You may also be pleased to know that Thomas has a chapter solely dedicated to the sexual relationship in marriage! After all, don’t all good marriage books talk about sex? ~smile~ While a lot of books talk about practical sexual tips and offer twelve ways to spice up the bedroom, Gary dives into the Christian side of sex in marriage.
Christianity and Sex?
What do I mean about the “Christian side of sex”? Even though most of us know from an intellectual level that God created sex and that He doesn’t get mad when married couples have sex, it’s hard for us to imagine that God not only allows married couples to enjoy sex, but He delights in it! He’s happy about it! And He doesn’t turn His eyes from it. (Does that make you squirm?)
If you are 99.975% of the population (note: completely fabricated statistic), you are probably looking forward to having sex with your future spouse. Marriage is a climb, an ongoing learning experience, a constant refining, and sex brings an element of pure pleasure into the marriage journey. God does use married life to teach us, sanctify us, and make us more like Him. It is a grueling process at times, but thankfully He’s has given us the gift of sex to bring pure joy into our covenant relationship. Sex was created not only to populate the Earth, but also to provide husbands and wives with pleasure, satisfaction, and increased intimacy.
Thomas does not only discuss sex from the vantage point of personal enjoyment; he also talks about how our sexual relationship can help us grow spiritually, and how sex with our spouse can be an act of service.
Sex and Spiritual Growth
Do you think about sex as a way of growing spiritually? I certainly never looked at it that way before reading Sacred Marriage. Perhaps I’ve been rather shallow about the subject, but my thoughts on sex and godliness simply were: “Before marriage, sex bad. After marriage, sex good.” Many of us were taught to think that way because a lot of well-meaning people who loved us didn’t want us to fall into sexual sin.
The message of abstinence isn’t a bad message, it’s just incomplete. While teaching young people to wait until marriage for sex, we should also be teaching them the value of sex within marriage. Not that “Sex before marriage is bad, and after marriage is good,” but that “Sex before marriage is out of God’s context, and therefore dangerous and sinful, but sex inside of God’s context is not only exciting and delightful, but another way God draws us to Himself.”
Gary wrote, “Our restlessness for the sexual experience mirrors our restlessness for God.” We have what he calls a ‘transcendent ache,’ placed in us by God. Nothing truly fulfills us but God. Nothing. Our desire for sex gives us a glimpse of how desperate we are for intimacy with our Creator. God isn’t only happy when married couples enjoy His sexual gift, but we bring Him glory when we delight in our spouse sexually. It’s all a part of the grand picture of Christ’s love for His church. Just as God is glorified when women unconditionally respect their husbands and husbands unconditionally love their wives, God is also glorified when husbands and wives enjoy each other’s bodies. This is, of course, if the couple is giving to each other rather than selfishly taking from each other (i.e., as long as I’m satisfied, I’m not concerned with whether or not my partner is fulfilled.).
Sex and Service
The sexual relationship offers married couples another avenue by which to love, honor, and serve each other. I love this quote from Gary: “It is no exaggeration to say that the true nature of our spiritual character may be best demonstrated when we are engaging in sexual relations.”
Sex in its godliest form will seek to give and please. How can I serve you best? Through snuggling more? Through being more adventurous? Through helping you around the house so you’ll be less tired? Through wearing something you would really enjoy to bed?
On the other hand, selfish sex seeks to take and use. In essence it asks the questions, “How can I get the most pleasure for the least amount of effort?” and “How can you gratify and please me?” Chances are most of us wouldn’t actually verbalize our selfish desires so candidly, but many married people have entertained such thoughts.
Gary gives us a good question to ask ourselves (once we’re married) to determine if we’re serving our spouse through our sexual relationship or using it as a means to only please ourselves: “If God looked at nothing other than my sexuality, would I be known as a mature Christian or as a near pagan?”
How many times have we ladies (or men) said “I just don’t feel like it tonight, babe” without taking any effort to get in the mood (e.g., soaking in the tub, taking some aspirin, spending some time in prayer to calm down after a crazy day, etc.)? How many gentlemen (or women) have used phrases such as, “You’re never in the mood, are you?” or “Well, maybe one day I’ll get to have sex again!” instead of seeking to find out what their spouse needed from them (e.g., a long conversation, some time together, some free time to tinker around in the garage, etc.)?
After reading Sacred Marriage, chances are you will come away thinking about the marriage bed in ways you never have before. How exciting to know that God not only created sex, but that He uses it as another way to draw us closer to Him and to shape us more into His image. Sex isn’t just great fun, but it serves a great purpose!
If you haven’t purchased your copy of Sacred Marriage, we would encourage you to do so before you get married. Read this book with your boyfriend/girlfriend or fiancé/fiancée. Thomas brings the marriage relationship into a whole new light – as a way of sanctifying and growing us in our walk with God more than as a means to make us happy in our short time on Earth.
Have you ever considered sex as a way of serving your future spouse in marriage?