Consider for a moment how most people think and talk about sex.
In much of the media, sex is viewed as something everybody wants, something people pursue, something people enjoy together or by themselves—no limits as long as it’s consensual.
In reaction to these overly permissive views, many Christians view sex as something shameful and embarrassing, something that can entice people, something dangerous.
And then when thinking about marriage within a Christian context, sex is viewed as something for a husband and wife to enjoy together.
I’d like to suggest that each of these ways is problematic. Yes, even that last one. It’s got a subtle but profoundly different undertone than God’s design for sex. And in some cases, it can work against a husband and wife’s marital intimacy, unity, and joy.
Sex isn’t some thing.
I don’t think I’m just talking semantics here. I think a lot of us have been immersed in a post-sexual revolution way of thinking about sex that has subtly served as a lens that blurs God’s heart for sex.
Sex is not an entity unto itself, but we often think of it that way. Even husbands and wives can fall into the trap of wanting it from their spouse.
Through this lens, the focus isn’t one’s husband or one’s wife, but sex.
If we’re pursuing God’s heart for sex within our marriages, we need a better lens.
I propose God’s people begin practicing thinking about and approaching sex as an act of self-giving love.
Through this lens, and as we practice approaching sex this way, we will quickly find places where we fall short, where our desire for sex isn’t about seeking to love a spouse but seeking something for oneself. (Love isn’t love when it is done for one’s own sake.) But this vision is worth it.
When sex is no longer the object a husband or wife is after, sex will no longer come between them (an ironic idea, I know!). Sex, as sin has distorted it, will cease to be the fig leaf covering each spouse’s genitals. When sex ceases to be self-seeking, there remains no more reason for mistrust, control, performance anxiety, comparison, or insecurity. The marital embrace becomes secure and joyous because each is committed and devoted to the other in mutual self-giving. (And I haven’t even touched on how the marital embrace becomes a place of self-giving in the openness to conception!)
It must be said, we need God’s love to fill and fuel us on this journey. It’s not one we will be able to travel far on our own. We must come to the cross where Christ, our Bridegroom gave Himself freely in love for us. He is both our example and our source. We receive of His love as we are (1 John 4:19), and in this way grow in our own ability to love husband or wife sexually aright.
As husbands and wives journey to become people whose primary aim in the marriage bed is not to get or do something, but rather to love for the good of the other, their union grows brighter. This may be a high calling, but it is a worthy one and one our world, our homes, and our marriages desperately need.
Question: I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you agree? Disagree? Have questions? Think differently?