The Beatitudes in the Bedroom: Poor in Spirit

In the course of my life and as I’ve grown this ministry, I’ve become convinced of this truth: Whatever the Bible says about how we should be outside the bedroom applies to how we should be inside the bedroom as well.

Not only are there specific verses about marriage and sexuality in the Bible, but many principles can be applied to how we should treat our spouse when it comes to sexual intimacy in marriage.

Last week while I was at church camp (with 350 kids in the Texas Hill Country near San Antonio), we studied the Beatitudes all week. These statements of blessing are at the beginning of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and are found in Matthew 5:3-10:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

The word translated blessed is “makarios.” This Greek word has also been translated as “happy” but carries the meaning of “fortunate” or “favored.” It’s perhaps the equivalent of someone who wins the lotto or marries a terrific woman, and others say, “What a lucky guy!”

Although, of course, blessedness isn’t pure luck, but rather the gift of our Heavenly Father. With the Beatitudes, I believe He’s stating both a truth and a promise: You will be happier if you live according to My principles, and I will bless you with My favor.

Being me, I got to thinking about how the Beatitudes apply to our marriage beds. What does being poor in spirit or meek or merciful have to do with how we approach sexual intimacy? Do any of these principles apply to our sex lives? Or are the Beatitudes solely about spirituality?

Since I believe our spirituality seeps out into our physical lives, I think there is an application. God wants us to love and honor him with our whole selves (see Luke 10:27), which includes our physical bodies on earth.

Let’s take the first Beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

What does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? This is most often explained as the trait of humility; that is, understanding our spiritual poverty and need for God. The opposite, therefore, would be selfishness and arrogance.

How could “poor in spirit” apply to the marriage bed?

Someone who is selfish and arrogant might feel entitled to sexual pleasure, seek their own satisfaction, and/or blindly assert that they are great lovers, regardless of whether their mate is enjoying the experience. They justify their porn habit or sexual refusal or a myriad of other sins. Or perhaps they’re simply unwilling to discuss the problems that exist in the marriage, even blaming the other for miscommunication and dissatisfaction.

However, someone who is poor in spirit understands that he or she isn’t the be-all-end-all of the sexual experience. They recognize their flaws and need for improvement. They turn to God for help when things are tough, and accept help from their spouse when needed. They seek the best for their mate, not merely themselves. They pursue the spiritual health — and thus physical and emotional well-being — of their beloved.

Humility is among the toughest virtues to consistently pursue. Because we’re always looking at the world through own needs, desires, and perspective. We’re naturally selfish. And, as I’ve said more than once, if I didn’t believe my opinion to be 100% right, I wouldn’t have that opinion.

Humility requires a willingness to listen to your beloved and let go of your knee-jerk reaction to take care of your own needs. It doesn’t mean getting run over by your spouse (by no means!), but rather recognizing your own imperfections and submitting yourself to God.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

What a great promise. And a worthy goal for us to pursue in our marriage and marriage beds, starting right now.

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22 thoughts on “The Beatitudes in the Bedroom: Poor in Spirit

  1. J

    I love how you remind us that God’s Word can be applied to every area of our lives. And I have to admit, I really had no idea how you were going to spin this, but you did a nice job. Well done.

    Reply
  2. Keith

    Great job (as always!) of putting practical “feet” on theology, helping us to see what it means to walk the walk. If we Christians were able to do a better job of living out our faith, our marriages, families, churches, communities, and nations would be better off!

    Reply
  3. Holyterror

    [Billy Graham] observed that an agape love marriage was the best evangelistic tool at our disposal.

    Reply
  4. Eric Wiggin

    J wrote: “Humility is among the toughest virtues to consistently pursue. Because we’re always looking at the world through own needs, desires, and perspective.”
    A proud red struts across my computer’s desktop, leading five downy babies. She sat on the eggs for three weeks and hatched them, so they are “hers.” But Ms. Hen didn’t lay these eggs–her cute babies are ducklings. When they reach a puddle or pond they’ll do what ducks do, while Mama hen squawks in angry dismay.
    Poor in spirit, hens with babies are not. The same goes for spouses of either sex, ordinarily. Most boys masturbate until they marry, then expect quick relief for their appetites, a fact which appalls “mother hen” wives. Many young wives, primed by romance novels and TV reality shows, expect their Fabio to take them to the moon of orgasm on his proverbial high horse or hot Harley. Frustration ensues both ways, as testified by many comments in prior posts.
    Jesus, like a setting hen, spreads the loving feathers of his “wings” over his church (see Ruth 3;9, where Boaz represents Christ). The eggs hatch–but we soon head for the polluted puddles our sinful natures bent on satisfying self pridefully crave.
    Jesus, in Philippians 2:5-8, is the poor in spirit model for humility. Not a hen, Christ understands our penchant for the muddy puddles of selfish sex. Yet he took upon himself “the form of a servant . . . in the likeness of” sinful humans, and “humbled himself, obedient unto death” (vss. 7-8). Only as we “submit [our]selves to one another” (Ephesians 5:21), can we fully appreciate what it means to be “one flesh” (one self) (v. 31). This is the essence of being “poor in spirit.” Only then can we truly enjoy a sexual experience that is heaven on earth–with or without a sex pillow, as suits our needs!

    Reply
  5. B

    I’m wondering if simply accepting my husbands lack of desire would be an example of being “poor in spirit”. I selfishly find myself longing to be desired by the man I pledged my love to. I find myself feeling envious of women who have husbands that find them attractive and love them.

    My husband makes it worse by telling me I’m “pretty” and that he “loves me”. ?????? I can’t take the flowery words without the actions. It’s too confusing, and I’m so tired of being misled. It’s excruciating.

    His lack of sexual desire makes me feel unworthy. Of anything, really. Perhaps I am the problem. Perhaps if I stop fretting about it, and give up my heart’s longing to be desired by my husband, perhaps that would be a noble thing? Or at least a way of being humble and poor in spirit?

    I guess anything is worth a shot. Feeling sad all the time is just lousy. It’s something to pray about.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Um, probably not. Look, I happen to have more details about your situation than the average commenter, and I would say that poor in spirit for you might mean accepting his version of your beauty. Could you humbly accept the compliments?

      And I’m so sorry that you feel lousy. I truly pray your situation and perspective improve a great and you experience God’s healing.

      Reply
      1. B

        I guess a good analogy for how I feel would be this: What if someone told you often that you were a great cook? That your food was excellent, and they really liked your food a lot. BUT THEN THEY NEVER ATE IT. Or they only ate it when you asked them to, because they were trying to spare your feelings. It would become obvious pretty quickly that they were not telling the truth with their words. The fact that they weren’t interested in actually eating the food you made would be much stronger proof of how they actually felt.

        That’s why I don’t believe him.

        I’ll think on what you’ve said. I’m always willing to at least ponder.

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          That’s a good analogy. However, what if someone told you that you’re a great cook, but they had stomach issues and could never eat much? Point being that it’s possible to really like something but not partake of it as much as you like/should.

          Reply
          1. Reiko

            Then they should go to the doctor and get that checked out. It’s possible that “stomach issues” in your extended analogy might correspond to hormonal issues like low testosterone. Which isn’t necessarily the guy’s fault, but it does make it much harder to have a consistent and satisfying sex life…so I think it’s not okay for him to let medical issues interfere with the relationship when there are options to deal with them.

        2. Eric

          B,

          There’s much I can’t say, since I don’t know the details of your situation with your husband–age, health of either of you, his weight. I’ll just offer that, first, I agree with J that he probably genuinely believes you to be beautiful, but as with the food analogy, his lack of appetite may be from other causes. For example, a man who is more than 43 inches around the waist will have difficulty maintaining an erection. So it seems to me that you need a good Christian counselor who can evaluate your situation and offer help.

          Too, read Genesis chapters 29 – 35, the story of Leah. She went through many years of struggling with a husband who had sex with her only to get her pregnant. The Lord eventually intervened by taking her beautiful sister Rachel out of the picture, but God had to teach Leah a few things first.

          I’ve been married 53 years, and for about 35 (when we were young enough to do so) we had lots of sex, but my wife suspected me of being less than sincere when I told her I loved her. Then one day I discovered Song of Solomon 7:1, in which the lover appreciates the “joints of” his bride’s “thighs.” (Bad translation–apparently the translator was embarrassed to use the correct words: “bare bottom.” Since most women are very sensitive about this part of their anatomy, I started telling my wife (truthfully) that hers is pretty–it is! Things got better right away.

          So read the Song of Solomon with hubs. Start using some of these terms re HIS anatomy, and see if he doesn’t respond with words that please you. May be the sex issue will improve, too. Mine has.
          Eric

          Reply
          1. J Post author

            Not sure I get the Leah/Rachel statement…

            But some other helpful tips. Thanks!

        3. e2

          B,

          I love the food analogy and I often compare sex to food as both are basic needs.

          When I was 13, I lost my appetite for food and was rarely hungry. This upset my mother quite a bit because I didn’t fit the mold of the typical teenage boy — always hungry and eating. I simply wasn’t hungry. I simply had no appetite for food.

          To this day, I don’t know why, but I do know this. I loved my mother’s cooking. To me, she was the best cook on the planet, and my lack of appetite had nothing to do with how I felt about the food she prepared.

          There are many reasons why a person may have low sexual appetite. Unfortunately, I believe you have focused on only one possible reason — lack of love and attraction — to the exclusion of any other possible explanation. I have learned that my wife’s low desire has nothing to do with how she feels about me. She loves me and finds me attractive even though she has little interest in touching me or being touched by me. Like you, I feel that I have to learn to accept her low desire, but unlike you, I won’t accept it as an indication of a lack of love or attraction. It’s just that her love and attraction are expressed in other ways.

          Reply
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  7. Charlie O.

    In Ephesians 5:25 it says that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Love is not words, though it should include them; it is definitely not emotion–it is an act of the will. It is action! Love is the sustained desire of ones’s will for the benefit of the other person. That desire is then to be translated into action. B, God says that your husband (if he says that loves you, and it is his God-commanded duty to love you) is to provide for you what you want and need in the area of sex. I have read the entire Bible dozens of times and I don’t find the concept of mood or desire a prerequisite for physically loving our mate. Don’t let that word “duty” bother you. In time, duty will turn into desire, and duty can and should be done in a non-obligatory way with a glad heart. A man that loves his wife should be happy to please her in as many ways as possible.

    Reply
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