News Articles

Authors talk sex at marriage conference

EDITOR’S NOTE: The material covered in this article is not appropriate for children and is reported here in the interest of providing a biblical approach to the subject matter.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (BP)–After four sessions devoted to passionate talk about guarding hearts against anger, taking personal responsibility for marriage and developing a biblical concept of submission, conference leaders carefully addressed lovemaking at the “Fireproof Your Marriage” conference in Daytona Beach, Fla.

The two-day event sparked by the popular movie “Fireproof” drew nearly 800 participants to First Baptist Church March 27-28 to hear a lineup of speakers ranging from veteran relationship guru Gary Smalley to the movie’s executive producer Michael Catt, who also is pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga.

Ted Cunningham, pastor of Woodland Hills Community Church in Branson, Mo., and coauthor of “The Language of Sex” with Gary Smalley, addressed the differences between husbands and wives in the bedroom and within the context of marriage, referring to the Song of Solomon.

Declining to be graphic by the world’s standards and regularly expressing disapproval of any type of pornography, Cunningham — who co-led the session with Smalley — said he approved boundaries beforehand with the church’s senior pastor, Tim Mann, and joked there were five words he was forbidden from using when talking about sexual relations or the human anatomy.

Gary Smalley, 68, stepped away from the podium at one point, joking, “Here’s where the older speaker exits.” He added, “I could never say these things, but I love that he says them.”

Drawing on his experience of having been introduced to pornography at an early age by the pastor’s son in what he called a fundamentalist Baptist church he attended with his parents, Cunningham said he sees a need for the church to be open about the dangers of pornography and the difference between it and the reality of healthy intimacy in marriage.

But both men nodded when Smalley said, “Relationship is the key to sexually fulfilling intimacy.”

Cunningham outlined five differences between men and women toward understanding intimacy:

Men express fact, women express emotions; men are objective, women are personal; men want basics, women want details; men can detach from their surroundings, but the home is the extension of the wife; men are microwaves, women are crock pots.

Cunningham said a woman on average speaks about 20,000 words a day and a man speaks about 7,000 to 9,000. So when men respond with a grunt or a one-syllable answer to a question, it could be that they are already out of words for the day, he said.

Another difference in studying brains shows that women produce a bonding hormone at the point of climax that causes them to want to cuddle.

“That’s why the afterglow is so important,” Cunningham said, while Smalley snored loudly, to the crowd’s laughter.

“We’re not medical doctors,” Cunningham said, “but about 90 percent of sexual problems today in our world have nothing to do with physical, mental illness [or] prescription drugs that can lower our libido…. It’s a relational problem because sex is a barometer of a relationship.”

Speaking frankly and sprinkling references to the Song of Solomon liberally throughout his talk, Cunningham used a crock pot and microwave analogy to compare readiness differences for lovemaking between husbands and their wives.

Explaining how to best apply crock pot and microwave differences, Cunningham introduced two “sexpectations” married couples should discuss: the frequency sexpection and the performance sexpectation.

How often couples should have sex and how often they desire orgasms are healthy questions to ask, Cunningham said.

“There are times it doesn’t have to be a crock pot meal. It can be a microwave meal.”

The important thing is that married couples talk about it in a healthy and mature way, he said.

“Remember, sex is just the barometer of the relationship,” Cunningham said, adding, “You’re not going to fix problems of sex in your marriage with sex.”

On performance, Cunningham said the Song of Solomon is a great book to follow, and it even addresses aging couples.

Expanding on the discussion of differences between men and women, Cunningham had few words of advice for women on preparation for lovemaking. “Show up naked,” he said to laughter. “We need nothing else. You don’t need to call us during the day. We don’t need no word pictures. It’s all good.”

Pornography has damaged expectation, Cunningham said in a more serious tone to the men.

“Your wife will never be able to compete with pornography. Never,” Cunningham said. “When you look at pornography, you are saying to your wife, ‘There is a flaw in you,’ and what you are saying is, ‘You don’t do it for me anymore and I need to go outside the marriage to be fulfilled.'”

Cunningham told of taking care of his children, helping his wife with housework, lighting a special candle in their bedroom or downloading romantic songs to play on his iPod in their bedroom in anticipation of lovemaking.

“Don’t bring anything of the world into your bedroom …, not one thing of the world into your bedroom. You keep it pure, but keep it creative,” Cunningham said.
Joni B. Hannigan is managing editor of the Florida Baptist Witness (www.floridabaptistwitness.com), newsjournal of the Florida Baptist Convention.

    About the Author

  • Joni B. Hannigan/Florida Baptist Witness