Sexual Secrets of a Shulammite and a Shepherd

Sex is for Christians! Biblical Insights for a Lifetime of Purity and Pleasure - Chapter 11

PLEASE NOTE: This e-teaching is not appropriate for children, preadolescents, and many adolescents.

"The Shulammite and the Shepherd" e-Teaching Graphic

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
If you find my beloved,
As to what you will tell him:
For I am lovesick.

What kind of beloved is your beloved,
O most beautiful among women?
What kind of beloved is your beloved,
That thus you adjure us?

My beloved is dazzling and ruddy,
Outstanding among ten thousand.
His head is like gold, pure gold;
His locks are like clusters of dates
And black as a raven.
His eyes are like doves
Beside streams of water,
Bathed in milk,
And reposed in their setting.
His cheeks are like a bed of balsam,
Banks of sweet-scented herbs;
His lips are lilies
Dripping with liquid myrrh.
His hands are rods of gold
Set with beryl;
His abdomen is carved ivory
Inlaid with sapphires.
His legs are pillars of alabaster
Set on pedestals of pure gold;
His appearance is like Lebanon
Choice as the cedars.
His mouth is full of sweetness.
And he is wholly desirable.
This is my beloved and this is my friend,
O daughters of Jerusalem
 (Song 5:8-16).

Although the Shulammite’s metaphors and similes regarding her beloved husband may seem unusual to most modern readers, there is no mistaking one thing: she liked him very much. And although it is probably safe to assume he was a young man of good character, her admiration of him (that you just read) focuses on his face and body. Take note that we are still reading from the Bible, and it is safe to assume that her enthusiasm over an attractive male was God-given. So this is not an “unspiritual” topic.

To her, he was one in ten thousand (Song 5:10). In reality, of course, that was highly improbable. Not only are good-looking young men fairly common, but she likely had not seen 10,000 men in her entire life, much less made a comparative analysis. But no one called her out for her illusion, because everyone knows that being in love tends to muddle one’s mind. Brain scans of people caught in the throes of romantic love actually prove this. If you show them a photo of their special one, their brains light up in those regions that are rich with dopamine, the “feel-good” neurotransmitter. Being in love makes people dopey! Their brain scans actually resemble those of people who are high on alcohol or cocaine.

Additionally, neuroscientists have discovered that romantic love deactivates a neural pathway responsible for negative emotions, such as fear and social judgment. Lovers are consequently hampered from making critical assessments of other people, including their lovers. Indeed, “love is blind.”[1]

There is no doubt that our Shulammite and her shepherd were both love-struck with each other. Did their initial infatuation ever wear off? We don’t know, but some of the same neuroscientists who’ve documented how romantic love fuels the reward circuits of people’s brains with dopamine discovered that the brain scans of some older couples—who have been married for decades—still light up when they talk about each other. Such couples have learned the secret to keeping romantic love alive—by meeting each other’s deepest emotional needs. Any couple that has lost romantic love can kindle it again by making an effort to meet those needs.

Her Admiration

You may recall from the previous chapter that Willard Harley listed “admiration” as the fifth most-commonly expressed emotional need of the many men whom he surveyed over the years.[2] The Shulammite certainly had that base covered, as revealed by her admiration of her man before “the daughters of Jerusalem” in the passage I quoted at the beginning of this chapter. Her public praise of him echoed her private admiration (see Song 1:16). I’m sure her husband appreciated both.

I always inwardly cringe when I hear someone publicly criticize their spouse, and it’s even worse when their spouse is actually present. It is a sure sign that romantic love is dying or has already died. Public criticism of one’s spouse can be emotionally and sexually devastating. Even making light-hearted jokes about one’s spouse, as some couples do as a means of entertaining their friends or associates, can be very dangerous. If you’ve read the entire Song of Solomon, can you imagine how shocking it would have been to read even a single negative comment from either the Shulammite or shepherd?

His hands are rods of gold
Set with beryl;
His abdomen is carved ivory
Inlaid with sapphires.
His legs are pillars of alabaster
Set on pedestals of pure gold;
There are, however, two warts under his left foot.

Had our shepherd heard that added line about his warts, it would have drained all the dopamine his brain had gained from hearing her compliments about his ivory-carved abs and alabaster-pillared legs!

Many men daily face a world that seems to be full of faultfinders and critics. They feel as if they have targets painted on their chest and back. That is one reason every husband needs his wife to be his #1 fan. When he feels like the world is against him, he must know that she believes in him. If he fails, she needs to remind him of how successful he has been in so many areas of his life. And her admiration and encouragement should be constant, every day, not just when he is struggling. If a husband feels his wife has joined the chorus of his critics, it can be devastating to him.

And who would argue that wives—whether they are also at work in the trenches or are coping with the challenges of staying home to care for children—don’t need just as much encouragement from their husbands? Just as his fifth most-important emotional need for admiration precludes his wife’s criticism, so her most important emotional need—for affection—holds him to at least the same standard. Affectionate husbands don’t tear down their wives with negativity.

There are, of course, times when a wife’s gentle correction or confrontation of her husband is appropriate, just as there are times when a husband’s gentle correction or confrontation of his wife is appropriate. But in every case, any perceived criticism should be sandwiched between sincere and loving compliments and affirmations, just as they should be in any confrontation in any human relationship. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. Without the sugar, criticism can cut like a knife. For many men, one critical word from the woman who means so much to them has the capacity to overpower all the testosterone in their body. And when a man doesn’t desire sex, something has really gone wrong. He’s probably wounded.

In contrast, any husband who hears his wife bragging about him in public (as the Shulammite did regarding the shepherd) is going to feel a dopamine surge in his brain. Private admiration has a similar effect. Wives, take note!

Another Secret from the Shulammite

Wives, if you really want to encourage your husband, there is another secret you can learn from the Shulammite. Nothing is more encouraging to a man than when his wife initiates sex. When he feels that she desires him, rather than that she is only willing to yield to his advances, the world is a different place. A wife who initiates sex has the ability to overrule any negativity or criticism her husband is enduring out in the world.

Our Shulammite certainly had that figured out as well. She desired her man, and he knew it. Take note that the opening lines of the Song of Solomon are her words: “May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine” (Song 1:1). That is an expression of female sexual desire. Before long, she elaborated: “Let his left hand be under my head / And his right hand embrace [or caress] me” (Song 2:6). Our Shulammite knew exactly what she wanted, and she was not hesitant to declare it.

Later in the same chapter, her desire surfaces again, as she expresses her longing for her husband’s evening return from pasturing his flock in the countryside. She dreams of him running to her “like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains” (Song 2:16), an expression of female sexual urgency, the kind of which husbands dream. We can only imagine what was in store for our shepherd when he walked through the door.

Although it is common knowledge that the sexual desire of the average female is generally less than that of the average male, wise wives know that expressing sexual desire for their husbands, or taking sexual initiative, is a sure means of speaking his “love language.” All husbands desire that their wives would desire them just as much as they desire their wives. But a common complaint among husbands is that they are the only ones who ever verbally express their desire or initiate sex.

So wives, take a tip from our Shulammite. Don’t just say, “I love you” or, “You are my honey,” as nice as those things are. Try paraphrasing our Shulammite by saying, “Please hurry home, because I really need to make love to you,” or “I want some of your luscious kisses,” or “I’ve been dreaming of your caresses.” The more specific, the better. And if those kinds of expressions embarrass you, or you think they are inappropriate or too “forward,” it might be good to renew your mind by reading Solomon’s Song every day for a month! Again, we’re reading from the Bible.

Sex Outside the City

There’s still more that can be learned from our Shulammite. Because her husband was often away from home, perhaps for days at a time seeking pasture for his flock, she would not always wait for his return, but would go looking for him (Song 1:7-8). Keep in mind that she had no means of communicating with him by phone or text, so her appearance would have been a surprise. How did that make him feel? Very desired.

When she found him, their passion would not allow the discretion of delaying intimacy until returning to the privacy of their home. Rather, they found secluded spots outdoors, whether under distant trees, in rock crevices of steep hillsides, or among vineyard rows:

[Her:] You are so handsome, my love,
pleasing beyond words!
The soft grass is our bed;
fragrant cedar branches are the beams of our house,
and pleasant smelling firs are the rafters (Song 1:16-17, NLT).

[Him:] O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
In the secret place of the steep pathway,
Let me see your form,
Let me hear your voice;
For your voice is sweet,
And your form is lovely (Song. 2:14).

[Her:] Come, my beloved, let us go out into the country,
Let us spend the night in the villages.
Let us rise early and go to the vineyards;
Let us see whether the vine has budded
And its blossoms have opened,
And whether the pomegranates have bloomed.
There I will give you my love (Song 7:11-12).

Our Shulammite’s invitation for her husband to inspect the vineyards almost seems to be public pretext for finding a private outdoor place to reveal her beauty. She certainly knew how to arouse his anticipation. Wives, take note! Although I’m not advocating the risk of outdoor sex, your husband is likely to follow you anywhere if you promise him sex when you get there.

Sex in the City

During one prolonged absence—perhaps during that time when she was being held captive in Solomon’s harem—she thought about him every night as she lay alone in her bed. I like to imagine her receiving word that her husband, upon discovering her abduction, had traveled to Jerusalem to secure her rightful freedom. One night she somehow managed to temporarily escape Solomon’s harem, and she searched for her beloved shepherd throughout the streets and squares of Jerusalem. Ultimately, she found him:

The watchmen who make the rounds in the city found me,
And I said, “Have you seen him whom my soul loves?”
Scarcely had I left them
When I found him whom my soul loves;
I held on to him and would not let him go
Until I had brought him to my mother’s house,
And into the room of her who conceived me (Song 3:3-4).

Their own home would have been far away from Jerusalem in a country village, but apparently the Shulammite’s mother owned a Jerusalem house to which she could gain access. Upon finding her husband, she not only “held on to him and would not let him go,” but then led him to her mother’s house, risking discovery by a watchman who might report that a member of Solomon’s harem was involved in a secret rendezvous. We don’t have to imagine what occurred when she brought her husband into “the room of her who conceived me” (Song 3:4).

I’m pointing out all these details as evidence that the Shulammite was not a passive lover. She was very comfortable with her own sexual desires, and she was not the “good wife” who was always willing to submit and stoically fulfill her husband’s need for sex every 72 hours. No, in the Song of Solomon, which is part of the Bible, she is portrayed as being just as sexually driven as her husband, and without shame.

The Apex Senses

In this and the previous chapter, we’ve considered two passages in Solomon’s Song that describe the physical attractiveness of the two lovers for each other in their own words. There are other similar passages we could consider. Although the sexual nature of the average woman is not as visually-oriented as that of the average man, women do take note of male attractiveness. That is why single men work so hard to make themselves look good to the opposite sex, and why wise husbands, like wise wives, do their best to maintain their physical attraction even as time and gravity work against them.

For some wives, their husband’s appearance is more important than to other wives, and the way to find out how important it is to your wife is to ask her. Husbands, if there is anything she wishes you would change or work on, then do it out of love for her (and especially if you’ve made any similar request of her). She’ll feel loved, and she’ll doubtlessly reciprocate with some love. Physical appearance isn’t everything, but it is something.

Sex was designed by God to be a physical, emotional and spiritual experience, and the best sex involves the most heightened and enjoyable stimulation of those three elements. The physical component involves all five human senses, with sight generally being the apex sense for men and touch being secondary, while touch is generally the apex sense for women, and sight is secondary. Those are complemented by hearing, smell and taste, and all five are alluded to in the lovers’ dialogue in Solomon’s Song.

All this being so, it is a helpful exercise for husbands and wives to discuss the differences between their sexual sensory hierarchies. That could help them know how to be better lovers, just as a discussion of each other’s most important emotional needs can help them have a better marriage in general.

The sensory hierarchical differences between men and women are no doubt why it was men whom Jesus addressed regarding looking at the opposite sex with lustful desire (see Matt. 5:28), and why Paul wrote, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman” (1 Cor. 7:1, emphasis added).

Those two negative warnings, however, reveal some positive truths when considered within the context of marriage. There is nothing wrong—and in fact there is everything right—for a wife to attract her husband visually so that he desires sex with her, and it is also good for a husband to touch his wife in a way that makes sex most enjoyable to her. When husbands or wives assume that the opposite sex’s sexual sensory hierarchy is the same as their own, it can lead to frustration. That differing hierarchy, for example, is why men don’t want to make love in a completely-darkened room. It is also why there is a large market for women’s nightwear and no market for men’s nightwear.

Because the apex sexual sense for men is sight and the apex sexual sense for women is touch, wives desire and enjoy being lovingly and skillfully touched by their husbands to a similar degree as husbands desire and enjoy seeing their wife’s beauty, and vice versa. Loving husbands focus foremost (but not exclusively) on their touching skills and loving wives focus foremost (but not exclusively) on their physical attractiveness.

Here is another way of looking at this sensory difference: Husbands, do you enjoy hugging and snuggling with your wife? She probably enjoys it even more than you do. Do you enjoy kissing her? She probably enjoys it even more. Do you enjoy being touched by her in certain places, in certain ways, at certain times? She probably enjoys being touched by you in certain places, in certain ways, at certain times even more.

Wives, do you enjoy looking at your husband and admiring his masculinity? He probably enjoys looking at you and admiring your femininity even more. Do you enjoy seeing him in the buff from different angles? There is good reason to suspect that he enjoys seeing you naked from various angles even more. Do you enjoy seeing his body move? He enjoys seeing your body move even more.

Armed with that understanding, married couples know what to do to continually enhance their love lives. They work at fulfilling each other’s apex sexual sensory desires—without neglecting the lesser ones—and not just during sex, but all the time. For loving husbands, one daily goal is to perfect a “heavenly touch,” expressed in many different ways on which I will shortly elaborate. To not strive for that end is to deprive his wife of her fullest capacity to be loved as well as experience sexual ecstasy.

Although Paul’s well-known words to married couples, “Stop depriving one another” (1 Cor. 7:5), have primary application to the selfishness expressed by total sexual deprivation, the principle certainly has wider application. Loving couples don’t want to sexually deprive each other to any degree. Thus they strive to bless each other sexually to the fullest, which takes them on a journey of love, patience, honesty, trust, communication, discovery and learning. It is a blessed journey, designed in heaven.

Specific Guidance for Husbands

Now I’d like to turn my attention primarily toward husbands. I hope that male readers recall from the previous chapter that sex is not supposed to be a periodic event in marriage, but rather just one component of a never-ceasing continuum of love. Husbands, that continuum should include lots of daily touching that includes holding her hand, hugging her, putting your arm around her waist or shoulders, sitting close to her, and kissing her. Those are all expressions of affection—her #1 emotional need according to Willard Harley’s research. But if your wife notices that you only do those things on days when you have an expectation for sex at the end of the day, she interprets them as serving your ends and not as genuine affection.

Husbands, if you want to know if your wife is satisfied, or feeling deprived, in regard to your daily affectionate touch, the way to find out is to ask her. Since I’m giving you that advice, I thought I’d ask my wife how I’ve been doing, and since I know I’m a champ, I figured I’d reap some admiration (my 5th greatest emotional need according to Dr. Harley). So I stopped writing this paragraph and asked her, “Honey, are you receiving sufficient daily expressions of my affection through the many ways I touch you?” Without a moment’s hesitation, she smiled and said, “Never!” I took that as short for, “You are doing a wonderful job, but it is impossible to give any woman too much affection.”

By the way, don’t hide that affection for your wife from others. When you hold your wife’s hand in public, she feels good that you are not ashamed to let everyone know that she is yours. Public kisses (short, but sweet ones) and putting an arm around her waist or shoulders lets her know she’s special. If your Victorian reserve prohibits such public displays, I suggest first practicing them in front of your children who, by the way, need to grow up seeing their father’s regular affection for their mother.

And all that touching doesn’t need to end once you crawl in bed! (Husbands, I know what you are thinking, but that is not what I’m talking about.) Us old-timers have a word for lying close together sideways, front to back with knees bent. It’s called “spooning,” because you fit together like two spoons. And husbands, if you’ll hug her from behind with your free arm, you’ll be sending her a nice message as she falls asleep. That “indent” between her hip bone and rib cage was designed, in part, for your arm to nicely fit through.

Who’s Depriving Who?

Husbands, your consistent daily and nightly affection for your wife, which includes, among other things, physically touching her in different ways, is essential foreplay. If you want to be a good lover, that is where you must start. If you aren’t showering your wife with affection, you really don’t have the right to have sex with her. You might have the legal right and letter-of-the-law biblical right, but you don’t have the moral right. Expecting your wife to accommodate your need for sex while depriving her of her need for affection is not only hypocritical, it is Neanderthal. (In fact, even some Neanderthals figured out that, in order to lure women into their caves, they had to say nice things to them.)

So allow me to stop beating around the bush and just be frank… Men who complain that their wives are depriving them of sufficient sex “in contradiction to the Bible’s clear teaching,” should ask themselves if they might actually be the ones who are depriving their wives of sex—by depriving them of the essential foreplay of affection. Remember, husbands, sex is not an event that occurs within marriage. Sex is a component of the never-ceasing continuum of love. That means you are always making love to your wife, and your nonstop lovemaking at times includes sex. Adopting that attitude results in a better marriage and better sex.

Some husbands—who, as hopeless Neanderthals, have trouble grasping these concepts—have found enlightenment in viewing their marital relationship as always being in one of three phases: pre-sex, sex, and post-sex. The pre-sex phase, which is far and away the longest, has everything to do with the quality and frequency of the sex phase. It should be filled with affection. And the post-sex phase should look just like the pre-sex phase, also filled with affection. So there are really only two phases! This can’t be made any simpler!

Many years ago I heard the adage, “There is no such thing as frigid wives, just bumbling husbands.” Although that may be an overgeneralization, it certainly contains some truth, and it has application to sincere Neanderthals who are trying to master the three phases of their marital lives. Affection can melt an iceberg. Now let’s talk about that second phase.

The Special Touch

As I’ve previously mentioned, because touch is generally the apex sexual sense for women, loving husbands focus on mastering their lovemaking touch. They want their wives to experience their highest potential for sexual pleasure.

In order to succeed, they need guidance from their wives. Without that guidance, men can make wrong assumptions based on their own male preferences regarding sexual touch. Men and women don’t necessarily enjoy being touched in identical ways. And that is how God designed it. It has a way of teaching married couples to be unselfish, and in so doing, to reap a blessing by being a blessing.

Husbands, the best way for you to learn how to please your wife is not from a how-to book, but to simply ask her because, although all women are similar, none are identical. You have a custom-made wife. So she needs a customized touch from her custom husband.

Of course, depending on a woman’s level of sexual experience, she may or may not know what “turns her on,” or her understanding may be incomplete. Marriage is the place for “full discovery” for both women and men, to learn not only how to please each other, but to discover what pleases themselves. It is a journey of years, and that is how God designed it. For that reason, ongoing communication is essential.

So, husbands, take the lead. If you haven’t already, ask your wife to teach you how to touch her. (If you’ve already asked her in the past, then request the most up-to-date refresher.) Make it easy for her to tell you what she likes and what she may not like. And your inquiry should not just be about the geographical location of her “erogenous zones,” that is, those areas of her body that, when touched in a certain way, trigger her sexual arousal. There are scores of other variables, such as amount of pressure, means of touch (fingers, hands, lips and so on), needed lubrication (if any), kind of motion, pace and duration of that motion, as well as timing (there are places she likely will prefer not to be touched until she has reached a certain point of arousal). To make it even more interesting, erogenous zones can also shift as the body ages.

You could probably learn quite a lot by asking your wife to describe, in detail, her most ideal imaginary lovemaking session with you. I can guarantee you that her description will not depict the “touch” of intercourse occurring during the first five minutes of your lovemaking. Although your body may be ready for that in mere seconds, hers will not. You are the microwave oven; she is the slow-cooker. That is how God designed it. Premature intercourse can be very painful for a woman. Loving husbands are patient, and they go slow and enjoy the journey.

Apart from your wife describing her most ideal imaginary lovemaking session with you, another good time to request her guidance is when you are making love. She can tell you, or show you, what she likes. Unless she fully understands how God made her, there is room for lots of experimentation within your lovemaking, and she can learn about her own body simultaneously with her husband. She should make sure she gives him lots of verbal encouragement (“I like that!”) along with verbal guidance (“just a little lighter” or “try here”) to supplement the spontaneous signals of her pleasure.

I should point out that everything I wrote in the last two paragraphs also has application to wives touching their husbands, but keeping in mind that touch is his secondary apex sexual sense.

Back to our Shulammite

Husbands, listen to our Shulammite, whom we twice find in Solomon’s Song expressing her desire for her husband’s touch:

Let his left hand be under my head
And his right hand embrace me (Song 2:6; 8:3).

I can’t help but wonder what connotations the word “embrace” might include, as it would seem somewhat odd that she would be longing for nothing more than a specific kind of hug, one that required that they be lying down together with his left hand under her head and his right hand somehow wrapped around her. Moreover, embracing is most often spoken, not as something done with hands, but arms.

Perhaps she uses “embrace” as a substitute for “caress,” and there are a few Bible versions that translate it as such. If she was lying on her back, and he was lying on his left side propped up on his elbow with his left hand under her head, he would have had full access to caress the front of her body with his right hand as well as kiss her, something else she expressed a longing for (see Song 1:2). He could have enjoyed both seeing her and her response to his caresses.

May I remind readers once again that it is God who designed the amazing variation of sensitivity to touch across human skin, male and female. Some parts He designed to be more sensitive than others through a greater concentration of nerve endings at skin level. All men reading this realize that their genitals have the highest concentration of nerve endings on their bodies (by God’s design), and they also know that some parts of their genitals are significantly more sensitive than other parts (also by God’s design). They are correct if they assume that same is true for female genitals. But after that assumption, they need specific feedback from their custom-made wives. For novices, here is some basic information to get started:

Both the external tip of the female clitoris (your wife can explain where to find it) and the male glans (head of the penis) contain about 8,000 sensory nerve endings, both holding the record for the greatest concentration of touch-sensitive nerves in the human body. The small tip of the clitoris, however, packs those 8,000 nerve endings into an area that is 1/10th the size of the glans, so it is extremely sensitive to touch. Unless directed otherwise by your wife, you will want to proceed only with gentleness, and only when she is ready.

As far as anyone knows, the only function of the female clitoris is sexual pleasure, and that is by God’s design. He created it purely for her sexual enjoyment. Interestingly, however, between 70% and 90% of women cannot reach a sexual climax, or orgasm,[3] by vaginal intercourse.[4] Clitoral stimulation is the missing ingredient. So, husbands, that is where your loving skill is needed, and you will, of course, need her guidance (as well as some kind of lubrication). In light of all the other metaphorical language in Solomon’s Song, I suspect that when our Shulammite spoke of her desire for her husband’s left hand to be under her head and his right hand to embrace her, she was thinking, at least in part, about what we’re talking about right now.

Shooting Some Sexual Sacred Cows

Not every female clitoris is the same, so reading a how-to book on the best way to touch your wife’s could be misleading. Again, your wife will need to be your guide, and ongoing communication is essential. Women who have experience masturbating should be able to offer some helpful guidance, but even they, just like women who don’t have such experience, will appreciate their husband’s creative experimentation and desire for simultaneous feedback. Husbands, make it your goal to become a master at making your wife enjoy her fullest God-given ecstatic potential.

Since there is a very good chance that your wife is among the majority of women who cannot experience orgasm by vaginal intercourse, and because there is every chance that you can, good husbands put their wife’s pleasure ahead of theirs. In the classic Christian book on marital sex, The Act of Marriage, authors Tim and Beverly Lahaye recommended that husbands manually stimulate their wives right to the verge of orgasm, and then attempt to achieve simultaneous orgasm through intercourse. But that isn’t achievable by everyone.

Beyond that, since the apex sexual sense of men is sight, husbands may not want to miss the pleasure of seeing their wife climax because of their own simultaneous climax. For that and other reasons, many couples are satisfied with separate orgasms, and there can be many variations on that theme, especially when she has capacity for multiple orgasms, as many women do.

Of course, intercourse is not necessary, not only for female orgasm, but also for male orgasm, and some husbands genuinely prefer a “hand job” over orgasm from intercourse. I realize that there are some Christians who believe that such a practice is somehow a sinful perversion of what God intended, and they sometimes refer to the biblical story of Onan, who “spilled his seed,” as proof. I think, however, that they are greatly mistaken (see Chapter 7). If the majority of women require some clitoral stimulation other than penile stimulation to achieve orgasm, that rules out the possibility that there is anything sinful about husbands manually stimulating their wives to orgasm. It would also then stand to reason that there is nothing sinful about wives manually stimulating their husbands to orgasm. Such a form of “mutual masturbation”[5] is not only pleasurable, but is an ancient form of birth control that works just as well in modern times. Incidentally, it is probably the primary form of birth control in the world today, especially among the world’s poor.[6]

In Summary

I’d like to close this chapter, in which I’ve primarily focused on helping men be better husbands, once again reminding them of Paul’s admonition for married couples not to deprive each other:

The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer… (1 Cor. 7:3-5).

When you think about it, those are shocking words for a man who wrote elsewhere that wives should submit to their husbands as does the church to Christ (Eph. 5:22-24), but not vice versa. Apparently, that principle doesn’t apply when it comes to marital sex. To paraphrase part of the above-quoted passage, Paul said that the wife is the boss over her husband’s body and the husband is the boss over his wife’s body. So husbands should submit sexually to their wives, and vice versa. That mutual submission precludes any sexual deprivation.

In their strictest sense, of course, Paul’s words warn of the selfish sin of total sexual deprivation. They have application, however, to the concept of striving for the highest potential of sexual fulfillment, as indicated by his admonition for mutual sexual submission. No one imagines Paul was telling husbands to just make sure they spent a few minutes every few days penetrating their wives. Rather, Paul wanted husbands to understand that their bodies should be used to serve their wives sexually. And he wanted wives to understand that their bodies should be used to serve their husbands sexually.

All of that is to say—in closing to husbands—we have been given our biblical sexual mandate that is included in our mandate to love our wives as Christ loves the church. That means loving our wives sexually so they experience their fullest potential for sexual pleasure. Now that’s a mandate that sounds like it could be a lot of fun!

[1] Take note that lovers are not only physiologically hindered from making critical assessments of each other, but of everyone else too. This could explain why “romantics” are so easily taken advantage of by selfish people.

[2] I would add “encouragement” to that as well, as most men are much more emotionally-frail creatures than what they convey to the world. May God help us all to encourage others. Only God knows how many dreams have died due to a word of discouragement—that could have been fulfilled through a word of encouragement. “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another” (1Th. 5:11).

[3] I am using the words climax and orgasm synonymously, although some use climax to describe the heightened sexual arousal that occurs just prior to orgasm.

[4] 10 to 15 percent of women reportedly never climax under any circumstances.

[5] “Mutual masturbation” is a phrase that is also used to describe a couple self-masturbating together.

[6] Other means of low-budget birth control include “coitus interruptus,” which is what Onan did, and “the rhythm method,” when couples attempt to avoid sex during the few days of monthly female fertility. Both methods can be risky regarding pregnancy.