Intimacy – a sacrament…

I had a really funny post planned about how if you’re truly intimate, you’d allow your spouse to read your blogs.  Ha, I must admit that would make me nervous.  Because the longest distance often is the journey between your head and your heart, often what I blog about I battle to put into practice.  And that is because only Jesus can truly change our hearts and our minds – we have to be connected to the vine and I do worry that my husband will focus more on the fact that I haven’t arrived at the destination, and not notice how far I have come along in the journey.  Maybe, just maybe, my expectation is too low?  Perhaps he will surprise me.  But, I find I am far freer to express myself in my blogs, than verbally – and him reading my blogs will be another way that I can no longer hide myself.

Then I came across a post by Dr Juli Slattery asking the question, “Is Sexual Intimacy a Sacrament“.

That kinda stopped me short.

Because Dr Juli Slattery starts off by stating that a lot of married couples consider their sex lives to be optional.  Well, yeah…  Kids need to be fed, the house needs to be cleaned, I can talk to my husband – but sex?  We can do it next week, or the week after next – surely it is optional?

This has been my thinking for much of my married life – and it has had its consequences, eventually resulting in my husband drawing a line in the sand and saying no more.  That was a huge wake up call for me.  Although I had never been pro-active in the sexual arena of our marriage, the thought of never making love to my husband scared the living daylights out of me.  I couldn’t see it, I couldn’t imagine it, I didn’t want it.  I wanted to make love to my husband – and since then, I have begun to realise just how important this is to a marriage.  I am still growing and learning in this area, but one of the things that really jarred me was my husband saying to me that he didn’t think I cared about him or our marriage anymore?  Say what????  Because I didn’t have sex as often (okay, sometimes very rarely) as he’d like?

But, you see, sex is important to a marriage – in some relationships, it is the ONLY aspect that differentiates that relationship from any other.  (Thanks Dr Phil…)

A lot of married couples consider their sexual relationship as an optional addition to the true substance of marriage, doing life together.  In the hectic pace of managing careers, raising children, and helping others, getting naked together can seem like a nice perk on those rare occasions when you have extra time and energy.  A marriage cannot thrive without good communication, but a great sex life isn’t necessary, is it?  Reference: Dr Juli Slattery

And that is exactly how I thought.  In fact, I have since learnt that it is the devil’s ploy: make single women think they can’t live with out, make married women think that they can.

I am making a concerted effort to be more intimate with my husband – for many reasons: because it is good for me, it is good for him, it is good for our marriage, and because God ordains it.

Our sexuality was created to be an external expression of our volitional relational and spiritual choices.  Every sexual choice is also a spiritual choice.  Paul taught this most clearly in I Corinthians 6:15-20: Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ?  Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute?   Never!  And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her?  For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.”  But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.  Reference: Dr Juli Slattery

I am finally starting to understand that having sex with my husband creates spiritual and emotional ties and bonds that we can’t quite understand or articulate, but those ties and bonds are what strengthen the marriage and the relationship to withstand the test of time and to glorify God who ordained marriage in the first place.

And if you look at the requirements of a sacrament then sex within the context of marriage fits the criteria quite appropriately.

St Augustine, in the 5th century described a sacrament as ‘an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace.’  Reference here.

If God has blessed me with marriage and my husband, and has saved my heart and my soul, what better way to celebrate that union than with sexual intimacy with my husband?

In some ways, you can think of sexual intimacy as a spiritual sacrament.  I use the word “sacrament” cautiously because some Christian traditions would take offense at the suggestion.  However, here is the definition of a sacrament: “a Christian rite (as baptism or the Eucharist) that is believed to have been ordained by Christ and that is held to be a means of divine grace or to be a sign or symbol of a spiritual reality.”  As cited here in the definition, the two most familiar sacraments are baptism and communion.  In baptism, we are physically washed with water as an outward indication of our spiritual cleansing through the blood of Jesus.  In communion, we physically eat and drink to remember the body of Jesus broken and His blood spilled for us.  In a similar vein, when I physically give my body to my husband and he gives his to me, we do so as a celebration and reminder of what we are doing with the rest of our lives.  Sexual intimacy is an outward symbol of the mind and heart commitment of our vows.  Sexual intimacy in marriage is not only important to ward off temptation, but is a dynamic expression of the mystery of the marriage covenant.  This is why God is so adamant that the “marriage honored by all and the marriage bed be kept pure” (Hebrews 13:4).  Reference: Dr Juli Slattery (emphasis mine)

I honestly am starting to see God cheering us on when we’re getting intimate – it’s almost like I can hear Him saying, “Yes, this is it – this is the grace that I have created you for.  These are the blessings I am bestowing on you.”  Before, I used to be covered in shame and guilt.  Now, I am starting to celebrate that I can, will and do have sex with my husband – and I can like it! 😉











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