Can how we see our bodies affect our sex lives more than how our bodies actually look?
For women, I’ve said again and again: our brains are our biggest sex organ. And what often gets in the way of our sex drive is the way we think about our bodies. When we start believing all these lies about how we should look, we are focusing on only the physical. And sex starts feeling more like a chore than anything else!
That’s why I’m so excited to have Jackie on the blog today! She’s talking about how to boost your libido by simply changing some of these ways we think. I love how she ties all this back to God so well!
My husband and I recently returned from a military marriage retreat led by one of his favorite pastors, who walked us through the Song of Solomon as a guide to flourishing marriage.
A big theme was the delight of the woman’s body to the man, and how she was to be encouraged to trust him and share it.
A lovely concept, but I knew from my own story that there was so much more to it than that.
And sure enough, during an anonymous Q&A session, a woman asked what to do if her body was no longer viewed as lovely and delightful by herself or her husband.
The pastor gave the best answer he could, but my stomach turned, because I desperately wanted to find that woman and tell her everything I have learned over the past decade.
You see, for years I detested the very topic of sex.
Innocent little jokes would shut me down into an internal rage, and I had vowed to never share my body with any man.
What I didn’t realize was that this was a wound combining two of Satan’s favorite playgrounds – how we care for our physical bodies, and sex. And both centered around the target of the female body – arguably God’s greatest masterpiece, and the focus of so many of Satan’s lies.
A long journey of studying, prayer, tears, and healing led me to a place where I loved my body as it was, and cared for it into being well.
And what I realized along the way was that one of the greatest reasons for my anger toward sex was what I now call body shame.
How could I even begin to want to joyfully share my body with a husband when I loathed it myself?
I now coach women who struggle with libido issues through one of the first shifts toward loving and craving sex in a godly way: body stewardship.
Body stewardship is a massive topic, but I’ll break it down here into five key realizations, and five key practices, that will set you on the to path to loving your body and wanting to share it!
There are 5 key things to understand:
1. Your body belongs to God
This is body stewardship: the reality that God created our bodies, and bought them back for His purposes and use when Christ died for us on the cross. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
This truth insists that we stop bashing and mistreating the bodies that have been placed in our care, and figure out how to think of them and treat them in a way that honors God.
2. We are designed to crave glorified bodies
Our bodies will be redeemed and perfected when Christ comes to make everything as it should be (Philippians 3:20-21). Somewhere, deep down in our design, we know this, and even nonbelievers long for this glorification and are drawn to tastes of it in culture.
If you’ve ever wondered why there is such an obsession with perfected, literally airbrushed bodies, I believe it is this: we have this unquenchable hope and craving for the way things should be, and will be.
We are trying to teach people to be satisfied with imperfect bodies with the argument that this is what is normal and natural. And it is what is normal and natural – this side of heaven, in a broken world.
But we were not designed for this world – we were designed for the kingdom that is coming, and in that kingdom, our bodies will be glorified, and we will be attractive. (Zechariah 9:17)
What do you do with this realization? Have awareness of where the these cravings for an ideal body are coming from, and grace toward yourself both for wanting it, and not being able to achieve it yet.
3. The female body represents salvation, and is one of Satan’s top targets
Oh, this is a biggie. Think with me for a second through some of the steps of salvation: we accept in something which we cannot produce ourselves – in this case, salvation and grace from God through Christ – and by welcoming it and receiving it into ourselves, new life is birthed in us and out into the world.
This is also the act of sex and conception from the female perspective, isn’t it?
Of course Satan would target the receptiveness and life-giving power of the female body – it’s a powerful metaphor for the salvation he is trying to keep people from.
4. God gave YOU sex as a gift
Sex is so often presented as something made for men that women have to tolerate, but this could not be farther from the truth.
Not to go into frank anatomy, but there are some design features on the female body that make it pretty obvious that God wants women to enjoy sex – possibly even more than men!
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, please reach out to me and we can go into more detail in a girls-only space!
5. Body Shame is tricky – and crippling
So, why is this all so hard? Let’s take it back to Genesis.
One of the first effects of the fall was that Adam and Eve hid their bodies – from God, from themselves, and from each other. (Genesis 3:7)
They were ashamed of their naked bodies, and ever since, our intimate relationships with our Creator and with our spouses have been plagued with insecurities and distance.
Christ has taken our shame away, but it takes practice to live that truth out. So when negative thoughts about your body hit, show yourself some grace: these insecurities are one of the foundational effects of original sin.
Now that we’ve got those down, here are 5 things to do:
1. Reclaim your body
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that the world has a million messages about what the female body is for, and little of it is Biblically true or in our best interest.
Everything from being pressured to look like Barbie, to being the target of brutal attacks and abuse – the female body is often at the heart of some of society’s greatest tragedies.
So what’s a girl to do?
The best way to cope in such unfriendly territory is to reclaim your body as Christ’s and see it through the lens of the Gospel: loved unconditionally exactly as it is, and deeply wanted. And, capable of incredible good works in the world through a lifelong process of sanctification.
2. Set a Vision
When you feel miles away from the body you long for, having a vision – perhaps for the next few months, perhaps for your ultimate goals, or perhaps a mix of both – of what you want and feel called to create with your body can keep you going and focused.
Whether it’s pictures of fit and joyful women on your vision board, or following some wellness gurus on your Instagram, find specific things that will motivate you when discouragement or complacency hits.
3. Cultural Detox
In order to set and stick to a compelling vision without having body shame kick in, it can be helpful to cut out the junk in your media diet for a while.
Movies, magazines, music and TV shows – as well as some social media – that sends you into a spiral of comparison, anger, or inadequacy is better left alone while you work on healing your heart and body.
4. Purify your foods
I lead a group of women through an ongoing ‘Pure Eating Challenge’ because we have been so trained to avoid fats, count calories, and eat in a restrict-then-binge cycle that it’s hard to know what to eat at all!
Pure eating is an art form, and consists of transitioning to natural sweeteners like stevia that don’t throw off our hunger hormones, and eating God-created foods in single-ingredient form as close to the way they were made as we can.
This can actually be shockingly tasty, and the energy, weight loss, and stable hunger and moods it creates only makes the process easier as you go along.
If you’re interested in joining us for one of our pure eating challenges, let me know and I’ll send you all the details.
5. Move in a way you love
Like food, when we start to workout as part of a body stewardship plan, we can throw ourselves into an aggressive, all-or-nothing plan based on someone else’s suggestions that don’t suit our body. The result? We rarely maintain it.
The solution? Figure out what kind of movement you love, and that suits your body’s current needs, and ease it into your life in a way that doesn’t so disrupt your schedule that it gets pushed aside.
If you take one thing away from this post (ok, two things!) please, gorgeous and beloved one, let it be this:
One, God adores your body! (Remember, it’s His!) He cares about it, has His eye on it, and will protect it if you stay in His will.
And two, you have what it takes to step into a wellness that frees you from shame, inspires others, and makes you…well, want to tell your husband to get home early tonight! 😉
Learn to steward your body well, step into your gorgeous sexuality as a woman of God, and the joy and health that will come will amaze you – and bless everyone around you!
Jackie Dixon is a health and intimacy coach and the creator of the Body Stewardship course. Get a free copy of her upcoming book, The Bombshell Manifesto: A Christian Woman’s Guide to Being Fiercely Feminine, when it launches on Amazon December 12: bit.ly/bombshellmanifesto.