Pastors everywhere deal with many of the same issues when it comes to dating, marriage and sex. One of the things that you will hear most of them say in regard to this area is: Before marriage you can't keep them out of bed. Then after they're married, you can't get them back into bed! And it's true even of Christian couples. Despite the fact that they may have taken a purity pledge, or committed themselves to waiting, lots of people end up having sex before they are married anyway. Then after they tie the knot, far too many find themselves in sexless marriages. For those of you who aren't aware of what that means, a marriage is considered "sexless" if you engage in sexual activity less than ten times a year. And if statistics are correct 15-20% of couples fall into that category. Judging by all the people I hear from, I believe that the problem affects an even greater number of marriages than that.
While there are many possible reasons for couples having little to no sex-from pornography and health issues to overbooked schedules and kids-there is one area I would like to address that can have a huge impact, especially in the early months and years of marriage. I hear frequently from people who knew it was wrong to become sexually involved while dating, yet they tripped up and committed the sin. Afterward they feel badly and let the guilt and remorse interfere with their sex lives years into the marriage. They see it as bad and sinful, even though they are now married and should be sexually active with their spouse. In some extreme cases, they never consummate the marriage or perhaps only have sex to try to get pregnant.
This is wrong. In my mind, denying your spouse and not meeting the sexual needs of your husband or wife is being sexually unfaithful and it's a sin. Ultimately, they are committing the same sin as before. They are buying into lies that tell them to do the wrong thing. Only the devil himself could be that crafty and convince us that having sex is the right thing when it's wrong, then turn the tables and equally convince us that not having sex is the right thing-when it's really wrong!
The same issue is at the root of both sides of this problem: We haven't learned to resist the devil. We don't resist temptation and do what is right. Instead, we cave into our feelings and do what is wrong. The enemy of your soul will do everything he can to defeat you and ruin your life. Before marriage he'll throw all kinds of temptations at you and lies to get you to cross that line, become sexually involved and commit the sin. People report to me all the time that when it happened, they felt so guilty and knew it was wrong. Then after they get married, they'll continue to be the devil's punching bag and allow him to mess with them, their marriage, and their family by filling them with all this guilt that says, "You messed up! You should feel bad! This isn't right and you shouldn't be enjoying it now that you are married!"
Satan is still convincing people to do the wrong things-but now it's not having sex. I can't state it clearly and strongly enough-not having sex in marriage is wrong. It is just as wrong as having sex outside of marriage. It will ruin and destroy a marital relationship. People continue to get the snot kicked out of them and don't draw the line in the sand to say, "No! I will choose to do the right things and not the wrong things no matter how I feel." They stay victims to the devil, buying the lies and letting the clouds of their past mistakes darken their marriage for the rest of their life.
Look, we've all done things that we wish we wouldn't have done. We've all suffered from the consequences of them. But at some point you have to say enough is enough and move on. Resist the devil and he will flee is what scripture in the book of James tells us. It's the same root issue but it just looks different on the outside. People don't resist, they commit inappropriate and wrong behaviors and they suffer for it. If you have truly repented of your sin, God has forgiven you. Look up 1 John 1:9, better yet, memorize it. It tells us, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Don't let the lies and mistakes of the past hold you hostage in the present. Don't let Satan dictate who you are and how you are going to behave anymore. He may have pulled the wool over your eyes in the past. He may have gotten you to stumble and fall, but go to God and confess it. Deal with it. Ask forgiveness, repent and forget yesterday. Quit allowing the devil to mop up the floor with you and defeat your life. Resist the enemy's schemes, stand firm, stop doing the wrong thing and start doing the right thing today.
Mark Gungor is one of the most sought-after speakers on marriage and family in the country. Each year thousands of couples attend his Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage® seminars. His take on marriage issues is refreshingly free of both churchy and psychological lingo. Mark is pastor of Celebration Church in Green Bay, WI. He speaks for churches, civic events, and business meetings and is even a speaker for the US Army. Mark has been featured on national broadcasts such as Focus on the Family and ABC News. His daily internet radio show is heard worldwide and weekly television show Love, Marriage and Stinking Thinking is available on TBN and Sky Angel. Learn more about Mark and his marriage seminars at www.laughyourway.com.