As we begin the journey of examining holy and healthy sex in marriage and we allow for our perspectives about sexual intimacy in marriage to be challenged, one of the key places to start is to study what was God’s true design and intent for sex. A healthy understanding of His design and intent is crucial to the healing of our minds and hearts around sexuality.
An understanding of His initial design gives us a platform by which to move safely and confidently towards holy and healthy sexual intimacy in marriage. You are probably familiar with two common understandings for God’s purpose for sex: procreation and pleasure. These are the most common reasons we often give for God’s purpose for sex. And they are valid and worthy reasons. However, within these general reasons lie, I believe, further tenets of God’s design and intention for sexual intimacy.
One of the prime tenets of sexuality and sexual intimacy is that He created you and me to be sexual. This was no mistake. You may feel at times like it was a mistake due to the difficulty we have in our sexual sin condition. But God was intentional when he created us to be sexual. Biblically we see evidence of this in two prime ways. First sexual oneness began as two. Two individuals: male and female. Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Not only was God intentional in designing us to be sexual but his fingerprint on this is found inherently in his design of male and female. We don’t have the space to go into a full anatomy lesson on the differences between men and women, I will trust you have some knowledge; we are made uniquely different by gender. But, He had in mind that sexual oneness would begin and end with two people uniquely designed to be connected.
Second, it is that connection that would ultimately be celebrated in sexual intimacy. We see this in Genesis 2:24 – “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” God’s idea of emotional, spiritual, and relational connection is captured in the sexual union. Not that the sexual union is the connection (though I often thought it was this way from my old, hyper-stimulated perspective) but rather that the relational oneness is ultimately celebrated in that physical union. This sexual union is further blessed by God for procreation in Genesis 1:28 – “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.’” There is no denying the sexual union was meant to occur and to be celebrated and enjoyed.
Another tenet of God’s design for sexual intimacy is that in that oneness we could be fully naked with our spouse. Genesis 2:25 – “The man and his wife were both naked.” The biblical translation refers literally to their physical nakedness. However, their nakedness also suggests other aspects of their connection. One aspect is that nakedness suggests sinlessness. Their sinlessness prior to the Fall allowed nothing to stand between them. Sin distorts how we see ourselves and others. They literally had no blemishes or flaws to hinder or impede their connection. Eve didn’t have to worry about that ugly mole on her belly or a slight deviation in her nose, and Adam didn’t have to worry about his love handles or his penis size and performance. Their sinlessness allowed for them to be naked and connect spiritually, emotionally and sexually without worry or fear. Boy, did they have it made! This is where the concept of oneness really takes its form. Oneness basically means to be fully known by our spouse in spite of our blemishes and flaws. To be fully known ultimately means to be naked.
Lastly there was no shame in sex. In Genesis 2:25 we see that not only were Adam and Eve one flesh and naked with one another, but they also felt no shame. Without flaws and blemishes due to sin they didn’t feel a sense of something being wrong with themselves and one another. They ultimately felt safe with one another and it felt right and good just the way God intended. They were equal and together and that left no room for shame. Sex was not created to be one-sided but rather an equal partnership in union. Unfortunately due to sin this is one of the shortfalls to healthy sexual intimacy. You can see it in the way a man may objectify or deify a woman, especially sexually. When we do this we do not put her as our equal nor do we then enter into a partnership where true intimacy in sexual intimacy can develop. Due to shame out of our sin we push one another away rather than accept and feel safe in that union.
As we walk along this journey of recovery and healing it is comforting to know God truly had a great plan in mind around our sexuality and sexual intimacy. Although we live and interact within a fallen state that includes sin leading to shame and isolation, we do have hope in experiencing God’s initial design for sexual intimacy because of Christ Jesus. We will look next at how sex is reclaimed in Jesus Christ setting the stage for healthy sexual intimacy in marriage.
by David Wever