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Intended for Pleasure
By Ed Wheat and Gaye Wheat
Fleming H. RevellCopyright © 1977 Fleming H. Revell
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIntended for Pleasure
Scores of people-many of them Christians-come to my office looking for a medical solution to their particular marriage problem. While as an M.D. I can do a great deal to help medically, often there is a greater need for me to first communicate biblical information that can heal wounds, restore relationships, and establish the right foundation for healthy attitudes toward sex in marriage.
Knowing and understanding what God says about any phase of life leads to wholeness in that area; nowhere is this more necessary than in the sexual realm, where negative attitudes have virtually destroyed marriage relationships.
I think of the man who was deeply disturbed when God and sex were mentioned in the same discussion. To him, sex was altogether separate from his Christian life. The sexual relationship was an unholy activity in his opinion and yet he continued it with deep guilt feelings, which tarnished the experience for both him and his wife. His misconceptions of God's view of sex resulted in a hurried physical act without tenderness or pleasure.
Then I think of the woman who has been married twenty-five years and is still not sure what an orgasm is or whether she has ever experienced one ... the husband and wife whose egos have been so wounded in the bedroom that they barely speak to each other ... the earnest Christian couple who have no serious problems but little joy in their sex relationship ... and many other troubled people whose marriages are filled with misery rather than pleasure.
God has so much to say to all these through His Word! As a Christian physician, it is my privilege to communicate an important message to unhappy couples with wrong attitudes and faulty approaches to sex. The message, in brief, is this: You have God's permission to enjoy sex within your marriage. He invented sex; He thought it up to begin with. You can learn to enjoy it, and, husbands, you can develop a thrilling, happy marriage with "the wife of your youth." If your marriage has been a civil-war battlefield or a dreary wasteland, instead of a lovers' trysting place, all that can change. You see, God has a perfect plan for marriage, which we may choose to step into at any time, and the mistakes of the past can be dealt with and left behind.
The ancient counsel given by father to son, based on the wisdom of God in Proverbs 5:18-19, comes across just as clearly to the reader of today: "Let your fountain [your body parts that produce life] be blessed, And rejoice [or ecstatically delight] with the wife of your youth.... Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; And always be enraptured [or filled] with her love" (NKJV).
It may surprise some of you to learn that the Bible speaks so openly, so joyously of sex in marriage. Almost every book of the Bible has something to say about sex, and Song of Solomon exquisitely depicts the love relationship in marriage. But Genesis, the book of beginnings, shows us most unforgettably what God has always thought about married love.
If we read the first three chapters of Genesis, where it is recorded that God created male and female, we find that "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Gen.1:31). Interestingly, the creation of light was "good," the creation of land and sea was "good," and, likewise, the creation of vegetation, of fish and birds and animals was also "good." But not until he had created man and woman did God call for our attention with "Behold, it was very good."
With so many "good" things in the Garden and on earth, only one thing was not good: "And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him" (Gen. 2:18 ). In those few words God taught us that for man there is no substitute, no alternative plan, no better companion than his wife. The void that was originally caused by taking "bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh" can be filled only by the presence of woman. Since a part of Adam went to make Eve, a man remains incomplete without his Eve.
God placed almost top priority on sexual union in marriage. We can see in the Genesis account that after God told man not to learn evil by experience (Gen. 2:17), His second teaching told man and woman how to relate in marriage: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Gen. 2:24). God had first divided the woman from the man when he made Eve. But now He commands them to be joined together again as one flesh. In this brief counseling session, even before any sin and its resulting selfishness had entered the human race, we find three basic commands:
First, when we marry, we should stop being dependent on our parents or our in-laws. We are to become completely dependent on our mates to satisfy all our needs. Second, the man is the one who is responsible for holding the marriage together by "cleaving" to his wife. Cleaving in this sense means to be welded inseparably, so that each becomes a part of the other. Therefore, the man is to be totally committed to his one wife.
Third, we are commanded to be joined together in sexual union, to be one flesh.
The ideal situation God intended for us is shown by the blissful words "they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed" (Gen. 2:25). Adam and Eve could see each other as they really were, without shame, disappointment, or frustration. The sex relationship God had designed for them brought the blessings of companionship, unity, and delight-and note that this was some time before the command to bear children was given (Gen. 3:16).
God's plan for our pleasure has never changed, and we realize this even more as we consider how we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Ps. 139:14). When we discover the many intricate details of our bodies that provide so many intense, wonderful physical sensations for husbands and wives to enjoy together, we can be sure that He intended us to experience full satisfaction in the marriage relationship.
Some have assumed that the sex act became an unholy practice when sin entered into the world. However, this is ruled out when we see that God's basic counsel on sex in the first chapters of Genesis was repeated by Jesus Christ to the religious leaders of His day: "But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; and [the two] shall be one flesh.... What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Mark 10:6-9; Matt. 19:5-6). Jesus reemphasized this to His disciples in Mark 10:10-11, and again we find these commands reinforced in Ephesians 5:31.
As a matter of fact, the sex relationship in marriage receives such emphasis in the Scriptures that we begin to see it was meant not only to be a wonderful, continuing experience for the husband and wife, but it was also intended to show us something even more wonderful about God and His relationship with us. Ephesians 5:31-32 spells it out: "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church." Thus the properly and lovingly executed and mutually satisfying sexual union is God's way of demonstrating to us a great spiritual truth. It speaks to us of the greatest love story ever told-of how Jesus Christ gave Himself for us and is intimately involved with and loves the Church (those who believe in Him). In this framework, the sexual relationship between two growing Christians can be intimate fellowship as well as delight.
This, of course, explains why the marriage union is the only way man and woman can truly enjoy the riches God has planned for them. Because the relationship is specifically designed to illustrate God's unending love for His people, sexual intercourse must be experienced in the context of a permanent, giving commitment. Anything less shortchanges those involved.
Some people have felt uncomfortable about sex because they somehow equate the sexual desire of men with the sexual drive of animals. They should remember that animals breed according to instinct, with biological motivation. But man uses reason in choosing to have sexual relations. He is the only creature that has intercourse as a whole person. Husband and wife are the only creatures capable of gaining spiritual unity and a deeper knowledge of each other through the sexual relationship. Let us realize how the bodies of men and women are designed. Even in the sex act itself we are reminded that this is a relationship of persons, not just bodies, for it is no coincidence that man is the only creature of God's creation who relates sexually face-to-face.
Scripture suggests that just as we can know God, so we can know our husband or wife in a deeper, higher, more intimate way through the physical act of marriage. Know is the term used in the Bible to define our relationship to God; it also is the term used to designate the intimate union of husband and wife. "Adam knew Eve" (Gen. 4:1). Mary, speaking of her pregnancy in light of her virginity, said, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" (Luke 1:34). Matthew 1:25 says that Joseph "knew her not" until after the birth of Christ. The sex relationship offers no more cherished pleasure than this knowing of the one you love. With the understanding that our marriage relationship portrays the truths of our relationship with God, we can become free as never before to fully express our love for our husband or wife through the dynamic opportunity of the sex act. God's viewpoint comes forth vigorously in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 where the husband and wife are told they actually defraud one another when they refuse to give physical pleasure and satisfaction to their mate. The only activity that is to break regular sexual relations is prayer and fasting for some specific cause, and this is to be only by mutual consent for a very limited time.
Although sin did enter the human race in the Garden and brought with it the possibility of perversion of every good thing (including sex), God's plan for His beloved creation has continued to operate through the provision of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ. By faith, people can choose God's way! It is true that our culture is saturated with sex distorted into lust, and desire has been twisted and deformed, until it appears as a beast running loose in the streets, destroying God-given boundaries. Nevertheless, our marriage bed is a holy place in the sight of God. We must be careful to maintain this viewpoint concerning sex in marriage, for it is God's. Hebrews 13:4 says, "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled." We need to treasure and share with our children these positive values God Himself teaches in Scripture concerning the love/sex relationship, always placing sex in marriage in an entirely different light from sex outside of marriage. Sex apart from marriage is spelled out as obviously wrong. Sex in marriage is wonderfully right. Let us never forget it!
I cannot begin to describe the dimensions of the marriage relationship as experienced by the Christian couple who have a total commitment to Jesus Christ and, flowing from that, a realization of their own security in spiritual and physical oneness; who have an excitement found only in each other, knowing this is for as long as they live. This genuine, total oneness and completeness somehow cannot be explained to the one who has not yet experienced it. When this kind of relationship exists, you will both want to praise our Lord many times and have communion with Him in prayer, each thanking Him for the other and the complete love you share.
Intended for pleasure-yes, in the fullest meaning of the word. And even then, language does not convey what God has prepared for us! When Sarah heard that she was going to become pregnant at ninety years of age, she laughed and then made this statement to herself: "After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?" (Gen. 18:12 NKJV). Sarah was given to us as an example of one of the most godly women (1 Peter 3:6), and one of her secret concerns was whether the sexual union between her and Abraham in their golden years would produce pleasurable feelings. It is God's will and design, both then and now, that the sexual experience for a man and woman in marriage produce wonderful feelings, for God intended sexual relations for our great pleasure.
Chapter Two[Finding God's Design
Many of you who are seeking sexual fulfillment in your marriage realize that mastery of physical techniques is only part of the answer. Despite the claims of some sex manuals, a couple cannot separate sex from the rest of the marriage, perfecting it and then isolating it, as it were, in an airtight compartment to be used when desired. Everything that happens in a marriage has its effect on the lovemaking experience.
Because all phases of the biblical plan for marriage must be in operation before we can fully enjoy the sexual union as God designed it, we need to have a clear understanding of His plan. Unfortunately most of us were not counseled in these matters before we married and so we stumbled through the first few years, at least, trying to find our way to happiness. As a family physician for almost four decades, I have observed that marriage with its tremendous significance often turns out to be the least-prepared-for event of life. Even as divorce takes on epidemic proportions, young couples continue to venture into marriage remarkably unprepared. Sometimes a brief meeting with the minister before the wedding, then an often elaborate ceremony, and the newlyweds are on their own, to hit or miss in their quest for happiness, while family and friends hope for the best.
I consider premarriage counseling an essential part of my responsibility as a family doctor. It is not only a preventive measure, protecting against family breakups, but it also can trigger a positive course of action that will bring pleasure and joy as the young couple learn to love in an enduring relationship.
The same basic principles that I discuss in premarriage counseling need to be underscored for every reader before we go on to the physical aspects of lovemaking. Although I usually share these with engaged couples, they will undoubtedly be of help to you whether you are a newlywed or celebrating your twenty-eighth wedding anniversary. Actually, very few couples are so advanced in wisdom and years that they could not profit from the following biblical principles.
Excerpted from Intended for Pleasure by Ed Wheat and Gaye Wheat Copyright © 1977 by Fleming H. Revell. Excerpted by permission.
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