“Each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.” – 1 Corinthians 7:2-3
The World’s View of Sex
Fifty Shades of Grey is a movie that opens February 13th around the U.S. It is based on a bestselling novel about a relationship between a recent college graduate and a young business magnate. It was first published in 2011, has sold over 100 million copies world-wide, and has been translated into 52 languages. The novel and movie are not well known for good writing, story line, acting, or cinematography. In fact most reviewers have written that these are poor at best. One reviewer wrote for example: “I’ve never read anything so badly written that got published.”
So what is it known for? What is its appeal? It is known for the fact that many reviewers of both the book and movie have written and spoken about it. Things like: “It is notable for its explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism.”
Sex has always been a big seller. Sex has been used to sell not only books and movies, but magazines, cars, liquor, and you name it.
The sad thing about all of this is that sex has come to be equated with love and romance. In fact, the reason I have given any attention at all to the book and movie Fifty Shades of Grey is because of when and why it is being released–on the day before Valentine’s Day. The ad plastered in newspapers, on the internet, and anywhere else you might look, call us to “Give Grey this Valentine’s.” Now doesn’t that sound like the gift you want to give your husband or wife or anyone for Valentine’s Day or any other time?
Our culture has made sex just another leisure activity. Valentine’s Day is a day to show your love to others, right? Remember those cards you gave everyone in your class in first grade? “Be my Valentine.” “You’re sweet.” “I think you’re neat.” As we grew older we became more choosey about who we gave a Valentine’s Day card to, and the words became more serious. Eventually we even began using the “L” word. And when we begin talking about love, then of course we include sex, right?
Frank Sinatra sang: “Love and marriage, love and marriage…go together like a horse and carriage.” But that was so long ago. That is so old fashioned. If he sang it today, surely he’d sing: “Love and sex.”
The heart breaking truth is that love and sex do go together in God’s plan. But that plan also includes marriage. It is all in His perfect order. God’s plan is love and marriage. Then sex comes as a perfect part of that plan. The way ol’ Frank used to sing about it.
God’s View of Sex
God created sex when He first created the world. He created everything, and then finally created man–beginning with Adam–in Genesis 1-2. But God knew man needed a partner like him, but unique in her own way–a helpmate. We find in Genesis 2:20-23:
“So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.23 The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.’”
The Bible goes on to tell us in Genesis 2:24-25: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” This is the beginning of marriage and sex as a part of marriage. They go hand-in-hand.
So ‘ol blue eyes–Frank Sinatra–was right. Love and marriage do go together like a horse and carriage. Then comes sex as an important element that God places next in His plan–the perfect plan.
God created marriage, and He created sex as an important part of marriage. It is one of the ways a man and a woman are bound together by God in a covenant relationship for life. In Genesis 1:31, God said of this marriage relationship (as He did of all He created): “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”
Jesus and Paul both used these words from God to teach us that though sin has stained us, and has therefore perverted the way man views and misuses sex, it has not changed His original plan. Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 19:4-6 says: “‘at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’” Paul, writing to the church at Ephesus about marriage, penned in Ephesians 5:31: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”
So the Bible is clear that God created sex. He created it as an important part of marriage– between one man and one woman committed to each other in a lifelong covenant relationship to each other and God. Sex is good when His plan is followed. It is pure and holy because God makes it so. In fact, it should be a part of a loving and healthy marriage because He has made it to be.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 7:2-5: “Each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 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. 5 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.”
Paul is writing clearly and frankly. Sex is an important part of marriage. It is only to be between one’s “own wife” and one’s “own husband.” We each are to be gracious in our sexual relations, as we are in all things in marriage. So having sex can, and mostly will be, a beautiful experience in a strong marriage.
There will be times, however, when the needs and desires of our spouse will be different from our own and we must take that into consideration. Wives, there may be times when you don’t feel like having sex with your husband, but it is something he truly needs. You know when those times are. Husbands, there are times when you may have the desire, but it is obvious she does not for some very good reason. You know when those times are as well. It is in those times we must show agape love to our spouse, put their good ahead of our own, and do what is best for them.
Paul does teach that there can be times of agreement when sexual relations are put on hold for a period, including even a time of fasting from sex to pray and seek God together about something. Even then, this must not be too long. And when the agreed time has transpired, regular sexual relations should be continued. Not to have sex regularly can lead to temptations, and Satan has plenty of opportunities to pounce like a roaring lion when it comes to sexual sin (1 Peter 5:8).
Examples of a period of time when sex might have to be put on hold for a time is during a sickness, or immediately before and after the birth of a child. There have been many times in my years as a pastor, professor, and counselor that I have been asked about this. These are not times when we are withholding sex for selfish reasons. These are unavoidable times.
During this withholding period praying together openly and honestly, asking God’s help, can be vital. He created sex and made it an important part of marriage. He will certainly guide and help us.
This is where seeking the wise counsel of mature married couples can be a valuable resource God gives us. After all, this is a biblical model. Paul writes to his older friend and fellow worker for Christ in Titus 2:6: “encourage the young men to be ….” Paul writes in Titus 2:3: “teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live ….” Why? We find out in Titus 2:4: “Then they can urge the younger women to ….” There are wonderful resources in our church family that we can use, whatever stage of marriage we are in.
These are some opening truths from God’s Word about the sexual relationship in marriage. Next week, we will get to some more specific ways God teaches us in His Word about having a strong, beautiful sex life.
I will not write about any specific physical “tools” or secrets. We will share a few resources that might help in this area, written by Christian doctors and others who are much more qualified. But I will continue to provide you with what God’s Word has to say. After all, He created sex. He has the best teaching guaranteed to guide us to the most beautiful sexual relationship possible.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- In what ways has my attitude about sex been influenced by the world?
- Do I see sex as good? Created by God to express oneness in marriage and draw us closer?
- Do I look forward to these intimate moments with my spouse?
- Have I withheld sex from my spouse for selfish reasons?
- Do I consider my spouse’s feelings and situation when pursuing this intimate time together?
Suggestions for Applying This to Your Life
- Pray for the Lord to give you a deeper understanding of the importance of physical intimacy to a thriving marriage.
- Talk together about this part of your marriage. Share your desires, fears, hopes.
- Pray together asking the Lord to bring you closer together through intimate expression of your love, making it all He created it to be.
- Whenever you pursue this time together or your spouse does, consider their needs and desires. Give of yourself sacrificially if you are not necessarily in the mood. Or, if you are just too tired or not feeling well, explain lovingly why it is not a good time. And when you want to and your spouse doesn’t, be patient and gracious. Maybe this is a good time to just hold each other and express your love in a different kind of closeness.
May God bless you in all His wonderful ways,
Other posts in the SEX AND MARRIAGE series:
Part 2–Love and Understanding
Part 3–For the Good of the Other
Part 4–Two Warnings
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.