3 Keys to Deeper Sexual Intimacy in Marriage
Sex is a beautiful part of marriage but, like a candle, it needs to be cared for or it may go out!
Intimacy between a husband and his wife is a beautiful picture of Christ and the Church. It glorifies God and helps to bring in His kingdom on earth.
Marriage is the core relationship of society. Little wonder that Satan has gone after it, to destroy it and to tarnish God’s glory by denying, undermining and demeaning the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman.
At the core of a marriage is beautiful sexual intimacy between a husband and a wife. But, within a generation, this sacred act has been cheapened in many cultures, and has little to do with how the Bible describes love, and much more to do with lust.
Sex within a marriage is like a beautiful log fire within the hearth of your home. It warms the entire house, it is safe and it is beautiful.
Sex outside marriage is like a fire outside the hearth of a home. It is destructive and results in untold damage.
A wonderful way to restore God’s glory in marriage is for Christian marriages to triumph, and especially in the area of intimacy. God wants the intimacy in our marriages to be beautiful, passionate, intensely pleasurable and at the core of our relationship.
This week we will look at God’s will for sexual intimacy within marriage and next week we will consider the practical side of sexual intercourse.
Topic 1 – Understand God’s Will for Sexual Intimacy
God is good and His will is that we enjoy His abundant life, given to us in and through Christ. God created us for relationship and he wants us to have abundant pleasure.
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11
Jesus said, “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10
The first and most important relationship in which God wants us to enjoy abundant life, is our relationship with Him. The second most important relationship is with our spouse.
Westminster Shorter Catechism:*
Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him.
We glorify God in our marriage by showing His love, beauty, excellence, joy and wonder. As we enjoy our spouse, we bring God joy because we are enjoying the gift He has given us.
We glorify God by having a life of abundant love, joy and pleasure with our spouse.
It’s clear from scripture and from common sense (how we’re created), God intended that a husband and wife have abundant pleasure in their sexual intimacy.
May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love. Proverbs 5:18-19
Song of Songs is one continuous love story and it was once banded in some parts of the church, because it is so explicit about sexual intimacy.
Sustain me with cakes of raisins,
Refresh me with apples,
For I am lovesick.
His left hand is under my head,
And his right hand embraces me.
I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles or by the does of the field,
Do not stir up nor awaken love
Until it pleases. Song of Songs 2:5-7
The wife in this passage is describing the feeling of being in love with her husband and she feels weak from love.** She is imagining her husband’s embrace and his right hand is caressing her.
Three times in this book of love between a husband and his wife, there is a warning, ‘Do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.’ God designed sexual intimacy for within a marriage and when it is stirred and awakened outside of marriage it becomes incredibly destructive.***
Jesus said, the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life andhave it to the full. John 10:10.
Satan has viciously attacked sexual intimacy, because he knows it’s at the core of a marriage between a man and a woman. He has taken what God intended to glorify Him and turned it into something that undermines God’s glory and destroys humankind.
Living in what God intended for sexual intimacy in marriage, is part of bringing in the Kingdom of God. It brings in light that will help to drive out the darkness.
*The Westminster Shorter Catechism is a catechism written in 1646 and 1647 by the Westminster Assembly, a synod of English and Scottish theologians and laymen intended to bring the Church of England into greater conformity with the Church of Scotland.
**It is now known that many hormones are released when two people are in love and before, during and after sexual intimacy. In the context of biblical marriage, these are extremely positive for the physical body.
***There are now many cultures that are intoxicated with sex – children as young as 8 are exposed to explicit sexual images on the internet, there are millions of sexual slaves around the world, one third of the internet is pornography, sexual disease is rife, there are regular stories of incest and sexual abuse of children, there is a growing level of sexual perversion, many people are deeply scarred from abuse and marriage break down is very high in many countries.
Topic 2 – Biblical Teaching on Sexual Intimacy?
God’s purpose and plan for sexual intimacy within marriage is found in both the Old and the New Testament.
The whole of creation gives glory to God, revealing His love, beauty, excellence, power and much more. Up to day five, God said His creation was good but, on day six, He created man and woman in His image and He said His creation was now very good.
Together, male and female, Adam and Eve revealed something of God’s glory – His character, His ways, His beauty etc. The Bible says, ‘…they become one flesh… and they were both naked and they felt no shame.’ Genesis 2:24-25.
Jesus quoted the words, the two become one flesh, and went on to say, so they are no longer two, but one. Mark 10:8. God sees a husband and wife as one flesh. The peak of this union is their sexual intimacy.
God gave Moses instructions for His people, the Israelites, and we can learn His desire for sexual intimacy from Jewish teaching that has been passed down from generation to generation over thousands of years.
Judaism does not believe sex to be a mere physical act, solely for procreation, but an encounter that involves the whole being. The word used in the Torah for sex between husband and wife comes from the root “yod-dalet-ayin” meaning, “knowledge.” This indicates sex is more than a physical encounter but involves a thinking act that requires responsibility and commitment.
According to Herman Wouk, author of This is My God, The Jewish Way of Life, “Judaism regards sex as the cord that secures the union of two lovers for life: for shared strength, pleasure, and ease, and for the rearing of children.” In this way, sex becomes a “mitzvah,” which is a good deed or meritorious act.*
One of the most notable attitudes in Judaism is the fact that while it regards sex as a healthy and necessary part of a couple’s life, it also asserts that the purpose of the sexual relationship within the bounds of a marriage is to satisfy the needs of the woman first of all.
Judaism believes sex is one of the three basic rights of women, not men. The other two rights of women are food and shelter.
To know each other:
The Bible has a beautiful way of describing how God wants a husband and a wife to enjoy intimacy together. It’s a verb, ‘to know.’
Adam made love (Yada – to know) to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. Genesis 4:1
But he did not have sexual relations (Ginosko – to know) with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus. Matthew 1:25
God wants intimacy within a marriage to be much more than just the physical act. It includes the coming together of a man and woman as one flesh – exposing and giving to each other emotionally, mentally and physically. It’s a total oneness.
It takes time get to know a person and this is why in Jewish tradition there would be three stages to a wedding:
1. Engagement – an agreement between the families.
2. Betrothal – a ceremony where promises are made.
3. Marriage – approximately one year later when the bridegroom comes for the bride.
In this time, the man and woman get to know one another, what do they love, their dreams, what makes them laugh, their strengths and weaknesses, abilities, passions etc. However, there is no physical touching before the marriage!
We believe, a couple can hold hands and embrace in that beautiful courting period before marriage but,the point is well made that extreme care is needed to ensure ‘the fire in the hearth doesn’t break out into the house!’
*Sexuality in Judaism – Wendy Nelson 1999
Have an honest discussion with your spouse on whether your understanding of sexual intimacy is in line with scripture. Prayerfully consider how your approach to sexual intimacy can give more glory to God.
With much love,