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There is a line of thinking that has ravaged our understanding of God's gift of sex. And as Christian wives, I cannot believe we've allowed it to perpetuate with so much devastation.
The line of thinking begins like this. In our society, sex outside of marriage has been heralded as more fun than marital sex. I would even go so far as to say that sex outside of marriage is accepted as more common than sex within marriage.
Within those casual contexts, the reality and relevance of sexual bonding is either downplayed or dismissed all together.
Call it "hooking up."
Call it "friends with benefits."
Call it whatever you want.
A deaf ear and heart have been turned to the spiritual, emotional and physical realities happening within those sexual scenarios.
Even in supposed committed non-marital relationships where sex is happening, we rationalize that indeed the sex itself has not really upped the ante.
This is why we see people go from relationship to relationship, even having some long-term relationships, but if sex was a variable in the first one, it is highly likely it will be a component of the next.
Sex is reduced to a "given" in those non-marital relationships, with complete disregard to how it all is going to pan out when the relationship ends.
Stay with me, okay?
Here's where the irony arrives on the scene.
In a casual context -- or even in an actual relationship that includes sex but no ring -- we try to convince ourselves that sex is "no big deal."
But then, when the man and woman part ways, one or both of them intuitively sense a pain that likely would not have been there had they not bonded sexually.
When two people have sex, there is indeed a bond that happens. I could give you the biology and theology behind all that, but I'll spare you the lengthy discourse.
And anyway, if we just apply some common sense to this, we clearly see the writing on the wall that sex indeed stands apart in the ways it affects a relationship.
A couple can offer up dozens of other expressions of affection, but once sexual intimacy (intercourse, oral sex, intense hand wandering) has arrived on the scene, the ball game has changed completely.
Ready for some more irony?
If we know this to be true, then why on earth would any married Christian, woman or man, be so quick to overlook the necessary and powerful positive role that sex plays in a marriage?
Sexual bonding is happening whether a couple is married or not.
It's just that within a marriage, when held with valuable esteem, sex leads to bonding that produces so many tangible and intangible benefits, we couldn't count them if we tried.
Outside of marriage, the bonding leads to devastation, heartache, remorse, doubt.
I cringe every time I get an email (usually from a husband), heartbreakingly sharing with me that they haven't had sex within their marriage for numerous months or even years (or even decades, sadly).
And if I have one more wife tell me that her marriage is "so much better since they stopped having sex," I think I will become physically ill.
I speak so adamantly about this topic because I have my own painful story about a husband walking out the door. And while I recognize that each marriage has its own complexities and idiosyncrasies, I also know that God is clear about this whole sex issue.
I and so many other bloggers who I dearly respect speak out loud about the very issues that are wreaking horrendous havoc behind closed doors.
Because the need is there.
What is it going to take for us as a body of believers to right the ship on this whole issue of sexual intimacy?
Christian married couples should be the biggest champions for sex, to the point that we should have generations of young people who eagerly anticipate the sexual ecstasy they will experience in their marriage.
But what have so many young Christians heard from their parents, grandparents, elders and mentors?
Messages that paint sex as obligatory at best and downright gross at worse.
I understand why we emphasize abstinence to young people, but in some homes and churches and circumstances, that message has been delivered in such a way that it has resulted in such a detrimental and lackadaisical portrait of sex.
How dare we as Christians be so careless with something God designed to bond a husband and wife in indescribable ways.
Is it no wonder that Satan capitalizes on this?
Is it no wonder that in our mainstream entertainment, sex within marriage is fodder for comedy or is portrayed as so incredibly boring and routine, that its appeal far misses the mark of what God had in mind when he designed sex in the first place?
Is it no wonder that our young people have been sold a bill of goods when they adopt society's standards on sex?
What you must know about sexual bonding is that God knew exactly what he was doing.
Orgasm, vulnerability, nakedness and sexual wholeness between two people who have stood before Him and vowed that they are now one -- that was all His handiwork.
What you must know about sexual bonding is that if sexual intimacy is not being nurtured in your marriage -- and if you are part or all of the reason it is not being nurtured -- your marriage is not all God intended it to be.
Just for the record, I'm not talking about marriages that are experiencing illnesses or injury that make actual sexual connection difficult or impossible.
And I'm not talking about marriages that are in the process of trying to navigate and heal from adultery, porn addiction or abusive situations.
I'm talking about the vast majority of marriages where there is absolutely no valid excuse for sex to be put on hold, taken for granted, pushed to the wayside or endured with half-hearted obligation.
What you must know about sexual bonding is that God intended it for good.
But we must intentionally walk in that direction if we are ever to comprehend the depth of its significance.
I say "walk often" in that direction.
Let it become an integral aspect of your relationship; a reflection of His goodness and heart.
Copyright 2012, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.