The Sex Lies Hurting Our Marriages

June 24, 2016

in Uncategorized

I am increasingly convinced our sexuality is based on lies upon lies. Even when we seek the truth about sex I fear we are doomed to fail because we end up choosing from competing lies. Some of the lies are less horrible than others, but they’re still lies and they still keep us from the sex lives and marriage relationships God intended us to enjoy. It’s enough to scare us away from sex!

Scared woman © |

I’d very much like to follow that lead-in with a post sharing The Truth about sex and intimacy with you. Sadly, I can’t do that because I’ve not found much of the truth. What I hope I can do is expose some of the lies and point you in the direction of some of the truth. If you realise you’ve been living lies you can start to look for truth, and while that can be a challenging journey, it’s well worth the effort.

I’ve been mulling over this post for some time now. I don’t really feel ready to do it, but I suspect I will never feel ready. I hope this will spark a lot of discussions: discussion here, discussion with your husband, and discussion with your friends. Sharing the bits of truth we find will help others, and perhaps together we can zero in on the truth. So, without further ado, some thoughts on the lies and truth of sex:

Lie: Sex Is Just For Men

I’ve touched on this before. I think it’s one of the biggest sex lies of our time. It robs both men and women of the intimacy that should permeate their marriages. It keeps women from looking for the truth about sex, and it skews men’s perception of sex away from the truth. God intended both men and women to have a deep desire to be sexual with their spouse. What drives us to sex differs, but the end goal is the same.

Truth: It’s About Connection

God created us as sexual beings so husband and wife would become deeply connected. A mutually enjoyed sex life bonds a couple like nothing else. Sex alone won’t do it, but without sex, it’s not possible for a couple to have a deeply intimate marriage. Sex is not the frosting on the cake, it’s the oven that converts batter into a cake. 

Lie: Sex Is A Small Part of Life

We are inherently sexual beings. Not just when we’re having sex, but all the time. Our gender is a huge part of who we are, and sex flows from our gender. When we compartmentalise sex we turn it into something other than what God intended. Cutting it off from the rest of our relationship makes it cold and mechanical, lacking in the depth is should have. 

Truth: Sex Is Good for Us

This one is easy to prove; regular orgasmic sex has been shown to do amazing things for the health of our bodies and minds. Good sex means you’ll live longer and have less disease and pain. Sex also helps us feel more emotionally balanced and fights depression. 

Lie: It’s All About Physical Pleasure

Physical pleasure is important (see next) but sex is so much more than orgasm. Sex cross-connects our minds and emotions. Sexual generosity fosters appreciation, while sexual vulnerability leads to greater trust. We learn to give and receive and to take great enjoyment in both. BTW, focusing on physical pleasure tends to make the non-physical better.

Truth: Physical Pleasure Is Important 

Our bodies are designed to experience incredible pleasure during sex. Most of us never get even close to what we could have. I suspect this is out of fear. Fear of being overwhelmed, fear of losing one’s self, fear of being dependent on our spouse, or fear of enjoying it “too much”. While it’s easy to put this one on women, I think men do it too. 

The physical pleasure God packed into sex is so great it terrifies us. The pleasure isn’t just a bonus, and it’s not just there to get us to have sex. Arousal and orgasm cause significant hormonal and chemical changes. Most of the benefits of sex are tied to these biochemical changes; exclude or limit the pleasure and we miss out on much of what God wanted sex to do for us. BTW, focusing on non-physical pleasure tends to make the physical much better.

Lie: Sex Is Overrated

We get burned out or bummed out about sex because we’re not living the truth. If we feel it’s not worth the trouble, or nice but no a big deal, we’ve missed what God intended. What God wants for us in sex is far too grand to ever be overrated.

Truth: There Is So Much More!

I think what we experience sexually is a very small part of what God intended. We’re viewing a two-dimensional, black and white, cartoon. God wants us to participate in a real, 3D, full-colour reality. 

Lie: Porn Is About Sex

Porn uses sex, but it’s not really about sex. I’ll be talking about porn next week both here and on The Generous Husband. 

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I want to expose all the lies!

This week’s TMB surveyGot Foreplay? ◄ How long should foreplay and intercourse last? Do you get as much as you would like?

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Henri June 24, 2016 at 7:31 am

Thank you for stating that sex is not “icing” on the cake, but the oven! I’d even go so far as to say its part of the ingredients of the cake itself. It has always bothered me when people refer to it as icing, because that implies its not always necessary or somehow a “reward”.


Paul Byerly June 26, 2016 at 8:45 pm

@Henri – The Bible certainly does not tell us it’s icing!
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ac22dm June 24, 2016 at 2:11 pm

That post really put some wholes in thoughts I have about sex. I am right now trying to male sex less important to me. This is mainly because my wife doesn’t want to have sex,, it’s been more than a month since the last time and it doesn’t look as it is going to get better. So I have ,as I have said in another post, started to find ways to not care about having sex. for example focusing on God in prayer. I have lately started to come closer to God and noticed that during times of prayer my desire for sex is calmed down and that helps me to be loving towards my wife. My hope is that this will work altough i have noticed that I have started to get bitter and angry towards her without any reason. I don’t know if it is the lack of intimacy but again my hope is that prayer will help against that to but I am not sure, according to this point this will just make our marriage worse. But I don’t know. I mean , shouldn’t I after some time in prayer feel that I want sex more if it is something good? Or is sex unnecessary if you try to live as close to God as possible?


Paul Byerly June 24, 2016 at 6:19 pm

@ac22dm – The apostle Paul addressed your final sentence in 1 Cor 7. He was arguing against the Gnostics, who said sex was fleshy and evil and should be avoided even in marriage. Paul said they were wrong, and made it clear a couple should never refuse each other and could only go without sex if they both wanted to do so for a LIMITED time of prayer and fasting.
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ac22dm June 25, 2016 at 9:33 am

Then I guess my marriage is doomed. I don’t know if we are going to have sex again. I am struggling with pornography. I had told my wife before, even before we got married but she chose to marry me. In the beginning things were ok and I felt I was going to be free but the last 1 1/2 year I had spiritual burnout. Didn’t want to be in church, couldn’t pray or read the Bible and so on. My wife is a Christian but she has a hard time taking time for God in prayer and Bible reading so I didn’t get much help there either. Because of how i felt it was harder and harder to say no to pornography and I fell deeper and deeper. Hated it, was tired of it but I kept doing it. I told my wife one or two times but then didn’t tell her so much and she didn’t ask. Like it had never happened. During all this time she didn’t want to have sex much. Even if she could say I am such a bad wife because we don’t have sex because she knew I wanted to be with her. Recently she discovered that I had watched again and she seemed surprised. I told her the truth. She got angry and sad of course and it made the sex thing worse. We barely hug anymore(but that actually started befor that) .Sometimes it seems like she wants to have sex but I don’t know because she sometimes says she wants to but in the end nothing happens. As I said in me previous comment I am now trying to just focus on God because I know that the only way I can be free from porn is through being close to Him and the reason for me to be free isn’t mainly my wife, it is for God so even if she never wants to have sex with me I will still continue to fight the fight of purity and now that I am starting to come back to God I know I can make it with Him. I have started to ask myself I if divorce is the answer. I don’t want to but I don’t know how long she can take. I don’t think she feels the same thing anymore and she deserves someone and something better. after all I have watched other women with lust and I have fornicate me with them according to our Lord and she then has the right to divorce without feeling guilt. So maybe the best thing is to continue like this and cut off more and more of our relationship until she wants to leave. It’s maybe for the best. I mean if I divorce I will never remarry again, I don’t want that, I will live the rest of my life for the Lord. I do hope altough I will be divorced that God will be able to use me.


Paul Byerly June 25, 2016 at 7:49 pm

@ac22dm – PLEASE get some help. If your wife won’t go, go without her. Your marriage can be saved if you both work at it. If she knows not working on it means it ends, she might be motivated.
Divorce is never easy or painless, and it would hurt both of you AND YOUR CHILDREN for the rest of your lives.
Paul Byerly recently posted…The BIG Sex LieMy Profile


Jolie June 25, 2016 at 4:54 pm

Don’t hormones have a lot to do with sexual desire, drive, and pleasure?

Why would we develop all these lies that keep us from such a wonderful experience?

Why did we create porn?


Paul Byerly June 25, 2016 at 7:46 pm

@Jolie – As to hormones, yes and no. In WWII the Germans had mines that destroyed a man’s testicles but otherwise did little harm. The phycological terror caused by these was significant. I bring this up because a study was done of men who lost their testicles this way and went home to live normal lives. This was before we could replace testosterone, so these men had very little T in their bodies. Men who were happily married before they were wounded tended to stay married, and for the most part to continue to have sex. They could still get erections and climax, but the hormonal drive to do so was gone. Men who had not been married before they were wounded didn’t tend to go home and get married, and those who did had very little sex. So while T plays a part, it’s only a part.

Why do we develop lies that limit our enjoyment? There are many theories, but clearly, humans have done this for all of recorded history, and not just about sex. Some fear pleasure, or what it can to do to people. Some think refraining from pleasure makes them stronger mentally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually. One often suggested factor on this is that men fear female sexuality because they think they can’t keep up and thus can’t keep a woman satisfied. There are cultures that very clearly thought this in the past, and I think it’s still a factor.

I’m doing a series on porn next week – see if I answer your question then.
Paul Byerly recently posted…The BIG Sex LieMy Profile


Jolie June 26, 2016 at 7:29 am

I believe many women fear male sexuality also.

It’s almost impossible to grow up these days and not know of someone who has been raped or molested. 1 in 4 women are sexually assaulted at some point. We are told to not go out alone at night. We are supposed to keep our keys between our fingers to use as a weapon in case we are attacked while walking to our car. We repeatedly hear stories of girls gang raped at frat parties and having their pictures plastered all over social media. Over and over we are bombarded with the stories of Brock Turner, Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby, etc.

Like it or not, these things don’t paint a pretty picture of male sexuality.
Now, we can argue that these things have nothing to do with sex, but try explaining that to a 12 year old girl.

My point is that these are the stories we grow up hearing.
This is our reality.
Are these lies? Perhaps some. Will they affect how we view men and sex? You bet.
Will it affect our personal sexuality? My guess is yes.

Oh, and then there’s porn.


Jolie June 26, 2016 at 3:29 pm

I wanted to correct my statistic (I hit the wrong number).
1 in every 6 women have been victim of attempted rape or raped in their lifetime according to RAINN.


Paul Byerly June 26, 2016 at 8:48 pm

@Jolie – And plenty of other women feel a real threat at some point. And even more act out of fear of being raped.
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libl June 26, 2016 at 6:35 pm

I am very pro sex in marriage and enjoy sex greatly, but there are times I wish I could stone wall my sexuality in. I have already decided that if my husband ever leaves me or passes away, I will not seek remarriage.

Women want love, respect, devotion, security, and fidelity. Sex is VERY vulnerable for us. We are weaker vessels, generally. Men can overpower us and we must trust them with ourselves. A man’s unbridled sexuality can be scary and intimidating. It can also be sexy (stuff bodice rippers are made of). Our orgasms can be a journey or elusive. It can be heart breaking and feel like being used when a man doesn’t put in the selfless effort to help us. Men enter our bodies. The very act of sex makes us more vulnerable. We are more susceptible to pain during sex, infection, and we are the ones who get pregnant.

On top of the physical is the emotional. We want fidelity. We don’t want to be #1. We want to be only one!! Any time porn is used, a gal is leered at, a put-down or locker room comment is made, it is like a nail in a board. Even if the nail is removed, the hole remains.

One of my biggest marriage fears is that my husband will no longer be sexually attracted to me and indulge with someone else. He isn’t very guarded with his eyes, thinking I am just overreacting and jealous. He sees a bit of boob and skin that mean nothing more than a smirk of “I’m married not dead” tittilation, and I see our marriage fidelity getting knocked over, and I am the only one who cares to put it upright. It freaking hurts, even if it is just a glance at a porn pic or playboy magazine the guys at work bring in so they won’t call him gay the rest of the day. Even if it is that YouTube fails video or TV show with the excuse of, “I can’t help what they put in it. I’m not watching it for THAT.”

It hurts too darn much to be this vulnerable and not have the security, love, and respect of fidelity. When the sex in marriage is too easily replaceable with cheap substitutions it cheapens ME, too. When women aren’t respected and protected in general by a husband, a wife does not feel respected and protected.


Paul Byerly June 26, 2016 at 8:50 pm

@libl – Unfortunately there are plenty of men who don’t get this, and they and their wive’s pay for that.
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Paul Byerly June 26, 2016 at 8:47 pm

@Jolie – Yeah, women have plenty of reason to fear male sexuality, and that’s not doing anything positive for her sexual desire or enjoyment.

And yes, there’s porn – which messes up both men and women.
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Lynn June 26, 2016 at 3:31 am

The reading in my church this weekend is Galatians, where Paul says that the spirit and the flesh are at war with one another. Just coincidentally.


Paul Byerly June 26, 2016 at 7:08 am

@Lynn – What we usually miss is the fact sex is about more than our “flesh”. Sex is a deeply spiritual act because this is how God created it. Because our flesh is involved it’s been tainted like everything else, but that does not mean it’s unholy or lacking in good!
Paul Byerly recently posted…JealousyMy Profile


Jolie June 27, 2016 at 1:02 pm

I’ve been wondering about something I hear all the time:

The only way men know how to express love or feel loved is through sex.

True or false?


IntimacySeeker June 28, 2016 at 9:00 am

@Jolie I imagine you direct this question to Paul, but I wish to share my input. My experience has been that my husband expresses and feels loved through a variety of interactions. However, the primary way he feels loved by me is through sex. While not the only means by which he feels accepted, affirmed and appreciated, it is the most powerful and significant means. When this is missing, all the other expressions of love are diminished. Likewise, when sexual intimacy flourishes, all the other expressions of love are intensified.

If I may digress a bit, perhaps the primary reason husbands long for vulnerability from their wives is to level the playing field (pardon the expression) as husbands are by design vulnerable in relation to their wives.


Sarah June 28, 2016 at 1:35 pm

What do you mean by “vulnerable” with their wives? Is that not normal? I’m not following.

Maybe it’s just my experience. I don’t think my husband really needs me or anything from me. He’s fond of me, but he could get along without me just fine. I think if we separated, he would be angry, but could move on within weeks and never look back.

I don’t see him as vulnerable at all.


Sarah June 28, 2016 at 1:36 pm

I meant normal instead of not normal.


Paul Byerly June 28, 2016 at 3:05 pm

@Sarah – Many men are not vulnerable with their wife, and many more are only doing so to a limited degree. We are told it’s not manly, and we fear being dependent on someone else. If I need my wife, she has power over me; if I don’t need her and she needs me then I have all the power in the relationship.
Of course, the truth is we do have needs our wives could and should fill – and I’m not talking about sex in any way here. So many men are miserable on the inside because they are “protecting” themselves. It’s very sad for them and for those close to them.
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Sarah June 28, 2016 at 5:05 pm

That doesn’t make any sense to me. I thought men craved respect which must be earned by one and given by the other. If a husband is seeking power and dominance, he will wind up feared not respected, I would think. His wife will probably resent his treatment of her and lose all respect and love for him. This sounds like a perfect storm for a wife’s falling into infidelity with a kinder, more tender man which robs her husband of all power. Else, she may slam the doors of her heart and her bedroom closed after she grows cold towards him again depriving him of any attention or affection.

Isn’t it self-destructive behavior? Or am I missing something?


Paul Byerly June 28, 2016 at 8:27 pm

@Sarah – It is self-limiting at the very least. It makes what he says he wants less likely. Of course, men have not cornered the market on such things. This kind of thing is as sane as women withholding sex to get her guy to love her.
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IntimacySeeker June 29, 2016 at 12:30 pm

When I learned that sex with me was the primary way my husband felt loved and respected, I realized I was in the position of power. The higher drive spouse is vulnerable to the power of the lower drive spouse who calls the shots when it comes to sex. I can choose to use that power to bless him. Or I can choose to use that power to hurt him. This is the vulnerability I speak of.


IntimacySeeker June 29, 2016 at 12:38 pm

More clarification here – when I speak of men longing for vulnerability from their wives, I am again, referring to sex. I see many men write about wanting their wives to be vulnerable during lovemaking. I don’t think they mean vulnerable as in “at risk of being injured” rather open about their wants and needs during lovemaking and fearless about their desire for, and enjoyment of, orgasm. They say her orgasm means more to them than her own, and translates that she is giving herself, her whole self, 100% to them. They want her to need sex as much as they do. THAT kind of vulnerability levels the playing field a bit where sex is concerned.


Paul Byerly June 29, 2016 at 4:58 pm

@IntimacySeeker – It certainly feels safer if she wants/needs it as much. But I don’t think it has to be that way. If a man learns he can trust his wife with his sexuality and all that’s tied up in it, being vulnerable is okay. I mean, a woman doesn’t have to gain the same physical strength her husband has to feel safe with him.
As to the power of the lower drive spouse you are 100% right. There’s no neutral use of that power, it either blesses or causes harm. And of course, harm need not be intended to happen. Because of this, I am coming to see sexual refusal as a form of emotional abuse.
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Jolie June 29, 2016 at 6:20 pm

The way I see it is that men’s sense of self and masculinity is so tied up in his sexuality that having his wife enjoy what they have to give makes them feel whole and validated as a man.

So , here is a question:
If a woman’s orgasms aren’t all that great, or they are a lot of work to attain and/or she is at a point (menopause) where orgasms are completely elusive at best and arousal near impossible, are we to pretend otherwise so that our husbands still feel loved?

Why do men complain about a woman’s lack of enthusiasm even when she is still willing but lacks the energy for anything more?


Paul Byerly June 28, 2016 at 3:09 pm

@Jolie – Far too many men don’t know any other way, but that’s not because they are created unable to show or feel love in other ways.
I do think we are designed for sex to be a powerful way of giving or receiving love. As IntimacySeeker suggested, if the sex is missing or not enough it’s difficult for a man to feel loved. Even if he is open to the other ways, it may not be enough. I also think some of the other ways are not really open if sex is lacking.
So yes, sex is important, and beyond that, our brokenness makes it far more important than is should be.
Paul Byerly recently posted…Porn Is NOT About SexMy Profile


Jolie June 30, 2016 at 8:07 am

Thank you for your explanation.

I’m guessing that my problem with this concept is that I don’t want it to be true. I am now past menopause and sex is physically difficult to impossible for me, I no longer orgasm, and arousal has slipped off the edge of the earth. I have been seeing doctors and hormone specialists for years…my symptoms are not that uncommon.

If sex is the only way my husband has of feeling loved by me, I am now an inadequate wife.

After 30 years of marriage, I want my husband to love me for me. I want him to love my laugh and sense of humor. I want him to love spending time with me doing yard work or visiting new places. I want him to love my personality. I want him to feel loved when I hug him or hold his hand or when I tell him I love him. I want his male person to love my female person.

This is depressing.


Sherrie Heim August 21, 2016 at 10:59 pm

My husband and I are in a sexless marriage, not my choice. He uses porn and masturbation.
I am not wanting to fight about this anymore. But today I was doin the laundry, and my husband bought himself lotion for men it’s very strong smelling like after shave. It was in his underwear front and back. I want to ask him to at least buy unsented lotion. How do I ask without starting a fight?


Paul Byerly August 22, 2016 at 10:24 am

@Sherrie Heim – I suppose you could buy something and replace his – but that would seem to be giving permission.
I understand not wanting this to remind you of a painful situation, but you’re fighting a symptom, not the real problem.
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