Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.
“Marriage should be honored by all . . .” Hebrews 13:4a
We received a text recently from friends who are well-known marriage conference speakers, wanting help with an upcoming talk to a group which will include Marines. They specifically wanted to know how we advise military couples on sexual intimacy given that much of their time is spent geographically separated because of deployment.
We applauded our speaker friends’ desire to be relevant—because they could have easily given their “standard” talk with a predominantly civilian population in attendance. Our friends asked for a list of books to read, or articles to study on that subject . . . but we knew of none. So we called other military missionaries who serve with us and put together some thoughts about physical intimacy in a military marriage while experiencing deployment.
Our advice can be looked at as a “sandwich approach”. We shared with them two important truths to start and finish such a discussion—and five common lies to address in-between. We are putting this on Excellent or Praiseworthy in hopes it will speak to others who might want to consider this information.
Truth #1—God’s design for marriage is given in Genesis 2:24: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” The tendency is to look at that “oneness” mentioned as only a physical act. But God wants more—an emotional and spiritual oneness which can only come from an intimate commitment to love and to serve each other through a lifetime of “better/worse, richer/poorer, sickness/health”. Growth into that level of intimacy is what Christian couples can experience during deployment as they intentionally communicate at a deep level.
Lie #1—“If he/she doesn’t ‘get it’ from me, he/she will get it from someone else.” Marriage vows include the promise to be faithful to one another, even while deployed. Especially while deployed. So adultery is a breach of that covenant promise which will always lead to a loss of trust—among other problems.
Lie #2—“If you don’t use it, you will lose it.” Just not true.
Lie #3—“Pornography (and such) won’t hurt anybody.” One of our most respected theologians and writers is Dr. Al Mohler who wrote on pornography: “A Warped Worldview: Another Moral Effect of Pornography“. We see the curse of pornography affecting many in the military community—and it always brings tragic outcomes to a relationship.
Lie #4—“I can hang out with others of the opposite sex . . . they’re just friends.” It might start out as “friendship”, but can take on more of a relationship than you ever wanted or expected. One story we know all too well is written in “Seemed Innocent Enough” on Excellent or Praiseworthy.
Lie #5—“It won’t happen to me.” Lie #5 tags along closely behind Lie #4. Allowing NO accountability in your life leads to an attitude of invincibility. The Bible warns, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall” (I Corinthians 10:12). Guard your mind, heart, and body—and know there are those “out there” who want to take you down. Satan is an enemy who wants to ruin your marriage and reputation. Be on guard! He has plenty of agents on those deployments.
Truth #2—A couple can prepare for deployment, guard their minds and hearts during deployment, and reintegrate with anticipation, patience, and joy—through the power of the Holy Spirit. No matter what has been your past experience or current fear, preparing for a deployment—and walking with God through the deployment—will be a faith assignment. Look at the time apart as an opportunity to grow together, even though apart.
What does this all look like in real life? Real military life? The same couple who asked us to advise them on this topic shared the opportunity they had, years ago, of speaking to a military couple about how they maintained their sexual purity during their career. This couple had experienced sexual temptations early in their marriage, so approaching deployment brought its own set of fears. After becoming Christians and feeling convicted by past sins, they were challenged “to fast from all things sexual that could be a gateway to isolation and selfishness during deployment”. It worked. Throughout a career with many deployments, it worked to keep them pure and guilt free. This couple used a verse from Song of Solomon to encourage their restraint, “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” (Song of Solomon 2:7b).
God created sex to be a beautiful gift shared between a husband and wife. So our hope is that this article is an encouragement to you to remain pure, faithful, and God-honoring throughout the challenge of a military deployment.
Questions to Share:
- Which of the two truths would encourage your marriage right now?
- Pray for each other to escape the lies of Satan regarding temptations during deployment.