Holy and Healthy Sex in Marriage: Part 2

David Wever

As we begin the journey of examining holy and healthy sex in marriage and we allow for our perspectives about sexual intimacy in marriage to be challenged, one of the key places to start is to study what was God’s true design and intent for sex. A healthy understanding of His design and intent is crucial to the healing of our minds and hearts around sexuality.

An understanding of His initial design gives us a platform by which to move safely and confidently towards holy and healthy sexual intimacy in marriage. You are probably familiar with two common understandings for God’s purpose for sex: procreation and pleasure. These are the most common reasons we often give for God’s purpose for sex. And they are valid and worthy reasons. However, within these general reasons lie, I believe, further tenets of God’s design and intention for sexual intimacy.

One of the prime tenets of sexuality and sexual intimacy is that He created you and me to be sexual. This was no mistake. You may feel at times like it was a mistake due to the difficulty we have in our sexual sin condition. But God was intentional when he created us to be sexual. Biblically we see evidence of this in two prime ways. First sexual oneness began as two. Two individuals: male and female. Genesis 1:27, ‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.’ Not only was God intentional in designing us to be sexual but his fingerprint on this is found inherently in his design of male and female. We don’t have the space to go into a full anatomy lesson on the differences between men and women, I will trust you have some knowledge; we are made uniquely different by gender. But, He had in mind that sexual oneness would begin and end with two people uniquely designed to be connected.

Second, it is that connection that would ultimately be celebrated in sexual intimacy. We see this in Genesis 2:24‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.’ God’s idea of emotional, spiritual, and relational connection is captured in the sexual union. Not that the sexual union is the connection (though I often thought it was this way from my old, hyperstimulated perspective) but rather that the relational oneness is ultimately celebrated in that physical union. This sexual union is further blessed by God for procreation in Genesis 1:28‘God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” There is no denying the sexual union was meant to occur and to be celebrated and enjoyed.

Another tenet of God’s design for sexual intimacy is that in that oneness we could be fully naked with our spouse. Genesis 2:25‘The man and his wife were both naked.’ The biblical translation refers literally to their physical nakedness. However, their nakedness also suggests other aspects of their connection. One aspect is that nakedness suggests sinlessness. Their sinlessness prior to the Fall allowed nothing to stand between them. Sin distorts how we see ourselves and others. They literally had no blemishes or flaws to hinder or impede their connection. Eve didn’t have to worry about that ugly mole on her belly or a slight deviation in her nose, and Adam didn’t have to worry about his love handles or his penis size and performance. Their sinlessness allowed for them to be naked and connect spiritually, emotionally and sexually without worry or fear. Boy, did they have it made! This is where the concept of oneness really takes its form. Oneness basically means to be fully known by our spouse in spite of our blemishes and flaws. To be fully known ultimately means to be naked.

Lastly there was no shame in sex. In Genesis 2:25 we see that not only were Adam and Eve one flesh and naked with one another, but they also felt no shame. Without flaws and blemishes due to sin they didn’t feel a sense of something being wrong with themselves and one another. They ultimately felt safe with one another and it felt right and good just the way God intended. They were equal and together and that left no room for shame. Sex was not created to be one-sided but rather an equal partnership in union. Unfortunately due to sin this is one of the shortfalls to healthy sexual intimacy. You can see it in the way a man may objectify or deify a woman, especially sexually. When we do this we do not put her as our equal nor do we then enter into a partnership where true intimacy in sexual intimacy can develop. Due to shame out of our sin we push one another away rather than accept and feel safe in that union.

As we walk along this journey of recovery and healing it is comforting to know God truly had a great plan in mind around our sexuality and sexual intimacy. Although we live and interact within a fallen state that includes sin leading to shame and isolation, we do have hope in experiencing God’s initial design for sexual intimacy because of Christ Jesus. We will look next at how sex is reclaimed in Jesus Christ setting the stage for healthy sexual intimacy in marriage.

Would you and your spouse benefit from a small group weekend? Join one of our couples groups at our next New Life Weekend.

No Higher Power

Dave Boyle

Easter Sunday is the day that separates Christianity from all of the other world religions. No other religious leader ever rose from the dead. Jesus alone accomplished that miracle. And that is why we worship Him–that is why we put our faith in Him alone for our salvation.

Christ’s resurrection from the dead, which we celebrate this month, is also why you and I can stay free from sexual sin. The same power that brought Jesus out from the grave is the same power that you and I can plug into, on a daily basis, to bring us to, and help us maintain, sexual sobriety.

Much like a bulb is of little value if the lamp is not plugged into an outlet, so our lives will not shine to our wives, our kids or our friends if we are not plugged into God’s power source. It takes some work on our part, but the results are well worth it.

How do we ‘plug in’ to God’s power source?

The first way is to make sure you are connected to Him by talking to Him and learning about Him on a daily basis. This generally happens through a daily quiet time of prayer and Bible reading. If you have gotten away from this habit, it will probably be only a matter of time before relapse is crouching around the corner. The first point of the action plan that you received at EMB was to spend at least 15 minutes in the Word and in prayer each day, remember?

One of the things to pray for is sobriety; God will hear your earnest prayers and will be faithful. One hint: pray specifically and pray passionately. If your struggle is masturbation, pray with all of your heart that God will keep you from lusting and acting out, today. Don’t pray about tomorrow, or next week, take it one day at a time. Recovery is hard by the yard but a cinch by the inch. If your struggle is a certain woman at work, get on your knees and pray that God will fill you so full with the Spirit that you don’t notice what she looks like or what she’s wearing, but will only see her heart and that she needs Jesus. And if your issue is internet pornography, cry out to the Lord that He will get you to a point where you are so emotionally connected to your wife, or spiritually connected to a trusted friend or accountability partner, that the thought of an air brushed image on a screen holds absolutely no sway over you. If you pray specifically and passionately about your recovery, God will honor those prayers and will begin and maintain the healing process.

The other way of being plugged into God’s power source is by being in His Word. If prayer is talking to God, then reading the Bible is listening to God. Whether you use a devotional book along with your Bible, or just read a passage and think about it, always pick out one truth that you have received and meditate on it periodically through out the day. If you’re like me, you tend to forget what you’ve read, so I always put a post it note on my computer with the truth I learned that morning, and refer to it through out the day. It’s amazing how relevant that truth becomes as situations come up during the day. Then again, it’s really not all that amazing, because the same God who raised His Son from the dead, and gave Him power, is the same God who is vitally interested in you and your sobriety, and gives you power. You matter to God, and He wants to see you be successful in your pursuit of holiness.

As you celebrate Easter this month, make Christ’s resurrection power your own. It will be the best 15 minutes a day you’ve ever spent.

Maintaining Vibrancy in our Devotional Life

David Mackey

Growing up in the church, a constant theme was the importance of a daily devotional life. As I recall this came in one basic outline: Read the Bible daily every morning and pray. There seemed to be little variation in this edict, only a variation in how much of the Bible one read. Reading more was always better. Basically this was the quest and I failed miserably. For many years I rarely succeeded for more than a few days in a row following this type outline. And when I did read, many times, it was just reading’ there was nothing vibrant about it.

Good news!! Vibrancy can be experienced. I finally did discover that vibrancy could be found in one’s devotional life. What hindered me for so many years? Perhaps several things but I believe a primary hindrance can be found in one’s heart. Consider the heart. The heart is that part of our being in which we find our beliefs and values residing. In the church you often hear phrases like ” invite Jesus into our heart,’ and ”believe with all your heart,’ etc.

When it comes to our devotional life, what do we believe, or what value does a devotional life have? Consider just one belief that might hinder vibrancy. It might go like this, ‘God demands I have a devotional life in obedience to Him and in order for Him to keep me from relapse.’ Variations of this belief might be, ‘It is my duty to maintain a disciplined devotional life.’ Or ”without a disciplined devotional life I will not please God so he will not keep me from falling.’ There are many such beliefs that could hinder vibrancy. What would happen in one’s life if we believed that God does not REQUIRE a devotional life?! Rather God INVITES us to have a devotional life. What would a devotional life be like if we believed that the purpose of this invitation is deep intimate relationship with Him rather then a tool to prevent relapse? How would ones vibrancy change?

God, the almighty creator of all things, invites us to know Him as ‘Abba,” Aramaic for ‘Daddy’ (Romans 8:15-16). Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords calls us brother and friend (Mark 3:35 & John 15:14). If we believed we are invited into this kind of relationship, our devotional pattern might be different and lead to a great degree of vibrancy. Our devotional life may be more akin to pursuing friendship, brotherhood, and sonship. Vibrancy in these earthly relationships is not found in obedient, disciplined habits. Rather it is found as we pursue those relationships regularly and in many different ways. When we desire relationship with our friends, brothers, and Daddy we find unique ways to be in close contact. We don’t allow our busy schedule to hinder us. If we made this belief change, there will also be a change in how we pursue intimate relationship. Rather than one disciplined daily habit we likely will add many creative and changing ways to stay in touch, throughout each day. Consider some ideas listed below:

Read small amounts of scripture several times a day.
Write and pray your own Psalms.
Pray Psalms from scripture that express your heart’s joy and sorrows.
Include worship and praise music in your listening habits.
Read the worshipful writings of early church fathers.
Schedule a weekly 2 to 4 hour time to just meditate, listen, and pray.
Schedule personal weekend retreats.
Find a church whose emphasis is worship and relationship.
Read a different translation of the Bible.
Listen to the Bible on CD as you drive throughout the day.

All of the above are tools and activities that can be used to know and hear God. Vibrancy will be found when done with the purpose of intimate relationship with God. Don’t miss the point. Disciplined and daily devotions should be developed in a believer’s life. This seems to be especially true as we continue to win the battle. If this discipline is rooted in obedience and approval from God, the disciplined devotional life can easily become a routine of our mind. If, however, our purpose is toward a brother and friend relationship with Jesus, a son relationship with the Father then our devotional life will be quite different. It can be vibrant and it will likely grow as we discover creative ways to pursue God through out each of our days.

For more help on this topic see Being Christian: Exploring Where You God and Life Connect.