God gave sex as a gift. The problem is that as sinful people in a fallen world, we have the potential to ruin anything good God gives us. Let’s take a look at three of the most common threats to healthy intimacy in marriage.
1. Intimacy in Marriage Is Threatened by Selfish Attitudes
Husbands and wives should be committed to satisfying each other, but Scripture must also be balanced in light of other Scripture. If 1 Corinthians 7 were the only passage considered, people could demand their spouses satisfy their desires regardless of the way the other person feels. But other verses command love, gentleness, compassion, and deference in the marriage relationship. While it would be unhealthy, and even sinful to deprive our spouses for selfish reasons, it can also be equally unhealthy and sinful to be demanding or insensitive toward our spouses.
Although Paul listed fasting and prayer as possible reasons for abstinence, common sense and simple consideration dictate there are other acceptable reasons—sickness, pregnancy, or grief. When people are suffering or struggling, they might find intimacy very unattractive. God wants sex to be enjoyable for both individuals. Selfish and unkind attitudes threaten the joy and pleasure God desires for couples.
2. Intimacy in Marriage Is Threatened by Mismatched Desires
Intimacy in marriage is not a neglected topic in Scripture. It is discussed a number of times in the Old and New Testaments, and one entire book—Song of Solomon—is dedicated largely to the topic. When God’s Word makes something important, Christians have a responsibility to make it important as well by learning what Scripture teaches on the subject. If Christians don’t do this, they are likely to gain their understanding from secular society, which has a perverse view of sexuality.
1. Intimacy in Marriage Is Blessed by God
Just as the devil has been successful in encouraging intimacy outside of marriage, he has been equally successful in discouraging intimacy within marriage. I once counseled a man in his fifties who was addicted to pornography. I mention his age only because pornography might be more typically considered a struggle for young, single men. In reality it can enslave men—and women as well—of any age, in any season of life.
The man’s actions were absolutely sinful; there is no minimizing the wickedness of his behavior. With that said, after months of counseling it became apparent that one reason for his addiction was a wrong view of intimacy. His mother had convinced him at a young age that sex was filthy, and he had never been able to rid himself of that belief. He told me: “I look at porn, because at least then I am not involving my wife in a dirty activity.” Though I tried to convince him otherwise, it was very difficult for him to shake his mother’s teaching, even though Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” Continue reading “A Biblical View of Intimacy in Marriage (and Abstinence)”→
Lesson 1: Husbands love their wives by ______________ them with the ________ (Ephesians 5:26; John 15:3, 17:17).
Lesson 2: Husbands love their wives by setting the ________________ for ________________ in the home.
Lesson 3: Husbands get the wives they ______________ for __________________ (Ephesians 5:27; Galatians 5:19–23, 6:7).
Lesson 4: Husbands love their wives by __________ as ___________________ about them as they are about themselves (Ephesians 5:28–29; Genesis 2:23–24).
Lesson 5: (Part I) Wives must feel like the ______________ ______________________ in their husband’s life, (Part II) which can take ____________________ ________________ things from the husband’s life (Ephesians5:31; Matthew 5:29, 18:9).
Lesson 6: Think of how Jesus loved ______ __________ (Matthew 13:44–46; Romans 3:11; Hebrews 12:2).
Husband asks wife:
Do you feel like I love you? What do I do that makes you feel loved? What do I do that makes you feel unloved?
Do you feel like I take care of you as well as I take care of myself?
Do you feel like the supreme relationship in my life?
Wife asks husband:
What do I do that makes it easy to love me? What do I do that makes it hard to love me?
Do we have anything in our home that should be removed, because it is threatening our holiness?
What fruit of the Spirit or works of the flesh do you see in me that characterize my life?
An Old Testament Example that Encourages us to Prepare for Trials
Unfortunately, sometimes people read the Old Testament and think, “What does this have to do with me? How can I learn from people whose lives are so different from mine?” The New Testament states the Old Testament provides us with examples:
Romans 15:4a—“For whatever things were written [in the Old Testament] were written for our learning.”
1 Corinthians 10:11a—“Now all these things happened to [the Israelites] as examples, and they were written for our admonition.”
Asa was one of the good kings in the Old Testament, and he reveals how (and when) to prepare for trials. Early in his reign, God gave him peace. What did he do during this restful time? He built! Part of 2 Chronicles 14:5–7 records:
The kingdom was quiet under [Asa]. And he built fortified cities in Judah, for the land had rest; he had no war in those years, because the Lord had given him rest. Therefore he said to Judah, “Let us build these cities and make walls around them, and towers, gates, and bars, while the land is yet before us, because we have sought the Lord our God; we have sought Him, and He has given us rest on every side.” So they built and prospered.
Like Asa, we should prepare during peaceful times. While Asa strengthened his nation physically, we should strengthen ourselves spiritually. Pray and read the Word regularly. Serve the body of Christ. We do not serve others so they will serve us. We serve others because we want to serve Christ, but one blessing often produced is brothers and sisters who will “weep with [us when we] weep” and “suffer with [us]” when we suffer (Romans 12:15b, 1 Corinthians 12:26a). I have seen people enter trials and become frustrated that nobody was there for them, but in many of those cases they were not there for others who were “weeping” and “suffering.” Continue reading “The Need to Prepare for Trials”→
Recently, I witnessed a sobering example of the need to expect trials.
My wife, Katie, and I grew up together in northern California. We lost touch after high school and then reconnected almost ten years later. At the time, Katie was living in our hometown of McArthur, California, but I was seven hours south in Lemoore, California. Some wonderful friends of mine, Pat and Kathy Mundy, graciously invited Katie to live with them so we could be near each other, even though they did not know her yet. The four of us became close. They performed our pre-marital counseling and made the trip north for our wedding. Seven years ago, Katie and I moved from Lemoore to Woodland, Washington. Although the distance changed our relationship with Pat and Kathy, we remained friends.
A few years ago, Pat retired from the police department, and he and Kathy looked forward to investing in their grandkids, traveling, and serving their church. Then everything changed. Kathy got sick, and a hospital visit revealed an aggressive form of cancer. The “golden years” have been replaced with doctor appointments and multiple rounds of chemotherapy. Nothing slowed the disease, and in a last attempt, they moved to Seattle for an experimental treatment. A few weeks ago, on their way north, they surprised us and stopped by our house to visit. Continue reading “Expect Trials in this Life”→
Unfortunately, Halloween comes to mind when many people think of October 31st. This date actually looks back on one of the most dramatic moments in church history. On this day in 1517 Martin Luther nailed his list of grievances against the Catholic Church to the door of a chapel in Wittenberg, Germany. These Ninety-Five Theses became the catalyst for the Reformation, which produced the Five Solas.
Martin Luther spoke one of my favorite quotes when the Catholic Church threatened to excommunicate him. He said:
Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the Popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.
The Catholic Church was unable to defend their false teaching with Scripture or respond to Luther’s criticisms. On May 25, 1521 Luther was declared an outlaw and his literature was banned. The Catholic Church said, “We want him to be apprehended and punished as a notorious heretic.”It was a crime for anyone in Germany to give him food or shelter.
Jesus said, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). It’s hard to argue there are more significant fulfillments of this promise than the victory God produced through Martin Luther. When October 31st rolls around each year we would do well to think not of Halloween, but of the Reformation and the Five Solas.
In honor of the Reformation I want to provide a brief summary of each of the Five Solas…