This is the final chapter review for The Meaning Of Marriage – Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Timothy Keller. I have really enjoyed this book and the depth that is exposed regarding marriage and singleness according to God’s Word. I highly recommend that this book be on everyone’s bookshelf!
Also, if you want to catch a glimpse of some of the chewy morsels from this book, please check out the other chapter reviews! You can easily navigate to them via the buttons at the bottom of this page!
Chapter 8 – Sex and Marriage
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” – Ephesians 5:31
Keller opens with this verse for this chapter on sex because it is the foundation of how God designed the sexual relationship to be – between a husband and his wife, where the intimate act of sex unites them as one flesh. It is a beautiful depiction of independence of other relationships such as parents and an interdependency on another, a spouse.
Light is shed on the different perspectives culture has had on sex throughout history, ranging from a natural appetite to an evil deed necessary to continue the human race. Keller explains that yes sex is a natural appetite, yet not in the same category as one’s need for food or sleep. Because we are sinful beings, our view of sex can be distorted, especially when our sinful hearts desire sex for selfish reasons.
“Sex affects our heart, our inward being, not just our body. Sin, which is first and foremost a disorder of the heart, therefore has a big impact on sex.” (220)
Our natural appetite for sex needs guidance, which is why the Bible puts rules around it. Such as found in Hebrews 13:4
“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”
He also mentions that the Biblical attitude towards sex has largely been seen as that necessary evil, which is very unfortunate. A negative attitude towards sex really hinders the ability to enjoy the beauty of intimacy God designed for a husband and wife to experience. There are plenty of verses in the Bible that reveal God’s great design for sex to be enjoyed and not seen as dirty, including 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, Proverbs 5:19, and the book of Song of Solomon.
Sex is a unique way to rekindle the covenant you made to your spouse, especially as time goes on.
“Indeed, sex is perhaps the most powerful God-created way to help you give your entire self to another human being. Sex is God’s appointed way for two people to reciprocally say to one another, “I belong completely, permanently, and exclusively to you.” You must not use sex to say anything less.” (225-224)
When I read this my heart stirred inside my chest. I thought to myself that if I have this attitude or perspective of sex, my marriage will blossom from the experience of true sexual intimacy. I was challenged and I desire to be a wife that doesn’t use sex to say anything less!
There is an important value of sexual satisfaction in marriage. Paul gives us a positive view of sex in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 that a husband and wife have a marital duty to fulfill, that their bodies belong to each other, and that they should avoid denying each other unless by mutual consent. Paul is revealing to husbands and wives that mutual, satisfying sex in marriage is an vital part of life shared together.
Keller elaborates on 1 Corinthians 7 sharing how it is a practical resource for marriage that a husband and wife should be concerned not with getting sexual pleasure from their spouse, but by giving it! We need to be willing to give sex as a gift.
I am so glad that Keller also added that sex is a test in marriage. Meaning that because it is a seal of oneness in marriage, it should be no surprise that couples may experience problems that show up in the bedroom. If sex is not working in your marriage, look below the surface, it may be a result of deeper issues that need to be addressed and resolved before sexual intimacy improves. Also, things change over time, such as job security, children, and age.
“If you don’t confront and adapt to these changes, they’ll erode your sex life.” (235)
In addition to expounding on sex and marriage, Keller takes time to address sex for singles, encouraging them that if they practice chastity they must first need the “spousal love” of Jesus in their life. Otherwise the temptation to feel deeply fulfilled will be difficult to resist. Connecting in a personal relationship with Jesus will help one maintain purity until marriage.
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