A fresh perspective…
Tobi Layton

Since we began writing this column, my mom and I have covered almost every topic pertaining to marriage--from housework to kids to romance. However, one subject has remained taboo: sex. Considering that my mom edits each column before it goes to press, I've not been keen on sharing the most intimate details of my marriage. Plus, I edit her perspective on the same topic, which, in this case would be her sex life…with my dad! Awkward! However, a recent six-week series on sex at our church (yes, six weeks…about sex…at church!) has given me a new perspective on the topic, and thus, newfound bravery.

When I first learned that our pastor would be preaching six sermons on the delicate subject, I first wondered how he could possibly compose so many messages that would be appropriate for a weekend crowd of almost a thousand. Then I wondered how embarrassing the services would be. You see, my husband and I have recently started taking a homebound gentleman and his elderly mother with us to church. However, like many in the congregation, I was intrigued.

The sanctuary was a little more crowded than normal for the series opener. I'm sure I saw several red faces when the readers quoted from the Song of Solomon, but Pastor Ron broke the ice with his opening joke--tasteful, yet on topic. Then, he proceeded to address what I know so many were wondering--why talk about sex in church? In a sex-saturated culture, he contended, where better to learn about God's gift to married couples? We have been so surrounded by the world's twisted version of intimacy, that often, we think the act itself is somehow unspeakable, sometimes even between husband and wife. To be sure, we need to respect the privacy of our bedroom, but what takes place there should not be a taboo subject for the inhabitants of that bedroom. Communication is a crucial aspect in all areas of a marriage, and sex is no exception.

Over the next month and a half, our congregation was presented with many valuable lessons. And much that we learned could apply in more areas than the bedroom. Here is what I learned:

No part of your life is more important than your relationship with God. Get that right by serving Him and other areas will follow. A similar truth can be found in marriage. Sex is a very important component of marriage, and while it may be able to break a relationship, it cannot make it. Live unselfishly, serving your spouse, and your sex life will reflect those intentions. You'll both reap the rewards.

Men and women are different. Rather than trying to change your mate, seek to understand them and the way they are wired. Then, take advantage of it! Also, try not to be offended if your mate doesn't "get" you all the time, especially if you're the wife. Women are much more complicated to "learn" than our husbands are! Practice good communication and understanding.

Keep your marriage pure. In such a filthy culture, we must constantly guard the sanctity of our marriage. Don't even get close to the edge of purity.

If you or your spouse have made mistakes in the past, God will forgive and wash those sins away. Let Him! And enjoy the freedom grace brings!

I am happy to announce that six weeks later, I was neither disappointed nor mortified by the messages, even with our older guests in tow.  And, without providing too much personal information (motherly eyes are reading, you know), the discussions that were sparked by the series also fanned a few flames elsewhere in our marriage.

A seasoned perspective…
Deborah Raney

Tobi sent me her column weeks ago, and yes, I've been busy with a book deadline, but the truer reason for the delay is that I'm just now getting up the courage to write the "seasoned perspective" on this touchy topic. (Daughterly eyes are reading, you know.)