What is God’s Design for Sexual Intimacy?
Are you happy with the sexual state of your marriage?
Is your spouse?
Sexual intimacy is one of the most talked about topics- both inside and outside the context of marriage. It can feel like the most pressing need (especially for men), and for good reason; there are all kinds of issues surrounding sex that can cause hurt or pain:
· Past sexual abuse
· Medical issues
· Emotional disconnect between husband and wife
· Differences in desire
· Body image
Sometimes the overwhelming heartache these troubles bring feels harder than we can handle, and we either want immediate resolution… or a way out.
But, just like every other area in our lives and marriage, when it comes to sexual intimacy, God starts with our hearts and teaches us as we walk in step with Him.
It’s time to get down to the heart of the matter
Sex is intertwined with so many other areas of our marriage; it’s an un-isolated topic. To get to the root of our intimacy issues, we must FIRST focus on the foundational topics of marriage: Purpose, Idols of the Heart, Forgiveness, Healing and Reconciliation to name a few. These all have a strong bearing on our marital sex lives.
So, do not skip the foundational work. It vital to having and maintaining a healthy and intimate sex life. Read past posts in the Is Your Marriage Hurting? series and do the homework. Listen to the How to Help a Hurting Marriage podcasts with your spouse. There IS hope!
But we must get down to the heart of the matter, first.
Now, let’s warm things up a bit…
Cold… getting warmer… HOT!
Intimacy in your marriage is the thermometer of the relationship, NOT the thermostat! Sex shouldn’t set the temperature; it should gauge the temperature.
What is happening (or NOT happening) in the bedroom reflects what is inside a person’s head and heart.
Intimacy is such a private thing in marriage. Aside from the occasional flippant comment or joke that holds partial truth about our sex lives, we don’t typically talk about our issues.
It can be painful, uncomfortable, embarrassing, even shameful to talk about the internal hatred and sadness preventing sexual union with our spouse. We stuff our feelings way down and keep going through the motions until our heart is so hardened that we just want a way out.
WHY is it so darn difficult to talk about our struggles with sexual intimacy?
In a word: expectations.
Allow me to explain.
Sex is like a box of LEGOs.
First, picture a box of LEGOS containing the required colors and shapes of LEGO bricks to build an amazing dinosaur. Now consider this: a 4-year-old child sees the box with the picture of said dinosaur on the front. He thinks he’s going to open the box and find the dino inside, already put together and ready for play. Imagine his disappointment when he opens the box to find hundreds of seemingly random pieces instead of the T-rex that was on the cover.
Our culture gives us a picture of sex- an expectation- one of passion, pleasure, excitement, and oneness.
But sex isn’t the ready-made gift we may anticipate. It takes investment, effort, time, and even creativity to make it work. BUT if we follow the Master plan, something amazing is possible.
Speaking of the Master’s plan, what IS God’s design for sex?
God created sexual intimacy and was very intentional in doing so. He crafted it FOR us to enjoy with our spouse. He designed it perfectly.
And it has intended purposes.
Sex is a gift from God
The Lord asks us to view sex as a gift- a gift of creating. Procreation, yes. But just like the LEGO set, the joy is found in building, sometimes even making mistakes, and redoing things from scratch (see 1 Corinthians 7:3-4).
Most marriages experience obstacles to physical intimacy. (Take a moment to glance at the ones listed above.)
You may think, I thought sex was supposed to be a GIFT, God. But this is NOT what I asked for!
God sees your heart, He knows your frustrations (and your spouse’s), He cares deeply about your pain, hurt, and disappointments, and He invites you to build something far more precious than a few moments of physical pleasure.
Unselfishness, grace, forgiveness, unconditional acceptance- each of these can be building blocks to nourishing sexual intimacy with your spouse if you seek the Lord in the challenges faced in the bedroom.
The gift of intimacy may require some effort, but it is designed by God to last and grow more deeply satisfying as the years pass.
God intended sex for pleasure
Let’s be real- would we really care so much about sexual intimacy if it didn’t come with some benefit to us (i.e., if it didn’t feel good)?
The awesome thing is that sex being pleasurable was NOT just an afterthought of God’s. It was in His plans from the beginning. If you don’t believe me, spend some time reading Song of Solomon!
Whew… some hot stuff in there!
God created sex for unity
When we are united emotionally and spiritually, we celebrate being one physically. The two shall become one flesh; a mystery written in the first pages of Scripture.
The more we are united and one in our friendship with each other, the better our physical union becomes.
Satan may say, “Hey! You can be “one” with whoever you want, it’s no big deal. Just do whatever makes you feel good because that’s the only way you’ll be happy.” Lies, lies, lies.
True unity- the kind God created- requires action that provides love and happiness for our spouse. Unity is hard to establish and easy to break!
If unity has been broken because of a transgression, what must we do?
God designed intimacy in such a way that we can’t just jump into bed without our hearts being united. When we do that, we cheapen sex, sell it short, and it will NEVER satisfy the way God intended it.
God give us intimacy for purity
Huh? What does that mean?
God gives us intimacy with our spouse to help us remain pure (Hebrew 13:4), but ALSO to demonstrate the purity of God’s love for us.
God’s love for us is shown in the authentic love understood over the longevity of marriage. It is not something a one-night stand could replicate.
The sexual bond we have with our spouse is to be built upon over a lifetime. God designed it this way so that it represents the authentic covenant He has with us. It demonstrates His steadfast love that holds us for a lifetime (and beyond!).
Vow to change: an encouraging call to action
Take time to think through anything about which you are resentful toward your spouse. Are there any emotional toes that have been stepped on? A misunderstanding in which neither of you are wrong, but just need to get back on the same page?
Write these issues down and be prepared to discuss them with your spouse, because all of them can stand in the way of physical unity
Talk openly and honestly with your spouse. Unity means we need to deal with any division. Deal with the issues Biblically:
Repent before God and ask Him for help.
Seek forgiveness from your spouse when you’ve gone against God’s Word
Forgive your spouse, even when they haven’t asked for forgiveness.
When we’re holding something against them, we don’t want to be close to them in any way, especially sexually.
Plan a time away! Make it an intentional time to focus on your spouse; what would please them? Express your passion for each other with two hearts united to God, and thus to each other.
Don’t just wait for unity to happen. Intentionally plan for it!
Check it out
Now that we have a better understanding of God’s design for sexual intimacy in marriage, let’s get busy rejoicing in it!
...But we all know it’s not that easy. There are barriers that stand in the way of satisfying and soul-filling physical intimacy. Take a closer look at some of those barriers, and how to tear them down, in the next post: Why Isn’t Sex With My Spouse Satisfying?
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