(My husband and I composed this as a testimony about marital intimacy, to be delivered at a recent marriage conference at our church.)
Please forgive us if we do not give a personal testimony on this topic. I’m sure you are as relieved as we are about that. But we would like to tell you how we see God’s vision for the intimate relationship in marriage.
Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
For love is strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
it burns like a blazing fire,
Like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot sweep it away.
If one were to give
all the wealth of one’s house for love
it would be utterly scorned.
This passage is from a book of the Bible, Song of Solomon, a poem by the wisest man in the world. It doesn’t describe someone’s experience. It declares the actual reality and intensity of love. Like intimacy in marriage it can’t be reduced to explanation. We can’t fully grasp it through reason or instruction; we can only learn to open ourselves to it.
Like a seal expresses exclusive ownership. I belong to my beloved, and my beloved belongs to me. (Song of Solomon 6:3)
Place me like a seal over your heart, so you know, on your arm, so everyone else knows. Why? Because love is as strong as death.
Solomon says it is like a mighty flame in intensity. It is unquenchable. Our drive for intimacy in marriage is not simply a physical, biological urge. We are made with an intense, relentless need for emotional and spiritual connection. We are made for this kind of love.
There are three things that are too amazing/ wonderful for me,
four that I do not understand:
the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a maiden. Proverbs 30: 18,19
God’s Word suggests that this sublime experience is not a temporary altered state of mind , or an overpowering feeling which passes; it’s not a chemical-physical automated response. It is the truth. It’s how it really is.
God wants me to have this joy. And out of all human relationships, He chose this particular relationship to best illustrate His love for us!
What you have within your marriage is NOT what you see out in the world. In our culture we see sex relentlessly depicted as “forbidden fruit”.
God invented it! It is from a good God who loves you. It is pure, undefiled, holy, selfless, a celebration. Sex as God designed it is pure affection.
DIFFERENT BUT COMPLEMENTARY
It is a union of different but complementary beings.
He created male and female to complement each other, to literally fit together. It’s a physical demonstration of what’s (supposed to be) going on in the hearts, and the spirits.
Because men and women sometimes have differing expectations, we can make the mistake of thinking that there’s something wrong; that we aren’t connecting. But we believe God designed this difference, as a way for us to have to reach outside ourselves . The woman must exercise unselfish giving; the man must exercise unselfish patience. It’s an ongoing process of choosing unselfish love for the other person. We need to develop our communication and have understanding for each other.
He’s worth the effort; she’s worth the wait.
The Bible describes our intimacy as a relationship between complete equals. The husband and the wife are always given the same advice. An example:
Each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I Corinthians 7: 2-5
Sexual intimacy builds in two ways:
First, it builds your relationship with each other:
Intimacy builds our relationship in a unique and powerful way that nothing else can. Without it we remain two separate people.
It shows spouses how deeply we are valued when we are at our most vulnerable.
Sex reminds us that we are ONE. It makes us need to exercise all the best virtues toward each other.
It keeps putting us back on track, repeatedly drawing us away from the mundane, the busyness, the responsibilities of everyday life. It re-focuses our attention upon each other.
It’s good for you. It’s good for your marriage. God is pleased when we utterly enjoy this gift. It produces a future…there is no downside.
Second, intimacy builds the future God planned:
Intimacy in marriage provides our only connection with the future. Every other experience lasts as long as it lasts and is no more but God ordained a legacy, a heritage, to be left through the experience of intimacy. He did this because He is a God of joyful abundance. Our God loves people so much that He gave us the privilege of producing more of them and raising them to His glory and their eternal joy.
Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. Malachi 2:15
Procreation is not one of the purposes of sex any more than having two wheels is one of the purposes of a bicycle. Building a family is meant to be the inevitable, glorious, natural outcome of the mystical union of a husband, wife and God. The oneness, the pleasure, the potential for God to work procreation–all of one piece.
To our understanding, the Bible presents a vision for intimacy in which all those purposes are an inseparable ONE purpose, over which He is sovereign.
Think about the tremendous potential that God has implanted in the relationship of a couple. They have the power to create life and raise these new people to invade the world with God’s presence and power.
Your relationship has influence because you are modeling God’s design for marriage to everyone you know. Your marriage can be a testimony to God’s awesome work, love and presence.
Those who stay faithful in a marriage for a couple of decades find that there are rewards waiting. You would never have suspected that such joy was waiting after all that time. It gets better.
You’d never have suspected it because the whole world has been telling you that marriage gets boring, that you tire of being with the same person the rest of your life.
But boredom is not what God designed! It’s about knowing, understanding and caring more and more. It’s about two people having thrown away all other options all those years and cultivating their hope and affection on each other.
We’ve been married for 30 years. I knew I was going to marry him 8 years before that. We always knew our marriage was a gift. It continues to be a gift, but not like a fine item you put on a shelf.
It’s the gift that keeps on giving. That’s because the Giver is living, dynamic, generous, and full of concern, love and kindness. Our marriage gives us new possibilities every day; continual love and goodwill; opportunities every day to live for Him in real ways; the future, a heritage ….
God gives gifts which sprout and grow into more gifts.