Celebrating the Mental Side of Sex

Shannon Ethridge says . . .

Why Do Humans Think About Sex So Often?

In the summer of 1999 we took our young children for an afternoon outing to the Caldwell Zoo in Tyler, Texas.  As we entered an area called the “Texas Petting Zoo,” Erin and Matthew were thrilled over the thought that they’d actually be getting hands-on experience with the animals.  Our first stop was the Longhorn cattle pen, where several dozen parents and children waited their turn to pet the new baby calf, which just happened to be tucked up underneath his mama’s udders for an afternoon snack.  My three-year old son watched this scene in amazement, then boldly inquired of me in his loudest outdoor voice, “Mama, did you do that to me when you was a cow?”shannon

Every adult within earshot giggled, and I had to join them.  It was an honest question, so I gave an honest answer and replied, “Matthew, I actually did feel like a cow when I was doing that to you!”  The giggling turned to guffaws of laughter, and thus a precious memory was made that afternoon.

Not only did Matthew learn how baby calves and baby boys were fed by their mothers, he also learned how many baby animals are made.  It seemed like every cage we encountered was filled with animals in heat.  The giraffes were necking, the gazelles were horny, the camels were humping.  It was like someone spiked the hay with some powerful aphrodisiac.  And of course, there was always an inquiring child in the crowd wanting to know, “What are those two animals doing?”

Although humans are certainly on a much higher intellectual and spiritual plane than animals, our basic physical instincts are really not very different.  We have four main activities that we naturally gravitate toward over and over—eating, drinking, sleeping, and sexually connecting with our mates.  It’s simply how God wired us, and it’s a beautiful thing if you consider the big-picture purposes He had in mind.

Why did God wire us for hunger and thirst?  So we wouldn’t starve to death or get dehydrated and make ourselves sick.  So our bodies could thrive and manufacture the energy we need to function when we respond to these natural instincts with healthy food and water.

Why did God wire us for sleep?  So our bodies and brains could rest and get reenergized for another day of living for His glory.  So we could go about our days feeling refreshed, at least until our batteries needed to be recharged once again.

Why did God wire us for sex?

Just to name a few reasons:

  • to bring beautiful babies into the world,
  • so our bodies and brains could experience intense physical pleasure,
  • to release stress and tension,
  • to medicate emotional pain,
  • so our hearts and spirits would feel intimately connected and passionately bonded to another human being,
  • so we would feel passionately loved, and have a powerful way of communicating to another that he or she is deeply loved as well.

Most of us can accept our hunger, our thirst, and our need for sleep as perfectly natural, but the fact that we’re sexual creatures can be hard to accept, at least not without a certain degree of guilt.  But do we ever feel guilty for experiencing true hunger several times a day?  Or genuine thirst?  Do we ever feel sinful for growing sleepy every eighteen hours or so?  Of course not.  It’s how our bodies function, and, like those zoo animals, we don’t waste much time analyzing it at all.  We just feed those needs in order to satisfy ourselves.

So why do we waste time and energy analyzing, justifying, fretting, or feeling guilty over our sexual needs and desires?  Seems silly, doesn’t it?

I believe the reason we worry about our sexuality is because we have somehow bought the lie that sex is dirty, shameful, base, animalistic, and hedonistic rather than natural, instinctual, spiritual, sublime, and holy.  As a result, some of us have lost our ability to accept, embrace, or celebrate that facet of our humanity.  Instead, we may shudder with shock and embarrassment to seriously consider how often our brains entertain sexual thoughts.  In fact, many of us wish we could just flip a switch and never think of sex at all.  Some have actually mastered a variety of techniques that allow them to do just that—to ignore and neglect their natural, God-given sexuality altogether.  While I’m certainly not trying to shame anyone, I think the fact that we’ve grown so adept at absolutely starving our natural sexual desires is, indeed, a crying shame.

But what if we learned to accept the fact that God has created us as sexual human beings, and a natural, healthy sex drive comes part and parcel with that blueprint?  That sexual thoughts are as natural as a hunger pain?  Or a dry mouth?  Or sleepy eyes?  What if we could grow as comfortable with and ecstatic over a delightful afternoon tryst in our marriage bed as we are with, say, a plate full of our favorite holiday foods, a cup hot cocoa or apple cider, and an afternoon nap to ease the calorie-induced coma?  Yes, it is possible to enjoy sex as freely as we indulge in satisfying these other natural cravings!

We must grasp the fact that God placed these human desires in us for a reason—for many divine reasons, actually.  If we had no internal compass pointing us toward food, couldn’t we starve to death?  If we had no recurring thoughts of drinking liquids, we’d dehydrate within forty-eight hours! No natural gravitational pull toward a pillow means we’d become physically exhausted to the point of delirium within a few short days.  Although individuals can live without sex for long periods of time, or even a lifetime if they so choose, let’s think in terms of the bigger picture.  What if humans in general didn’t have any sort of sexual appetite at all?  What would happen?  Not only would we become painfully disconnected and isolated from one another, but the human race would eventually die off within a century or so!  Heaven forbid!

God gave us natural, healthy appetites for everything that our minds, bodies, and souls need.  These appetites guarantee our optimum survival.  As such, these appetites are certainly a blessing, not a burden. So let’s embrace, cherish, and celebrate them fully!


Thank you, God, for healthy sexual appetites, and for godly ways to satisfy them!  May husbands and wives both find great pleasure in one another, and may our marriage relationships bring you great glory as we learn to love each other fully and unreservedly!

Want to win a copy of Shannon’s new book??? Leave a comment on any or all of the 4 posts from Shannon over the next week and your will be entered to win. We will pick a winner after her series is done! If you comment on all 4 you will be entered 4 times!

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14 Responses to Celebrating the Mental Side of Sex

  1. Good article Shannon! The challenge that a lot of people face these days is how to do this as a single person. Are natural sex drive as a single 34 year or whatever age is difficult to understand when the context of marriage isn’t available.

  2. The story Shannon shared made me laugh and remember humorous times with our children and helping them learn about sexuality. I have enjoyed Shannon’s other books.

  3. I thought this article was absolutely adorable. I myself remember listening to questions like that from my own son and other children in areas where it almost seemed difficult to answer but to us was just another ordinary part of natural life. I enjoy our intimate moments together with my husband. It sometimes just seems like more of a chore to fit it in with our hectic schedules. Unlike eating and drinking you can do on the run, sleeping and sex you must make time for. So when those times to work with our schedules, it’s a great time for us to reconnect, join our hearts and minds together again and actually relax! We both very much look forward to it! Thank you for his wonderful article!

  4. I love this article! I thoroughly enjoy connecting with my husband sexually. Lately, though, he has not been interested in sex. I thought that it was something that I was doing or not doing that caused this change and reaction in him. I finally got him to talk about it a few days ago and he shared with me that he doesn’t feel attractive because he has gained 30 pounds over the last 3 years. He doesn’t feel good about the way that he looks and feels. I am trying to help him in his quest to lose weight (without nagging and tracking every bite he eats, but by making healthy food readily available and making physical movement a big part of our time away from work). I very much miss the physical contact with him and I pray that the Lord will help my husband to obtain his goal of weight loss and getting in shape. I know that this is a question that only my husband and I can answer, but I wonder how to help him to feel comfortable enough with his body for sex now….

  5. An amazing take on the question, we are bombarded so much with sex in the media. It helps to have a refreshing thought on how our bodies was created to have a need of sex in marriage.

  6. I love this article. It really is true that we need to connect with our husbands with making love, just the way God designed us.

  7. God-given desire for one’s spouse must never be regarded as something other than the healthy, beautiful thing that it is! Let us teach this to our children in such a way that they do not have the hang-ups that many older people do. Marriage should always be regarded as a gift from God, and what takes place in the marriage bed should never be limited by the prudish attitudes some have been brought up with.

  8. Another great article. It is sad that the only thing taught by Christians is that sex is bad, dirty, etc… Maybe the way the world uses it but not in a marriage. Our children have been taught that it is a natural and wonderful gift in a marriage.

  9. I was wondering about single people (I’m married by the way). I guess if married people are all meeting each others’ sexual needs lovingly, kindly, generously then there will be a lot of love around, more than enough to support, encourage, accept and affirm single people around them. Conversely, if the marrieds are not meeting each others’ needs there won’t be that love, just walls of silence. I was struck by your comment about sexual intimacy soothing emotional hurts. Does anyone agree, particularly if you’re single?