The General Social Survey tracks social behaviors among Americans since 1972. Fifteen to twenty percent of married couples surveyed said they have sex fewer than 10 times a year. That is now considered a “sexless marriage.” The average, according to the survey is 58 times a year and 111 times a year for couples under age 30 (New York Times, June 3, 2009).
The problem of sexless marriages is not exempt from the church and certainly not exempt from the pastor’s home. The perception among most pastoral couples is that there is just no way to safely talk about their sexual dysfunctions to anyone.
Sex is Fully Giving of Yourself to Your Spouse an Image of the Gospel
Sex is considered by God to be qualitatively good (Gen. 1:31) and it is commanded of married couples (1 Cor. 7:3-5). The Gospel is God pursuing dead, lifeless, rebellious humans by sending His Son as the bridegroom to take a bride, the redeemed believers. This is the consummate act of grace. We did not and could not deserve to be loved by God. But while we were sinning, Christ loved us and gave himself for us, his betrothed (Rom. 5:8).
Sex is holistically giving your life as a selfless sacrifice so completely that it results in mutual personal transformation. It changes the composition of your relationship. It is not like mixing oil and water where the two remain separated, but is like mixing cement and water. It radically changes the outcome. It is whole life oneness. Sex alters you physically, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, legally and financially.
It is husband AND wife who give themselves fully, freely, regularly to their spouse. Prior to salvation, it is the Bridegroom Jesus who initiates, pursues and loves his bride to be. But after regeneration, the bride (church) is called on to worship, praise, love, seek and adore the Bridegroom. The woman in Song of Solomon 5:10-16 is the one who seeks, pursues and initiates. She boldly exclaims her physical attraction as a prelude to their lovemaking. There is no shy, shamed, mechanical, limited movement under the sheets. Rather, the husband and wife stand before each other aroused, excited, self-giving for the sexual joy of becoming transformed into one flesh. In marriage, both spouses run toward each other.
Sex is great, but it pales in comparison to the consummate marriage supper of the Lamb. That wedding day will usher us into our ultimate Lover who gave Himself fully, completely, joyfully, gracefully for the pleasure of His divine bride.
Intimacy with another requires mutually losing our independence to another. Jesus lost His independence on the cross. He bought our body—our eternal personhood—with the price of his own life. Jesus came down from Heaven, hung on a tree and proposed to us.
Until Jesus returns for His bride, married couples, get to actively image the grace of God by giving themselves fully and freely and regularly to one another without shame. The pleasure of intimacy is heightened, however when our expression of love through sex reflects the Gospel of Jesus Christ—full of grace extending to another, especially when they do not deserve it.
Discuss the questions below with your spouse, repent where needed and then pray together.
1. What sexual sin do you need to confess to your spouse in order to give yourself fully? Walk through forgiveness and restoration.
2. Which of the following honestly characterizes your physical intimacy?
- Sex is mainly for procreation
- Sex is personal physical gratification
- Sex is dutiful
- Sex is my source of happiness
- Sex is my source of security in our relationship
- Sex is a delightful giving of myself to my spouse
3. What three things could I change that will image my giving myself freely to you?
4. How does viewing Jesus as the ultimate giver of grace affect how I will freely give myself to my spouse as an image of the gospel?
Image by Cuentosdeunaimbecila (via Flickr)