KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Traveling from city to city talking to Christian women about sex is not what Linda Dillow imagined doing with her life, having enjoyed 17 years of overseas ministry in Europe and Asia with her husband, Jody.
It was her popular 1977 book, “Creative Counterpart,” that prompted an invitation to speak at this year’s student wives’ retreat at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Many of the 83 participants had applied the book’s biblical principles in their own marriages and looked forward to hearing Dillow in person.
In addressing her subject for the overnight retreat, “What does God really think about sex?” Dillow described the yearlong study of Scripture that she and a friend had undertaken to discover God’s perspective.
The mother of four grown children and grandmother of two eased into the subject that many of the women avoid discussing, commenting that attitudes toward sex range from total embarrassment to comments blared from the rooftops. “Making public what God intended to be private seems to have become a national pastime,” she acknowledged, referring to the immoral culture in which Americans live.
Realizing that Christian wives have few places to turn for biblical, frank information from a woman’s viewpoint on this sensitive topic, Dillow and Lorraine Pintus authored a 1999 book, “Intimate Issues.” Neither author claims to be a sex therapist, psychologist or sociologist. Instead, they explained in the book’s introduction, “We are students of the Scripture, women who seek God and want to know Him and reveal Him in every aspect of our lives, including our sexual relationships with our husbands.”
Dillow recounted six reasons why God gave the gift of sex to married couples: to create life (Genesis 2:24); for intimate oneness (Ephesians 5:31-32); for a unique knowledge (Genesis 4:1); for pleasure (Proverbs 5:15, 18-19); as a defense against temptation (Proverbs 5:15, 1 Corinthians 7:2,5); and for comfort (2 Samuel 12:24).
“What God made pure, the world has made putrefied. What God made sacred, the world made sleazy,” Dillow told the women at the Kansas City, Mo., seminary. “In exploiting the female body, the world has desecrated what is holy. And yet it is just as wrong to confine sexual intimacy to lights out, under the covers, and after the 10 o’clock news,” she warned the audience of seminary wives.
To prepare for writing the book, Dillow and Pintus asked 1,000 women what two questions they would like to have answered about the sexual relationship between a husband and wife. The most frequently asked “simmering” questions inspired chapter titles such as:
— What does God think about sex?
— How can I be godly and sensuous?
— How can I relate when he’s a microwave and I’m a crockpot?
— Where can I go to buy a new body?
— What’s Not OKAY in bed?
Encouraging wives to become sensuous, Dillow counseled the women to avoid confusing sensuality with sensuous. “The world has stolen the word sensuous,” she said, defining it as “alive to the pleasure to be received through the senses.”
For many Christian women, the greatest roadblock to a fulfilling sexual relationship is guilt over past sexual sin, Dillow said.
As Pintus wrote in the book, “We tuck painful memories away in the basement of our hearts where cobwebs and spiders lurk. There they remain, covered by darkness, sealed behind a closed door. Years pass. A foul odor rises from the basement. The stench permeates the house, affecting us and our relationships with our husbands.” While God is eager to cleanse such a woman’s soul, Pintus wrote, the hidden things must be carried out of the darkness and into God’s light. “Getting rid of the old is usually the hardest part of the cleansing process,” Pintus noted, convinced that the majority of Christian women have a sexual history to deal with.
Just as King David could proclaim in Psalm 26:1-3 his unwavering trust in the Lord and speak of “a blameless life” in spite of having committed adultery with Bathsheba, Dillow spoke of God’s ability to declare a Christian woman blameless “no matter how wretched the sin of our past.”
In a section on “smoldering questions,” the authors provide a biblical application of the process of repentance, forgiveness and healing for sexual sin.
“God is a God who redeems no matter how many men you’ve been with, whether you’ve had an abortion or made wrong choices.” Dillow said, offering hope to hurting women.
Addiction to pornography available in magazines, romance novels and the Internet is addressed in Intimate Issues, along with the pain of sexual abuse. An extensive list of resources directs readers to organizations, Bible studies and other materials to help a woman address such concerns.
The book’s practical application is presented in answers to “sizzling questions” followed by a more comprehensive 12-week Bible study.
While Dillow noted that “God gives tremendous sexual freedom within the marriage relationship,” she clarified 10 prohibitions, which include fornication, adultery, homosexuality, impurity, orgies, prostitution, lustful passions, sodomy, obscenity and incest.
And while those prohibitions are clearly stated in Scripture, Dillow taught wives attending the retreat to apply biblical principles to sexual practices that are not clearly addressed. As she read from questions retreat participants submitted anonymously, Dillow led the women to apply 1 Corinthians 6:12 and Hebrews 13:4 to answer whether the action is prohibited in Scripture, beneficial and not harmful, and does not involve anyone else.
“Come on girls, you’re going to be out there in ministry. What are you going to say to the women who come to you for help?” she asked them. Turning from one awkward topic to another, different student wives worked through the process of delivering answers that can stand the test of Scripture.
Drawing the retreat to a close, Dillow challenged the women to allow God to work lasting change in their lives. Comparing the process to metamorphosis, she explained that transformation occurs from the inside out. “Will you go forward in the goal of becoming a godly and sensuous wife?”