What does a sexually confident man look like?
We’re in the middle of our sexual confidence series. We began that series looking at the 3 characteristics of a sexually confident woman.
Today on the blog I’ve asked my husband Keith to chime in and write about what a sexually confident man looks like.
So here’s my husband with today’s post!
When Sheila asked me to write this as part of her sexual confidence series, I felt a bit overwhelmed by the topic.
These days, so many conflicting opinions exist about what masculinity should or should not be. And typically, when someone offers their perspective on the question, people tend to react rather strongly. Add to that the natural tension between a Christian worldview which stresses gentleness, patience & self-control and the typical view (found both inside and outside the church) that frames male sexuality in terms of conquest and power and…yikes! It does not matter what I write; any post on this topic is likely to offend somebody.
Frankly, I am also reluctant because it seems every time I post something about how men should treat women decently, I get lambasted for being “limp wristed” or a “beta male”.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I care about those men’s distorted view of masculinity. It is that I honestly want to reach even those men (both for their sake and for the sake of the women around them). In fact, it is those men that probably need to hear it most and that is ultimately why I decided to write this. I just really feel the weight of having to describe things in a way that helps men be better, but doesn’t trigger insecurities.
So what are the markers of a sexually confident Christian man?
1. A sexually confident man is not threatened by opportunities to learn and to grow.
The people I most admire whether for their abilities or for the things they have accomplished in life have all shared this trait: they are always willing to learn how to do something better. Even if they are at the top of their game, they are constantly scanning for opportunities to improve, including listening to others – even others who are not quite at their level.
In contrast, the people who shut themselves off from feedback, who refuse to see different perspectives or who simply assume they know more than the person talking to them always seem to end up floundering in the long run.
Sheila gets comments on her blog all the time from wives who say something to the effect of: “My husband has told me sex works for him and that I need to figure things out for me on my own.”
These men think they know all there is to know about sex because it feels good for them with minimal effort. They have completely failed to see sex from a woman’s perspective. Not only that, they have completely missed the boat about God’s view of sex, which is meant to be mutual. Rather than learning to be good lovers of their wives, they choose to coast along the easy road that says “sex works for me, so you must be broken”. Do they honestly not care about their wives? Alternatively, perhaps their total lack of knowledge about how to bring their wife pleasure is too heavy a burden for their psyches to handle. Either way, it is a terrible tragedy for both of them, but especially for the wife.
However, a sexually confident Christian man doesn’t assume he knows everything about sex.
He recognizes there is always more to learn in the bedroom and that does not make him feel less masculine. He is not threatened by his wife telling him what feels good (or what doesn’t!) because he honestly wants to be good in bed, not just feel like he is good in bed. He sees the chance to make sex with his wife better and better each year as an amazing opportunity for growth, which he welcomes with anticipation. He knows she is the best resource for him as to what makes her feel good and he mines that resource for as much knowledge as he can possibly glean. He doesn’t beat up on himself when he learns he has done something wrong in the past because now he knows more than he did yesterday! And he looks forward to knowing even more tomorrow.
2. A sexually confident man doesn’t need to feel a sense of entitlement (because he knows he has something to offer).
Sheila has written extensively about how God designed sex to be mutual, pleasurable and intimate. In contrast, the vast majority of Christian resources have taught that sex is a male need that wives have a God-given duty to satisfy.
A typical example is Emmerson Eggerichs’s Love and Respect where he tells wives that their husbands have “a need you don’t have” and that if a wife doesn’t satisfy that need her husband will come under Satanic attack and maybe divorce her. But that is only one example of many. Sheila’s book The Great Sex Rescue proved just how widespread the “obligation sex” message really is. (Sheila has actually been teaching this for years; it is just that the book finally proved what she has been saying for so long!)
As a result of these messages, it is fair to say that many (if not most) Christian men have adopted an entitlement mindset.
In their defence, it is a natural conclusion if you accept this message. After all, if sex isn’t for her, if it is just for me, then it follows that as long as I do stuff for her, I should get sex in return. Some go as far as to phrase it as a demand “First Corinthians 7 says you can’t deprive me” (Although Sheila has a great blog post about how that’s not what 1 Cor 7 means). But most of the time, I see it phrased more as a transaction where a husband feels that if he “helps out” in the kitchen early in the day he should be “helped out” in the bedroom at night. (Sheila wrote a great article for Fathom magazine about why this doesn’t work either)
I don’t know any good Christian man who would actually want “obligation sex” over mutual, passionate sex. Yet any time Sheila talks about increasing passion in your marriage by getting rid of the obligation sex message, the outcries come pouring in.
So I have to ask: Why are some men so threatened by smashing the “obligation sex” idol? Sadly, I think it is because many Christian men are worried that if demanding, cajoling and bribing are off the table, then their sex lives will dry up entirely.
In contrast, a sexually confident Christian man is not worried.
He embraces the mutuality inherent in God’s design for sex, starting with a baseline assumption that sex is not just about him, but about them as a couple. If she doesn’t want it tonight, he does not pout and feel hard done by because he has learned to balance passion with self-control. He does not see sex as a need he is dependent on her to fulfil, but sees it as a gift they can give to each other. He has studied her and learned to be a good lover so he knows she will want to another night because he has confidence that he has something to offer. He has learned how to awaken desire in his wife, so he does not need to command it or to beg for it.
And if she doesn’t respond and still doesn’t want sex?
Then he is so committed to serving their relationship that he tries to figure out why. He doesn’t assume she’s broken; he wants to figure out why her libido is subzero. He willingly goes to counseling (and even takes the initiative) if necessary. He talks to her, and most importantly, he listens to her. He knows she may have her own wounds, and he is committed to helping her find health, too.
3. A sexually confident man has a healthy view of his own sexuality
“Men don’t naturally have that Christian view of sex.”
I was appalled and offended when Sheila told me those words were written in the book Every Heart Restored. One of the things that constantly puzzles me in the Church is why men allow themselves to be characterized in such base terms.
But then I realized that I shouldn’t have been surprised, because I had at one point allowed the same thing to happen to me. I had read another book in that series, Every Man’s Battle, where I read the words “we find another reason for the prevalence of sexual sin among men. We got there naturally – simply by being male”. At the time I was a young Christian, so I didn’t know to be appalled. Instead, for a brief period, I did what so many other good, young Christian men did; I internalized it.
Like so many Christian men I spent time in bondage to the idea that there is something innately wrong with me “simply by being male”.
When I noticed a woman was beautiful or had nice curves, I thought, “Oh, woe is me! There I go lusting again!” The idea that “lust is every man’s battle” is so prevalent and we are taught about it so much that most Christian men don’t even recognize any more that there clearly is a difference between noticing a woman is beautiful and lusting after her!
This whole teaching then becomes doubly diabolic because it shames good, healthy men for having normal biologic drives while simultaneously excusing wicked, unhealthy men (who actually DO lust) with the whole “boys will be boys” mentality. The good men suffer, the bad men get a free pass and in both cases women live in fear.
In contrast, a sexually confident Christian man has a healthy view of his sexuality.
He does not feel guilty for simply being a man because he does not falsely equate his sexuality with the objectification of women. He admires the beauty in God’s creation that he sees everywhere (including in women), but he also knows what lust actually is and he takes every thought captive to Christ.
He learns to not see women as objects, as “less than”, as “other”. Instead, he sees them as people and he treats them accordingly. He does not bounce his eyes from them, but instead chooses to truly see them for who they are: fellow image-bearers of God. And he does not feel that being a man makes him better or worse than his wife (or other women), but simply tries to be who God made him to be and works to create a world where she can do the same.
The Great Sex Rescue
Changing the conversation about sex & marriage in the evangelical church.
What if you’re NOT the problem with your sex life?
What if the things that you’ve been taught have messed things up–and what if there’s a way to escape these messages?
Welcome to the Great Sex Rescue.
4. A sexually confident man sets and polices his own sexual boundaries
Another thought that accompanies the “all men lust” idea is that women need to adjust their behavior in two specific ways to help men combat their natural proclivity toward sexual sin. They need to:
- dress “modestly”
- have more sex with their husbands.
The “modesty message” has been so damaging to women.
The specifics are well detailed in The Great Sex Rescue. However, the toxicity of the message hasn’t stopped it from being spread far and wide through the Church. Maybe this shouldn’t surprise us. When a view takes root in the Church that is blatantly unbiblical, I doubt the fact that it harms some people will matter to those who espouse it.
The fact that it is unbiblical is really not debatable. Jesus did not say, “If your eye causes you to sin, make sure nothing comes within your view that will cause you to stumble”, nor did he say, “When a man looks at a woman with lust in his heart he has already committed adultery….unless she was dressed provocatively, in which case the poor guy had no choice.” Jesus consistently put the onus on men for their own thought lives as did the apostle Paul.
This is in no way meant to say we should have no sympathy for men who struggle with sexual sin. It is simply to say we should help those men get the help they need to do the hard work of healing rather than making everyone else around them feel the weight of it instead, including the victims of their sin.
The “wives need to have more sex” idea is even worse, because it tells women not only in their outward appearance, but even in the most intimate areas of their lives, they must bear the weight of something their husband cannot shoulder. Whether it is a blog post about how a wife can help her husband with his porn addiction or a book that talks about how a wife contributed to her husband’s affair, the message rings loud and clear: men can’t help it, so you women have to adjust. This is your God-given duty.
In contrast, a sexually confident Christian man knows that the purity of his actions and his thought life are not dependent on the choices of others.
He remembers that he can take every thought captive (2 Cor 10:5) and that he can put lust to death (Col. 3:5), because he can do all things as Christ gives him strength (Phil 4:13). He draws enough from the deep well of the love of God that he does not need the easy validation that comes pornography – or at the very least he sees it for what it is: a superficial counterfeit of the true intimacy that God designed between a husband and wife.
It is not that he is not sinless or that he never struggles; he is still a work in progress! But he knows that if he falls that it is because he has settled for the easy road that leads to death rather than following the difficult road that leads to life – – and that it was his feet that took those steps and no one else’s. He takes responsibility for his own actions and his own thought life. When he stumbles, he gets back up. He does not live in shame; he repents and returns. He learns to live in the forgiveness of Christ, even as he learns to live by the Spirit, putting to death the deeds of the body (Rom 8:13). He does not depend on his wife to manage his sin, he depends upon the Spirit who is transforming him day by day (2 Cor 3:18).
That’s what I think a sexually confident man is, and what all men should aspire to.
I hope these thoughts are helpful to some of you. Please know that I myself am still on the journey to being a sexually healthy Christian man. I offer these thoughts as a brother in Christ, not as the expert. I myself have struggled with some of these strongholds in the past (particularly the entitlement mindset). I know what is written in a blog post like this can sound very simplistic even when you are honestly trying to have a healthier view. So I encourage you to click through to some of the links to go into further depth on those topics and to seek good help from trusted sources for areas in which you struggle. And, of course, feel free to leave any thoughts you have in the comments below.
What do you think? Are those markers the right ones? Are they common? Relatively uncommon? Let’s talk in the comments!
Other Posts in the Sexual Confidence Series:
- 3 Markers of Sexual Confidence (especially in women)
- 4 Markers of a Sexually Confident Man
- Knowing that Sex is for You Too
- How to Feel Confident when You’re Married to a Porn User
- Did You Grow up Embarrassed to Be Female?
- How Sexual Confidence and Rebuilding Trust Intersect
- Accepting Your Sexuality as the Higher Drive Wife
- Feeling Sexually Confident as You Go Through Menopause
- Let’s Talk Vulvas! Feeling confident about your genitals
You may also enjoy:
- The Orgasm Course
- The Great Sex Rescue
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Blog and Podcast Contributor, Co-Author with Sheila of two upcoming marriage books
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