Waiting for Sexual Manna When You're Sexually HangryWednesday, June 10, 2015
One of the most challenging things spouses can encounter during a marriage is the inconvenient lack of synchronized sex drives. I know in my own marriage my sex drive may sync with my wife's about a half dozen times per year (not that I'm keeping track...it's just my a guesstimate). Those are pretty awesome seasons, to say the least. But between seasons? Well, let's just say that for us it looks like this.
My married sex life. Can you relate?
For my wife, she would say that she could be fine without it many times. The busyness of taking care of kids and running her own business to help provide for our family really saps her energy levels, and therefore her sex drive. Rest is the key to seeing an increase in all healthy levels, of course. But reality is that life doesn't work that way...at least, most of the time it doesn't.
For me, I'd say that while I used to be "on" and on "standby" at all times (as my wife would say), walking through the forties has begun to sap my levels as well. My sex drive is still stronger than my wife's, for sure, though.
Most of the time, despite the non-synchronous nature of our sex drives, we often seem reach the kind of happy medium that emotionally healthy couples can and should arrive at in order to enjoy each other. But as the one who seems to desire it more than my wife may, I'm presented with the constant challenge of how to handle myself, my thoughts, and my sex drive when sex is on the margin of our marital radar, if it's there at all.
My sex drive works a lot like my hunger drive. When I don't eat for a long enough period I get "hangry" (a modern word which combines feeling hungry to the point of being angry). When I go without sex for an extended period of time, I get sexually hangry. I suppose that's pretty normal. Sex releases certain chemicals in the body that produce an overall sense of well-being. The world and everything in it is going to be all right afterward.
When the body goes without the release of those chemicals for a long enough time, things can seem...well...not at all right...in any way whatsoever! Just like going without food for extended periods of time can do weird stuff to you, the same thing happens with sex. God just made us that way. And for some, depending on things like genetics, diet, exercise, etc. all of that can be either better or worse.
So what's a guy (or gal) to do when they are sexually hangry? As an expert in sexual hangryness, I have a couple of resources. One is physical. The other is spiritual.
Two Food Groups for Sexual Hangryness
The physical resource should be pretty obvious without having to say (or type) the "m" word, right? I would not be in the camp of Christians who say that it's sinful, with one caveat. If you're thinking of someone else other than your spouse while you're engaging yourself, that's called lust. Jesus was pretty clear about that in Matthew 5. Look it up. It can seem scary. That's because it is. God doesn't differentiate between you lusting after another man or woman in your heart and mind, coveting their body and their sexual interaction, and actually having sex with them in real life. It's all adultery to Jesus.
That said, it's better to look at masturbation as junk food, sort of. Maybe that's too harsh. But you'll see my point as I move on. I call it sexual junk food because, like Hot Pockets (or Lean Pockets, if you're on a diet), you certainly get your appetite fulfilled quickly (especially if you're using the microwave). As a matter of fact, I'm sitting here now, while I write this blog post, eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (made with whole wheat bread, of course), with Pringles and a Mike's Hard Black Cherry Lemonade. But as with all junk food that tastes so good, there's a feeling deep down inside that you know you could have eaten better, or just waited altogether until real food was within grasp. Still though, as the greasy goodness goes into your mouth and heads to your stomach, there's an immediate "Ahhh" that comes over you. And then you hear the pin pull from the gut grenade you just devoured!
Many men and women admit to feelings of guilt after they've engaged in the physical resource of sexual junk food. If they've committed adultery, there's the reason why. However, if not, and if they have only engaged their minds in fantasies with their spouse, using sanctified imagination with knowledge that the marriage bed is undefiled (Heb. 13:4), there's no harm, of course. No sin has been committed. I believe it is a common grace sort of resource that God allows in order to assist people in avoiding immorality and the inevitable destruction that follows.
Now for the hard question. It's a question that judges no one. It's a question that draws from a principle in 1 Corinthians 10:23, where Paul tells us that all things are permissible by God for him, but not everything is beneficial. Eating Hot Pockets is permissible. Eating them all the time is not beneficial. Any naysayers can listen to Jim Gaffigan's famously hilarious routine and hear why I'm right.
As God has matured and developed me through the years in struggling with all manner of sexual challenges that are normal to any human being and any marriage, I have come to ask a different question of myself when I'm sexually hangry. Yes, sexual junk food is permissible. But is it beneficial for me in long run? This leads me to the topic of sexual manna.
What the heck is sexual manna? Is it like Sexual Chocolate? Is it like "Sexual Healing"?
No. Not at all. But Sexual Chocolate was hilarious in Eddie Murphy's Coming to America. And though my wife hates it when I try to imitate Aaron Neville, that particular song is one of my favorites to humorously romanticize my wife, even though it's a Marvin Gaye song. That said, let me get to Jesus before I digress too far.
The gospels tell a story of Jesus Christ being baptized by John the Baptist. As Jesus was being baptized, we read that the heavens open and the Holy Spirit descended down on Jesus in what appeared to be a dove like form. He was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit at that point and ready for His earthly ministry. His first task on His agenda? Live in the desert for forty days and be tempted by Satan Himself. Wow. Ever gone through a challenge like that?
By the way, if you didn't already know, Jesus fasted for forty straight days while He camped out in the desert. Double wow! It was like a combination of reality TV shows like Naked and Afraid, Survivor, Survival Man, and Man vs. Wild. Except, Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit, wearing clothes the whole time, and was tempted by the most powerful force of evil in the universe.
Somewhere during those forty days, Satan threw His first temptation at Jesus. "Hey Son of God. I know you're starving. I also know you're God. So just command those rocks at your feet to miraculously and supernaturally turn into bread and EAT, for goodness sake!" How tempting must that have been. Jesus Christ was 100% human. That means He had a body like you and I did. His body got hungry. He probably even got hangry.
But Jesus was also 100% God. That means He perfectly resisted the power of those temptations in order to stand in our place and be our substitute. In short, those temptations had many higher purposes than just putting a cool story in our New Testament. One of those purposes was to do for us what we could never do for ourselves: resist Satan 100% and perfectly follow God's will in the midst of temptation. Having completed that part of His mission, anybody who joins Jesus' family now gets treated just like Jesus is treated by the Father...like a victorious CHAMP!
However, Jesus was also 100% human, returning to that point again. As such, He had to be filled by the person and power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish that mission. Even though He was 100% God, Jesus could not have resisted those temptations without being filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. That brings us to a second higher purpose in the temptation story: anyone who follows Jesus will be filled with the Holy Spirit just like He was, enabling us to experience victory over temptation just like Jesus did. So not only are we treated like a victorious champ over temptation even though we fail, but we also have the actual, supernatural power to be a victorious champ because of the Holy Spirit!
Sexual manna is something GOD Himself provides when we're sexually hangry.
Through the power of the Spirit we are able to respond to our sexual hangryness and temptations to immorality the same way Jesus responded to His literal hangryness. Jesus told the devil, "People don't live on food alone, but instead live by everything that God provides" (Rob Wilkerson Translation). This brings us to another higher purpose of the temptation story: to take us back to the story of Israel's temptations with their own hangryness in the wilderness. If you're new to the Bible, Israel crossed the Red Sea and spent forty years in the wilderness wandering around as a discipline for their lack of faith in God to do the next big miracle for them.
One story comes from Exodus 15-16. They had just watched God transition two million of their community on dry land at the bottom of the Red Sea. Within three days they were complaining of bitter water and lack of food. I suppose it's only human. I used to belittle the Israelites for this. But if you've ever gone hungry for three days, and if you put two million hangry people together in a group standing in the desert, things can get ugly...fast.
God is so faithful and merciful and patient and gracious. He responded by giving them a special bread He Himself created. He called it manna. It was His own miraculous provision for His own special people. From that day until forty years later when they crossed the Jordan River on dry ground to enter the Promised Land, God floated this manna stuff from the sky. Every single day. Except for Saturday, because that was the Sabbath day. (He wanted them to rest that day, so He provided enough manna on Friday to last them two days. How cool is that?)
Jesus went through forty days of temptation, part of which involved hunger. He did this to do what the Israelites were not able to do. Their relationship with God was made increasingly difficult as a result of their lack of faith and disobedience. Even with daily manna falling from the sky, they still suffered with severe lack of faith and disobedience to God. Just like you and I today, huh? Nothing's changed. Humans today are still the same humans the Israelites were three thousand years ago.
When Jesus successfully defeated the devil's temptation to turn rocks into bread, He did so with the faith that He could hang on a little longer because God's provision was on its way. He knew the Father loved Him enough that He wouldn't let Jesus starve to death. After all, Jesus did have a three year mission ahead of Him! So Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, was able to say "NO!" to temptation, even though He was hangry, because He would rather wait on the provision that God Himself would give.
These days I plug this story into my head and heart when I'm feeling sexually hangry. The physical resource is there. We can satisfy that sexual hunger with a permissible act. But we can also do something that is more beneficial. We can wait on God to provide sexual manna for us. Sexual manna may take many forms, but I have experienced one thing to be true: what He ends up providing is far more fulfilling and life-giving than the Hot Pockets of self-pleasure. So I am learning more and more to wait on Him.
Can I still eat Hot Pockets?
Yes. You can. Do I still personally enjoy Hot Pockets? Yep. I'm a human and God is patient. But I'm learning that the urge to eat sexual junk food may come from the enemy at times. There was nothing wrong with turning rocks into food, if we really get down to it. Jesus needed to eat. Food is good. Jesus could have made manna right there! And there's nothing wrong with masturbation, per se (excluding the caveat referred to earlier). But if the enemy uses his subtlety to tempt me to eat sexual junk food, those are times that I absolutely should say "Hell NO Devil! I'm waiting on God's sexual manna!"
Jesus teaches us to pray in several places in the gospels. We call it the "Lord's Prayer." In that prayer one of the things He teaches us to pray is, "Give us today our daily bread." That's a reference to the manna the Israelites ate. They had to look to God every single day to be able to eat. For our lives today, it's no difference. We just have so much food available that it's easy to forget who's giving it to us.
Similarly, sex is so available to us today that we forget Who brings the real satisfaction. God is Jehovah Jireh, our Provider, when it comes to food, and sex, and really everything else in life. When we pray like Jesus taught, we can also pray, "Father, today give me my daily sexual fulfillment. Give me what YOU think I need, because what I think I need may not be the most beneficial for my life."
When you pray, expect God to provide sexual manna. It can turn up looking like many things. The first way it can manifest is the most obvious way, right. You wake up and your spouse is ready to feed you! Hallelujah for days that start like that, eh?! On other days, perhaps you will miraculously not desire sex anymore that day. You will just inexplicably feel satisfied, even though you didn't "get any." You might discover that your spouse is already thinking and planning on it later in the day or that night. Maybe He will prompt you with a ministry or prayer opportunity in order to serve someone else, and you don't think about it anymore.
Sexual manna is the best provision when you're sexually hangry.
The point is that when God's making and providing manna, it's going to be the best provision you could ever get. The same God who created our solar system is creating your provision, after all. Let that thought guide your patience! He's got amazing things planned to give to you. We miss out so much, I think, because we don't ask and we don't wait long enough.
I hope and pray that this manna that I have found can be something that will feed and satisfy you as well. David gave us some real wisdom in the Psalms, that I repeat to myself often: wait on the Lord, again, I say, wait. Be patient. Ask God. He cares about your sex drive. He created it! He created sex! Think about that! God is not some kind of torturous dictator who makes something awesome like sex, only to dangle it in front of you to tempt you, and then yank it out of the way saying as if to taunt you.
God knows we are human. He knows we are dust. He knows we are weak and frail. He knows we get sexually hangry. And He's provided the fulness of the Holy Spirit and sexual manna to feed and fulfill us during the course of our lives and marriage. So enjoy your junk food. But I dare you to see what happens to your spiritual life when you say "no" to it and wait on something more substantive! Then comment here and let me know what you're experiencing! I can't wait to hear your stories!