Why the bible is for sex in marriage (and some surprising advice)

marriageThe city of Corinth in the 1st century was like most big cities, very sexually immoral. The city abounded with mistresses, prostitutes, homosexuals and adulterers. It was not uncommon for a man to be married to his wife, have a mistress and habitually visit temple prostitutes. To “corinthianize” was slang for sexually immoral behaviour. The citizens of Corinth would have felt right at home at this year’s Grammy Awards ceremony where Beyoncé and Jay Z’s performed, in an act of public debauchery, “Drunk in Love”. Beyoncé’s song starts with these words:

I’ve been drinking,

I get filthy when that liquor get into me

We be all night, last thing I remember is our

Beautiful bodies grinding up in that club, drunk in love

Daft Punk won Best Album for the year and their song “Get Lucky” won best record. The words are:

We’re up all night ’til the sun

We’re up all night to get some

We’re up all night for good fun

We’re up all night to get lucky

Our world is much like Corinth. Sexual immorality is not new.

Some in the Corinthian church still held on to their past immoral behaviour and needed to be rebuked. Others, as a result of the Apostle Paul’s teaching on immorality and the sex-obsessed culture they lived in, thought that perhaps total abstinence– even in marriage – was the best route for a Christ-honouring life. Paul writes to remind them of some very important truths in 1 Corinthians 7:1-7.

1. Marriage is the place for sexual intimacy and regular sexual intimacy

V1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.”

In v1 it is important to note that these are the Corinthians’ words, not Paul’s. Some have understood this verse to mean that Paul is saying that it is not good for a man to marry a woman – this is clearly a wrong interpretation. Paul (and the Bible) is pro-marriage and pro-sex in marriage. God ordained marriage in Genesis 2 already. Paul will argue that singleness is an option for some, but certainly not all.

v2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

Rather than being against all sex, Paul teaches that regular sex in marriage is God’s good intention. God is for good sex in marriage and against bad sex outside marriage, which the Bible calls “sexual immorality”. God is against it because it hurts and destroys precious people created in His image. Sexual immorality is all sexual intimacy outside of marriage including pornography and sexting on a smart phone. If you are not married, God says that sexual activity is not for you. Someone may argue that that’s an unreasonable standard. Remember that Jesus was single. He lots of friends and lots of friends who were women. Yet he was sexually pure and definitely not a sexually frustrated or repressed person.

Pre-marital sex and sex outside of marriage is guaranteed to cause harm, hurt and jealousies. The best case scenario is two virgins marrying each other. The world scoffs at this and Hollywood even makes movies to ridicule adult virgins. But just take a closer look at the amount of unhappy marriages, divorces, tensions, sexual frustration and scarred human beings and see how much of it is related to sex before or sex outside marriage.

Paul says marriage should be the place for regular intimacy. We might find it strange to hear the Bible say that. As a married couple, it’s more spiritual to have more intimacy, not less. Sexual fasting is not a key to spiritual growth.

Being married “in God’s sight”

By the way, there is no such thing as being married “in God’s sight”. Young ladies, your boyfriend may say he loves you and that in God’s sight you can be married. You are only married in God’s sight when you both promise before God and witnesses to be faithful to each other as long as you both live. After that you sign the Marriage Register because as Christians we obey the laws of the land. Then and only then are you married. If your boyfriend won’t do that first, he doesn’t love you, he just wants sex.

A marriage counsellor was doing a marriage seminar at our church and his advice was for married people to schedule regular intimacy into your diary – apparently a study has shown that Thursday nights are the best night!

2. Intimacy in a Christian marriage is other-person-centred

v3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal (matters relating to marriage, intimacy) rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

In a Christian marriage, it’s not what I can get, but what I can give. Intimacy in marriage is not about demanding or laying down the law, but about how best I can please my spouse and give them what they need. My body in a sense belongs to my wife and in a sense my wife’s body belongs to me. This recipe for success works both ways: I’m focusing on pleasing my wife and she’s focusing on pleasing me.

Bubble bursting blog

Let me burst a bubble: there is no such thing as perfect sex. FHM has it wrong and cosmopolitan magazine is dishonest. We live in a good, but fallen world and we are fallen people. Intimacy is definitely not like it’s pictured in the movies. Nevertheless marriage is the place where a couple can, should and must grow in intimacy. Before I married I read the book Pure Sex, which said that I should prepare for a disaster on my wedding night! They also said that it was ok because two virgins should not expect to have perfect intimacy on their wedding night; but couples have their entire marriage to practise. So don’t believe FHM and Cosmo and all their lies about sex. The safe and secure relationship of marriage is God’s good design for great intimacy as husbands and wives spend years growing in intimacy and seeking to please each other.

3. Regular intimacy in marriage prevents unnecessary temptation

v2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

v5 Do not deprive one another… so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Satan exists and wants to destroy your marriage or your future marriage. He knows that sexual immorality is a marriage-breaker and that self-control in the face of temptation can weaken at times. We are surrounded by temptation. You can’t open a magazine, go shopping, turn on the TV or go to varsity without confronted with sexual images, skimpy clothes and all kinds of sexual innuendos.  We are tempted to lust and covet and to be involved in sexually immoral thinking and doing. Even on “Christian” websites there are dodgy adverts promoting travelling companions dressed in bikinis and mail-order brides who all happen to be models. Sexual immorality is just one click away.

Of course, as Christians, we must stand firm against temptation and we can never say the Devil made me do it. But regular intimacy in marriage is what will help Christian married people to stand against Satan’s attacks to sexual immorality. Most times, a lack of Intimacy in marriage is a sign that something else is wrong. You may not be talking to your spouse, resentment builds, frustration grows and you end up with a frigid marriage with little intimacy. This lasts for months. Then a pretty girl or handsome guy at work sends you flowers, you have coffee together and they seem so considerate and understanding. You end up working late together one night and before you know what happened, Satan has devastated another family.

On the other hand, if you had a close, healthy and good relationship with your spouse characterised by good communication, respect and regular intimacy, you would probably have told Satan’s good looking undercover agent at your office to take a hike.

To put it in a nutshell: If you don’t tend your garden, you make is easy for the weeds to grow.

The glorious gospel

We’ve all messed up at one time or another and we all have room for improvement. It’s good to remind ourselves of the glory of the gospel; that Christ has borne the wrath of God in our place so that we may be forgiven of our sin – all our sin – every one. In Christ there is always a fresh start whether single or married.