I have so much to tell you!” Kate exclaimed as she breezed into my office and settled into her favorite spot in the corner of my blue loveseat, tucking her hair behind her ears and moving the throw pillow aside the way she does every week.
But the Kate before me today is different—her eyes are bright and her cheeks flushed as the words spill out: “It was like a second honeymoon. It was beautiful. And it was me! I wanted to be with him. Truly wanted it, wanted him.”
Kate has been married 18 years, but today she reminds me of a teenage girl describing her first kiss. With a slight blush in her cheeks and a bashful, averted gaze, she tells me about a romantic weekend away with her husband in which they had sex for the first time in two years.
God created us to be sexual beings. He intentionally made us with physical longings for intimacy and connection with others. Sexual desire is a gift from God, and it is good. But it doesn’t always feel like a good gift.
In reaction to our hypersexual popular culture, viewing sexual desire with suspicion seems to make sense. After all, isn’t it our physical, genital longing for sex that leads to lustful thoughts, pornography, chronic masturbation, inappropriate relationships, and so on?
Roadblocks to Healthy Sexuality
For those who grew up in an evangelical purity culture, sexual desire can feel confusing. Suppressing sexual desire outside of marriage seems necessary in order to be abstinent. Changing long-term patterns of ignoring sexual desire is difficult, and a wedding ceremony does not flip a magical sexual switch.1