I’ve heard a few times about the idea of ‘serving’ your husband through sex because it’s a need he has. I don’t like that view or the term ‘serving’ as it relates to sex and as the weeks rolled by, I saw it again and again. Every time I saw it, I liked it less and less. This term, serving in the context [of sex] has the slight nuance of obligation (see duty, onus, burden, and liability) to it.
My first feeling is, serving appears to be something you do for the benefit of someone else. In this context, its serve your husband sex for his benefit. And although that might seem right (Proverbs 14:12); somehow it rings false. I think this whole idea of a wife serving her husband sex is an approach that will backfire in the end.
So I want to peel back this idea and see what it exposes.
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When I let the word serving roll around in my mind, the first thing I’m faced with is a choice: have to OR want to; along with a whiff of resistance – it seems like serving could almost, be placating*.
*to appease or pacify, especially by concessions or conciliatory gestures
*soothe, assuage, mollify.
How did Jesus view serving? If God is renewing my mind to be like Christ’s, then I can look to His example. When God requested that Jesus go to the cross:
Did Jesus do it to appease or pacify God?
Was His agreement to God’s plan a conciliatory gesture?
Jesus wasn’t double minded. He wasn’t thinking, “Omg!! You want me to do what!? Do I have to?” But speaking out, “I want to do this.” I don’t think so. On the contrary, Jesus grabbed a-hold of God’s idea and adapted His own will to God’s plan of the cross.
HAVE TO / WANT TO
When Jesus saw there was no other way, He adapted immediately to God’s plan. This morphed His have to into the want to (Luke 22:42). When Jesus chose to adapt to God’s plan for His life, as hard as it was, His heart was no longer divided between have to / want to, and the human part of His mind was renewed (Romans 12:2) and it showed in His willingness. God’s plan became Jesus’ plan – they were united.
Adapting enables the flesh to grow up*. Adapting is what changes the stoic ‘have to’ in our flesh of obedience into the loving ‘want to’ in our spirit. (Ezekiel 11:19)
SCENARIO 1: What would you think? Someone who’s serving at church in the nursery because it‘s a need, but they have no interest in children. They’ve been watching your kids for about 6 months and then you overhear a conversation they are having outside of the church on their cell phone. They don’t really like kids that much. Sure they are cute and everything, but it’s not really what you’d like to be doing. However, you feel God will bless you because there is such a need for it – and there was no one else to do it. Would you really feel comfortable and happy with your kids there? Or would you feel better with overhearing a conversation of someone who said, that they really loved kids, in fact they just enrolled in a child care course because their heart really is for kids – they want to. Or, scenario 2.
SCENARIO 2: You’ve got this good friend who you‘ve been sharing your life with. You meet every 2 weeks for a coffee and a chat. You’ve become very good friends and feel comfortable in sharing your struggles in marriage with her. You need to drop off something at a different friend’s house and your other friend (the one you’ve been confiding to) is there. They are out on the back deck and don’t know you are there. You decide to surprise/scare them by quietly sneaking up to the gate and barging through with a big smile on your face. NO intentions of eaves dropping – because you completely trust both of these women. But as you approach the gate you hear … not what you expected. Your deeper friend is sharing how she really enjoys your company except when you share about your problems in marriage. She finishes her conversation by saying that, it’s what friends do for each other, they serve each other and this is her Christian duty to serve in their friendship.
See, it doesn’t leave you with a true feeling of warmth and care — it’s not authentic. It is truth … from the obedience of the mind — but not genuine.
Is it just semantics? I don’t know. Let’s try a different angle and drive it down a little deeper into our own personal experience. Look at the flip-side, from ‘serving’ him sexually (his need) to ‘serving’ her relationally (her need).
SCENARIO 3: You overhear your husband talking to a friend, “I took her [his wife] out for dinner and a movie last night. I didn’t really feel like it, after the day I had I would rather have unplugged into a book or movie, but God says Christian serving is good, and this kind of serving falls on the husband’s shoulders because God made her with this need, so I ‘loved’ her by SERVING her.” What a shock to hear; you were thinking that you really had a great time of relational intimacy.
If I over-heard that conversation I wouldn’t be feelin the love. I wouldn’t get a sense of being genuinely engaged in a real relationship of any depth; but more of having been appeased.
He is in the mindset of “I have to” not “I want to.” It feels deceitful and is an affront because when we read, For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25), we know God didn’t mean for Christ to love the church through conciliatory gestures. Have to is serving. Want to is loving. I don’t want my husband to have to love me; I want him to want to love me.
So, back to the sex of it … as long as I feel that I am serving my husband through sex, it will always be a conciliatory gesture and never authentic genuine love.
***IT IS ADAPTABILITY THAT CHANGES THE HEART FROM HAVE TO SERVE INTO WANT TO LOVE***
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Part 2 – Submission is not serving. Serving is not submission.
*Did the God part of Jesus need to grow up His flesh? Probably not, as the God part of His nature was completely mature all ready. However, the part that was fully human need the flesh contended with. This is part of the testing and suffering that He had to endure to be the first born among many. Jesus lead the way, in demonstration with His own life, to show us what it really means to obey with the right heart.