Thanks to JT at Between Two Worlds for posting this 8 minute talk from David Powlison on Renewing Marital Intimacy. I appreciate his perspective that the way one treats their spouse is a reflection of how the person engages and relates to Jesus Christ. Challenging and helpful.
What follows is a reprint of an article I put together on God’s high view of marriage and sexual purity. I am reprinting it to make it available to some friends who have had questions in this area. It is long because it accesses quite a few passages from the Bible. While you may not agree with all this give it some consideration and explore the wisdom in it.
God’s vision for marriage established with Creation.
The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” …Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
Genesis 2:18, 22-25
God, through his gift of the Law, established boundaries for sexual intercourse to be within marriage between a man and woman.
If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife. If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins.
See various laws related to sex and marriage in Leviticus 19 and 20.
Jesus affirmed a high view of marriage.
“Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
Jesus’ first public miracle took place in the context of the social practice of making marriage a public event.
A wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” John 2:1-3
Jesus took issue with lust in the heart as the source of adultery.
You have heard it said, “Do not commit adultery.” But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
The teaching of the Apostles affirmed a high view of marriage within a variety of cultures and their social practices of it.
If anyone thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting along in years and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he want. He is not sinning. They should get married.
1 Corinthians 7:36
We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening. For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and that you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealously, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.
2 Corinthians 12:19-21
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For once you were darkness, but you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them…Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise…
“For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as our does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. Finally, brothers we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that each of you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know god; and that in this matter now one would wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who give you his Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:8
When the Church in Ephesus had experienced a catastrophic leadership crisis, Paul instructed Timothy to limit leadership within the church to those who were displaying God’s ideals in marriage.
If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?
1 Timothy 3:5
The writer of Hebrews exhorts all people to honour marriage and pursue sexual purity.
Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.