sexuality?” It seems like there’s a tendency to separate those two.

Linda: I think you’re absolutely right, Nancy. As we talk to women and ask them to list what qualities a godly woman has, the word sensuous is just never on the list. I think we’re afraid of that. It’s because the word sensual in the Bible is used negatively in every place that it’s used.

But the word sensuous is really a positive word. It means just to appeal to the senses and to give in to the senses.

I can remember, Holly and Nancy, speaking in Texas. A young woman came up to me and she said, “Oh, I read your book, but the problem was my husband read it, too.”

I said, “Why was that a problem?”

And she said, “Because the next week was his birthday. I asked him what he wanted for his birthday, and I thought he was going to say 'a new computer program' or something real normal. But he asked for something very different. He looked me in the eye and he said, ‘All I want for my birthday is for you to give yourself permission to be a sensuous wife.’”

She was very quiet. I said to her, “What did you say?”

She said, “I was stunned.”

I looked at her and I said, “Do you think that, as Christian women, we have to give ourselves permission?”

She said, “Yes.”

Because somehow we’ve separated in our mind and in our heart our spirituality from our sexuality. This is what I find so often.

I think there are two main reasons why a woman does this. One, because the world is so decadent that they just feel, “I can’t be that interested in the earthly.”

But the second reason is that so many Christian women carry guilt from their past. They dealt with that by putting their spirituality up on one high story of a two story house and their sexuality down in the basement. And then they build a brick barrier between the two.

They jumped between the two and did things that they knew were wrong in God’s eyes when they lived in their sexual story. But then when they were in their spiritual story they went to Bible studies and did what they thought God wanted.

The problem I see, Holly and Nancy, with so many married women is when they got married they didn’t know how to take the bricks down. So they were divided women who couldn’t really enjoy the gift of sex that God had given.

Holly: What do you say, Linda, to these women? How do they come to learn the balance between meeting their husband’s needs and seeing that as a godly thing?

Linda: Good question, Holly. We have to go where we always go, and that’s to God’s Word. There’s a beautiful, beautiful verse in the Song of Solomon. It’s at the end of the consummation of the marriage of Solomon and his young bride, Shulam.

Song of Solomon chapter 4 is a very steamy love scene. There’s no other way to describe it. Solomon has just made love for the first time with his new bride, and they are wrapped in one another’s arms in the privacy of their bedchamber.

All of a sudden a third person enters the bridal chamber. We recoil. We say, “This is private. No one else should be here.” But that third person is God.

In Song of Solomon chapter 5:1b, it’s as if God walks over to the bedchamber and extends His hand of blessing and says this to the young couple: “Eat friends. Drink and imbibe deeply, oh lovers” (paraphrased).

I was interested to discover that in the Hebrew the word there means “to feast.” So He’s saying to this young couple, “Feast on your sexual love.” I think He puts a woman’s spirituality and sexuality together by giving His blessing.

Nancy: You’ve referenced the book of Song of Solomon. This is, by the way, a book that we would encourage married women in particular to read and to make notes of how this couple expresses love to each other. It really is a biblical handbook for married couples.

What are some of the qualities, Linda, that you see in this woman as you’ve studied the Song of Solomon? How does she give herself and express the permission that she’s given herself and that God has given her and her husband to have this intimate sexual relationship?

Linda: It’s very clear as you read through the Song of Solomon that the young bride was very expressive to her husband. She tells him where to touch her, how to touch her. She’s very expressive with her admiration toward him.

She says, “Of all the trees in the forest you’re not like one of those pine trees. You’re like a tree with red apples just right in the middle of the forest.” She’s very expressive.

She’s very aggressive toward her husband. She is very creative. She is very responsive with her words and physically with her body and affirms him and affirms his masculinity.

Holly: A minute ago you said part of the problem is that the world has so perverted this area that, as Christian women, it’s hard for us to maintain a right perspective on this. How does a woman go about seeing this as a gift from God and then ministering to her husband’s needs in a proper way, as you said, giving yourself permission to be sensuous?

Linda: Holly, I think she needs to get into God’s Word for herself because she can listen to us, she can read a book. She needs to read the Song of Solomon herself and say, “My God, You speak to me, and You show me Your picture from the Scripture of a godly and a sensuous wife.”

I encourage every married woman that’s listening to read through the Song of Solomon with a pen and a paper and make a list.

When my co-author of Intimate Issues, Lorraine Pintus, and I took our piece of paper and pen and made our list, we had a long list. I encourage every married woman who is listening today to get out her Bible and to take her pen and a piece of paper. Ask God as she opens to the Song of Solomon, “God, You show me personally from Your Word what a godly and a sensuous wife looks like.”

Holly: You know, Linda, early in my marriage as my husband and I attended a marriage conference together, they had us rate every area of our marriage and how we thought we were doing on a scale of one to ten.

When it came to the sexual area, I had rated our sexual relationship about an 8. My husband, however, had rated it like a 3. As we talked about those results together, I was mortified that he was not as thrilled with that area as I thought he should be.

But I just found there were many things I did not understand about his needs and about what my responsibility was in meeting those needs. What would you say to the wife who’s out there and really does not see why this is such a big deal?

Linda: I’d say God says it’s a big deal, that God has spoken much in the Word of God about it. Not only does He think that it’s a big deal between the husband and the wife, but He says that it’s so holy, that it is the picture on earth of the spiritual union we have with Christ.

That makes it a really big deal.

Holly: Linda, you say in your book that God created Christian women to be the greatest lovers on earth because, as believers, we not only possess physical passion but we have the ability to infuse holiness into our sensuousness.

Now that’s kind of a different thought for most of us.

Linda: We know the lover of our souls. And because we know Him, we should be the best lovers to our husbands.

Holly: So, Linda, we’re talking today, maybe, to women who have not seen this as an area where they need to give a lot of time and energy and thought. How does that woman get started in becoming the lover that her husband desires and needs and wants?

Linda: That’s a good question. I think listening to us a woman would think, “Oh no, I’ve got to start doing something different.” But we don’t begin the process in the bedroom. We begin the process on our knees.

We go before God and we say, “God, give me a new mind. I need Your perspective. God, give me an undivided heart. God, You show me personally what it means for me to be a godly and a sensuous wife to the one unique man You’ve given me.”

Leslie: Our guest, Linda Dillow, will be right back to pray.

She's been talking to the host of Revive Our Hearts, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, and with her friend, Holly Elliff. To follow up on this important discussion, I hope you'll get a copy of the book Linda Dillow co-wrote, called, Intimate Issues. Learn to bring glory to God in deeper ways through physical intimacy in marriage.  

We'll send you Intimate Issues when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or donate by phone. The number is 1-800-569-5959.

Linda and Holly will be back again tomorrow.

Is it possible to be free if you've brought guilt from sexual sin into marriage?They'll give you hope, and I hope you can be back.

Now to lead us in prayer, our guest, Linda Dillow.

Linda: God, You know that many of our hearts are confused, living in a very confusing world. Right now as married women we come before You and we ask, “God, transform our minds. Give us a new mind. Lord, give us an undivided heart. Teach each married woman personally what it means to be a godly and a sensuous wife.”

God, thank You that You’re our Teacher. Thank You that You have taught us so clearly in Your Word. We praise You for that, amen.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.