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Today’s guest post comes from a pastor who has been married for 25 years and wanted to share that when we grow in our faith and discipleship, we are more apt to grow in our love and selflessness within our marriage — and that leads to greater intimacy!
Glean from his words what resonates with your marriage…
Of the three types of New Testament love (eros, philia, and agape), the most challenging and difficult is agape. That’s because agape is the kind of love that puts the needs of others first. It makes us submissive to the good of other people.
As husbands and wives grow in agape love, they become more godly spouses — and better lovers.
Worship leads to greater marital intimacy.
As we answer God’s call to worship Him as husband and wife, we strengthen the crucial bond between both spouses and God. The so-called “Holy Trinity of Marriage,” in which God is triangulated above and between the husband and wife, is reinforced each time we worship with the Body of Christ together.
Mature, agape-filled Christians soon learn that beyond the physical and emotional aspects of sex, there is a critical (and often undeveloped) spiritual element of sex that brings us closer to God, even as we are brought into full intimacy with our spouse. And because God designed each human being to seek and worship Him, sex becomes a place to go to spiritually, not just physically.
Learning to make our spouse more important than ourselves, and God more important than anything else, translates to deeper, more rewarding sex — not to mention the joys of Sunday afternoon snuggle time!
Giving leads to greater marital intimacy. Dr. Charles Stanley has pastored tens of thousands of married couples in his ministry. I once heard him say that in his entire ministry, not one marriage in which both spouses truly, honestly tithed (gave ten percent of their income to God’s ministry) had ever ended in divorce. Read that again. I’ll wait.
That’s because a couple who’s so developed in agape love that they make God’s Will most important of all also express outstanding agape love toward each other. That translates to really hot eros love, as well.
To disentangle from the world to the extent that we live on 90% of our income sets us free for God to bless us in all our other relationships, too, especially our marriage! My wife and I can attest to this truth!
Prayer leads to greater marital intimacy.
Mature Christians pray. That’s all there is to it. But HOW do we pray? For WHAT do we pray? My marriage deepened immediately when my wife and I began praying for, and with, each other. Daily. Out loud. It might seem awkward for a while, but it’s totally worth it.
And how might God respond to His children who are actively seeking to grow in agape love by praying for more openness and vulnerability during sex or more tenderness and patience? As we pray for our spouse, our marriage, and our marriage bed (gasp!), God delights in seeing His children trying to “outdo each other in (agape) love!”
It’s NOT a “50-50” Proposition!
Whose bright idea was it to demote God’s Holy Covenant of Marriage to the level of a joint business venture? Here’s the problem with that analogy. Let’s say a husband and wife enter marriage erroneously thinking it will succeed if each of them contributes 50% to the marriage. So one day, the man is having a bad day, and he decides his wife isn’t giving her full 50%. The natural reaction for a man (trust me on this one) is to say to ourselves as we’re cutting the grass, “Well, if she’s not going to put in HER 50%, I CERTAINLY am not going to put in MY 50%!”
Soon he’s giving maybe 30%. The wife picks up on this and decides, “Well, if he’s not giving HIS 50%, then I’m going to give less, too!” Pretty soon, neither spouse is giving ANYTHING, and the marriage is dead-spiritually, if not legally.
However, when the husband and wife try to “outdo” each other in love (i.e., excelling in agape love!), they soon have a marriage that honors God the Creator of the Covenant, which exists in joy in the living room, and which is ON FIRE in the bedroom!
On the other hand, when selfishness reigns in our hearts, it just creates discord. Watch the children in the church nursery or the preschool. They’re often selfish. The only things they voluntarily share are germs and boogers. Sad thing is, we adults aren’t much better off! Every husband is selfish. So is every wife. Honestly, it’s just human nature. But that’s no excuse.
In “The African Queen,” Charlie tries to justify his love for Gordon’s Gin to Rosie, the Methodist missionary. He tells her, “A man takes a drop too much once in a while, it’s only human nature!” Rosie shuts him down with the truth for her, for him, and for husbands and wives everywhere: “Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above.”
Want a marriage that rises above those of the neighbors? A marriage that beats the odds and the statistics? A marriage that sizzles between the sheets? Rise above as Disciples and see how God blesses your marriage. I dare you!
Copyright 2018, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.