I “did everything right” growing up. I didn’t watch porn. I didn’t read erotic novels. I entered adulthood without ever having had sex.
And then I got married.
If you had asked me, I would have told you that I had no expectations for what sex would be like. I knew that it was good and that God had good plans for it, but I didn’t feel as though I knew what it was supposed to feel or look like. I had no idea what that first time with my husband would really be as an experience.
I thought I didn’t have any expectations, but unbeknownst to me, I actually wasn’t going into sex completely blind.
Because whilst I hadn’t watched porn or read erotic fiction or had sex, I had watched movies, read books and newspaper articles, been on social media, and just heard people talk about sex.
Culture had painted a picture of sex for me, and I was completely unaware of it.
Here are some of the lies the movies (and all the other stuff) told you and me about sex:
1. Sex is about performance.
I can’t even begin to count the number of movies or shows I have watched where a woman at some point has made some sort of reference to “not being good in bed.” The idea of being good in bed is so commonplace that even as a young college student, I remember friends asking me, “What will you do if your husband is bad in bed?” Thankfully I had the wherewithal to explain that, as somebody who had never had sex, I wouldn’t have anything to compare it to!
The problem with talking and thinking about sex in this way is that it places focus on the wrong aspect of the sexual experience. Our goal when we engage in sexual activity with our spouses is not to entertain them, but to connect with them. Rather than thinking, “Am I good in bed?” during sexual interactions, it might be better to ask, “Am I really connecting in bed?”
2. Sexiness is surface level.
When you think about the word “sexy,” what comes to mind? What do you think is sexy? How would you define sexiness?
As a wife I’ve often struggled to initiate sex. I’ve felt like I have to be serious, have a specific look on my face, dress a certain way, or talk a certain way. All of this was influenced by movies and books. Sex in movies was glamorized—it was about saying the right things and behaving a specific way, and this was very unlike my own light and playful demeanor.
In stark contrast to what I saw in the movies, over the years I have learned that being seductive is less about the way I look, talk, or act, and more about how I appeal to my husband and how he appeals to me. Sex is deeply personal, and seduction is too. I love how the lovers in Song of Solomon talk about each other. They are seduced by each other, not by what they are doing, wearing, or saying. Part of the adventure of building intimacy with your spouse involves discovering what he or she enjoys about you and leaning into that. It’s a journey both of you get to experience, and it requires being your truest selves, not the selves you think you ought to be in order to be sexy. This doesn’t mean you can’t be playful, adjust your tone of voice, or wear lingerie. Instead it means those things are optional add-ons when it comes to being sexy rather than being the whole entrée—you can but don’t have to do those things to appeal sexually to your spouse.
3. Sex is all about orgasm.
While many of us would be reluctant to say it in such black and white terms, something that is almost impossible to deny is that the movies taught us sex was all about orgasm. So much weight has been placed on orgasm that many people don’t see the point of sex without it.
This is why there’s a thriving market for personal sex toys, and it’s also why people often pursue extreme and violent sex and pornography. If pleasure is the ultimate goal, then it’s fine to do anything in order to achieve it.
Contrast this with what you see in Scripture. While the design of our bodies reveals that God wants sex to be pleasurable, pleasure is not God’s sole intention for sex. Going back once again to the Song of Solomon, the pleasure of the lovers wasn’t in a single fleeting feeling—it was in each other. This is the call and challenge of sexual intimacy: not just to have great sex, but to enjoy one another.
4. Great sex happens without communication.
This lie is specifically pervasive in movies that display hook up culture and one-night stands. Two strangers talk for a few minutes, have great “chemistry,” and then go home together. The next morning, each character talks with friends about how they had “mind-blowing sex.” But is this really rooted in reality or Scripture?
Sex therapists and marriage and family therapists would tell you that great sex requires good communication. Your spouse can’t know what feels good to you without you telling them, much in the same way they can’t know anything else without you communicating it to them. Cultivating an honest dialogue with your spouse about what you want your sex life to look like and how you feel during sex is important if you want it to be good, and something you’ll need to practice and prioritize if you really want it to be great.
While we’re talking about communication around sex, if you’re an engaged couple close to getting married, talk about your wedding night! Don’t make assumptions about what it will be like. Instead, be honest about your expectations, any fears you might have, and whether or not you want to have sex on your wedding night—there is no golden rule, the two of you get to set the standard.
We are all cultivating beliefs around different norms and issues all the time, and sex is no exception. The Bible calls us to weigh and sift what we hear, and when it comes to narratives around sex, we need to carefully compare what we read with what the Scripture says. Sex is a beautiful gift from God to us, a way for us to understand Him and His love for us on a deeper level, and a way for married couples to intimately know each other. Don’t let the lies taint the beauty of that gift!
Check out the blog: What To Wear in the Bedroom?
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