Sex is not the most important thing in marriage. We can never conclude that the basis for every good marriage is a good sexual relationship between a husband and wife and that only happy marriages are marriages where the husband and wife are always enjoying sex with one another.
Sex is A PART of marriage, but there are other important components of marriage: unity, commitment, honesty and transparency, walking with the Lord, friendship – just to name a few. Sex is not the end-all. If you have a marriage that is centered all around sex, then something is wrong with your marriage. The purpose of sex is to serve the marriage; marriage does not serve the desire for sex.
In Proverbs 31:28-30, we have this virtuous woman who is commended and lauded for her character. It is important to notice that the praise that this woman receives from her husband and children is never sexual in nature … at all. Her virtue as a wife is not based upon how she participates in the bedroom. In fact, the author suggests that the physical can be misleading.
In fact, when you read that whole section on the Proverbs 31 woman, the virtuous woman, you will never read that she was a fantastic sexual partner to her husband. She was a woman of deep virtue and was not defined by her intimacy with her husband.
Marriage is not first and foremost a physical union; it is first and foremost a covenant. The notion that consummating a marriage doesn’t make it a legitimate marriage is non-biblical. A marriage is a marriage when a covenant is made. I have never been to a wedding where I witnessed the pastor or officiant ask the couple to make vows to one another sexually and elevate that to the level of a good marriage.
There is far more to marital unity than sex; sexual union is not supreme in marriage. A good relationship in marriage makes for good intimacy, but good intimacy in a marriage does not stand alone as the sole determiner of a good marriage.
Sex within marriage is designed to be a selfless act towards your spouse. The Christian life is one of denying self; it is all about denying your own preferences for the benefit of others (Philippians 2:3-4). No matter the event and no matter the person, we are called to serve others.
And this includes in the bedroom with our spouse. The proper motivation for sex is the spouse’s satisfaction, not personal satisfaction.
One example in Scripture of how God helps us serve our spouse when being intimate are the words recorded by Paul in I Corinthians 7:3-4 – “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”
The same command is given to both husband and wife. Our bodies, for those who are married, belong to their spouses.
This means both husband and wife are to enjoy one another wholeheartedly, aggressively, and passionately. And to not do so is sin. In reality, sex is just a physical expression of love. Therefore, sex, like love, should always be selfless and giving in nature.
The usual excuses for depriving one’s spouse sexually are these: “I’m too tired” or “We do not have enough time” or “I’m just not in the mood” or “I have a headache,” etc., and all of those, at times, can have selfish motivations. The bedroom is an area of our life where we can be quite selfish.
In marriage, your body does not belong to yourself. Song of Solomon 6:3 says, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine …” Keeping from depriving your spouse sexually means that you are available to them physically. We are commanded to be selfless lovers, not selfish lovers.
Contrasting the world’s view of sex and the Bible’s view of sex is just one of many subjects where there is very little agreement. I love that the Lord, in His wisdom, decided to teach us about sex. Think about all the outlets for learning about sex if the Bible was silent about it – television, Hollywood, the magazine rack, etc.
We don’t have to live or think ignorantly on the subject of sexuality. We have God’s clear Word and God’s clear direction on the who, what, when, where, and why of sexuality.
And when God speaks clearly on a subject, we need to make sure we understand His will and defend it among those who reject it. Sexuality is a subject we ought not be ashamed to talk about since God talks about it. As Howard Hendricks one said, “We should not be ashamed to discuss that which God was not ashamed to create.”
In tomorrow’s final post, I will give some practical help to those who have or are sinning in a sexual manner.