"My husband likes dressing up as a woman. I have come round to accepting that he does this, but we have been ostracised by our church."
This is a very difficult area for you, your husband and others to understand, and raises a lot of important issues within a church in regards to creating healthy role models for children and young people. Scripture does tell us to: ‘set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (1Timothy 4:12). I would ask you to get beneath the meaning of the word ‘ostracised’. If the leaders have drawn some boundaries, then talk this through with them so that you can understand their heart and intentions and can respect what they are seeking to achieve. If people in the congregation have found it hard to know how to talk to you, maybe this is because they feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. Often the same thing happens when someone experiences bereavement and people don’t want to say the wrong thing, so they avoid conversation completely. We know this is not ideal, but let’s give some kindness and grace to appreciate that it is not easy.
If you really value your church and the relationships there, maybe it is time to meet each other half way. Have a quality conversation with the leaders about what you can all do to live at peace together. Your husband may like dressing up as a woman, but he doesn’t need to do that all the time. He needs to ask himself what point is he making by cross-dressing for church and see if there is another way he can express what is inside without causing barriers between him and people you both value.
"I’m engaged to someone and I’m worried the sex won’t be very good. I love him very much, but we don’t seem to click in that area (we don’t have sex at the moment, but when we are intimate I often don’t feel anything, or just feel awkward). Should I go through with the marriage?"
It is important you grow in this area together, as marriage is a sexual union as well as relational. There can be many reasons for what you are describing. Sometimes we don’t feel anything because we have shut our arousal responses down. Are there things in your thinking that are creating this effect? Maybe you are feeling that it is wrong, or you are worried about getting turned on together. Maybe there are experiences from your past that are putting you off being physically intimate. Perhaps there are dynamics between you and your fiancé that are killing the passion for you. Once you have more insight as to what it is, then you can start to work this through together. It is good to save sexual intercourse for marriage, but at this stage of engagement we want to allow the sparks of physical attraction to grow and awkwardness to diminish.
See if you can find ways to reassure one another and put each other more at ease. Sexual intimacy is grounded in the ability to talk about personal and sensitive things – this is a good opportunity to start.
"My wife and I don’t watch porn, but do sometimes get turned on by sex scenes in mainstream films and TV programmes. Sometimes this leads to sex after we’ve watched them. Is this ok?"
Yes, I think that’s great! To keep passion alive over decades we need to vary the stimuli we are getting. All of our body senses get dulled if they are accessed the same way too repetitively. When my husband was a boy, he once told his mum that he liked egg sandwiches in his lunch box. After that she made egg sandwiches every day for the whole year. By half term he was trading sandwiches with the other kids to get a taste of ham, cheese or anything different.
Please don’t stretch this analogy too far (!) but my point is, we do benefit from finding different stimuli to keep our love life from getting boring. We don’t want this to lead to unfaithful imaginations or to objectifying other people’s bodies, but if it is simply creating some erotic scenes in our heads that lead us to change the scenery at home a bit, it all helps to keep the senses alive.
If that is focused on making your spouse feel that they are the object of your desire, draws you together emotionally and physically, and brings out your passion for each other, then make the most of it. I wonder if the Song of Songs has been left in the biblical canon for this purpose?