Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Married for God - Chapter 4

This series was originally posted on In Tandem, a blog for ministry wives

Chapter 4: What is the point of sex & intimacy?

To understand the point of sex in a marriage, Ash thinks we need to be wary of 2 extremes.

1. Don’t have too high a view of sex. Then it really is “sex in the service of us”. The relationship becomes all about you and me and our fulfilment, it is what makes us whole and complete as a person.

This is a view espoused by society at large, and certainly forced upon us by the media. However, as Christians, we are often more likely to fall to the other end of extremes:

2. Don’t have too low a view of sex.
Christians tend to focus on the epidemic of sexual activity outside marriage, but I suspect we ought to devote at least equal attention to the epidemic of sexual inactivity within marriages… It is important to remember not only that the Bible forbids sex outside marriage, but that it commends sex within marriage (p71)
He goes on to say, while the expressions on intimate love may change with ages and stages of life:
At every age, the principle remains, that in marriage each owes his or her body to the other, to give the other all the love and intimacy of which they are capable. There will be times when this is sheer delight on both sides. But there will be times when, for one of you, this will be more of a costly giving, when, for whatever reason, you have little or no desire for sex. At these times especially it is important to remember that on your wedding day you committed yourself sexually to your wife or husband for life. Make space for it as marriage goes on; nurture it and nourish it in love. (p72)
Do you tend to have too high or too low a view of sex?

Is sex a priority in your marriage? Why or why not?

Ash goes on to talk about sex from an aspect I had not considered before:

The intimacy in our marriages should overflow in blessing to others.

He uses two ways to explains this:
  • God's love for his bride Israel overflows into blessing for the world
  • Marriages overflows into fruitfulness. Using the imagery in the Song of Songs and the garden, Ash claims that the springtime of love described, gives way to an autumn of fruitfulness. He also says that the love of the King for his bride, overflows into blessing for the people of the kingdom.
I must say I struggled with these descriptions a little. Not that I disagree with them per se, I just wasn’t entirely convinced of the reading of the texts. I would love to know what others thought about this section.

His conclusions to this section were:
Consider how your faithful love for another, fed and nourished through the delights of bodily intimacy, can overflow outwards to bring love and faithfulness to a needy world. Think about how, in partnership with one another, helping one another, your love can provide a centre of stable security; so that this safe home will be a refuge into which others can be welcomed. (p76).
We did. Our little group of 3 sat together and tried to figure out the link, because we couldn’t. How does sex in marriage lead to blessing to others? How does satisfying sex lead to welcoming strangers and being hospitable? The only way we could figure it out was by contentment. If you are satisfied with your sex life, are you likely to be more satisfied with each other and then more willing to be open and welcoming?

Do any readers out there have any ideas? How does a solid commitment to sex in marriage lead you to have an outward focused marriage that blesses others?

In the end, as Ash concludes, we need to have a proper view of sex:
When sex is put it its proper place, nether too important nor neglected, then it will thrive as it was designed to flourish, as sex in the service of God. (p77)


Jean said...

That's funny, Wendy, I had exactly the same reaction when I read this chapter! Excellent points, then he gets to the exegesis, which didn't really convince me.

On your discussion question: I think it probably works something like this. Sexual intimacy helps to build a strong relationship (it's not the only thing, but it's an important thing) which then is a strong base and partnership for loving, encouraging and welcoming others.

(One obvious way is that you can then go on to counsel other couples about sex and relationships - but I doubt that's what Ash had in mind!)


Wendy said...

Thanks Jean - glad I wasn't the only one out there! And on the question, I think you're right - the strength and contentment of a committed relationship, does enable you to look outwards. I definitely agree with your last point too (& also that it probably wasn't what he had in mind) - I suspect you can only talk with couples openly, honestly & postively about sex having experienced it in that way yourself. Thanks!