When we started mapping out a book on marriage, we knew we wanted to speak to the issues entangled with sex. We thought about writing a chapter that was three lines long:

You need to do it. Often. In a way you both enjoy it. Immensely.
If this isn't the case, then you need to deal with why it isn't.
'Cause you need to do it. Often. In a way you both enjoy it. Immensely.

We were only partly joking, but why the need to make jokes? What are we all so nervous about? Genesis says, "Now, although Adam and his wife were both naked, neither of them felt any shame" (2:25). Wow. There is an abandon being described there, a freedom with their bodies, with each other's body, with their sexuality and their selves. What if we could get back to that?

It comes as a surprise to folks unfamiliar with the Bible how much God talks about sex, and with such, shall we say, enthusiasm. The stern commands are only part of the picture, given not in the spirit of "It really would be best if you simply stayed away," but more like the final briefing before new recruits go skydiving. The commands are all protection; they come from an appreciation of how wild and powerful sex is, how dangerous these skies can be, and how glorious.

God has created the human form and the human heart to experience passion and ecstasy when we are fully loving one another—transcendent, earthy, tempestuous. It is a gift he intended us to enjoy. Often. This ought to change your view of God—he is intense about pleasure! At the center of the Song of Songs, as the two lovers are really going at it full throttle, God speaks, and what he says is this: “Drink your fill, O lovers” (Song of Songs 5:1). Drink your fill. Let’s see if we can find our way back into that.

You can have sex outside of marriage, as any teenager knows. You can experience orgasm and ecstasy outside marriage. For a time. But marriage is the sanctuary God created for sex, and only there, in the refuge of covenantal love, will you find sex at its best. For a lifetime.

The coming together of two bodies in the sensual fireworks of sex is meant to be a consummating act, the climactic event of two hearts and souls that have already been coming together outside the bedroom and can’t wait to complete the intimacy as deeply as they possibly can.

Sex when there is love is the best sex of all. Giving sex without love borders on prostitution. Demanding sex without love is abuse. We are talking about the intertwining of two hearts as their bodies become one. The more you have that in mind, the better things will go.

I (John) have counseled many married women who have told me, “I’ll give him my body. But not my soul.” The reason being that “he” has not won the right to enter her soul, and I would argue he has therefore not won the right to enter her body.

When a woman opens herself up for her man, it is an act of stunning vulnerability. This kind of inviting openness can only be won through love and trust. God thus builds into the sexual mystery an insistence upon love and trust outside of bed. How true to his character; it does not work to come to God for the “goodies”—answered prayers, blessings of whatever sort—apart from a relationship with him. The treasures are for those who love him, and live like it.

So it is with a woman. While we are speaking of Eve, notice that God also creates her sexuality in such a way that she often—not always, but often—has a sexual crescendo that requires more time than her man’s. He is a stick of dynamite; she is a geyser. He has a short fuse and then wow; she builds and builds and then hallelujah. Why would God do this? Why introduce more frustration into an already tenuous and awkward environment? The stark contrast in our arousal and orgasm must have some design to it. This, too, is absolutely beautiful. There is no wham-bam-thank- you-ma’am allowed. What is God asking of a man when he creates Eve’s sexuality in such a way that Adam can’t just “do it”? There is a holding back for him—a wooing and loving and foreplay—so that she can be as fully enrapt as he wants to be.

How utterly lovely.

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