by Bob Lepine
Second of a series on God’s design for sexuality.
In part one of this Marriage Memo series on sexuality, I stated, “I think there’s something central and profound in the sexual act, as a part of a marriage designed by God. When a husband and wife become one flesh they experience a deep physical, emotional, and even spiritual oneness that binds them together.”
But it does more than that. It also points to and reflects the goodness of God. The Bible makes it clear that this sexual bond is meant to happen within marriage—obviously a point where our culture teaches a far different philosophy than God’s Word. In that command God does not seek to punish us—He seeks to bless and protect us.
Here are five reasons why a sexual relationship should occur within the confines of marriage:
1. Sex is meant to strengthen the marriage bond. In marriage we enter into a covenant relationship with one another. This covenant mirrors God’s covenant. During the wedding ceremony we vow to remain committed “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer … till death do us part.” These promises echo the promise God makes to us when He adopts us into His family and unites Himself to us in Christ. He has said that He will never leave us or forsake us.
God wants the husband and wife to be one. The recurring, ongoing participation in sex is the instrument that God uses so that we can experience a closer, richer, deeper relationship with one another. When sex happens outside of the safe haven of a committed, loving covenant relationship—what used to be called “the bonds of matrimony” —you may still experience physical pleasure, but there will be an emptiness in your soul. There is something missing. There is a shallowness to the sexuality that we experience apart from a lifelong covenant.
2. God wants to teach us more about the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Spirit in the Trinity. There is oneness within the Trinity—there are three persons, but they are one. In marriage, there are two persons, but they become one. In marriage we learn something about the intimacy that God enjoys within the context of the Trinity—the intimacy that the Father has with the Son, and the Son with the Spirit, and the Spirit with the Father and the Son.
3. God also wants to give us a picture of Christ’s relationship with the Church. (Ephesians 5:22-33). In some mysterious way, the husband and wife relationship—and our sexuality—is tied to that picture.
4. A sexual relationship in marriage teaches us something about the nature of real love—God’s love. Over a lifetime in marriage, we learn that in order for our sexuality to be expressed in the way that God intends it, the sexuality needs to be unselfish. Both husband and wife must be committed to pleasing each other and meeting each other’s needs.
5. It is best for the offspring of our sexual union to grow up in a home governed by a covenant relationship between a husband and a wife who love one another and are committed to each other. If a child is growing up in a setting where there is one parent or where two parents are not bound together in covenant love with one another, that child is missing something.
Consider this: If our sexual relationship is this powerful and this important, is it any wonder that Satan would take delight in trying to undermine, pervert, and destroy our human sexuality? Is it any wonder that sex is so huge, so pervasive in our culture—and that the temptation to operate independently of God’s plan is so powerful? I’ll take a closer look at this theme in the next Marriage Memo.
Bob Lepine is co-host of FamilyLife Today®. This article is adapted from a message he delivered at Redeemer Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. Go here to listen to the message on FamilyLife Today.