Christians know that sex is both given by God and rightly located within marriage. Misuse of sex is something everyone contends with to some extent. However, we can also easily neglect this glorious gift in the humdrum of life. Cultivating a healthy sex life takes effort and forethought.
The benefits of a good sex life are more than worth the effort.
A Healthy Sex Life Is Important
So, what does a healthy sex life in marriage look like? At times it will mean that we must forgo our own feelings, when we’re just ‘not in the mood.’ For marrieds know that their bodies belong to each other (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). Healthy sex in marriage will also require rooting out lust from our thought lives and hearts. But the benefits of a good sex life are more than worth the effort.
Before we go further, I want to state that both marriage and singleness are gifts from God (1 Corinthians 7:7). One is not morally better or more valuable in accomplishing God’s purposes in our lives. But if you are married, given that God made us sexual beings, the state of your sex life is important. It will colour your marriage.
The Antidote To Distorted Sex
The best antidote to a neglected or distorted sex life is to renew our minds with God’s beautiful design for sex
Often, in the 27 years of our marriage, my husband and I have needed to return to the Bible to remind each other of the unique, wonderful gift God gave Adam and Eve. At creation, God instituted marriage and intended for men and women to enjoy sex therein. Thus, the best antidote to a neglected or distorted sex life is to renew our minds with God’s beautiful design for sex. This is the only way we will reject the consumer sex of our culture and enjoy sex as God created and intended it.
God’s Beautiful Design For Sex
After God created the first man and woman, he affirmed and blessed their marriage (Genesis 1:31; 2:24), commanding them to be united as one flesh, to be fruitful and increase in number (Genesis 2:24; 1:28). This is a picture of deep satisfaction and joy. Sex, an important part of this blessing for marriage, was linked to building a family and filling the world. And so, we see that from the beginning, God designed sex to build community literally one baby at a time. He also gave husband and wife the gift of sex as a profound expression of their “one flesh” intimacy.
Sex, as understood in the Bible, is much more than a bodily function or the selfish pursuit of pleasure.
The Ultimate Intimacy
And so the gift of sex, as understood in the Bible, is much more than a bodily function or the selfish pursuit of pleasure. Sex is knowing and being known in the deepest way. In sex “Adam knew Eve his wife” (Genesis 4:1).
There is no more intimate and vulnerable act than lovemaking in the context of a committed marriage. Husband and wife have entrusted themselves to each other for their entire lives. They know and are fully known. Yet they are also totally unashamed, understood, safe, accepted, cared for. Heathy Sex is rooted in self-giving love, a poetic expression of deep unity and commitment on every level: physical, emotional, and spiritual.
Sex was a God-given gift to express and strengthen the bond of community between a husband and a wife
The Ultimate Bond
The account in Genesis of the first marriage ends with this beautiful crescendo: “Adam and Eve were both naked, and they felt no shame” (Genesis 2:25). It is such a simple but poignant comment in a generation when people behave shamelessly with their bodies, yet feel no shame. Nothing can be more abhorrent to this picture than pornography, the sex trade, casual hook-ups, friends with benefits, or a cheating spouse.
From the outset of creation, before sin marred relationships, sex was simply good. A God-given gift to express and strengthen the bond of community between a husband and a wife, as well as to build the community of family.
Today sex is treated very differently to what God intended for it. Cultural practices, movies, the porn industry, and even school sex curricula, make it acceptable to quite literally use people. Much of what we are seeing around us reduces people to sexual objects. Unhealthy sex comes in many forms: a casual transaction, ‘no strings attached,’ and fantasy fulfilment.
But what really makes this different to healthy sex? The key is that all of these make the self the priority of sex. Sex becomes a means to my own ends.
Consumer sex takes God’s beautiful gift for marriage and mangles it into a self-centred idol of pleasure
Consumer sex takes God’s beautiful gift for marriage and mangles it into a self-centred idol of pleasure, creating social chaos and even the inability to feel pleasure (anhedonia). While we desperately yearn for love and connection as human beings, consumer sex uses and discards people. Consumer sex is, ironically, antisocial and disconnected. It leads to fatherless families, unwanted children, and single mothers with no financial support. Instead of being rooted in community, consumer sex abuses and destroys it.
Healthy Sex Actually Builds Community
The amazing thing is that the Creator God gave and designed sex to create community. Sex generates hormones that strengthen trust in the most intimate of human relationships. The study of human biology has shown that sex is a powerful bonding agent. It is like a marital glue.
The Creator God gave and designed sex to create community
In women, touch, hugging and kissing promotes the release of the hormone oxytocin. Some have called oxytocin the ‘love hormone,’ for it stimulates connection and bonding. God has designed oxytocin to flood a woman’s system during orgasm. It’s the same hormone released when a mother is breastfeeding, to strengthen the maternal bond. Oxytocin is also a powerful antidote to depressive feelings, taking the edge off our emotions. It even assists in conflict resolution, helping people to overlook offences.
Men are stereotyped as emotionally uninvolved. But biology tells a different story. The predominantly male hormone (vasopressin) released during sex connects a man to his mate and even his children. It makes him more committed to his role as husband. Thus vasopressin drives him to provide, lead, and nurture his family.
Sex makes us more loyal, committed, and forgiving. And after many years of marriage, these attitudes really matter
It’s clear that loving, self-giving sex doesn’t just bring momentary pleasure. It is also good for our marriage, bonding a husband and wife together like glue. It makes us more loyal, committed, and forgiving. And after many years of marriage, these attitudes really matter.
Sex Is Designed To Give Pleasure
There is no doubt that God designed the sexual bodies of husbands and wives to experience lifelong pleasure together. The Bible is not prudish or embarrassed about this divine design. Listen to how Solomon expresses the joy of healthy sex:
- “Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well” (Proverbs 5:15)
- “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth” (Proverbs 5:18)
- “Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love” (Proverbs 5:19)
This divinely inspired poem shows us that God created husbands and wives for enduring sexual pleasure. But this is best enjoyed in an exclusive, committed relationship. Marital sex is not boring and monotonous. It is an experience of pure delight and joy. Pure pleasure.
God created husbands and wives for enduring sexual pleasure. But this is best enjoyed in an exclusive, committed relationship
Married Sex Is More Satisfying
It’s interesting that secular researchers have reached similar conclusions. In 1995, one of largest studies ever conducted on sexual practices showed that married couples report considerably higher rates of sexual satisfaction than singles. These findings were reported in the book, Sex In America.
I enjoyed this comment on the findings, by Robert Michael and John Gagnon: “The young single people who flit from partner to partner and seem to be having a sex life that is satisfying beyond most people’s dreams are, it seems, mostly a media creation. In real life, the unheralded, seldom discussed world of married sex is actually the one that satisfies most people.”
Rejecting Healthy Sex Is a Rejection of God
Without a doubt, sex is a marriage gift for us to enjoy for as long as we are blessed with our spouse. To reject, neglect, or grumble about this gift is a rejection of God. For he is the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). Yet, as wonderful as healthy sex is, the great mystery is that the Lord created it to mirror the faithful, committed, self-giving relationship between Jesus and his bride, the church. As Isaiah declared, “Your maker is your husband” (Isaiah 54:5).
Ultimately, sex is about enjoying God as the Creator of marriage and the giver of every good gift.
That’s why the end game of sex is not just about pleasure or intimacy. Ultimately, sex is about enjoying God as the Creator of marriage and the giver of every good gift.
Glory Will Surpass Sex
One day the Lord Jesus, our bridegroom, will return for every believer, single or married. We will be taken to live in a new heaven and new earth that is infinitely better than this world. But we will not experience marriage or sex as we do now (Matthew 22:30). For all eternity we will enjoy perfect community and everlasting pleasure with the God who created and designed us for himself. There is no marriage feast like the wedding of the Lamb. The only admission requirement is that we have accepted his invitation.
God has something greater than the best sex in store for his people
God has something greater than the best sex in store for his people. “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure … And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'” And he added, ‘These are the true words of God'” (Revelation 19:7-9)