I’m going to cut to the chase-r (pun intended) and ask a question. How do married people stay sexually “sober” in a society that puts down married sex as dull and mundane and marriage itself as disposable? Are sexual difficulties or incompatibility in marriage a deal breaker? Do one or both partners need porn or erotic literature? What about drugs, alcohol, toys, games (BDSM) and even other people? Okay, that’s four questions but these are some of the critical issues that put married people in relational turmoil and chaos.
I confess that the concept of sobriety doesn’t conjure up any fireworks in my mind. To be sober means “marked by temperance (self-control), moderation or seriousness; subdued in tone or color; showing no excessive or extreme qualities of fancy, emotion or prejudice; not drunk; REALISTIC, well balanced: RESTRAINED, RATIONAL.”
Simply put, sexual sobriety is abstaining from sexual misconduct. So what does that look like in marriage? It’s become an ever-increasing challenge to remain “sober and vigilant” while married (or unmarried, for that matter), since an enemy of sexual temptation is always prowling around looking for someone to devour. How did an arbitrary word like Facebook become synonymous with cheating and divorce? How do we avoid the dangerous mindfields of sexual temptation and keep ourselves sexually self-controlled – and fulfilled?
Here are a few of points to consider:
1) Sobriety does not mean boring.
It is a “serious, unhurried, calm, clearheaded, intentness.” Sobriety says to focus. That focus is the centerpiece of a strong sexual relationship. When we are able to stay focused on our mate and the relationship, this is where deep, genuine soul entwining intimacy takes place. The truth is married folks have a choice: either grow up or grow apart. Monogamous, faithful married sex can be mind-blowing, but it takes emotional health and maturity… the understanding that sex is a sacred ecstasy and not an extreme sport. It takes sobering up from cultural myths and falsehoods and giving full attention to your beloved – your spouse.
2) Sobriety and sexual satisfaction go hand in hand.
The (illicit) sex of porn, masturbation and infidelity does not truly satisfy. Sex apart from covenant marriage makes a lot of promises that it cannot keep. It’s a risky counterfeit. Marital sex was intended to be a life-giving act; outside of that design there is always a cost. Each and every time we “go there”, we lose something of ourselves. Like the abuse of drugs and alcohol, it diminishes instead of enhancing.
3) Sobriety is an aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit.
If drugs, alcohol, or new sex partners could settle our souls and make us happy then drug addicts, alcoholics, sex addicts and infidels would be the happiest people in the world. The self-control that sobriety requires is a benefit of walking in the Holy Spirit. It is the result of a heart set on loving and pleasing its Maker. St Augustine said, “You have made us for Yourself O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” Acceptance of this truth (and the Truth, John 14:6) is the key to sexual sobriety and satisfaction.