Do you have a good, Biblical understanding of female sexuality?
Rebekah Hargraves from Hargraves Home and Hearth sent me an email recently where she said,
I got your book, “The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex” when I got engaged 5 years ago, and we actually took it on our honeymoon! You and your ministry have been a great blessing to us throughout the now 4 years of our marriage. 🙂 So, thank you for everything!
And then she sent me such an insightful guest post! So I have these two conflicting feelings–“wow, I’ve been around that long that women who have been married for a few years and know a lot about sex now are sending me guest posts, even when I’m the one who initially taught them, so I must be old”, or just “Oh, that’s so cool!” I think I’ll go with the second. 🙂
We’ve been talking a lot in the past few months about damaging views of sexuality that people hear at churches or in “pat Christian marriage advice,” but Rebekah has something different for us today–she’s got a solid, Biblical view of female sexuality. And it needs to be heard.
So without further ado, here’s Rebekah:
We have a problem in Christendom today, and that problem is that we do not have a good grasp on God’s actual design for female sexuality.
Just think about the things you regularly hear these days, particularly in our more conservative Christian circles:
- Men are visual.
- Sex is for the man.
- Just meet your husband’s needs.
The result of this kind of thinking is that we come away with the false beliefs that women aren’t visual at all, that sex is not for the woman in any way, and that there really is no such thing as true intimacy – after all, sex is just a deed you perform to meet your husband’s physical needs.
We have so misconstrued God’s beautiful design for sex that I think it’s high time we go back to the beginning. Journey with me through the Song of Solomon for a minute today so that we might, together, come to a more full-orbed understanding of female sexuality as designed by God. The result of this study can be greater intimacy, stronger marriages, and a healthier view of sex as we begin to understand it through the lens of God’s infallible Word.
The Shulamite woman is Solomon’s lover in the book of the Bible known as the Song of Solomon. As we look at the pages of this book and get to know this love of Solomon’s life, 5 interesting points emerge:
1. Women can desire sex.
Men are not the only ones with sex drives or sexual desires. Women were designed by God with those characteristics, as well. As I pointed out in a recent webinar, sex is not just for your man; it’s for you, too. God designed men and women both to benefit from, enjoy, desire, and pursue sex with their spouse. In fact, Song of Solomon does not open with Solomon being attracted to and pursuing the Shulamite woman. The book actually begins with the Shulamite woman proclaiming her attraction to and physical desire for Solomon:
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
For your love is better than wine.
Because of the fragrance of your good ointments,
Your name is ointment poured forth;
Therefore the virgins love you.
Draw me away! (Song of Solomon 1:2-4
Interesting start to the book, isn’t it? It does not fit into today’s narrative that women don’t or shouldn’t desire sex all that much. Song of Solomon 3:1-5 is another portion of the book that clearly illustrates this woman’s sexual desire for Solomon as she diligently searches for him, finds him, and draws him into the bedroom to spend the night with her.
In the New Testament, we see this narrative continue as Paul confirms in 1 Corinthians 7 what the Shulamite is illustrating for us in the Song of Solomon. First Corinthians 7:3-5 says,
Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
Clearly, there is equality here. Both men and women desire sex and feel deprived in marriage when they don’t experience it. Neither men nor women are to view sex as being merely for them or merely for their spouses. Sex is for both the husband and the wife because both were made by God to be sexual beings. To be sure – a strong desire for sex does not make you any less of a woman, despite what the culture may tell you! That desire in marriage is a good thing and is exactly how God desired both men and women to operate.
2. Women can be visual.
We hear all the time that “men are visual”. And they are! But this incomplete narrative on this issue implies that women are not visual (or that it would be strange for a woman to be so!). God’s Word disagrees. In Song of Solomon 4, Solomon describes the Shulamite woman’s body from head to toe, showing that he is, in fact, visual. But you know what happens in the chapter immediately following? In Song of Solomon 5:10-16, the Shulamite woman praises Solomon’s physical characteristics, too! Clearly, then, she is visually attracted to him even as he is to her.
3. Women can initiate.
This is an area that, until more recently, was always hard for me. My husband had no problem whatsoever initiating sex, and I had no problem with him doing so! But I, personally, always felt awkward at the thought of initiating myself. What if he didn’t feel good? What if he was too tired? Would I be putting him in an awkward situation? Would I be putting myself in an awkward situation?
I finally let that go and have since reaped the benefits! My husband used to tell me all the time that he would love it if I initiated and that I should never worry what his response might be or how things might go. I didn’t believe him for a while (what is wrong with us wives sometimes?!), but now I do. Think about it for a moment: initiating shows the other person that you do, in fact, love and want them. Even if we don’t turn down our husband’s advances, if we just never initiate ourselves, how much of a message do you think our husbands are receiving from us that we really do want and love them? I’m guessing not as much of one as when we actually pursue them and initiate sex ourselves!
The Shulamite woman can be seen initiating intimacy many times throughout Song of Solomon, as we have already seen above, but if you want to see another instance of this, one can be found in Song of Solomon 7:10-13.
4. Women can be free and uninhibited in the bedroom.
This is another area that used to be hard for me but isn’t as much now. For a while I used to drive my husband crazy because I never believed him the many times he would tell me just how beautiful he thought I was. What finally helped me believe what he told me and thereby become more free and less self-conscious during sex was when I took my focus off myself and what I thought I might look like, and instead shifted it onto my husband, his attributes, his love for me, our marriage, etc.
If anyone has ever been uninhibited in the bedroom, it is the Shulamite woman! She is constantly proclaiming her love and desire for Solomon, her hunger for intimacy with him, and her enjoyment when she is with him. Contrary to modern stereotypes, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a woman being free and uninhibited with her husband! It’s a beautiful thing to pursue. And when we do pursue that kind of freedom, this fifth point easily becomes more true for us:
5. Women can (and were designed to!) experience pleasure.
Even just a simple biology lesson shows us that women were intentionally designed by God to physically enjoy sex. Women were uniquely designed with a particular part of their bodies that is for the sole purpose of sexual pleasure; the same can not even be said of men!
As we have already seen, throughout the Song of Solomon the Shulamite woman puts this truth on display. She received much pleasure from being intimate with Solomon, and she didn’t apologize for it! Her pleasure brought them both pleasure.
Such is true for us today. Our husbands don’t want us to have sex with them because we feel we have to or simply because we are “doing the deed” in order to meet their needs. They want to be wanted. They yearn to be yearned for. And they gain pleasure from bringing us pleasure.
So, friend – enjoy being with your man! And tell him you do!
To Sum it All Up:
Sweet sister, if you do not currently enjoy having sex with your husband or have any desire to initiate intimacy, know that you are not alone. This article is not about making you feel bad or as if you are less-than. Other posts from other wiser women are already out there to help you receive the counsel you need if you find yourself in this situation.
Instead, this post was written in the hopes that you, as a woman, would find the freedom to understand and enjoy your sexuality as God designed it and to refute some of the lies that both the church and the culture try to throw at you.
So, be free, sister! And enjoy God’s grand design for your sexuality!
Rebekah Hargraves is a wife, mama of two littles, blogger, podcaster, and author of two books, Lies Moms Believe and a Companion Study Guide to Lies Moms Believe. Her passion is to edify, equip, and encourage women in their journey of Biblical womanhood, particularly with an emphasis on the gospel and its implications for everyday life.