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.”
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.