Husbands and wives frequently complain that they are having trouble with sex, but the trouble usually is not with sex. Counselors do not find many difficulties that have to do with sex alone. The real difficulties in bed at night come from the fact that all kinds of problems have been carried into bed from the day, problems that should have been settled before going to bed.
Sex in Scripture is holy, normal, right, proper and good… There is nothing wrong with sex; and marriage, indeed, is the proper framework for the expression of it. Sex according to Scripture, is not unholy of itself, but only when it is misused. It ought never to be used outside of the covenant bond. It should be used freely within this structure. God has so ordained. God strongly encourages sexual relations.
Sex may be enjoyed, but only according to the Biblical principle that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Indeed, the most enjoyable aspect of sexual intercourse is not the personal release experience in one’s own orgasm but rather in the pleasure of satisfying one’s marriage partner. Husbands and wives are required to satisfy their partners. He may not withhold his body in order to get even with his wife. She may not use sex as a bargaining factor. Sexual relations involve giving one’s self freely and fully in love to the other in order to fulfill the other’s need. Scripture is not prudish about sex, but some Christians have become prudish. As if they knew more than God!
It is as if the only pleasure and intimacy in this life that comes close to anticipating the pleasure and intimacy of the church and her Lord being perfectly united on the last day is the sexual union of a good marriage.
The only rightful place for sexual intercourse is within marriage and that those who marry are sexually active. For them to attempt precipitously to suppress awakened desires will only expose them to a sexual undertow that will tug them into a sea of temptation, where they will ultimately drown.
The strengths and weaknesses of a marriage are often more obvious in the bedroom than anywhere else.
There may be no area more thought about and less talked about in a marriage than sex.
The joy that springs from pleasing our husband or wife is one reason sex was never designed to be a solo pursuit. Biblical sex, with its joyful service and the matchless intimacy born from it, is a glorious expression of what we are intended to be – male and female, created in God’s image to enjoy intimacy of relationship in its deepest possible expression.
Bitterness is one of the most common causes of neglected sex. From the soil of anger and unresolved conflicts, a grows quickly into a virulent weed that chokes out intimacy. Married people turned bitter use their bodies as a weapon, a weapon that harms by withholding. A weapon used to punish the other person for sinning against us. This calls for forgiveness.
Sloth is a romance killer. Even the word chills the air. By sloth I mean laziness with respect to marital intimacy. The most common fruits of this heart condition are passivity and unresponsiveness. We begin to let our appearance go. We grow comfortable with bedroom boredom. We tolerate a lack of desire and settle for one partner doing all the initiating.
Factors that typically contribute to sexual problems: selfishness, resentment [and] ungodly communication.
God does not “hate” sex; He hates faithless sex with forbidden women, but He loves faithful sexual expressions in the context of marriage. God loves it so much that He commands, not just that it happen, but that it be enjoyed to the point of intoxication.
Sexual expression within a marriage is not an option or an extra. It is certainly not, as it has sometimes been considered, a necessary evil in which spiritual Christians engage only to procreate children. It is far more than a physical act. God created it to be the expression an experience of love on the deepest human level and to be a beautiful and powerful bond between husband and wife.
Unless it is by mutual consent, for a specific prayer need and for a brief period of time, sexual abstinence can become a tool of Satan (1 Cor. 7:5). It is never to be used as pretense for spiritual superiority or as a means of intimidating or manipulating one’s spouse. Physical love is to be a normal and regular experience shared by both marriage partners alike, as a gift from God.
According to the Bible, the marriage act is more than a physical act. It is an act of sharing. It is an act of communion. It is an act of total self-giving wherein the husband gives himself completely to the wife, and the wife gives herself to the husband in such a way that the two actually become one flesh.
Indeed, the marriage act is the symbol or culmination of a more complete oneness, of a total giving of yourself to another person. Consequently, if the more complete oneness is not a reality, sexual relations lose their meaning.
Becoming one flesh is a broad concept involving the totality of life. The context of Genesis 2 and the teaching of the rest of the Bible about marriage demand this. At the same time, it is generally recognized that there is no place where this total sharing is more beautifully pictured or fully experienced than in the sexual relationship of the man and his wife.
If love is the perfect bond of unity, sexual problems may be the red light on the dashboard of the marriage indicating a lack of biblical love in that marriage. Usually when couples are expressing and experiencing I Corinthians 13 love, sexual problems are at a minimum. A fresh application of the type of love which is patient, kind, humble, compassionate, gentle, forgiving, unselfish, courteous, considerate, sensitive, truthful, appreciative, and protective will do more to improve sex relations than reading all of the latest books on methods and techniques. Let the husband and wife lovingly and joyfully fulfill their biblical roles toward each other; let them learn to communicate deeply according to biblical principles, and most of their sexual problems will evaporate.
Christians must confront a sensate culture with the biblical vision of human sexuality. The Bible offers more than a fallen world can ever imagine, placing sexual pleasure within the holy covenant of marriage, combining restraint with passion, pleasure with protection, sense with sensibility.
Sex only makes sense within the Christian worldview. Christians, alone on earth, understand by the grace of revelation that God has a purpose for sexuality that eclipses any human aspiration. At the same time, we understand that sex isn’t everything and everything isn’t sex.
Sexual relations within marriage are holy and good (Hebrews 13:4).
1. Pleasure in sexual relations (like pleasure in eating or in the performance of other bodily functions) is not forbidden but rather assumed (Proverbs 5:18-19 and Song of Solomon).
2. Sexual pleasure is to be regulated by the key principle that one’s sexuality does not exist for himself or for his own pleasure, but for his partner.
3. Sexual relations are to be regular and continuous.
4. The principle of mutual satisfaction means that each party is to provide the sexual enjoyment which is “due” his or her spouse whenever needed.
5. There is to be no sexual bargaining.
6. Sexual relationships are equal and reciprocal (Harry McGee).
Sexual intercourse is more than a physical act; it is a symbol of a spiritual relationship and the expression of the complete oneness of two persons in married love… It is…the means by which they are confirmed and nourished in that union. Sexual intercourse is the physical establishment and confirmation of that oneness. The true dignity of sex is in its ability to enhance this personal unity between two persons who have committed themselves to each other in love and marriage. In sexual intercourse the couple becomes joined in an indissoluble unity, called in the Bible “one flesh” (Dwight Small).
It is God’s good plan that sex not be thought of, principally, as a legitimate way to get a rush, but rather as God’s way of bringing man and wife to the point of greatest unity and, through that unity, propagating (for Himself) “a godly seed” (Mal. 2:15 KJV) (Timothy Bayly).
In the right setting – that is marriage – sex is a wonderful gift from God. Sex is given for our good. But God gave sex to be the servant of love and never the slave of lust. God intends for love to express itself in the commitment of marriage, and only then for intimacy to unite us in the joys of sexual love (Richard and Sharon Phillips).
Sexual intimacy within the confines of marriage is the only time you can engage without feeling guilt and shame immediately after (Todd Murray).
You don’t have to be ascetic, and you don’t have to be afraid of the goodness of physical pleasure, to say that sexual intimacy and sexual climax get their final meaning from what they point to. They point to ecstasies that are unattainable and inconceivable in this life. Just as the heavens are telling the glory of God’s power and beauty, so sexual climax is telling the glory of immeasurable delights that we will have with Christ in the age to come. There will be no marriage there (Matt. 22:30). But what marriage meant will be there. And the pleasures of marriage, ten-to-the-millionth power, will be there.
Jesus’ teaching in general [implies] that happy and fulfilling sexual relations in marriage depend on each partner aiming to give satisfaction to the other. If it is the joy of each to make the other happy, a hundred problems will be solved before they happen.
First, faith believes God when He says that sexual relations in marriage are good and clean and should be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. Second, faith increases the joy of sexual relations in marriage because it frees us from the guilt of the past. Faith believes the promise that Christ died for all our sins, that in Him we might have guilt-free, Christ-exalting sexual relations in marriage. And finally, faith wields the weapon of sexual intercourse against Satan. A married couple gives a severe blow to the head of that ancient serpent when they aim to give as much sexual satisfaction to each other as possible. Is it not a mark of amazing grace that on top of all the pleasure that the sexual side of marriage brings, it also proves to be a fearsome weapon against our ancient foe?… It is not surprising then that Satan’s defeat, Christ’s glory, and our pleasure should come together in this undefiled marriage bed.
Behold the beauty of God’s design for man, woman, and marriage. Two dignified people, both molded in the image of their Maker. Two diverse people uniquely designed to complement each other. A male and a female fashioned by God to form one flesh, a physical bond between two bodies where the deepest point of union is found at the greatest point of difference. A matrimony marked by unity and diversity, equality with variety, and personal sanctification through shared consummation.
Sex is good, but sex is not God. It will not ultimately fulfill. Like anything else that becomes an idol, it will always take more than it gives while diverting the human heart away from the only One who is able to give supreme joy.
Many men, even Christian men, view sexual relations with their wives as little more than an opportunity to masturbate. They are concerned only with pleasing themselves. They do not realize that God gave them their sexual organs, not primarily for their own pleasure, but rather for the pleasure of their wives (1 Cor. 7:4). They have never learned that in sexual relations, as in all other areas of life, it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
Sex is from God. He gave it to us as a gift. It’s a wedding gift.
The wife has authority over the husband’s body and the husband has authority over the wife’s body in the sexual context. Imagine that! I wonder how many marital problems would be solved if couples followed this one principle.
Ten Arguments against the use of birth control and a response to each: 1. Genesis 1:28; 9:1. But: a. If this were a specific command to every individual, every man and woman would be required to marry. But clearly marriage is not a universal obligation (Jesus, Paul, 1 Cor. 7). b. This text does address the responsibility to bear children but says nothing about how many or for how long. Nothing in the text explicitly requires us to have as many children as is biologically possible. c. Gen. 1:28 must be read in the light of 1:26. 2. Deut. 23:1 – The argument is that this prohibition reflects God’s displeasure with any means of birth control. But: a. There is nothing to indicate that these men were castrated as a means of birth control. b. In all likelihood, this refers “not to states of infertility produced by illness or accident, but to deliberate acts of castration at times associated with pagan worship in the ancient Near East” (Davis, p. 37). 3. Genesis 38:6-10 (Deut. 25:5-10). But: a. Onan’s sin was not that he violated the general command to have children, but that he violated the specific obligation in the law of levirate marriage. His action was sinful not because he used a form of birth control, but because he disobeyed a legal responsibility to raise up seed in his deceased brother’s name (probably because he didn’t want to assume the personal and financial obligation of raising them). b. Lev. 20:10-21 lists specific sexual crimes punishable by death under the Mosaic Code. If coitus interruptus, such as that committed by Onan, were regarded as an abuse or sin, one would expect to see it in this list. 4. Psalms 127:3-5; 128:1-6 – No one would dare disagree that children are a wonderful blessing from the Lord. But: a. Why should we conclude from these texts that we are morally obligated to have as many children as is biologically possible? b. As with all God’s blessings, we must be wise and prudent stewards in the enjoyment of them. 5. The purpose of sex in marriage is procreational, not recreational. But: a. The Bible reveals at least [four other] purposes for sex in marriage. b. “If sex were intended only for procreation, then it would be strange that nature has it that women can procreate less than half of their married life…and then only at a very limited time each month” (Geisler, p. 215-16). c. If this argument were valid, it would be sinful for a married couple to have sexual relations subsequent to female menopause or a hysterectomy or in cases where either husband or wife is sterile. 6. Birth control is unnatural and artificial. Common sense suggests that the purpose for human sexual organs is reproduction. Anything that prohibits or interrupts the sex organs from performing their appointed role is thus sinful. But: a. “If the sole purpose of sexual intercourse is procreation, then why did God give women the desire for sexual intercourse at times when they cannot become pregnant? Does not the natural order of things, then, demonstrate that procreation is not the only purpose of sex?” (Feinbergs, p. 175-176). b. We do many so-called unnatural things that run counter to and hinder so-called nature, none of which any of us would regard as immoral or unbiblical: shaving, air-travel, mowing the lawn, etc. c. If we consistently applied this principle we would be forced never to employ medical assistance, medication, or surgery. d. Those who employ this argument concede the use of the rhythm method and abstinence during times of ovulation, none of which is itself natural (charting or scheduling intercourse based on body temperature, etc., is hardly natural; and abstinence runs counter to the natural sex drive). 7. Birth control betrays a lack of trust or faith in the sovereignty of God. He is Lord over the womb. If God wants us to have children, He should be free to bestow them. If He doesn’t want to, He (and He alone) should have the power and prerogative to prevent conception. But: a. We must be careful that our trust in God is not simply irresponsible behavior. b. If this argument were consistently applied, we should never work, use locks or alarms on our homes, save money for emergencies, purchase life or health insurance, wear safety goggles when using a weed-eater, use sun-screen when outside, or support the police or national defense. 8. Birth control has the potential to alter in a destructive way our concepts and experience of love and commitment. But: a. The fact that birth control may yield negative consequences does not itself make birth control wrong. The absence of intimacy, promiscuity, etc., are wrong, not because one may have employed a contraceptive device, but because such things are declared to be wrong in the Bible. 9. Birth control encourages promiscuity among both married and unmarried people. But: a. We must distinguish between an object and the purpose or use to which an object is put. Cars are not sinful simply because people can use them to escape the scene of a crime they’ve just committed. The fact that an object can be used for immoral purposes does not necessarily prove the object is in and of itself immoral. 10. Birth control devices have negative side-effects and are detrimental to one’s health. Since our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, we should not employ those things that do damage to our physical constitution. But: a. If a birth control device is found conclusively to have physical destructive side-effects, it should not be used. But such scientific evidence does not exist for all methods of contraception.
While standing in line at the grocery story I made the mistake of scanning the covers of several rather tawdry tabloids. The heading on one of them virtually shouted at unwary customers: “The Greatest Sex You’ve Ever Had!” No, I resisted the urge to read the article. Because I have read the book! The Bible! God, yes God, has a prescription for great sex for His people.
The Bible reveals at least five purposes for sex in marriage:
1. Procreation (the raising up of a godly seed).
2. To enhance the experience of companionship.
3. To foster physical, as well as spiritual, unity (“one flesh”; Gen. 2:24).
4. Pleasure (Song of Solomon).
5. To curb fornication and lust (1 Cor. 7).
It is important that you let your children in on the fact that there is a sexual dimension to mom and dad’s relationship. Some Christians have the mistaken idea that their children should never see mom and dad in any intimate embrace. The result is that the fraudulent affairs on TV and in the lives of wicked people are the only expressions of sexuality that they ever see. I am not talking about inviting children into the bedroom, but about the importance of knowing that there is a sexual dimension to mom and dad’s relationship.
Sex is a sacred act, a gift of God, which is secured and protected by marriage.
Sex has been designed by God for His miraculous work of creating new human beings, each with an immortal soul. The physiology of sex in every detail works to engender new life. The emotions of sex exist to bring a man and woman together to constitute a family. Yes, sexuality is distorted by the Fall, so that lust and fornication can work against God’s purposes and be tainted by sin, but God’s created order remains.