All of us know that any two people can have sex, but not every couple knows true intimacy. For example, a man who hires a prostitute for an hour is not being intimate with her when they engage in the physical act. In no way will he know her as 1 Peter 3:7 commands. That passage instructs a husband to live with his wife “in an understanding way.” Fulfilling this command requires time, attention, and… commitment.

A woman who invites a man into her chambers for the purpose of offering herself free of charge is also a woman who will not know true intimacy. Instead, she is assisting him in avoiding the one thing that could help her know real oneness… commitment.Why does an exclusive devotion to one person bring about the closeness that husbands and wives desire? For the answer to that question, it is best to go to God’s Word.

In Matthew 19:4-6, Jesus responded to some Pharisees who were testing Him about whether or not it was permissible to divorce for any reason: And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” Essentially, true marital oneness is a result of obeying God’s command to join together. Only in the holy ground of obedience can oneness grow. For that reason, we want to look at four areas of commitment to our spouses that can yield the sweet fruit of intimacy, the kind of spiritual oneness that results in physical fulfillment!

Commit to Stay
In 1975, Steve and I stood at the front of a little country church in West Virginia and made some serious promises to each other. Through the years, the obedience to being faithful to those vows has contributed as much as anything to creating the fertile soil where love’s roots can grow deep. We both determined that day in 1975 that neither the termites of differences nor the tornadoes of trouble would topple our family tree. Our resolve to stay true to our covenant commitment was described in this lyric using a maritime metaphor.

We encourage you to take a few minutes to either read this lyric to each other, or write down in your own words your pledge to stay with your spouse. In some way, reassure him or her of your commitment and that leaving is not an option. The peace and confidence that will result from this renewal can once again launch you to true passion.

Commit to Purity
Adultery is sin, and sin never unites. Like a wedge of iron, it always divides. And of all the casualties that adultery causes in a relationship, intimacy could very well be its first victim. But there is hope. While the pleasure of “another lover” might be a fierce temptation, it can be avoided. How? One thing that can motivate a spouse who is being “drawn aside” by someone else is to carefully consider the price that has to be paid for the pleasure of another.

In addition, we suggest that a couple do the following two activities in order to cultivate accountability to each other in regard to sexual temptation. First, as soon as the time can be taken to do it, read Proverbs 7 together and study the text. Take note especially of verse 23 that offers insight into the result of following the path of adultery to its end: “He did not know it would cost his life” (NKJV).

The second suggestion requires a daily commitment to communicate a specific statement to each other.

It’s not enough to promise to stay and fight the battle. While these resolves are imperative to gaining the truest of intimacy, there’s another aspect of commitment to consider.

Committed to Satisfy
Nothing could be more clear about the need for a couple to be mutually concerned with meeting the sexual needs of their spouses than the passage in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5. In regard to marital sex, the scripture instructs: The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

The word duty in the opening line of the passage is not meant to imply that sex is merely another job, a dreaded task, or a necessary evil. Instead, the meaning in the original language gives a much more attractive perspective to physical relations. It is taken from the Greek word eunoia, which means to favor the other in the mind or to think about a spouse with affection. The scripture also instructs that fulfilling your spouse’s sexual needs is not optional, but it is an opportunity to meet a need in your mate that no other human being can righteously fulfill.

Annie: I want to offer a word of encouragement to the young wife who feels guilty when she reads the 1 Corinthians passage. Perhaps the demands of your life has resulted in a lengthy “to do” list. Unfortunately, your husband’s name is either very near the bottom or not on it at all. If this is true, please keep in mind that the “back burner” was made for cooking, not for him. Proverbs 14:1 strongly warns, “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.” Please take to heart the scripture’s advice that says your husband’s sexual needs are not only your responsibility, but also your privilege.

Steve: The old saying “sex begins in the kitchen” really is true. A man would be wise to make it his priority to serve his wife outside of the bedroom if he expects her to be amicable inside the bedroom.

Being committed to satisfy her, and her alone, should be your highest pursuit as a husband. Your unwavering devotion to meeting only her needs will be a blessing to your wife, and, to be sure, it has great rewards.
Consider this passage from Proverbs 5:15-21.
Drink water from your own cistern
And fresh water from your own well.
Should your springs be dispersed abroad,
Streams of water in the streets?
Let them be yours alone
And not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice in the wife of your youth.
As a loving hind and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
Be exhilarated always with her love.
For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress
And embrace the bosom of a foreigner?
For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD,
And He watches all his paths.
I personally love this promise God has given to husbands who do not run to the door of a “foreign” woman. That our wives can be our sole sources of satisfaction is indeed exciting. And, may I admit as a hunter/lover, I love God’s usage of the deer analogy, that is, the “hind and the doe” breast thing.

Excerpt from Hot Topics for Couples, by Steve and Annie Chapman.

Copyright © 2010 by Steve and Annie Chapman, published by Harvest House, used with permission. All rights reserved.

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