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The Benefit of Sexual Expression in Marriage

with Joshua Harris | February 12, 2008

Sex within marriage is God's good plan. Today on the broadcast, author and pastor Josh Harris talks about God's desire to bless sexual pleasure within marriage.

Sex within marriage is God's good plan. Today on the broadcast, author and pastor Josh Harris talks about God's desire to bless sexual pleasure within marriage.

The Benefit of Sexual Expression in Marriage

With Joshua Harris
February 12, 2008
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: Have you ever wondered why God made us the way He made us, especially in the area of sexuality?  Why did God make a man the way a man is?  Well, here are some thoughts about that from pastor and author, Joshua Harris.

Josh: Men would be such a wreck if they didn't have sex drives.  Have you ever thought about this?  I mean, a sex drive gets a guy off the couch, it gets him to go to school, to get a job, to work, to win that woman's heart, to take showers, I mean, it's all kinds of amazing things that would never happen if it weren't for this.

 And God has a good plan, and we need to keep His purpose in mind so that we won't begrudge what He has given to us.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, February 12th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  If you have found yourself begrudging God's good plan for sex in marriage, you'll want to stay with us today.

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition.  I don't know how many weddings I've been to in my life, but there were a lot of weddings I went to where I heard the couples exchange their vows, and they pledged to one another "to have and to hold from this day forward," and I always thought that was a nice thing for them to pledge, and then one day I thought, "I know what they're talking about – to have and to hold – that's kind of a polite way of saying "we're going on the honeymoon as soon as this thing is over."

Dennis: You know, I remember promising that.

Bob: You didn't know what you were promising.

Dennis: I did not have the foggiest idea on the planet of what I was promising.

Bob: You were just saying the words so you could get the thing done, right?

Dennis: I was wanting to go "have and hold."  I was wanting to get out of there.  But you're exactly right, Bob, and I think what's even more important is we're not talking enough today about remaining sexually pure after we get married.  You know, there's all these abstinence messages for young people and singles who are not married, but there needs to be a message for the Christian community around sexual purity after marriage, and that's why I'm glad we're featuring a series of messages here by Josh Harris, who is the author of the book a lot of our listeners probably gave their teenagers a number of years ago, at least I did.  Remember that book, folks?  "I Kissed Dating Goodbye?"  Well, you know what?  He found a girl he liked to kiss, and then he had three children.

Bob: I think they're up to four children now.

Dennis: They're up to four now.

Bob: Josh is the pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and did a series with his congregation on the subject of purity and, you know, you're absolutely right, Dennis.  I've seen a variety of statistics of people who have admitted to sexual infidelity.  Among men, it's a higher percentage than it is among women, but in both cases it's a pretty high percentage, and that's just the ones who will admit to somebody who asks them if they've been unfaithful.  And I wonder how many people have just lied and checked the other box.

 Again, we've got a chronic situation among married couples who are, for whatever reason, looking elsewhere for sexual fulfillment and satisfaction.

Dennis: Bob, I couldn't agree with you more.  In fact, it was interesting this morning, in my inbox for my e-mails, I have a friend who sends me a Proverb once a day, and I've been getting these Proverbs for the past couple of years.  I've never really put a pencil to it to figure out how many years I've got to look forward to Proverbs.

 But the one for today is interesting, because it's what we're talking about here – Proverbs 5, verses 18 and 19 – "Let your fountain be blessed and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe.  Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight.  Be intoxicated always in her love."

 Now, that's the verse I received.  The verse that follows is a warning, verse 20 – "Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?"  And then the next passage goes on to say, "For all of a man's ways are before the Lord.  He sees it all."

 And, you know, Bob, this is why we need to take time out, I think, not only to promise to have and to hold, but then after we get married celebrate this thing called "romantic love," sexuality, after we're married, but really pay attention to remaining pure and faithful to just our spouse.

Bob: The verses that you just read are verses that Joshua Harris shared in part 1 of his message on purity in marriage.  They represent a warning from King Solomon to his son, ultimately, a warning from God to remain faithful and pure in marriage.  And at this point in Joshua's message, he turns from the warning to Solomon's exhortation that romantic love in marriage is something we ought to celebrate, as you've said. 

Dennis: Amen.

Bob: Here is part 2 of the message from Joshua Harris on purity in marriage.

Josh: [from audiotape.]  Solomon turns from talking about what we should not do, and he begins to describe what we should do with our sexual desire, and what do we learn about God's good plan for sex?

 Well, there are three things that I want us to note.  Number one, we see that God blesses sexual passion between a husband and wife.  God blesses it.  He said it's good, He commends it, He celebrates it, and we see that so clearly here.  This verse, verse 18, look at it again.  It practically shouts at us that God celebrates and commends the sexual relationship between a husband and wife. 

 It says, "Let your fountain be blessed" and "rejoice in the wife of your youth."  Now, that word "fountain" is a picture of sexual affection.  He is using this as imagery, as a word picture, to describe sexual passion and sexual affection.  It's saying, "Let your sex life be blessed in marriage."

 The imagery of water is a reference to the refreshing and the pure pleasure of marital intimacy.  God is saying that sexual passion in marriage is not just allowed by God, it is good, it is commanded.  He calls us to rejoice in it, and it's so important for us to remember this and to understand this – that sex between a husband and wife in marriage is God's idea.  The joy and the pleasure that is involved there is His idea, He invented it.  Have you ever thought about that?  That's an incredible thing.

 Sex was not some dirty, kind of gross activity that humans came up with and then God reacted to, like, "Oh, no, what are they doing down there?"  And then He was, like, "Oh, well, you know, I'm not going to be able to convince them to stop doing this.  I better come up with a Christian version of this."  And so then God came up, "Well, I'm going to make a bunch of rules, I'm going to make this just as hard to get to as possible and restrict it so that it won't be, you know, enjoyed too much."

 And isn't that how some people view the Christian perspective on sex; that the teaching in the Bible is really just a bunch of rules to try to keep us from enjoying sexuality?  That's not true, and if you think that, you need to throw out that lie, because the truth is this – that God created sex.  It was He who made us with bodies that are able to experience physical pleasure.  It is He who planted in us the desire for the opposite sex, and that sex drive that is given to us by him and then the joy of that within marriage – all God's idea, it was all His idea. 

 And His restrictions – and here is the key thing to understand – his restrictions and His commandments are all an expression of His desire for us to know the goodness of His plan – to protect what He created to bless us.  All we need to remember that God's commands are all an expression of His love for us.  God wants to be good.

 So what is God's good purpose for sex?  Well, first of all, God gave us sex for procreation.  The joyful fruit of sexual union is the gift of children, and sex is also an incredible physical representation of the unity, the oneness, of a husband and wife in marriage.  The Bible teaches that in marriage before God, a man and woman become one person.  They are no longer just two separate individuals.  The Bible teaches us that God used them as one flesh, and sexual union, physical union, within marriage is a picture of that, and the reason that it's good within marriage is because it reinforces what's true about marriage – that this man and this woman have become one.

 And we see clearly in this passage that sex is also given by God to be pleasurable and comforting and refreshing.  But God does give us laws for sex, and they are very simple to understand, they are very straightforward.  He is allowed to do this, by the way, because He made us, He created our bodies, and He invented sex, and so He gives us commands and, very simply, He has stated that sex is to be reserved for that covenant, that lifelong commitment, relationship, of marriage where one man and one woman are joined together.

 And so within that commitment, that physical union, again, it's a picture of the overall oneness of marriage, and that's why it's good within marriage, but when you take it outside of marriage, it becomes something that's a mockery of unity.  It becomes something selfish and destructive.  One man, one woman within marriage – that's why having sex before marriage is wrong.  It's called "fornication" in the Bible – sex when you're not married to someone.

 That's why sex is called "adultery" where you're married to a person, but then you go, and you sleep with someone else is also forbidden.  That's why God forbids sex between people of the same gender.  God has a specific plan.  He gives us commands, but all of His commands are designed not to put a damper on sexual enjoyment but, in fact, to increase our joy in the gift that God has made.

 Now, for those of you who are single, you might be sitting here saying, "Well, this is all very unhelpful, thank you very much.  You are here spitting at me about how great sex is and what a wonderful gift it is, well, I'm not married, so what good is this to me?"

 Well, you know what?  I think it's so vital that you, as a single man or woman, whatever your age might be, remember that, first of all, that sex is God's plan but also that He has a good design and purpose for it, because if your focus, when it comes to your sexuality is only about what you're not allowed to do and what you're not supposed to enjoy, you're going to get frustrated, you're going to get angry, you're going to fed up, and you're going to give up very soon. 

 You need to keep in view the reality that God has a purpose for this drive that He has given you, and it's not just about you, it's also about His good plan.  Imagine if I came to you and gave you a huge container, 15-gallon container of gasoline, and you're on a dusty, dry road, and I just say, "You know what?  Will you just carry this container of gas as you walk along this road?"

 So you take it, and you're lugging it along, and it's heavy, and it's cumbersome, and you could walk a lot faster without it, and you have no idea why you have it.  What are you going to do with it?  Well, you're going to want to pour some of out, probably.  "This is heavy, I don't need all this.  What am I doing with this thing?  It's hot, and what am I on this road for?"

 You can be frustrated; you can lose heart in a task that seems like drudgery, but imagine that same scenario changed.  Imagine that I come to you, it's still a dusty road, it's still a hot road, it's still a long road, and I come to you, and I give you the same container of gasoline, and it's still heavy, but I say to you, "Three miles down this hot, dusty dry road is a brand-new Lexus.  Here are the keys.  It's out of gas.  If you fill it with gas, it's yours."  "I love this gasoline, thank you."


 You're going to be carrying that differently, you know, you're going to be walking with a – you know, there's going to be a jump in your step, and if somebody comes along and says, "Hey, can you share some of that gas with me?"  "Back up, man, stay away from the gasoline, all right?"  Why?  Because there's a goal, because there's a purpose, because you understand this fuel has been given for a good and wonderful thing.

 You know, the same thing is true of our sexuality.  Some singles feel – I remember feeling this way sometimes, as a single man, that my sex drive was some sort of cosmic joke from God.  "Oh, I'm going to give you this.  Hah! Don't use it."  You know?


 Thank you, Lord.  But it's not a joke, it's all a part of His wonderful plan, and I love interacting with single men and realizing that God is so wise that He gave us sex drives.  You know, men would be such a wreck if they didn't have sex drives.  Have you ever thought about this?  I mean, a sex drive gets a guy off the couch.  It gets him to go to school, to get a job, to work, to win that woman's heart, to take showers, I mean, it's all kinds of amazing things that would never happen if it weren't for this.


 And God has a good plan, and we need to keep His purpose in mind so that we won't begrudge what he has given to us.

 A second thing that we learn as we study this passage is that God speaks directly to men.  Point number two, God commands men to delight in one woman, their wife.  God commands men to delight in one woman, and that woman is to be their bride, their wife.  This is a call to very specific and purposeful action.

 I want to read the verses again.  It says, "Let your fountain," verse 18, "be blessed and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe, appreciate her beauty and her gracefulness," it sang.  "Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight, all times with delight.  Be intoxicated always in her love."

 To the married men who are here – there is a call here for us to exert ourselves; to work at delighting in our wives.  Now, that might not sounds romantic to a person.  They might say, "We'll work – work – at love?"  There is this mindset, and it's wrong, that to work at love means that it's not true love.  True love just sort of happens by itself.  But anyone who has been married longer than, say, 10 minutes, knows that that's not true.


 True love can be genuine and real, but it involves work because we are sinful, because we are lazy.  It involves exerting ourselves and choosing to think of another person, and we see that there is work involved here.  In this passage, God is telling us to take action, as married men, to delight in our wives.  And, first, it involves our feelings.  It commands us to rejoice over our wives; to think about them; to consider them; to make them our meditation; to pursue them in relationship so that not only sexually but so that we know them and so that we delight in them in a way that stirs up our passion for them.  We are to engage our emotions.  We are to give our thoughts to actively delighting and feeling in our souls the gift that a godly wife is to us.

 But it also involves physical desire.  It says, "Let her breasts fill you with delight at all times."  Then part of obeying God and living as pure men before the Lord as sexual creatures, is not only as a married man just thinking about all the things we're not supposed to look at and no supposed to do, there is an important place for that in battling temptation, but another vital part of obeying God is actively focusing your delight in your spouse.

Bob: Well, we've just heard part 2 of a message from Pastor Joshua Harris, the pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, on the issue of purity in marriage.  And here is what strikes me as I'm listening to that, Dennis.  We hear a lot about the don't's when it comes to sexuality in a marriage relationship, the things we need to avoid, and those are good warnings for us to hear.  But you don't hear much about the do's, and I think a lot of times we think, well, the do's, they'll just happen naturally.

 In a lot of marriages today, they're not happening naturally, and there needs to be a reminder that we've got some responsibilities to one another, we've got some things God's called us to do, and we need to provoke one another to love and good deeds, you know what I'm saying?

Dennis: That's right, and this is a great way to do it, right here, you know?  And the interesting thing is, Bob, he talked about how sexual love is blessed by God; that passion, pleasure, all was made by God to be enjoyed by both – both – a husband and a wife.

 And I think, to the men, the message is you need to pay attention to your wife and what brings delight, pleasure, joy to her – and the same for the woman.  If you've never done this as a couple, I'm talking about a married couple at this point – in fact, to all the singles who are listening, you need to go jogging after this …

Bob: La, la, la, lalala.

Dennis: You need to go jogging after this message, but to the married folks, if you haven't had a conversation about this in a while, and haven't spent some time focusing on this as a couple, then do you know what I'd encourage you to do?  Go to bed early tonight.  Leave the lights on.  I'm talking about having a conversation here.  But at 9:00 go to bed and dust off your Bible and turn, right after Psalms and Proverbs and Ecclesiastes and jump right into Song of Solomon and start reading that to one another and making observations about how King Solomon and his bride paid attention to each other and how they celebrated and how they were delighting in one another's bodies.

Bob: You're making plans even as you encourage people.

Dennis: It wouldn't be a bad idea.

[Bob laughs]

 It really wouldn't be a bad idea, but the point is, we need to reserve time in our marriages to keep this area alive and flourishing and growing and, quite honestly, it's why Barbara and I wrote the book, "Rekindling the Romance."  There's just not a lot in this culture that helps in a wholesome way, in a God-focused way, a couple really build a fire between them.

Bob: I was thinking about the book as I was listening to Joshua's message, because this is an area where a marriage can run into some challenges and where couples don't know who they can turn to or where they can get some help or how to seek counsel.  And your book provides practical help for husbands and for wives on this subject. 

 In fact, half of the book is written for the ladies, and half of the book is written for men, and we have suggested before that you read it with a highlighter and just highlight the parts that you'd like your spouse to know that you read and say, "Read this and see, because this helps explain how I feel sometimes."

 We've got copies of the book in our FamilyLife Resource Center along with a book that Joshua wrote that I think is helpful to promote purity in a marriage relationship, and that's the book, "Sex is not the Problem, Lust Is," and whether you're single or married, that's an issue that both men and women deal with.

 Again, the book is available in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  It's called "Sex is not the Problem, Lust Is," and if you'd like information on either of these books or if you'd like to order, go to our website,  There's more information about both of the books on our website.  You can order online, if you'd like.  Or if it's easier, call 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329, that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and we'll make arrangements to have the books you want sent out to you.

 I also want to ask you, if I can, to consider making a donation this month to the ministry of FamilyLife Today.  Folks like you, who listen to our program and who contact us from time to time to make a donation, you are the folks who help support the ministry and help keep us on the air in this city and in other cities all across the country, and without that, our program could not continue to be heard on Christian radio stations all across the country, so we appreciate your financial support.

 This month, when you make a donation of any amount, we have a thank you gift we'd like to send you.  It's a couple of CDs that feature a conversation with the authors of a book called "Intimate Issues."  A book for women on the 21 issues women ask most about intimacy and romance in marriage.  The authors are Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus, and we'd love to send you the two CDs that feature our conversation with these ladies as our way of saying thank you when you help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today this month.

 If you are making a donation online, all you need to do when you fill out the donation form, and you come to the keycode box on that form, type in the word "intimate" so that we know to send you the CDs.  Or call 1-800-FLTODAY.  You can make a donation over the phone and, again, just mention that you'd like the CDs that we're talking about this month, and we're happy to send them to you.  It's our way of saying thanks for your financial support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today.

 Well, tomorrow we're going to hear part 3 of Joshua Harris's message on the subject of purity in marriage, and I hope you can be back with us for that.

 I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

 FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. 


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