Is romance a biblical requirement? Find out by joining us for today's broadcast when Dennis Rainey talks with Dr. Daniel Akin, author of God on Sex, about sexual intimacy in marriage.
Is romance a biblical requirement? Find out by joining us for today's broadcast when Dennis Rainey talks with Dr. Daniel Akin, author of God on Sex, about sexual intimacy in marriage.
Bob: Intimacy in marriage can be like a gauge on a dashboard in a car. If there is a problem that shows up on the dashboard, you may need to look deeper. Here is Danny Akin.
Danny: If your marriage is going well, the intimate part is about 10 percent of the marriage, and that's a reflection of it being kind of the thermometer that lets you know the health of the marriage. But if the rest of the marriage is crumbling or there is stress and difficulty, then this area suddenly becomes a great gauge on how is the rest of the
relationship going? If it's not going well, it's about 90 percent of the marriage.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, February 7th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Is the warning light on on the dashboard of your relationship with your husband or wife? We'll help you do a little diagnostic work today.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You know, back when you and your wife Barbara wrote the book, "Rekindling the Romance," talking about a husband's and wife's relationship, I asked you the question at the time -- do you think that romance is a biblical imperative? Is it a requirement? Is it just an option for a married couple or is it something that God expects of us in marriage?
Bob: And you told me you thought it's not optional; that it's a requirement for a married couple. Then you went and you said, "In fact, I'm going to bring in a seminary professor who can vouch for my position on this." That's exactly what you've done here today, isn't it?
Dennis: I have. In fact, more than a seminary professor …
Bob: Oh, that's right, he's president of the seminary.
Dennis: President of the seminary.
Bob: You went all the way to the top, didn't you?
Dennis: I went all the way to Wake Forest to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and nabbed the president of that seminary to bring him into buttress the argument that romance is not only biblical but a requirement for marriage. Isn't that right, Danny Akin?
Danny: I would agree 100 percent, Dennis.
Bob: There you go; you got the seminary stamp of approval on that one.
Dennis: You really do. Danny, in case our listeners have not met him before, he and his wife Charlotte have been married since 1978. He has four sons. He's been a pastor. He's been a seminary professor, as Bob has spoken -- academic dean of a seminary.
Dennis: You know, you are the only seminary president I've ever known to win a Newlywed Game.
Danny: That is correct, we did.
Bob: This wasn't the one on TV?
Danny: Oh, no, this was the one that took place at our seminary when we were having a Valentine's banquet a couple of years ago.
Bob: And what happened?
Dennis: Oh, I thought this was the one way back when you started your marriage -- you were true newlyweds. But this actually occurred after several years of marriage?
Danny: Yes, actually, there were a number of professors that were involved. It should have been called the Oldiewed Game. So we were up there with three or four other couples and, I hate to say it, but we absolutely waxed them. We took them to task, and the key question that won it all was the bonus question -- what is your favorite book of the Bible? And every other couple missed it.
They came to me, and they said, "Well, what is your favorite book of the Bible, and I grinned and said, "Well, you're not going to believe this, but it is the Song of Solomon and, I promise you, my wife has that written on the card. Sure enough, she held up the Song of Solomon. The crowd went crazy, and the rest of the story is we walked away with the big victory.
Bob: But there was one other key question, I remember, in that Newlywed
Danny: Yes, there was -- what was the last thing you fixed in your home? And after wracking my brain, trying to think of anything, I had to be honest, and I said, "Nothing." Again, the crowd exploded in applause, because she held up the card that said, "Nothing."
Dennis: Well, Danny, you've written a book called God on Sex.
Dennis: And you've actually taken your favorite book of the Bible, the Song of Solomon, and you've gone through it verse-by-verse, and you've just kind of shared with, in my opinion, a very needy audience across the country who needs to hear what God's perspective is on sex. If we could kind of roll back time and ask God why He would include this book in the Bible, why do you think He did that?
Danny: I think He did it because he knew that we needed instruction, especially men, in this area called romance and intimacy. There's a lot more to one's intimate sex life than just the two bodies coming together, and we need that kind of guidance and direction, and so He gives us an eight-chapter book that pretty much is dedicated to that single theme.
Bob: I've had a lot of people ask me over the years about that book – about the fact that it was written by a guy who wound up having 300 wives and 700 concubines.
Dennis: Yes, Bob's always been fascinated by that.
Bob: What was going on there?
Danny: Well, Bob's not the only one fascinated there, and that really is an interesting question, and it causes a number of people to come to Song of Solomon with some different conclusions. Some actually have drawn the conclusion he didn't write it, and they would say that the first verse ought to be interpreted, "A Song for Solomon," not by
Others have said, and this was actually the view of the church and even the rabbinic tradition, Song of Solomon was written early in his life after his first true love, before he did, indeed, marry these many wives and bring into his family, his life, these concubines.
Others have said what you have here perhaps is an ideal picture of what the intimate, romantic part of marriage ought to look like, and that Solomon, in many ways, with some regrets, is able, by the inspiration of the Spirit, to write a book that says when a man is being the man God created him and redeemed him to be, and a woman is being that same kind of lady, here is the kind of relationship that you will see exists from courtship to wedding night to moving on into the marriage as God designed it from the very beginning.
Dennis: Perhaps Solomon learned through some of his mistakes.
Dennis: I, unfortunately, as I look back over my life, my marriage, and my ministry, realize that many of my best messages have come out of my failures, not out of my successes. Now, let's go back to your marriage with Charlotte. You started out that marriage in 1978. Has this area been a real strength in your marriage from day one?
Danny: No. It was an area, obviously, that I had a great deal of interest, being a typical 21-year-old male, but it was an area where I certainly had a lot to learn, and that's one of the things I'm grateful about with the Song of Solomon and one of the things that caused me to become interested in it.
My wife grew up in a children's home. She was born into a home with alcoholic parents that divorced when she was seven. She went to this children's home with her sister and brother when she was nine and lived there until she was 18.
When we got married, one of the neat things was God gave me a wife that was determined she was not going to follow in the pattern of her family. It was going to be different. But she came into it with a lot of hurt, some real bruises, even some scars, but yet she was such a wonderful, loving mate. I determined that, before God, I would try to grow to be the man that God wanted me to be, and I came to understand very soon I had a lot to learn.
Bob: When we talk about this subject at our Weekend to Remember® conferences, we take an hour on Saturday, and we kind of peel back the curtain on what's going on in a marriage relationship around the area of sexuality. One of the statements that we make is that sex in a marriage is like a thermometer. It tells you whether everything is okay with the rest of the relationship. It may not tell you what's wrong, if there's something wrong, but it registers how the relationship is doing.
As I hear you talk about even the issues you struggled with early in your marriage, it really is about how we relate to one another; how we learn to love one another; and the act of intimacy is just a symptom of how we're doing in all of these areas, isn't it?
Danny: I came across a statement that said if your marriage is going well, the intimate part is about 10 percent of the marriage. If it's not going well, it's about 90 percent. And that's a reflection, as you said, of it being kind of the thermometer that lets you know the health of the marriage. If everything else is going well, this is going well also, but it's not that high-level issue. But if the rest of the marriage is crumbling, or there is stress and difficulty, then this area suddenly becomes a hot-button issue as well, and it really is a great gauge on how is the rest of the relationship going.
That's one of the things about the Song of Solomon. They're not engaged in intimacy all the way through. In fact, there is more about what's taking place outside of the bedroom than inside the bedroom in those eight chapters. I think that's also very instructive and something that, really, I learned in my teaching through the book several times.
Dennis: Yes, and you also mentioned in your book that if we're going to have a true love story, it has to begin with commitment.
Dennis: Why is that so important today?
Danny: Dennis, I think that's the missing word in marriage today. And, of course, when we have so many people cohabiting, and it's not surprising that those who cohabit 50 to 100 percent don't stay with that particular person. Why? Because when it comes to that kind of relationship, there is no commitment. You're almost treating the relationship like leasing a car. If I really like it, maybe at the end of the lease, I'll buy it. If not, I trade this one in, pick up another one, and move on down the road.
When you look at what the Bible has to say about marriage and family, commitment is evident all the way through. It's commitment that will help you work through those difficult times and, again, in the Song of Solomon, very interesting, right after their wedding night, they immediately have a problem. Rather than bailing on each other,
beginning in chapter 5, verse 9, they immediately begin to take steps to reconcile that relationship, and the remainder of the book is a beautiful testimony first, of their reconciliation, and then how they move on into the various stages and chapters of marriage, again, as God intended.
It's so realistic. The Song of Solomon is not painting a picture of marriage that we cannot identify with. It's exactly where we live day in and day out.
Dennis: And, Danny, I want to underscore what you said there, because it's from commitment that we work things out.
Danny: Yes, absolutely.
Dennis: With the commitment in place, we can then move toward resolving disagreements and conflict and restore peace in the relationship. If that commitment is not there, it's hard to move from strength to resolve anything.
Bob: But, you know, a lot of young couples who are listening to us talk about the importance of commitment as a foundation for their intimate relationship – these are folks who haven't always followed a biblical grid for how they view romance and sex. They would say, "Well, I don't get it. Back before we were fully committed, back before we were married, man, the passion was huge, it was high. We had our most intense sexual relationship before we got married. It seems like after we got married,
once we were committed, it just drained the life out of our passion." Why is that?
Danny: Well, part of what they have to understand is all relationships go through a honeymoon stage, and there is that excitement about the newness of sexual intimacy and physically giving yourself to another person. But if that is nurtured, and if that is protected, and if you continue to give that attention, it will not stay there. It can actually get better. And it gets better growing out of that commitment where there is the ability for a woman -- you see this in the Song of Solomon.
She is initiating sex; she is aggressive in pursuing her husband; she can do that, though, because, as she says, "My beloved is mine, and I am his." She has a confidence that this man is committed to her; he is sold out to her. As a result, she is free to give herself in lovemaking in a way she could never do if she was not certain as to the trustworthiness of this person that she's lying in bed with.
Dennis: Yes, he was her friend.
Danny: Yes, he was.
Dennis: And it was from that relationship that she was motivated at that point.
Danny: Well, I tell folks when I speak on marriage and family that one of the things I become more and more aware of is through the days of marriage, you better remain not only lovers but friends. Actually, for a woman, especially, being a friend leads to his being a lover, and one cannot be separated from the other.
Dennis: The other night Barbara and I were just taking a walk, and she just turned to me, and she just said, "You know, I just enjoy you as a friend." And that's taken us, now, nearly 32 years to really allow that friendship to develop. I want to say, because there are a number of young couples who are listening to us right now, I want to give them hope beyond the early years. I wouldn't trade what Barbara and I experience in terms of passionate love and romance today for what we had in our first five years of marriage.
Now, were we younger? Were the flashes of fire hot and bright and exciting and exhilarating and new? Absolutely. But there is something about being married to a friend –
Dennis: -- that makes the whole passionate side of the marriage relationship. It takes it to a whole other level. So I just want to affirm what you're saying. It really is the truth. It is attainable for couples if they'll start where you're talking about starting, which is commitment. If you don't have that in place, you'll never get to that satisfied love we're talking about.
Danny: Dennis, I have to say to folks, I loved my wife when I married her at the age of 21, but today I really love my wife at the age of 47. If I say to you I loved her then, I love her now, it does not communicate. I really did not know at that stage you could love someone like I love her now, but you can't get there unless, as you said, there is commitment.
Secondly, there is a desire to build a growing friendship, and out of those two things alone, it's amazing what God is able to do because you are devoted to each other, not only as lovers but also as friends. And when you like being around that person, there is
something about the sparks of romance that just continually get rekindled. It may be in a different kind of a way, but they're there again and again and again.
Dennis: Right. I'll tell you how we got there. We got there not by just experiencing the mountaintop and the magnificent sunsets together. We got there by going through a lot of valleys together.
Danny: That's right.
Bob: Let me ask both of you: How would you respond to maybe a single guy who would say, "I don't know what you're talking about. I don't see why commitment is essential for passionate intimacy, because, frankly," he would say, "I've had some pretty passionate intimacy, and there's not been any commitment there."
Danny: I would not deny that he has had some passionate intimacy, but I would argue that he hasn't even come close to approaching what he could have if he were in that covenant, committed relationship with another person. It is absolutely impossible, without there being commitment, for any person to give themselves 100 percent to another person, because you don't know that they're doing that for you; you're holding back yourself. And so I'm not denying that he could have some great, exciting, feel-good sex, but is he really making love to another person in the way that God designed and intended? He is not even close.
Bob: We have really promoted a counterfeit in this culture, and too many people are buying the counterfeit.
Dennis: Yes, the counterfeit is really in the shallow waters. If it's just pleasure you're looking for, you can splash in the water in the shallow end of the pool, but the real intimacy, the real knowing, and the real being known, is in the deep end of the pool, and you can't get there overnight. It's a lifetime together, and many times it's born out of
struggle; it's born out of hardship.
Bob: Well, and if you spend time splashing around in the shallow end, and there's not the commitment that's there, you leave scars that will profoundly affect you throughout your life, won't they?
Danny: Yes, and you're running some tremendous risk. We share in the book, and many of our listeners know this, that sexually transmitted disease is – just taking one category – it has continued to explode exponentially, 15 million a year contracting one, one in four under the age of 20.
And, again, in all of this was God trying to steal our fun or rain on our parade? No. He was trying to maximize your protection, your pleasure, your partnership. That only comes in a committed relationship. I don't wake up in the morning fearful that I will have to go to the doctor because I have an STD, because I am faithful to my wife, and she
is faithful to me. We have 100-percent certainty that is never going to happen.
And, guys, we all know some of these diseases are incurable, some of them
render you sterile and, as we all too well know, some of them are fatal.
I can't get over the fact and, Dennis, you and I talked about this several years ago on the telephone, there are now 12 million AIDS orphans in sub-Sahara Africa. Both mom and dad are dead as a result of not doing sex God's way. That's a tragedy that could have been avoided if we would simply follow our Creator's guidelines for how love and
intimacy and romance are to be enjoyed.
Dennis: Danny, I couldn't agree with you more, and the book of Song of Solomon is loaded with practical instruction at how non-romantic guys can become more romantic and all kinds of insight for wives who want to grow in this area of their relationship. I want to talk more about this in the coming interviews we do with you, but I just want to tease just a little bit of what you talk about here.
You speak of the importance of a passionate kiss. I don't know, Bob, out of all the people we've interviewed, the only other person we've interviewed that has talked about the length of a kiss being meaningful was Steven Curtis Chapman, when he talked about an 8-second kiss. Well, Danny Akin has taken this to a new level.
Bob: Yes, eight seconds is …
Dennis: Eight seconds is…it's little league.
Bob: That’s right. We're talking about some major league kissing coming up here.
Dennis: It's little league. Now, if you want to be in the majors, I'm about to introduce you to the Babe Ruth— the Babe Ruth of kissing. I almost want to call his wife on the phone and see if this is really real – if she really likes to kiss him or not.
Bob: You're talking about the guy who wrote the book, God on Sex.
Bob: We've got copies of that book available in our FamilyLife Resource Center.
Dennis: Well, I want him to comment on this in just a second.
Bob: Okay, hang on. I’m just imagining that we have listeners who would like to order the book right now, if the kissing is all it’s cracked up to be here. We’ve got copies online at FamilyLifeToday.com. You can order from us online or you can call 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and we can get a copy of Dr. Danny Akin’s book God on Sex sent to you.
As you might imagine, we have other books and resources that deal with this aspect of the marriage relationship that you can get more information about while you’re on our website as well. Again, it’s FamilyLifeToday.com, or call toll-free at 1-800-FLTODAY and ask about some of the resources we have available and we’ll get them sent to you.
While we’re on the subject, we’re also making available this month to those folks who help support the ministry of FamilyLife with a donation, a four-CD bundle where we continue to look at this subject. There’s a message in there from you, Dennis, on how you keep romance a priority in your marriage, even when life is busy and things aren’t feeling particularly romantic. How do you rekindle the spark? And then there are CDs that feature a dialogue we had with Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus, the authors of a book called Intimate Issues: 21 Questions Women Ask Most Often About Intimacy and Sex.
We’re making these CDs available as a thank you gift to those folks who help support the ministry this month with a donation. You can donate online at FamilyLifeToday.com, and if you do that, type the word “ROMANCE” in the online key code box. Or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329, 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY. When you make your donation over the phone, just ask for the romance CDs and we’ll get those sent out to you. Again, thanks for supporting the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
Now we’ve been talking to the President of a prestigious seminary, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Are you ready to pick this back up where you left off?
Dennis: Well, we've had fun today talking about God's perspective of sex with Danny Akin, and I just threw down the – well, the gauntlet that you have in your book that you've created the ultimate passionate kiss. I mean, the French are going to come looking for what you've done here, Danny. Share with our listeners what you describe as a passionate kiss.
Danny: Well, actually, I didn't come up with it, guys, Solomon did. It is Solomon who talks about finding the honey under the tongue of his wife and, as I say in the book, the French did not come up with this particular style of kissing. The deep, wet, passionate kissing. It's right there in the Word of God.
Dennis: Well, but, is it eight seconds long?
Danny: Oh, no, no, you need to be striving at least toward a minute.
Dennis: Sixty seconds.
Danny: Sixty seconds.
Dennis: Now, you make some claims about the 60-second kiss here in your book.
Danny: Well, I just simply point out that several of the marriage experts out there say that one of the first telltale signs that your marriage is in trouble is not the decrease of your sexual activity, but the decreasing of passionate kissing. And when that goes, you need to take notice something's wrong.
Dennis: Okay, you, as a listener, I'm turning to you now in our listening audience. You know that Bob and I are here daily to equip you with practical, biblical principles. Song of Solomon, I believe, well, I don't know what chapter it is–chapter 4. "May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth" is that right?
Dennis: Your application as a married tonight is the Danny Akin 60-second kiss, all right? Write us and tell us …
Bob: How it went?
Dennis: Well, I started thinking about that. Maybe that's not a good idea.
Bob: No, probably not.
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