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DISCLAIMER. This particular post talks about sex. Parents should read first before deciding whether to share with their kids. There are no specific details about sex, but I thought I should warn you all the same.
DISCLAIMER 2. The principles I speak about here are for marriages that are generally healthy even if imperfect. They are for those who love their family but may struggle with the intimate part of marriage as well. That being said, many of these principles are not for abusive marriages. If you suspect you are in an abusive marriage and do not know how to get out, reach out to someone you trust. Do not fall into the trap that if you do everything perfectly, your spouse will come around.
The Family Proclamation is a document packed full of doctrine and ideals, and it all surrounds the family. It all fits on one page and holds just over 600 words.There is a lot of doctrine that the Lord could have chosen to reveal surrounding families. He could have spoken more about the idea of sealings, how to achieve family bliss, or our premortal family. However, I believe He chose His words very specifically. Every sentence in there holds foundational truths; there are no minced words. Every sentence is important; no sentence can be disregarded.
Here is one sentence that I believe filters into the entire document.
“We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed.”
Let’s break that sentence down. I see two parts.
The means by which mortal life is created…so sex.
Divinely appointed…deliberately chosen by God.
The doctrine here is extremely clear. God chose sex to be the means of creating human life. It was meant to be a beautiful part of life that brings us closer to God. It was meant to be the ultimate expression of love. It was meant to enable us to step into the shoes of God and create with Him.
When I first read the Proclamation in preparation for this week’s post, the sentence stuck out to me. I thought it was interesting that God chose to include that one statement regarding it. There is not much elaboration, but it was significant enough to include.
However, as I read through the Proclamation again to make sure there were no other sentences regarding sex, I realized that the entire document holds truths about intimacy and its roles in our lives. They may not seem outwardly about sex, but they still hold truths that apply to sex.
“Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other……fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”
Having sex is so much more than simply having children. It is part of our responsibility to love and care for each other. So what does this look like in a healthy marriage?
Because of how much Satan has sought to warp and silence the topic of sex, it can be much harder to recognize what healthy sex looks like. The extent of sex education for some teenagers amounts to nothing. For others, it never extends beyond pornography because their parents refuse to talk about it, and what are they learning from that? I can assure you it’s not love and care.
Luckily, principles surrounding love and care can be universal in their application. The same principles that apply to daily relationships can apply to times of sex. For example, the end of the day has arrived. You’re both exhausted. Perhaps you may even be more exhausted than your spouse, but you sacrifice your own comfort to go and tend a fussy child. There will be times in your marriage when you send your spouse out for a night of fun with friends while you take care of things at home, and there will be times when you take a night out for yourself. Love and care are things that have to be consistent efforts even if they’re small efforts, but there are also times when you make a bigger gesture just to surprise your loved one.
The same principles apply for sex. There will be times when you choose to initiate sex even if you’re exhausted because you love your spouse. If it were up to you, you would go to bed. However, sometimes love and care means sacrifice. On that same note, love and care also means being sensitive on the other side. Just like one spouse should never brutally expect the other to take care of a fussy child at the end of the day, one spouse should never brutally expect sex.
There will be times when you focus completely on your spouse. There will be times when you get to be the focus. Oftentimes after the initial honeymoon phase, sex will often look like small and consistent efforts. However, make sure to throw in bigger gestures every once in a while.
There are days when marriage feels as though it has gotten rather boring. There may be days when your sex life feels as though it’s gotten boring. I’ve learned that those are the best days to practice being more selfless. Perhaps instead of trying a new position or location, try to completely focus on serving your spouse. Make the entire experience about loving, caring, and serving your spouse. Those are the best times counterintuitive to what the world may say.
“Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness…”
Teach your children about love, and teach them about what love looks like in sex! Obviously wait for appropriate timing and age, but teach them. Teach them the physical aspects even if they squirm and complain. Teach the spiritual aspects. Never forget to teach the spiritual aspects, but the physical aspects can be just as important.
Satan loves ignorance in all of its forms, and he uses it as a tool to the detriment of your children. Imagine a wedding night of two people who were never taught about sex. Simply because we live in a world that often talks about sex, they will probably mostly understand the basics. However, neither of them really have any clue about their bodies, much less about the other person’s body. Perhaps things will work out fine. Or perhaps things could work out as follows….
He may have no idea that it can be painful for her on the first night. He may, in his innocence, have no idea that biologically, a woman often needs different things than him. He may spend his wedding night in bliss and exhaustion, completely unaware that her experience was on the opposite side of the spectrum. Where does that leave a marriage?
Healthy, emotionally binding sex can help spouses endure long days and nights. It can help soothe and reconnect. It can help us overcome anger and help us to forgive each other if we let it soften our hearts.
And yet, if her first experience is just short of traumatic, she is in for a long period of hurt. She won’t know how to talk to her spouse because her parents never talked to her, and she’s too embarrassed. She will be too scared to ask her parents, and she definitely isn’t going to Google it. It will drive a wedge between them, and it all comes down to plain ignorance.
You don’t have to teach them everything at age 12, but please, please teach your children.
They will be less likely to turn to pornography if they learn that the ultimate and fun and wonderful experience of sex happens in the way that God ordained it to. Teach them that pornography will not teach them how to find lasting relationships and fulfillment. Teach them how they actually achieve those kinds of things.
The world is no longer the same as it used to be. Perhaps in an older generation with less divorce and perversions, you could get away with not teaching anything. But in our day, you are setting your children up for painful experiences. And even if they make it through to the other side, it will be an uphill battle.
“Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Happiness in marital life will be achieved when founded on the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I feel as though Christ often taught that our actions are meaningless without the righteous feelings attached.
When I think about the Pharisees, they were all about actions. The Lord wasn’t upset with their actions; He was upset with their hearts. If the Pharisees had kept all their little rules in an honest and humble attempt to worship the Lord, I can assure you that the Lord would not have been upset with them. He probably would have corrected them and gotten rid of the silly rules, but it would not have been done in anger.
Make your heart right before engaging in sex, or at least let your heart soften as your participate in sex. Even if you’re not denying your partner physical pleasure, you can do just as much damage when you deny your partner emotional connection. You can do just as much damage when you withdraw emotionally or hold onto your anger.
When it comes to the gospel of Jesus Christ, when it comes to happily ever afters and becoming like God, when it comes to finding all the fulfillment the Lord has ever wished to offer us, action alone will always be insufficient.
Forgive. Be compassionate. Serve. Respect. Honor. Love. Both in your gospel living, daily living, and sex lives.