In Woody Allen’s Academy Award–winning romantic comedy Annie Hall, there’s one scene where a couple is shown split-screen in their respective therapists’ offices. They are both asked the same question: “How often do you sleep together?” The man responds dejectedly, “Hardly ever. Three times a week.” The woman responds much differently: “Constantly. I’d say three times a week.” When it comes to sex, men see it in one way and women see it another! No question about it. What we want to do is take a moment and ask the more important question, “How does God see it?”
Why would we ask this? Because He created sex, ordained it, and has a perspective on it. God wants us to have a complete understanding so we can make the most of His gift of sex in this life. How are we to know what God thinks about a topic such as this? Just like any other topic, when we want to hear from God, we must begin by opening God’s book, the Bible.
Seven Purposes for Sex in the Marriage Bond
Sexual intimacy in the context of marriage provides protection. That’s the issue addressed in 1 Corinthians 7:2. The Bible clearly teaches sex is designed for one man and one woman. Additionally, the context for sex between a man and a woman is within marriage. One reason for this design and context is the protection it affords us against the temptation of the sin of sexual immorality.
A word to those who are young and considering marriage: If you know you’re with Mr. or Miss Right and you’re delaying tying the knot, please consider this advice. If you continue to put yourself in compromising situations that are leading you both into doing things sexually that go against God’s standards, if you’re sure you’re going to end up together, let me ask this: “What’s holding you back from making the decision to get married now? What are you waiting for? Is it really that big of a deal or not? Would it be best for you to go ahead and tie the knot and live according to His commands? Or wait longer, but put some more specific boundaries in place so that you don’t cross any more lines?” That is what this passage is addressing, so make sure you discuss this openly and make a decision that is best for each of you and honors God exclusively.
The second purpose of sex the Bible provides is that married sex is intended for procreation. The early church understood this aspect based on Genesis 1:28, the first commandment given to the first man and woman—“be fruitful and multiply.”
There is a third purpose for sex, which is sadly overemphasized in relationships outside biblical marriage. Pleasure. Consider Solomon’s wise counsel in Proverbs 5:18–19:
Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love.
Husbands and wives, let’s be thankful for the clarity of God’s Word on this topic. God makes clear that sexual intimacy is for our delight. It should not feel like our duty. If you don’t believe me, read in your Bible the book of Song of Solomon together with your spouse. That little love letter celebrates the intended joy that comes from sexual union.
Sex in marriage is about oneness. Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Physical unity becomes the miracle of marriage as a man and woman become one. It’s referring to the oneness and intimacy we experience physically, emotionally, and spiritually through sex.
Today, people hook up just to hook up, and those who don’t want to do that are often looked at like they are missing something. The hard-core truth is that this will cause much unwanted difficulty in your future marriage relationship. We know this firsthand as we had sex before we got married, and we invited many problems into our marriage as a result. We didn’t grow up standing on the Bible as our rock and foundation, and certainly experienced the consequences of building on the sand.
Another interesting verse on this topic is found in Genesis 4:1: “Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived” (emphasis added). Now when it says knew it’s not just talking about knowing her name or favorite movie. In the original language, the word means far more than that for sure. Adam and Eve knew one another physically, intimately, and sexually. They shared a unity in marriage that husbands and wives are to share together for protection, procreation, pleasure, oneness, and intimacy.
First Corinthians 6:19–20 says we are not our own. Sexual intimacy includes sharing or giving our most important possession—our very body—to our spouse. If I engaged in sex outside of marriage, I gave something that belonged to my spouse (future or present) to someone else. God can forgive and restore our past failure(s) in this area, but it does not instantly resolve every repercussion. Consequences remain.
We are called to give generously through sexual pleasure with our spouse and no one else. It’s important for married couples to be generous with each other when it comes to sexual intimacy, as this is an appropriate way to glorify God. Scripture answers the question of how much is enough when it states in 1 Corinthians 7:5, “Do not deprive one another.” So, ask each other, in a spirit of generosity, recognizing that you are the only person that can meet this need biblically.
The seventh biblical purpose for sex is comfort. In 2 Samuel 12:24, David is found comforting his wife when she was grieving. How did he “comfort” her? By having sex with her. Sometimes in a marriage relationship, it is important for one spouse to generously comfort the other in this way. It shows a genuine love, care, and concern that we can only do for each other. We need to be grateful as married couples to God for the gift He has given to us to please each other regularly.
Taken from The Marriage Knot: 7 Choices that Keep Couples Together by Ron and Jody Zappia (©2019). Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission.