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Whenever I speak to women’s groups, one of the topics we talk about is modesty.
When it comes to what to wear and how to carry themselves in public, most Christian women I have met have a fairly clear sense of what is modest.
And if they ever need reminders on what not to do, they could simply take a quick glance at the pop culture landscape, right? In a public realm, we don’t grapple too much with what is modest and what is not. The sharp contrast is there in plain view for us to see on magazine covers, in media and entertainment, in window displays and within people’s behavior and attire.
But what about behind closed doors in the privacy of your marriage? Do you find the lines as easy to discern? Has modesty killed sex in your marriage—or at the minimum tarnished it a bit?
At first glance such a statement may sound quite harsh, but let’s unpack it a bit. Sit with it awhile. And figure out what it means. Modesty that glorifies God on the street may not glorify Him in your bed.
The reason God calls us to glorify Him when we are deciding what to wear and how to behave once we walk out the door is because what we do when we are partially naked or fully naked with our spouse is sacred. If what we show the rest of the world or what we allude to with our dress or body language or verbal language starts to encroach on what is meant only for our spouse in private, the sacredness of sex is diminished.
And God doesn’t want His gift of sex diminished. God thinks so highly of arousal, sexual pleasure and sexual oneness that He wants it nurtured only in the safety of covenant.
From this perspective, the motive for public modesty is clear. We want to glorify God. We desire to keep the marriage bed pure (ours and others’) by not displaying something in public that is meant for private.
Have you ever felt that if you became uninhibited sexually with your spouse, it would go against everything you believe is honorable about modesty. Possibly you would even start to see sexual passion and freedom, even with the person you married, as something sinful that does not glorify God.
Some women struggle so much with “flipping the switch” so to speak—going from being modest in public to embracing sexual freedom in private—that they just don’t do it. Ironically, though, this then becomes the slight against God.
Modesty that glorifies God on the street may not glorify Him in your bed.
God designed sex to be thoroughly enjoyed by a husband and wife within the exclusivity of their relationship. Arousal, sexual pleasure, passion, intercourse—they are all wedding gifts from God. Do you find yourself being so restrictive and modest that you do not thoroughly appreciate those gifts? If so, consider the below insights.
One of the best ways you can loosen the unhealthy grips of modesty in your marriage is by being appropriately sexually playful when your clothes are on.
Foreplay isn’t just about what happens right before we have sex. It also is an attitude we carry with us long before a sexual encounter. Within the privacy of your home, you can be sexually affectionate and suggestive, yet discreet at the same time if other people are around. Truth be told, even when you are in public, you can still be discreetly suggestive and playful as well.
There should be touches between you and your spouse that are not overtly sexual, but they certainly aren’t modest either. Grow in your sexual playfulness while you are clothed, and modesty won’t be such a stumbling block once you make it to the bedroom.
I have had more than one wife tell me they don’t initiate sex because they associate it with being promiscuous. Good girls just don’t do that sort thing. They don’t desire and seek sex.
But you know what? Good girls in marriage do exactly that thing! They desire and seek sex! This idea that only a husband can initiate sex is a skewed message. It doesn’t find any footing in the Bible. God is clear that neither a husband nor a wife should withhold their body from each other, which clearly conveys that both can seek each other’s body.
If you rarely or never initiate sex, you may say it’s because you’re modest. But what if that’s not actually true? What if it’s because you have misinterpreted God’s Word? Or you have relied only on what someone else told you about being a godly wife, instead of discovering for yourself?
When both a husband and wife embrace the responsibility and privilege of initiating sex, the overall health of the marriage and the sexual intimacy in it improve. Don’t fall back on modesty as a reason for not sharing in the initiation of sex.
Yes, I realize sometimes body image struggles rather than modesty drives this, but it robs the marriage bed nonetheless. Morally, you are the only one your spouse can desire sexually and see naked with the intent of sexual pleasure. It is a desire and need that cannot ethically be fulfilled any other way.
You’re it. And your spouse is it for you.
I occasionally have women tell me they will never have sex with any light on in the room or without being fully covered by a sheet or blanket. They won’t let their husband see them get dressed or undressed. Yet research would tell us most guys are visual and long to see their wife’s body.
I would add to this by saying that some men find lingerie incredibly arousing. This doesn’t mean you have to wear something uncomfortable or distasteful. There are many tasteful options of lingerie that are revealing and enticing. But I certainly wouldn’t call them modest.
Context means everything. The more you grow in letting your spouse see you naked, the better you understand context means everything.
Sadly, we too often associate all sexual uninhibitedness with promiscuity. If as a wife you have been hesitant to tell or show your husband what brings you sexual pleasure, I wonder if it is because you think any woman who would do that is a woman of low character.
I encourage you to reframe your perspective. First of all, your sexual pleasure matters as much as your husband’s. Second, it’s not fair to expect him to understand your body without you giving him some guidance (in the same way it’s not fair for him to expect you to understand his body without him giving you some guidance). And third, marriage is a place for lovers who know sex is about more than intercourse. Together, you and your spouse can discover all the delightful idiosyncrasies of foreplay and arousal and passion that are significant to you.
Modesty in the public realm compels us to wisely apply restrictions—clothing, attitude and language that is not sexually suggestive. But if we bring this kind of modesty into the bedroom, we likely will rob ourselves of profound sexual connection. We won’t experience sex as God intended. And we won’t build the trust and vulnerability to genuinely enjoy sexual pleasure with each other.
This could be an addendum to point 4, but it’s worth its own mention, too. When you climax, does your spouse know you enjoy it?
Yes, I get that if you have kids in the house (or live in an apartment with really thin walls!), you may not be able to scream at the top of your lungs when you are gripped by orgasmic ecstasy. But you can still make it clear that being turned on and having an orgasm are quite the happy place for you, right?!
Don’t be modest in letting your spouse know that you are sexually pleased. It feels really good to climax, and your husband is the person who should know—really know—when you feel that kind of pleasure.
And I have a 5 video series available on building better sex in your marriage. Great way to invest in your marriage! You can find out all about it at this link: Better Sex in Your Christian Marriage.
Copyright 2020, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.