Marriage Advice From A Christian Perspective

Sugar-Laced Poison: The Realities of Sexual Sin

  • Kathy Collard Miller, D. Larry Miller & Larry Richards, Ph.D.
  • 2010 30 Oct
Sugar-Laced Poison: The Realities of Sexual Sin

GENESIS 3:6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

When Satan tempts, he offers something that seems "pleasing" and "desirable." When Satan tempts a couple with sex, he makes it seem like they can't live without it and that it's the ultimate pleasure—which they are missing. Yes, sex is pleasurable, but the pleasure is not worth disobeying God. Temptation focuses on what we don't have and ignores what God has already given us.

How Others See It

Albert Y. Hsu: "The first step to a healthy approach toward sexuality is to recognize that sexual expression is not essential for life. Jesus himself is our example for living the single life without sexual activity.

Society and the media, especially movies, portray sex as if no one can possibly live without it, and that with it, life will be abundant with joy. Yet, only a relationship with God can meet such a claim. Sex is a short-lived pleasure that is wonderful, but spiritual oneness with God is more important and more valuable.

The word for wisdom in this passage refers to the idea of being "in the know." Another one of Satan's whispered lies about sex outside of mar­riage is that we can't be "in the know" about whether or not this person is the one to marry unless we experience sexual intimacy with him or her. This isn't true because good sex doesn't have as much to do with com­patibility as it does with serving the other person.

God wants married couples to grow and develop their sexual artistry within the safe atmosphere of marriage. Outside that boundary, members of a couple who have sex do not feel free to be who they really are because they are worried about whether their performance is acceptable.

The Birth of Shame

GENESIS 3:7-13 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed .g leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, "Where are you?" He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?" The man said, "The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." Then the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."

After Adam and Eve sinned by eating the forbidden fruit, Satan's promise came true: their eyes were opened. But it wasn't what they expected. Instead of true wisdom, they lost their innocence about life and their trust of each other. Now they were uncomfortable with each other's bodies, and they tried to hide from each other. Then they tried to hide from God.

How Others See It

Liz Curtis Higgs: "Now fallen, Adam, who had named every animal in the garden, had to find a name for what they did: sin. A name for what they felt: shame. A name for the consequences: separation."

Joseph M. Stowell: "Realizing their shame and loss, Adam and Eve tried to cover their sin by sewing fig leaves together. Our world still specializes in fig leaves, because there is no hope of significance apart from God. When sin is present, as it is in all of us, there is also no hope of restoration to him in and of our­selves and therefore no hope of true, shameless significance. That is why redemption is such a pivotal and wonderful reality. The marvel of it all is that God has taken the initiative."

John Eldredge: "You don't need a course in psychology to understand men. Understand that verse, let its implications sink in, and the men around you will suddenly come into focus. We are hiding, every last one of us. Well aware that we, too, are not what we were meant to be, desperately afraid of exposure, terrified of being seen for what we are and are not, we have run off into the bushes. We hide in our office, at the gym, behind the newspaper and mostly behind our personality. Most of what you encounter when you meet a man is a façade, an elaborate fig leaf, a brilliant disguise."

God does want us to desire wisdom, but true wisdom comes from knowing God—not from having sex with somebody. Proverbs 1:7 says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." Disobeying God's commands will never give us true wis­dom or joy, but seeking and obeying God will.

Disobedience brought consequences that Adam and Eve never anticipated. They were banished from the Garden of Eden. Adam had to work hard to bring food from the ground. Eve became submissive to her husband, and was fated to have pain during childbirth.

Disobeying God's laws always brings consequences. Couples who have sex before marriage may carry guilt into the wedding day. A man and woman who have premarital sex may become distrustful of each other. Their "knowledge" of each other is no longer innocent and could influence their ability to enjoy sex when married.

A Consequence We Never Anticipated

LARRY: After dating and falling in love with Kathy, I found myself overwhelmed by the desire for sex. As we continued to struggle I wanted to move up the wedding date. The cycle was vicious, and I judged myself a weak leader. It never occurred to me that making myself accountable to a small group of men could have made a difference.

For six years until I moved, I had been a part of a small group of men. We were wholly committed to our mutual spiritual growth. Before this group, I faced life alone. I shared with no one. Now, years later, I find the daily struggle to walk with Christ less harsh and victories more frequent. Truly, a small group of committed men makes each man stand a little taller and walk a little straighter. I wish that I'd had that support and accountability when Kathy and I were dating.

KATHY: Larry and I struggled with our sexual desires while we were dating, wondering if we would be able to stay pure until our wedding day. When we experienced the failure of going beyond the boundaries we had set for ourselves, we would both become upset. I had a hard time believing God could forgive us since it seemed like we fell too often. It was so hard to resist, yet I knew God wanted us to stay pure.

When we finally married, I didn't realize our sexual wanderings before marriage would influence our relationship. I had developed a great bitterness toward Larry, without realizing how deep it was, because he didn't have more self-control. I blamed myself tremendously also, but I thought he was primarily responsible.

My resentment and guilt about our failings influenced me so that I couldn't enjoy sex as much after we were married. It just didn't seem right to enjoy something we had previously struggled against. I also found that my body wasn't as responsive as before marriage. It wasn't until doing research for our book When the Honeymoon's Over that I learned the illicitness of our touching before marriage had become a stimulus in itself. It also became a trigger for responding. After Larry and I got married, the illicit trigger was no longer there to cause a strong reaction.

It took several years for me to work through my guilt and anger toward Larry. I finally put it behind me when I truly accepted God's for­giveness. Then I was free to forgive Larry and myself. My sexual response improved over the years, but I missed out on greater enjoyment in the beginning because of our history while dating.

Passionate Patience

GENESIS 29:16-20 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful. Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, "I'll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel." Laban said, "It's better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me." So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.

The Bible is honest in sharing the sexual immorality of many people in the history of God's people, but there was one person who waited seven years to sexually enjoy the woman he was madly in love with: Jacob! Jacob agreed to work for seven years in order to earn his marriage to his beloved Rachel, and he kept both of them pure during that time. He loved her so much that the long seven-year wait was worth it to him. The first step to purity is to believe it's possible.

How Others See It

Joy Jacobs and Deborah Strubel: "We must see ourselves as God sees us: as unique, created, loved beings. We are not animals. We are capable of reasoning and weighing the possible consequences of our actions before we perform them. When we start with correct beliefs about the sanctity of human life, we can translate those beliefs into correct attitudes and proper actions. Only when we accept responsibility for our actions and their consequences will we be empowered to change."

 One of Satan's lies regarding sexual purity is, "No one else has enough self-control to resist, why do you think you can?" Yet many people do resist every day—our society just doesn't celebrate their dependence upon God. From the movies, other media, books, and pornography, you'd think that "everyone's doing it," but there are many who are not. Thankfully, there are also those who are vocal in encouraging people to "just say no!"

Excerpted from What's in the Bible for Couples © 2007 by Kathy Collard Miller, D. Larry Miller, and Larry Richards, Ph.D.  Copyright © 2007; ISBN 9780764203848

Used by permission of Bethany House Publishers.  Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.

Originally posted April 15, 2008