Leave the Lights On {3-Day Love Challenge: Day 1}

A To Choose Joy Bible Study

Becky Bennett, Cassie Wilson, & Katie Bantle



Pink hearts, chocolate truffles, and roses are on display in every store window this week. We’re gearing up for a holiday that many of you have a love-hate relationship with, particularly concerning the expectations that come along with it. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, we need to clear the air about a few expectations that we should have when it comes to something that many people also have a love-hate relationship with: sex.


That’s right, we’re talking about sex. Right here. Right now. {Awkward…Hi, Mom!}


I know, this might all sound a little scandalous, but have you peeked into Song of Songs? We Christians can have a hard time using the three letter “s” word, as though it’s a shameful thing and that we shouldn’t touch it. But if God Himself inspired words like, “Let my beloved come into his garden and taste its choice fruits” (Song of Songs 4:16), it looks like He had every intention of inspiring, well, some serious touching.


This is Part One in a series of three. I’m here with my good friends, Cassie and Katie. To all of our sisters in the thick of this two-become-one thing and to those of you who aren’t married but would like some forward insight into God’s one-flesh design, grab a cup of coffee and prepare yourself to get up-close-and-personal. You're in the 3-Day Love Challenge.

Day 1


A One-Flesh Design

Can you point back to the moment when you knew that your husband was the man you were going to marry? The moment when you knew that you wanted to leave everything else behind and plant yourself by his side forever? The moment when nothing else mattered except for this one thing: that the two of you belonged together? God’s plan, right from the beginning, was to create a beautiful thing from that very moment: for two people to mysteriously become one flesh.  

“So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The man said,

‘This is now bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called “woman,”
    for she was taken out of man.’

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame,” (Genesis 2:21-25).


Naked and Unashamed

What do you think that looked like? What words would you use to describe the naked and yet unashamed oneness that Adam and Eve had? Closeness, vulnerability, acceptance, innocence…

We don’t know exactly what Adam and Eve got to experience in the garden, but we do know that as soon as they sinned, something in that naked and unashamed existence was broken. And the same thing happens in all of our marriages because of sin. Our selfishness builds up walls between us. Our pride builds up walls between us. Our un-dealt-with pasts build up walls between us. Other people’s sin in our pasts builds up walls between us.


Getting Down to the Foundation of Marriage

How can we find our way back to what it might mean to grasp the naked and unashamed concept in our marriages? We’ve got to look beneath those walls at the foundations of a godly marriage.

Let’s start with prayer: God, thank You that You are good, Your ways are good, Your ways are good, and Your plans are good. We need You. You designed marriage. You designed each of our individual marriages—they weren’t a mistake, even when they are the most challenging. You know what it takes to make a marriage beautiful. Open our eyes and help us to see by the light of Your truth and Your perfect love.


Wall-Breaking Tools

Marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church.  Jesus models for us the first tools necessary for breaking down the walls that stand in the middle of our relationships. These tools? Humility and love.

While we often think that love is the primary substance of marriage, marriage cannot stand on love alone. It requires humility. We need to value our spouses above ourselves if we want to make our marriages work in the way God designed them to. We need to unselfishly look for, strive for, work for what is in the interests of our spouses.


“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:3-8).


Ask Yourself:

  • How badly do I want to be like Jesus?
  • Am I willing to surrender my pride and pray that God will help me to be completely humble and loving toward my husband?
  • Can I be humble even if I feel like my husband isn’t humble towards me?
  • Can I love my husband whether I feel loved by him or not?
  • Am I being selfish with my desires, my time, my actions, my body, my thoughts?

Are you wondering how on earth a Christ-like combination of humility and love could be possible, considering some of the difficulties you might be facing in your own marriage right now? What would it require to die to yourself and to truly think of your husband’s interests before your own? 

I’d love for you to try to think of some of the potential wall-builders in your own marriage and write them down. Here are a few to get you started:

Ask Yourself:

  • How do I feel when I think about my husband?
  • How do I feel when I think about serving him?
  • How do I feel about our communication?
  • How do I feel when I think about my past?
  • How do I feel about the current season of life I’m in?
  • What do I feel that my needs are?
  • What do I feel that his needs are?
  • How do I feel about sex?

            Now, let’s find something tangible and productive to do with those feelings: let’s offer them to God. Let’s thank God for them. Let’s ask God, no matter what our feelings are, what it looks like to be humble and to love our husbands the way Jesus does.


What Does the Bible Say?

            Being humble and loving isn’t about living to make your husband happy. It isn’t about avoiding any type of conflict or just pretending that none of the hurts in your heart exist. It’s not about being a doormat with no thoughts or opinions.

We’re talking about living to be faithful to God—being faithful to what God has called you to. One of the most important questions you’ll ever ask in your marriage—in your life—is this: what does the Bible say?

The Bible says that God is calling you to be humble and to love your husband. Do you believe Him that His way works? Or would you like an exception to the rule for your situation? You get to trust that you can do your part in your marriage and that God will take care of the rest.

I love the way that Sheila Wray Gregoire talks about humility as the key to oneness in marriage:

“In humility, we become willing to think of his needs, his wants, his interests, his desires, before we think of our own. . . We emotionally and physically invest in building him up and pursuing his best. . . Humility says, I won’t pursue only my own needs; I want to look to yours as well.” (Gregoire, 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, p. 109-110)


Fight for Peace

I had a really hard time with this idea for a while. I didn’t feel like the humility and love thing was working in difficult moments. My counselor gave me a challenge, as a practical way to apply humility and love (especially in the face of conflict), and it has absolutely changed my marriage: she told me to choose peace.

Fight for peace more than your ego, she said. Fight for peace more than needing to be right. Wash your husband’s feet. The way that Jesus washes yours. The way that Jesus serves you: serve your husband. When stress makes you wonder if you should give up, Jesus says, “Keep going.”

  • Keep being humble.
  • Keep loving.
  • Keep dying to yourself.
  • And then keep waiting and see what God does…

            Ok. We’ve set the stage for our discussion. Now let’s look at something that makes it very difficult for us to break through certain walls in our marriages. Our bedroom walls. This unfriendly thing plants its feet and makes it close to impossible to even begin to process someone else’s interests. It’s our own insecurity.


Insecurity is a Serious Intimacy Interrupter


Insecurity vs. Vulnerability

There are many things that get in the way of couples having sex. One often-made excuse for this is that the woman simply does not enjoy it. I am a firm believer that a big reason many women do not enjoy or want to have sex is their own insecurity. Insecurity is a wall between husband and wife that destroys intimacy—both inside the bedroom and out. Many insecure women are having sex, but few insecure women are finding true pleasure and fulfillment in it. Enjoying sex requires a significant amount of vulnerability and honesty on your part.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I hesitate to want to have sex with my husband?
  • Do I enjoy having sex with my husband?
  • Am I battling insecurity in the bedroom?

Insecurity has many faces. Maybe yours looks like the fear of being abandoned, the haunting of a dark past or the ever-present voice that says that you’re not good enough. Maybe you can’t get it out of your head that you’re too fat or that you’re not filled-out enough. Maybe you’re afraid that you are too hard to please. Do you wonder if you’re attractive anymore, if the house will ever be clean enough, if you’ll ever be able to pull off a dinner other than cereal or keep up with your high-stress life?

It is time to fight our insecurities head on, for the sake of our marriages.

There is battle going on inside the mind of almost every woman. It’s a battle that many men know nothing about but husbands feel its impact deeply. Our thoughts can be so impacted by our own insecurities that we actually create the very lies we genuinely believe. Those lies end up telling us that it’s ok to distance ourselves from our husbands. Those lies end up telling us that we’re better off if we avoid having sex with them or that we are entitled to make all of the calls as far as our sex lives go.

But how do we avoid lies that insecurity sets us up to believe? We pray. Ask God to help you find the roots of your insecurities and break them off with the truth found in His Word. Replace the lies with what God says about you in Scripture. Pray that God would help quiet your mind and your heart. Choose to get close to your husband and to be fully in the room with him. Choose to be intimate. Do not allow yourself to get lost in your thoughts. And whenever the lies rear their ugly heads, choose to believe the truth instead. Vulnerability matters because it is the one of the first steps to true intimacy. Let’s be vulnerable together.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things,” (Philippians 4:8).

Ask yourself:

  • What am I insecure about?
  • What truth from the Bible can I battle that insecurity with?

{if you need help finding Bible verses, you can use the search option on Bible.com or ask anyone on our To Choose Joy team and we'll be glad to help you!} 

On the Table

Have you been able to wrap your mind around the things we’ve been talking about so far: God’s design for marriage, Jesus’ model of humility and love, and laying down insecurity? We’re ready to take our discussion to the next level.

God inspired an entire book of the Bible to be based on the awakening of intense desire. His beautiful design for marriage includes a deep intertwining of bodies and souls and minds. If God is willing to talk about sex, I don’t want to blush at the thought of a conversation about it.

One of the things that I appreciate most about Song of Songs is that the Beloved and the Lover talk openly to one another. They’re in constant communication about their sex life. We sometimes think sex should be a taboo topic and completely off of the discussion table. But here, in the BIBLE, it’s totally on the table.

They talk about it.

She tells her husband what she enjoys and what feels good to her. He does the same for her. They describe to each other what they want. They ask for what they need. They express—clearly and in ways that some might consider utterly scandalous—their pleasure in each other.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I willing to talk about sex with my husband?
  • Do my husband and I communicate openly with each other about our sex life?


A Handbook for Intimacy

Song of Songs, not to mince words, is an erotic love poem.  It’s a story between King Solomon and the Shulammite girl.  It is graphic—with vivid details. It’s also a beautifully painted picture—a written handbook for us to use as a guide to intimacy.  God created our bodies, both male and female, with all their intricacies and differences. He created our bodies to be used freely and openly within the context of biblical marriage.  

Jay Smith summarizes Song of Songs this way: “The story greatly emphasizes the sanctity of marriage and that it is designed, blessed and consecrated in the eyes of the Lord. The purpose of ‘Song of Songs,’ as it is also called, is a picture of God’s love for His people. Although there is explicit sexual content, it is a book in which we can learn the depths of God’s authentic love for us and what should be in the sacredness of marriage."


Take a few minutes to glance through Song of Songs. Notice the way that the Lover (the husband) and the Beloved (the wife) talk to each other and about each other. You might not be a huge fan of the Hebrew word pictures, but try to see what’s underneath them. Look at chapter 4 and the way that he moves from the top of her head down and enjoys himself all the way. Look at her vulnerability in 5:4-5 and the way she praises him in 5:10-16.

Ask yourself:

  • What would it take for me to believe my husband if he said:
  • You’re beautiful.
  •  I desire you.
  •  I love your body.
  •  I want to see you.
  • Do I think of my husband in the way the beloved talks about her lover in Song of Songs?Why or why not?
  • Do I believe that it’s possible for intimacy in my marriage to look like it does in Song of Songs?
  • Do I want the kind of intimacy that the Bible describes? {If you had trouble answering yes to this question, ask yourself what might be standing in the way}


Studies show that one of the biggest barriers to a woman’s desire to have sex is weariness. According to Dr. Kevin Leman, “An estimated 24 million American women say they don’t have time, are too exhausted, or just aren’t in the mood for sex. . . So we put it off for later—but later can easily become never. In case you haven’t noticed, abstinence doesn’t make the loins grow hotter, it just begets more abstinence. Sex on the other hand, begets more sex,” (Lehman, Sheet Music, p. 184). 

If you struggle with the idea of having sex—if you’re feeling weary—you are not alone, sister. Dr. Leman goes on to say, though, based on research about lovemaking and the desire-creating chemicals it releases in our brains, that the best way to start wanting more sex in your marriage is to have it.

Are you willing to test out that research in your own marriage?

These next questions might be especially difficult to answer if you have trouble wanting to have sex in your marriage. They aren’t here to make you feel guilty, but rather, are intended to inspire you to action or at least to get your wheels turning.

Ask Yourself:

  • Am I willing to have sex with my husband?
  • Why or Why not?
  • How often do we have sex?
  • Do I ever make any excuses for not having sex with my husband?
  • What are my excuses?
  • When do I make my excuses?
  • How do I justify my excuses?
  • What sacrifices could I make in my time to make more room for sex?
  • What patterns could I change to make more room for sex?
  • What emotional or mental hurdles do I need to face in order to get there?


What Does the Bible Say?

Above all, we want to encourage you to try to line up all of your thoughts with Scripture. #PreachingToOurselves. Remember our big question—what does the Bible say? Psalm 119:37 says that God’s Word preserves our very lives.

God has a beautiful and very intentional design for marriage. God created sex to be a good and fulfilling thing for us to enjoy in our marriages. He wants us to confront the lies that we believe and to replace them with His truth. And He is calling us to follow the model that Jesus set for us: to die to ourselves and to be humble and loving.

What is He telling you about your marriage today? What is He telling you about your sex life today? He expects us, if we are Christ-followers, to obey His Word because He knows it really is the best way for us. “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,” (1 John 5:3).  

God is incredibly gracious and He knows what you need. He knows what you struggle with, what makes you weary, what your marital challenges are, and He has compassion on you. So let’s search out God’s way together and let’s apply it to our lives—arm in arm, helping each other and lifting one another up. We’re so glad you’re here.


Don't miss Day 2 of the 3-Day Love Challenge! You'll hear about:

  • biblical role-playing,
  • our needs as women,
  • sex as a mommy, and
  • how to change your husband.

Go to ToChooseJoy.com/biblestudies and Sign Up for *FREE*. You’ll get links to Days 2 and 3 sent right to your inbox when they release! 

{Days 2 and 3 are only available to those who sign up}


We have some tried and true resources to link you up with each day of this challenge. Here are some wise voices to speak into what we’ve been brushed over today:







  • 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage: Because a Great Relationship Doesn’t Happen by Accident by Sheila Wray Gregoire (Waterbrook Press, 2015).

  • Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage by Dr. Kevin Leman.  (Tyndale, 2003).

  • A Lasting Promise: The Christian Guide to Fighting for Your Marriage by Scott Stanley, Daniel Trathen, Savanna McCain, and Milt Bryan. (Jossey-Bass, 2014).



  • To Love, Honor, and Vacuum (An incredible blog by Sheila Wray Gregoire on biblical marriage, sex, parenting, and more).

  • The Marriage Bed (A Christian website full of real sex advice and practical resources for sex in your marriage)

  • Northridge Equip (A host of great resources on Christian living topics, from Image & Identity to Roles & Relationships to Marriage & Sexuality)