Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Love Dare - Day 32

Love Meets Sexual Needs "The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband." – 1 Corinthians 7:3

Some people think the Bible has nothing good to say about sex, as though all God seems concerned about is telling us when not to do it and who not `and the blessing it can be for both husband and wife. Even its boundaries and restrictions are God’s ways of keeping our sexual experiences at a level far beyond any of those advertised on television or in the movies.

In Christian marriage, romance is meant to thrive and flourish. After all, it was created by God. It’s all part of celebrating what God has given, becoming one with our mate while simultaneously pursuing purity and holiness. He delights in us when this happens.

The Song of Solomon, for example, though frequently misunderstood as nothing more than an allegory about God’s passion for His people, is actually a beautiful love story. It describes sexual acts between a husband and wife in poetic detail, showing how each one responds to the other. It expresses how honesty and understanding in sexual matters lead to a life of confident love together.

It’s true that sex is only one aspect of marriage. But as time goes by, one of you will likely value its importance more highly than the other. As a result of this, the nature of your oneness as man and wife will feel threatened and endangered.

Again, the biblical foundations of marriage were originally expressed in the creation of Adam and Eve. She was made to be “a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). The unity of their relationship and physical bodies was so strong, they were said to become “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

This same oneness is a hallmark of every marriage. In the act of romance, we join our hearts to each other an expression of love that no other form of communication can match. That’s why “the marriage bed is to be undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4). We are not to share this same experience with anyone else.

But we are weak. And when this legitimate need goes unmet – when it’s treated as being selfish and demanding by the other – our hearts are subject to being drawn away from marriage, tempted to fulfill this longing somewhere else, some other way.

To counteract this tendency, God established marriage with a “one flesh” mentality. “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” (1 Corinthians 7:4).

Sex is not to be used as a bargaining chip. It is not something God allows us to withhold without consequence. Though there can be abuses to this divinely designed framework, the heart of marriage is one of giving ourselves to each other to meet the other’s needs.

Sex is one God-given opportunity to do that.

So “stop depriving one another,” the Bible warns, “except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of you lack of self-control” (1 Corinthians 7:5).

You are the one person called and designated by God to meet your spouse’s sexual needs. If you allow distance to grow between you in this area, if you allow staleness to set in, you are taking something that rightly (and exclusively) belongs to your spouse. If you let your mate know – by words, actions, or inactions – that sex needn’t be any more than you want it to be, you rob from them a sense of honor and endearment that has been set in place by biblical mandate. You violate the “one flesh” unity of marriage.

So whether you perceive yourself as being on the deprived end, or you would admit that you are the one depriving the other, know that God’s plan for you is to meet in the middle and come to a place of agreement. But also know that the path to getting there will not be accomplished by sulking, arguing or demanding. Love is the only way to reestablish loving union between each other. All the things the Love Dare entails – patience, kindness, selflessness, thoughtfulness, protection, honor, forgiveness – will play a role in renewing your sexual intimacy. When the love of Christ is the foundation of your marriage, the strength of your friendship and sexual relationship can be enjoyed at a level this world can never know.

“You have been bought with a price,” God has declared (1 Corinthians 6:20). He set His affections on you and went to every length to draw you into desiring Him. Now it is your turn to pay the loving price to win the heart of your mate. When you do, you will enjoy the pure delight that flows when sex is done for all the right reasons. And as if that’s not enough, you will also have the opportunity to “glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20). How beautiful.

Today’s Dare: If at all possible, try to initiate sex with your husband or wife today. Do this in a way that honors what your spouse has told you (or implied to you) about what they need from you sexually. Ask God to make this enjoyable for both of you as well as a path to greater intimacy.

"How beautiful and delightful you are, my love." - Song of Solomon 7:6

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group.

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