The primary call on believers throughout Scripture is to glorify God. Paul tells us that no matter what we’re doing - even if it’s as simple as eating and drinking - we should do it for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). We talked about this principle before in how you can best Serve Your Spouse and Prioritizing Jesus in Small Decisions, but now I want to approach this surrounding a topic we tend to think is a private matter, and a place God does not belong: sex.
How do we glorify God in sex? God made marriage to be a sacred place for us to pursue the physical joys of sex with our spouse and seek to raise up God fearing children that will desire to bring Him glory in their lives too. God made sex as a union between man and woman that serves as an institution of honor and glory to Him. But too often, we make sex about us and not about Him. Before we dive in, I want to take a moment and confess that I feel inadequate to write about this subject. My wife and I will both admit that our sex life is not what we want it to be. But in saying that, the truths I outline below are what have helped me immensely. I used to become super negative when sex wasn’t going the way I wanted, and wrapped up in my own twisted little mind, but God in His grace and compassion taught me these truths so that I would learn to be content.
Think Rightly About Sex
One of the biggest problems that affects us in our Christian marriages is our unbiblical view of sex. We think it’s dirty. Most of us refuse to bring up the subject in any setting, sometimes going as far as not talking about it even with our spouse. We treat it like a vile and disgusting thing.
But that is not what God intended.
God created sex as beautiful and lovely thing within marriage (Ecclesiastes 9:9 & Proverbs 5:18-19). He even warns us of false teachers who will tell us to abstain from it (1 Timothy 4:3). God made us aware, through the words of Paul, that sex is to be received with thanksgiving (in the proper context). Sex is a holy act that we are designed to partake in (1 Timothy 4:4-5).
While sex is a beautiful aspect to marriage, it isn’t the sole purpose of marriage. Many of us have been taught the false notion that sex is what creates a marriage and sex or even having children is the point of marriage. But when Jesus talks to the woman at the well he points out that the man she’s having sex with isn’t her husband (John 4:17-18). Sex christens a God glorifying marriage, but it doesn’t start a marriage that didn’t already exist. A God honoring marriage is one where the husband and wife pursue each other spiritually, physically, intellectually, recreationally, and emotionally (For more read: Marital Intimacy is More than Sex).
Similarly, having children is a goal of marriage (not the only one!), but it doesn’t mean you have to have children physically (For more: Enjoy Married Life Without Kids). God’s children are created spiritually, and sharing your faith, disciplining others, and ministering to the body of Christ is how you can raise up children without physically procuring them. And if you do want physical children, but can’t make them yourselves (or don’t want to) you can still adopt an unwanted child and live out God’s gracious adoption of us believers in their life.
Serve Your Spouse
In 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, Paul gives instruction regarding sex. He tells us that in marriage our bodies belong to our spouse. And in saying that our natural, sinful tendency is to then think my wife owes me sex, it’s her duty or my husband is being selfish by not pleasing me the way I want. These selfish thoughts miss the point of Paul’s instruction. Instead, Paul says "give" (vs. 3).
Husbands, give your wife sexual satisfaction. Wives, give your husband sexual satisfaction. How will you know how to serve your spouse in this way? By talking about it! Ask questions, experiment, and get creative!
Your job in marriage is to be selfless and represent the selflessness of Christ, who though he did not want to die on the cross (Luke 22:42), gave His everything to save you who did not want Him (Romans 3:10-19). You are to be conformed into that selfless image of Jesus (Romans 8:28-29), and when it comes to sex you are to be selflessly giving.
In talking about this, John Piper said: "[Husbands] for her sake, you may go without [sex]. The goal is to outdo one another in giving what the other wants (Rom. 12:10). Both of you, make it your aim to satisfy each other as fully as possible." That means you should serve your spouse, by making their sexual preferences and pleasure your goal! It may be that you have sex less often than you want by doing that, or it may be that you have sex more often than you want by doing that. Whatever the case serve your spouse with no regard to what you will get out of it.
God wants you to enjoy sex, but He designed it in a way that you will be most satisfied when you realize that it’s not about you. God wants you to make your spouses pleasure and enjoyment a bigger priority. If you love your spouse as you ought, you will seek to please them and not insist on your own preferences (1 Corinthians 13:5).
Take Joy in the Gift
Sex is a gift from God, and it is right to take joy in it. As we said earlier, we should receive sex with thanksgiving! Whatever gift comes from God is worthy of our joy and contentment. In the Bible there is a whole book dedicated to helping us recognize that sex is a joyous gift, and we should delight not only in it, but in the spouse God has given us. When our hearts are unthankful it leads our minds down paths of sexual immorality. That is why Ephesians 5:4 says that instead of saying sexually immoral things, we must be thankful.
When we delight in the gifts God has given us, it brings joy to His face. He is a loving father who has carefully wrapped presents and placed them under the marriage tree. How delighted are you fathers, when your child is excited about the gift you paid for and labored over for them? How delighted are you mothers, when your careful attention to your child has revealed to you the perfect present and you have sought it out and prepared it for them and get to see the pure delight on their face? When we give our kids presents, we hope that will bring them joy. And God has brought us the presents of marriage and sex, and He is delighted to see us enjoy them too (Luke 11:13 & James 1:17).
Communication is Key
Nobody has the attained a perfect sex life. Your struggles in this realm are normal, and you can grow in them and have joy and contentment together with your spouse. As you learn to think properly about sex, talk about it with your spouse and with a good accountability partner. As you learn to serve your spouse properly, communicate with them and check in to see how you’re doing. As you learn to be thankful for your sex life (no matter what state it’s in), let God and your spouse know!
Good godly communication helps make sure your heart is right before God, and the truths you think you’re learning hold up in the face of Scripture. Your spouse and your accountability partner should have the freedom to question you and help you question your sinful thoughts and desires.
A Word to the Sexual Sinner
I am sure that the vast majority of those reading this post have in their past, and perhaps their present, sexual sin. You may have committed adultery, incest, or masturbation. Maybe you’ve engaged in pornography, premarital sex, fantasies, or homosexuality. No matter what it is, that sin has marred your view of sex and your sin may now plagues you. You may think how can I ever come before God and be seen as pure? And God replies: "If you throw yourself on My mercy, and humbly come before me repentant and asking for forgiveness, I will wipe this sin from your life. I will forgive you."
God will eradicate your guilt before His eyes. There will still be hardship as you learn to meditate anew on the goodness and rightness of sex in its proper place. You will struggle, but God is good and promises that those who do meditate on His truth can destroy the sexual sins that plague their minds (Psalm 119:9-16). Take this hope in mind: purity can be yours when you rightly think about God, repent, and give Him the full attention and devotion of your heart.
Purity can be yours!