Sex is amazing.
This premise shouldn’t really be shocking or controversial. The good gift of sex designed by God should inspire awe and wonder. The Bible talks a lot about the blessing of sex for a husband and wife in marriage. Of course, the Bible also talks about the dangers of sex outside of marriage and the need for restraint, so stay tuned for a future blog on “Why Sex is Dangerous.”
Christians should not hesitate to talk about sex in respectful and appropriate ways. Healthy, married Christians should have lots of sex because God designed it with a host of benefits and blessings. For now, let’s look at five purposes of sex in marriage – each one a reason why sex is wonderful:
- Sex makes babies.
This is, perhaps, the most obvious purpose. God called the first married couple, Adam and Eve, to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28). It is a wonder of God’s design that a man and woman come together in intercourse and a new life can be created. From sex comes a new life that shares the DNA of the baby’s mother and father. What an awesome way that God designed reproduction!
Of course, some couples are physically not able to bear children. The inability to bear biological children can be devastating for couples, and ultimately it is the result of humanity’s fall into sin. But for many couples, out of this hardship might come the beauty of adoption. However, since having children is only one of the purposes of sex, couples can still enjoy many blessings of regular intercourse – even in the case of infertility or being past the age of childbearing.
- Sex brings physical pleasure and health.
I find it fascinating that God made sex to feel so good. There are emotional and physical limitations that can make sex uncomfortable or even painful for some, but this departs from God’s good design in creation. God created sex to be the most physically pleasurable experience on earth. But he didn’t have to do that! He didn’t have to put all those nerve endings on our reproductive glands; in fact, he could have designed orgasms to be painful, and we’d still have sex just to make babies. But God made sex pleasurable, to be enjoyed in marriage, as a gift!
Proverbs chapter 5 is written as a warning against adultery. The imagery of water (wells, springs, and streams) are references to sex. It is a call to only enjoy the water from the well of your spouse.
Proverbs 5:15-20 – “Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?”
Husbands, rather than scatter the waters of sex in the street (that’s a depraved picture), we’re called to find joy in sex with our wives – to delight in her body! Yes, this is biblical justification for a husband to delight in his wife’s breasts – and all the arousing aspects of her body. This is equally true for wives. To be “intoxicated in love” means to be captivated, exhilarated, swept away in the pleasure of sexual passion.
And not only does sexual intimacy bring the benefit of physical pleasure, but God also designed it to bring many benefits for physical health. Regular sex in marriage boosts your immune system, lowers blood pressure, improves heart health, improves bladder control in women, and improves prostate health in men. The act of having sex releases chemicals and hormones that help the body relax which enables you to sleep better. It elevates the mood, decreases depression, and overall reduces stress. Sex is a wonder!
- Sex builds emotional intimacy.
Sex is just as much an emotional and spiritual act as it is physical act. That’s why the sexual union outside of marriage can be so destructive – because it creates the false sense of an emotional connection but with no foundation, security, or longevity.
People ask: Does good sex lead to a good marriage or does a good marriage lead to good sex? Well, the foundation of a good sex life is a strong emotional bond, and sexual intimacy allows emotional intimacy to flourish. Sexual health and emotional health is a cycle that builds on itself, but it has to begin with emotional trust and intimacy.
In the book “The Language of Sex,” Gary Smalley and Ted Cunningham talk about the importance of an intimate emotional and sexual connection with your spouse.
“Intercourse is not an act – it is a reflection of a great relationship. Intercourse doesn’t mean orgasm or insertion. Intercourse actually means to get to know someone intimately. That’s how we have mental [and emotional] intercourse… The sex life of a couple is a reflection of their relationship. Sex is like picking fruit off a tree: The fruit must have the total context of nurture – soil, water and sun in a healthy environment – if it’s going to multiply and taste good. Good sexual fruit in your marriage comes as a result of nurturing the relationship.”
While in an ideal marriage, a healthy sex life will flow out of good communication, care, trust, selfless service, and emotional intimacy – sometimes (often?) this is disrupted by a feeling of distance, hurt, or irritation. That’s not a recipe for good sex! However, I have found that if a couple can trust God and one another enough to put aside the hurt, and come together in sexual intimacy, God can use this step to restore the emotional intimacy.
We see the profound connection between sex and emotional intimacy in the Song of Solomon. This book in the Old Testament is a beautiful series of love poems between Solomon and his bride. Listen as they kiss, hold each other, enjoy one another’s bodies, and stir their love and intimacy.
“As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. Sustain me with raisins; refresh me with apples, for I am sick with love. His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me.” (2:3-6)
“You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than any spice! Your lips drip nectar, my bride; honey and milk are under your tongue; the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.” (4:9-11)
“His cheeks are like beds of spices, mounds of sweet-smelling herbs. His lips are lilies, dripping liquid myrrh. His arms are rods of gold, set with jewels. His body is polished ivory, bedecked with sapphires. His legs are alabaster columns, set on bases of gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet, and he is altogether desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.” (5:13-16)
“How beautiful and pleasant you are, O loved one, with all your delights! 7 Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its fruit. Oh may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the scent of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine. It goes down smoothly for my beloved, gliding over lips and teeth. I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me.” (7:6-10)
If you and your spouse are struggling to experience an emotional connection of love, trust, friendship, and intimacy in marriage, try to reincorporate sex into your relationship (with care and sensitivity) and see what God can do.
- Sex helps maintain our purity.
As wonderful as sex is between a husband and wife, sex outside of marriage is outside of God’s design and therefore sinful and harmful. So then, when it comes to the temptations of promiscuity, adultery, homosexuality, masturbation, pornography, and lust, we need restraint. We need the Holy Spirit’s power to enable us to live in sexual purity.
For those who are married, a healthy sex life is a great tool to help maintain a pure heart and body. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul writes to the church about the value of marriage and sexual intimacy. Listen as the Word of God describes how sex in marriage can help protect against sexual temptation.
1 Corinthians 7:2-3, 9, CSB – “Because sexual immorality is so common, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. A husband should fulfill his marital responsibility to his wife, and likewise a wife to her husband….if [the unmarried] do not have self-control, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with desire.”
We see here that one purpose for sex in marriage is to help the couple maintain purity. If you are finding sexual fulfillment in your spouse, you will be less drawn to temptation outside of marriage. Sexual intimacy in marriage is the right outlet for our sex drive. 1 Corinthians 7 also talks about the admirable call to remain single; however, those who can’t restrain their sexual urges should get married. Sex in marriage doesn’t eliminate all temptation, but it is a powerful tool!
- Sex glorifies God.
All of life should be lived to the glory of God. All that we do should be done in gratitude, honor, and worship of God. Sex is no exception. When a loving, committed, godly couple has a healthy sex life, God is glorified. When a baby is conceived, God is glorified. When a husband and wife give pleasure to each other, God is glorified. Remember, God invented sex!
According to Ephesians 5, marriage is to be a reflection of Christ’s love for the Church. The sexual union therefore is ultimately an earthly expression of the heavenly union and intimacy God will one day have with his people. In This Momentary Marriage, John Piper says this:
“Sexual intimacy and sexual climax get their final meaning from what they point to. They point to ecstasies that are unattainable and inconceivable in this life. Just as the heavens are telling the glory of God’s power and beauty, so sexual climax is telling the glory of immeasurable delights that we will have with Christ in the age to come. There will be no marriage there. But what marriage meant will be there. And the pleasures of marriage, ten-to-the-millionth power, will be there.”
As wonderful, pleasurable, and intimate an experience as an orgasm, it is just a small taste, a signpost, pointing to the joy found in life with God. Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
So, these are the five primary purposes of sex in marriage. Five reasons sex is amazing. If you are not married, you can appreciate and honor God’s wonderful gift of sex by praying for restraint and/or patience. But if you are married – and sex really does fulfill all these wonderful purposes – that means you should love your spouse and have lots of sex! We’ll look more in depth at the importance of frequent sex in marriage in a future post called “Make Sex a Priority.”
This is Part 1 of a 3-part series on sex. Parts 2 and 3 will publish in a few weeks.