The act of marriage. Maybe you’ve heard sex referred to that way, maybe not. We want to take a moment to explain what we believe that phrase means. Sex is not just a physical action, it’s also deeply emotional & spiritual. When a couple chooses to join their bodies in physical intimacy they are coming together at the deepest possible level. Two entwined bodies, not knowing where one ends and one begins, is deeply personal, intimate and vulnerable.
Personal – What happens to our bodies happens to every part of us. We can no easier separate our bodies from our mind, emotions or spirit than we can take the oxygen out of the air. When sex is used as an impersonal thing, as bodies just doing what bodies do, it is dangerous. God designed sex to be so much more than physical bodies in action. And when sex in marriage is nothing more than going through the motions, that marriage is robbed of the beauty of personal growth and marital strength. So how can one make sex more personal in marriage?
- Be intentional to think about sex. When you spend time thinking about sex you become more involved with the emotions attached to sex. You become more aware of your spouse and you can fall more in love with the one you are intimate with.
- Use words and sounds to communicate during love making. Silence during sex is not wrong, but if you need to be reminded that you are personally involved, that it’s not just something that is happening, then be encouraged to make some noise. Say your spouses name, included the words “I love you”, speak, moan, laugh…whatever you feel comfortable with, but do something.
- Don’t shortcut the after glow of sex. Maybe you don’t spend 20 minutes in each others arms after each sexual encounter but if your intention is to make sex more personal don’t underestimate how what happens after the act can have as much impact as what happens during the act.
Intimate – Though closely associated with personal, the word intimate is not just about the individual but about the relationship to the other as well. Intimacy is built on faithfulness, familiarity, affection, closeness, love, confidentiality and devotion. When any of these characteristics are missing, intimacy will suffer. Working on the above relational character traits will increase the intimacy in your friendship with your spouse as well as the intimacy during your physical connection.
Vulnerable – To enter or be entered puts one in an incredibly vulnerable position. If someone is willing to make themselves available at that level physically, not having trust, honesty or commitment at the same time is foolishness. But great marital sex entails emotional vulnerability, too. While emotional vulnerability may not be easy or even natural, knowing that there exists a commitment from and for your spouse makes the possibility more accessible. Work together to reassure your spouse of your commitment to one another and allow your marriage to flourish through speaking the language of vulnerability.
So what do these three things have to do with sex being the act of marriage? When sex is personal, intimate and vulnerable, it’s as God designed. To come together with all of these aspects working in harmony creates an incredibly moving, powerful and artful experience. Marriages need strength, stability and courage in a world that is broken and marred. Sex as the acting out of these three aspects of marriage will help a marriage walk in strength rather than weakness, togetherness rather than discord, oneness rather than individuality. Sex truly can be the act of a strong marriage.
Discuss with your spouse:
1. Do you agree that sex is the act of a strong marriage? Explain.
2. What are three ways we can improve in these three areas (personal, intimacy, vulnerability) outside the bedroom?
3. Challenge: Each of you take the opportunity to write out a paragraph of what a God-designed marriage and/or God-designed sex life looks like. Compare notes when you’re finished, and then discuss what one thing you can do this week to better live this out.