Holy Sex

Holy sex is about being one

Relax, holy sex isn’t all about sex. Holy sex is about being one.

We love to ask couples, “What is the purpose of marriage?” Some of you may already be coming up with all kinds of answers in your head: procreation, companionship, fun, to find a “sugar daddy” or a “mommy dearest.” Or if you’re really spiritual, you might be saying that the purpose of marriage is to become like Christ.

We believe the purpose of marriage is to be one. It’s not the sex; it’s not the fun; it’s not the companionship; it’s not the sugar daddy or the mommy dearest. It is much more than that: the purpose of marriage is to be one.

Some of you reading this might not be followers of Jesus. If that is the case, we hope you are pursuing what it means to follow him. But for those who are passionate followers of Jesus Christ, as Laura and I are, you know that if he tells us the purpose of marriage, then that should be the purpose. Case closed.

So what does he say? In Mark 10:6-8 Jesus says, “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” Now understand something. Up to this point, Jesus is quoting the Old Testament; every Jewish person knew this passage of Scripture. But then Jesus stops quoting the Old Testament and gives the purpose of marriage: “So, they are no longer two, but one” (emphasis added).

The purpose of marriage, then, according to Jesus Christ himself, is to be one.

The Difference between Oneness and Being One

When we use the phrase being one, most Western minds think oneness, but the two are very different. Oneness is the perception that comes from sharing daily duties together. Being one is a state of the heart, soul, and mind.

When we discussed the difference between oneness and being one with our good friend Terre Grable, who is a professional counselor, she told us about a counseling technique she uses with couples. Terre talks to many couples who have not mastered what she terms the “institutional aspects” of marriage: figuring out who is going to assume which roles within the union (who is going to pay the bills, mow the lawn, bathe the kids, etc.).

We took that idea and discovered that a great way to discern the difference between oneness and being one is to understand the difference between the institutional aspects of marriage and the mysterious aspects of marriage. As we look at couples practicing the institution, we find people who live in the same house, pay the same bills, raise the same kids, maybe even go to the same movie together. While practicing these institutional aspects of marriage may bring a feeling of oneness, it does not constitute being one.

This is why so many couples wonder, “Is this really all there is to marriage?” This thought is the breeding ground for affairs. Men and women begin looking for fulfillment elsewhere because they have not become one with their spouse.

While the institution of marriage is mostly practical — figuring out who will pay the bills, do the grocery shopping, mow the lawn, and clean the house — the mystery of marriage is more of an art. The art is revealed as we discover the heart, soul, and mind of our spouse and, at the same time, reveal ours in order to probe the depths of emotion, character, and love, which is truly being one.

Let’s take a look at Scripture. The entire fifth chapter of Ephesians is encapsulated in the first four words: “Be imitators of God.” Seems simple enough. A few verses later Paul gives us some practical advice: “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving” (Eph. 5:3-4).

Paul goes on to give us an illustration that makes us think on a profound level:

In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church — for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:28-33


Even Paul, one of the greatest theologians ever, could not fully comprehend this mystery called marriage any more than we can practically comprehend the mystery of Christ’s church being one with him. This side of eternity none of us will ever have a lock on the art of being one. But the Lord has given us an opportunity to fulfill his prayer for his people: “That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:21-22).

It is our conviction that becoming one will never happen in the church, nor will it ever happen in our families, until it first happens in our marriages. Marriage is the model for the church, not the church for marriage. Marriage is the simplest form of church. “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matt. 18:20). Therefore, we must understand God’s plan for becoming one with our spouse before we can impact the world for Christ. When we strive to become one in our marriage, it will spill over into every other relationship and aspect of our lives.

Adapted from The Spark Igniting the Passion, Mystery, and Romance in Your Marriage  Copyright © 2008 Jay & Laura Laffoon, All rights reserved. Used with Permission. Published by Baker Publishing Group.

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