The Sex Life of Marriage (The Meaning of Marriage Chapter 8)

How are Christians to view married sex? Because most of the time the world sees married sex as boring, mundane, and ho-hum. But Christians are called to see married sex as the greatest expression of the unity that God designed for us.
Keller says, “Sex is glorious.” Then he says, “Sex between a man and a woman can be a sort of embodied out-of-body experience. It’s the most ecstatic, breathtaking, daring, scarcely-to-be-imagined look at the glory that is our future.”
God calls marriage a unity in which two become one. The idea of two becoming one is so important it is brought up by God in the book of Genesis. And then Jesus quotes it. And then so does Paul in Ephesians 5:31, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”
What does it mean? Keller says, “Marriage is a union between two people so profound that they virtually become a new, single person…To call marriage ‘one flesh’ means sex is understood as both a sign of that personal, legal union and a means to accomplish it.”
Sex is a core piece of that ‘one flesh.’ It is an exclusive intimacy that we share with no one else and binds our unity together. This is why Keller says, “The Bible says don’t unite with someone physically unless you are also willing to unite with someone personally, socially, economically, and legally.” Sex is the Christian’s way of saying to each other, “I belong completely, permanently, and exclusively to you.”
So, when the world thinks we think sex is wrong, or sinful, or terrible. We don’t. We like sex. In fact, we like sex so much and have such a high view of it, we don’t wasn’t to turn it into something cheap. As Keller says, “The Bible does not counsel sexual abstinence before marriage because it has a low view of sex but because it has such a lofty one.”
Sex is important to marriage and the Bible tells us to “enjoy sex and do so frequently.” In fact, Keller rightly compares married sex to “oil in an engine – without it, the friction between all the moving parts will burn out the motor. Without joyful, loving sex, the friction in marriage will bring about anger, resentment, hardness, and disappointment.”
Still, some might read this and think, ‘Sex is not such a great thing for my marriage.’ I’ve talked to enough couples to know sex is sometimes a struggle rather than something that unifies. Sex such an important and intense experience that if your relationship is struggling, your sex life will struggle. And if your sex life is struggling, your relationship will struggle.
In order for sex to be that great and powerful glue in our relationship we have to embrace the whole concept of the erotic. What is erotic love? It is desire and passion for the other. It springs from longing, not just of the body, but of the whole person who has grabbed our attention and pulled us toward them. It is the commitment to keep alive the mystery of the other while fighting to keep the routines, obligations, and mundane from slowly undermining the fascination and joy that comes with being together.

So, what does Keller conclude, “Never give up working on your sex life.” Sex has so much potential to bring joy, excitement and value to a relationship. And anything that powerful is worth the effort. If we are going to do it, let’s do it right.


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