The Gift of Sex – A Review

The last three weeks (1, 2, 3) I covered book reviews of The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, Love And Respect by Emerson Eggerichs and His Needs, Her Needs by Willard Harley.  Today’s book review, The Gift of Sex by Clifford and Joyce Penner, more than any of the others, is for married people, although singles can benefit by understanding some of their married friends’ issues.  Remember, the best expert on ANY relationship is Jesus, who was an adult single and never experienced sex, even though He “invented” it.

Gift of Sex“Men and women are different.  Women desire sex and open up sexually when they feel loved by and connected with their husbands; men connect and feel loved through sex.”  This preliminary explanation in the preface sets the tone and direction for the rest of the text.  Men traditionally start this connection by asking a woman for a date and getting to know her.  The Penners compare this process to Christ loving the Church and initiating the model by which a man is supposed to love his wife illustrated in Ephesians 5:22-33.

“The husband loves, adores, and connects with his wife;
His adoration allows her to open up sexually;
His affirmation ignites her passion;
She invites him sexually;
He feels validated, so they both end up happy;
It’s a win, win!”

Two major contentions of the Penners are 1) that a man is never truly satisfied unless his wife is; 2) that a woman must believe she is worthy of pleasure and that she has a right to be sexual; her body is designed not just for reproduction, but also for sexual satisfaction and pleasure.  They note that there are many individual permutations of the assumptions they lay out in the book, but there are general principles that can be applied to enhance sexual function in marriage to make the partnership most satisfying to both.

2021-11-27 Milky Way LoveThe first major section of the book is subtitled “A Biblical Perspective.”  They point out that sex was not a result of the fall or a human idea.  Maleness and femaleness was God’s design to enable humans to understand the relationship between Him and His creation.  “It is part of the original perfect creation of mankind.”  There is nothing dirty or sinful about sex as long as it is practiced in the guidelines the Designer set up: an exclusive monogamous husband and wife in a covenant commitment for as long as they both live.  Throughout Scripture the husband-wife sexual relationship is used to symbolize the Divine-human one.

The Bible teaches sex is for unity, procreation and pleasure and assumes a healthy passion.  “Our sexuality is not something to be diminished as we become more ‘spiritual.’  It is part of us as spiritual, godly persons and is good.”  Its guiding foundation is that men and women are equal – not identical in either roles or behavior, but in terms of value, ability and position before God.  We are expected to give ourselves to each other in marriage under the mutual command of 1 Corinthians 7:2-5, “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband… Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time.”

Paul recognized, that while he would prefer people to be unmarried as he was (he was most likely a widower), human passions are very strong and for many, marriage is the best way to avoid falling into sins of adultery or fornication.  “Let them marry (i.e., and enjoy sexual release) – it is no sin.”  (7:36)

From this basis, Penners go on to describe as clinicians in “The Physical Dimension,” the body parts involved, with more details about the sex organs than many need to read.  However, this also provides helpful material, especially if one is in any measure uninformed about sexual responsiveness of the opposite sex from a biological perspective.

Following this, Penners characterize “The Total Experience” with such chapter titles as “Getting Interested,” “Having Fun,”… “Meshing Your Worlds,” … “By Invitation Only,” “Letting Go,”… and “Cleaning Up.”  With skills developed by teaching hundreds of Christian Perspectives in Sexual Enjoyment seminars, they adeptly address pragmatic details many texts on marriage relations omit, usually on the assumption that Christ-followers will discuss intimate details – an assumption that is often inaccurate.  Frequent references back to the basics of 1 Corinthians 7 and Ephesians 5 ground their advice solidly in Scripture.

2021-11-27 When Sex Is Not WorkingAlthough “The Total Experience” mentions a few obstacles that may come up, “When Sex Isn’t Working” goes into great detail to help couples find and explore the roots, evidences, and solutions to problems in a sexual relationship.  The longest section in the book suggests that there are lots of dysfunctions that may occur within marriages.  From “You Want To Do What?” to “Pornography and the Internet,” the Penners take us on a survey of some of the most common obstacles to sexual fulfillment in marriage.

Parts of this section hark back to The 5 Love Languages, Love and Respect, and His Needs, Her Needs“The starting point for resolving any difficulty is always effective communication.”  While the Bible strictly confines sexual activity to the marriage relationship, no guidelines are given about what is acceptable in lovemaking activity.  Again, using Biblical ethics (e.g., Paul’s concern not to offend a brother by eating meat sacrificed to an idol; see Romans 14:13-16) they proficiently address differences in views husbands and wives may hold toward lovemaking actions and move a couple toward a satisfying acceptance of each other.  The entire section is filled with very practical and explicit advice for how to meet and overcome apparent dilemmas in sexual satisfaction.

2021-11-27 Happy CoupleThe final brief section, “Enhancing the Sexual Experience,” explores how to invite God into the bedroom.  Remembering that sex was His idea, the Penners go on to address how to talk lovingly with each other about sexual issues, if outside help in the form of counseling is needed, and they close with some questions asked in various seminars.

Good reading for any couple considering marriage, for enhancing an already good one, and great helps for any in conflict over sexual issues.  And it is helpful for the unmarried to sympathize with married friends.  The underlying assumption, only addressed specifically in Love and Respect, is that the involved parties are people of good will toward each other.  If this in not the case in your life, there are other issues that need resolution first, with books and resources available to help.

“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled.”  Hebrews 13:4

Guest Blog: A Biblical Guide to a Better Sex Life by pkadams, Blue Skies and Greener Pastures

With so many foci on homosexuality, gender dysphoria and transgenderism (as if someone could “feel” their way to being other than the way they were born 🙄) an important issue for Christ-followers to focus on is what the Bible teaches about sexuality.   Remember, sex was God’s idea BEFORE the fall and with His guidance, is not sinful. 

 It has been quite a while since I addressed this subject (see for “Rated R, The Mystery of Marriage,” and before that for four weeks of “Three Weeks of Sex.”)  This week pkadams provided a very excellent Scriptural perspective on sex.  I cover her 10th point about good books in the April 17, 2021 blog.   I suspect an ad slipped into pkadams’ blog and reordered her bullet points, so I renumbered them.

From pkadams, Blue Skies and Green Pastures:

2021-10-23 A Biblical Guide to a Better Sex Life

Lately it seems like there are sex experts on every social media outlet and in bookstores and on cable TV.  So since it’s so popular, I thought I would add a less common perspective, one that is backed up by the Bible and God himself.  Wait!  Don’t click away!  I’m seriously going to give you some good advice on how to make your sex life better.

Podcast link https://anchor.fm/blueskiesandgreenpastures/episodes/You-can-have-a-better-sex-life–Ep-54-e190ing or https://open.spotify.com/episode/3W5FH1YUQPXEI56G3wfVVX?si=Ag75oxxtTSCRF2ix3aSt_g

  1. Become a Christian. Yes, studies show that Christians have better sex lives than non-Christians! It’s a myth that Christians have boring sex lives. Sex is a gift from God and people who see it that way are more likely to enjoy it.
  2. Love your wife or husband according to God’s instructions. Ephesians 5:22-33 teaches us that wives should submit to their husbands, which means she should respect him and his God-given authority in the marriage. It also teaches that men should love their wives as Christ loves the church, meaning as much as they love their own bodies. He meant that in a marriage each partner should love and respect each other, but there is a proper role for each. And the man is to submit to God. In a marriage with this type of healthy respect for God and each other, you are going to have a better sex life because you have peace in the home.
  3. Take care of your health, including your body, your mind and your spirit. Sex involves all of these. Older married people, and some young ones, sometimes ‘let themselves go’ by not getting exercise, eating right, drinking too much, not getting enough sleep, being a workaholic, smoking, and worrying. And too much time sitting and scrolling the internet is not good for you. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, so take care of it. God made you in His image. Feeling good about the way your body looks also helps you feel better about sex! Also, take care of your appearance and hygiene; don’t expect your partner to be okay with a stinky, slob. Keep a good attitude and be thankful for your life and marriage. Ask God to transform your mind.
  4. Stay faithful in every aspect of the word. Do not cheat on your wife through any of the many ways that are available nowadays, including text relationships, internet chat rooms, or actual adultery. Beware of emotional attachments to co-workers and friends of the opposite sex. Don’t talk bad about your spouse behind their back. There is a reason that God mentions adultery in the Ten Commandments. It will destroy your marriage.
  5. Remember why you married your spouse and take time for romance and dating even after the honeymoon period is long past. Schedule time to have fun with your spouse, not just have sex. Build the relationship and you will improve the sex. Buy her flowers. Bake him a cake. The volume of scriptures that mention enjoying your wife are a good indicator that God values a happy marriage. A happy marriage also means happy children!
  6. Beware the temptations and traps of the devil that come in the form of seductive women or men. From the beginning, sexual sin has been one of the most destructive sins. The devil knows that the sexual urge is strong, and even though it is created by God for good, it can be used against us. Keep your eyes and mind free from thoughts about other women or men and you will protect your marriage. A pure marriage is a place were both partners can trust each other and feel free to be intimate. Stay far away from pornography. If needed, install porn-blocking software to prevent temptation. And warn your kids!
  7. Be a good person. Yes, be honest, trustworthy, kind, considerate, thoughtful, generous, patient, loving and sensitive! If you do all this, you will be much more likely to find ways to please your spouse in the bedroom. Most of us do not want to have sex when we are angry or resentful for being ignored, mistreated, lied to, or taken for granted, so make sure to show love to your spouse before you have sex, not just after.
  8. Make sex a priority in your marriage. This may not be a problem for everyone, but I keep hearing stories of sexless marriages, or of one person being interested, but the other is not. If you have health or emotional problems that are blocking you from enjoying sex, please seek help. As I mentioned above, poor health such as high blood pressure, being overweight, diabetes, hormone imbalance and depression can affect your sex life, mostly because of the side effects from medications. Don’t give up. Ask your doctor for help. It is not a sin to use Viagra or whatever you need, within a marriage relationship. The Bible says that couples should not deprive each other lest they fall into temptation. If your marriage is unhappy, work on it. If you’re busy, schedule it!
  9. Don’t be afraid to have fun! Get creative and try new things. Sex is not bad, or nasty, or sinful, or dirty. Unfortunately some people are taught the wrong things when they are children or in some religions. God never intended us to feel guilty about our bodies or sex. He just said that we should ONLY have sex within marriage. It’s okay to wear sexy clothes or have sex in the hot tub. Let down your guard with each other. Being honest about what you like increases love and intimacy and trust! If you are the one who is struggling with being able to relax and enjoy sex, I encourage you to pray about it, and know that God really is okay with your enjoying yourself.
  10. If you need more specific help, buy a book about Christian marriage that includes the topic of good sex. Having a spouse and a good sexual relationship is a blessing! Enjoy it to the fullest and be sure to thank God for the joy. Beware of secular sex advice, or at least choose carefully. Lots of ungodly advice out there! As with all pleasurable things, use wisdom if you are not sure about something. God put limits on sexual behavior for our own good. Do not listen to anyone who tells you that having multiple sex partners is okay, whether they claim to be Christian or not.
  11. BONUS TIP! Make your bedroom a special place. Don’t watch TV, use your computer, scroll your phone in bed. You can do that in the living room. Have nice sheets and pillows! Make it smell good with a candle or essential oils. Keep it clean and tidy. Have nice lighting. Have music available. You know, like a hotel room, LOL!

[Editor’s note: I don’t know whether pkadams thinks LOL means “Lots Of Love” or “Laugh Out Loud!” 😊  You can ask her on her blog site in the comments.]