What dessert or treat do you and your spouse most enjoy sharing together? For some, there’s nothing better than a dozen fresh, hot Krispy Kreme donuts. When the neon “hot” sign is lit up and you watch the freshly baked delicacy move down the conveyer through the waterfall of glaze, it’s like an irresistible impulse draws you in. Those donuts just simply melt in your mouth! A dozen fresh Krispy Kremes don’t last long, and sometimes they might not even last through the drive home. Is there a dessert or treat that you and your mate simply can’t resist?
The Song of Songs celebrates the sexual relationship. Both the Lover and the Beloved describe sex as a delicacy they anxiously desire to share with each other. “Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride; milk and honey are under your tongue…Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread everywhere. Let my beloved come into his garden and taste its choice fruits.” (Song of Songs 4:11, 16)
When was the last time you thanked God for your sex life? When was the last time you and your spouse together thanked God for your sex life? For some people, this is a really, really weird question. After many years of premarital counseling, I’ve noticed that often couples who grew up with a strong church background are the ones most reluctant to see sex as a spiritual blessing.
God created sex, and sex is good. I certainly don’t mean that in a flippant way. Scripture tells us that everything God made is good, and Genesis 1:27-28 tells us that God made them male and female and God told them to reproduce (have sex) and fill the earth. God created sex, and sex is good. And God didn’t just create the act of sex. He created humanity to be sexual beings, giving us marriage as a holy relationship for sexual expression.
Sex is meant to be a monogamous relationship between one man and one woman and kept within the context of marriage for the purpose of procreation and recreation. But sex is also very powerful. Sex, if abused and taken out of the context God intended, can harm a marriage and destroy any true sense of intimacy and goodness. Sex can be used to coerce, demean, or belittle one’s mate as easily as it can be used to bring pleasure and intimate connection to a marriage. Because sex is so powerful, God (who knows infinitely more than us) provides boundaries for sexual expression between a husband and wife. Those boundaries protect us and enhance intimacy and spiritual growth.
So what are the boundaries God gives us for the sexual relationship? While the Bible does have a lot to say about marriage and the sexual relationship, there is not a single specific passage that puts it all in one place. When we look at scripture holistically, this is what we find:
A husband and wife are free to engage each other sexually,
provided it is monogamous (Hebrews 13:4),
mutually consensual (1 Corinthians 7:3-5),
and doesn’t dehumanize or harm you or your spouse physically, emotionally, or spiritually (Genesis 1:27-28)
First, the sexual relationship must remain monogamous. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” God wants a husband and wife to enjoy and grow in intimacy toward each other without anyone else interfering with that relationship. If physical intimacy is compromised, then emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual intimacy are likewise affected.
“Keeping the marriage bed pure” means both physically and mentally. Whether it is through the use of pornography or through inappropriate fantasies of someone (real or imagined) other than your spouse, bringing someone else into the marriage bed diminishes your relationship with your spouse.
Second, the sexual relationship must be mutually consensual. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 reads, “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” Yielding authority over your body to your mate does not give either partner the right to be selfish or demanding in the sexual relationship. It does mean that you find mutually enjoyable ways to satisfy each other sexually.
However, the premise of mutually consensual acts does not supersede the third boundary. The sexual relationship must not dehumanize or harm either spouse physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Genesis 1:27-28 makes it clear that we are made in the image of God, and it is imperative that you always regard and treat your spouse as an image-bearer of God. Being an image-bearer of God means there is something unique about humanity. Because men and women are created in the image of God, we are endowed by God with an intellect, a moral compass, and a desire for community that reflects the relationship of Father, Son, and Spirit, and God’s desire for community with us. Being made in the image of God elevates sex from a purely physical, animalistic act to a holy participation in God’s loving and creative work in this world.
When we keep the sexual relationship within the boundaries God provides, we protect our mates’ hearts and minds. We give our spouses a framework for intimacy that draws us closer to them and closer to God.
You can’t base a marriage on sex alone, but the sexual relationship also should not be minimized or separated from your Christian life. When you got married, you desired each other sexually, and sex was an important and regular part of your relationship. As you grow older and mature as a couple, some aspects of the sexual relationship may have to change, but don’t let change become an excuse for depriving your mate. In Scripture, the spiritual and the physical are tied together. Depriving your mate breaks a deeply meaningful and intimate connection that should be shared only between the two of you. Sex is one of the most powerful elements of human relationships. It can be used destructively in a relationship to manipulate, coerce, humiliate, or demean your spouse. It can also be used to bring glory and honor to God as a husband and wife share in the wonderful gift and ultimate physical expression of intimacy that God has given to humanity. Pay attention to your sexual relationship, enjoy this wonderful way of engaging each other that God has given to you and your spouse (and the two of you alone) to enjoy together, and thank God when “the hot light” is on.
What does God want from my marriage?
A Weekend Marriage Enrichment Retreat
Friday-Sunday, March 7-9, 2014
Edgewater at the Aquarium Hotel and Conference Center
Limited to 30 couples
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info