Years ago a friend named John met with a group of young men. He was the only married man at the time, and the rest were dabbling with pornography. In a moment of brutal honesty, one of them said to John, “I just don’t understand how you can have sex with the same woman all the time. That seems boring.”
Without hesitation, John said with a straight face, “I don’t have sex with the same woman all the time.”
Their silent stares begged for explanation.
John explained that his wife was not the same woman he married. She was always growing and changing as a woman, and he was always growing and changing as a man. They were not the same people they were when they got married, and neither was their sexual intimacy. Like a fine wine, they and their intimacy had matured over time. Sex was not always filled with flames of passion — but that’s not all sex is intended to be.
Sex Strengthens with Time
God created sex to be a bond between a husband and wife that strengthens over time. Married couples make love on their honeymoon and after a miscarriage. They make love to conceive children and after they bury them. They make love when bodies are healthy and during battles against cancer. As a husband and wife pursue each other through intimate service, sacrifice, and struggle, God blesses them in a way the world can never know.
John explained to his friends that by continually neglecting God’s good design for sex, they were settling for flashes of sinful passion instead of the valuable white-hot coals of enduring intimacy. God designed sex to be best enjoyed when it is based on something other than appearance or performance. He bases it on committed love that reflects the unending love he has for all those who trust in Christ.
The world portrays pleasure as flash-in-the-pan passion that moves from lover to lover and fantasy to fantasy. But does this sort of pleasure really fulfill? Or does it actually deepen our discontentment? Who clicks on one pornographic picture and stops, satisfied? Who fantasizes for a few seconds and stops, satisfied? The offering of worldly pleasure can’t satisfy a heart that was created for a deeper, lasting pleasure.
Sin provides the sort of pleasure a parched man feels when he sees a mirage of water. He feels a thrill of hope, yet in the end, disappointment only amplifies the emptiness.
Pursuit of Pleasure
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.
God uses vivid imagery to communicate that he intends husbands and wives to deeply enjoy intimacy with each other. Sex is a good gift from a good God who delights in our joy.
That doesn’t mean sex is always enjoyable or easy for married couples. Because marriage is the union of an ever-changing and ever-growing pair of fallen people, we can expect that sexual intimacy to have both sweet and sour days and seasons. That is part of God’s wise design.
He has called a man and a woman to be committed to each other and to make love with each other during every season of life. Lovemaking on a honeymoon may be wonderful or awful. Intimate times are shared when buying a new house or burying a parent. It is pursued when God gives conception, and when he withholds it.
God Is Better Than Sex
God ordains lovemaking for couples when we are richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, when life is better or worse — until death do us part — because it reflects his enduring love for us.
We discover a depth of pleasure when we laugh and cry and pray and trust and weep and mourn and hope together. Lovemaking is more than just erotic pleasure; it is a soul-knitting intimacy that deepens with time. God designed this soul-level intimacy to reflect the deep, intimate, committed, faithful, servant-hearted commitment between Jesus and his bride, the church.
The goal of sex isn’t ultimately just enjoying your spouse, but it is enjoying God as the giver of good gifts. God is better than the best sex. We know this because for all of eternity we will live in a new heaven and new earth better than this one, a world in which we will not experience marriage or sex as we do now, but we will have a better and lasting pleasure with God (Matthew 22:30; Revelation 21–22).
To the Married
1. Trust God when intimacy is absent.
At times, sexual intimacy may seem stagnant or nonexistent. Do not give up. Pray together. Press past the awkwardness and pain. Confess bitterness. Plead for God to help you.