Why Intimacy in Marriage is So Much More Than Sex

This past week former NFL player and host of “World’s Funniest,” Terry Crews, was interviewed on Huffington Post Live. He admitted that he and his wife just completed a 90-day fast from sex. After seeing the shock on the interviewer’s face, he made this statement: “I found that at the end of that 90 days … I knew who she was, and it wasn’t about ‘Let’s go out because I know I’m gonna get some sex later.’ It was like, ‘Let’s go because I want to talk to you. I want to know you’” (emphasis added).[1] He goes on to explain that every man (and woman) is looking for intimacy, but they do not always go about it in the correct way.

I have been married for almost six years, and I would have to agree with part of this interview. In a world where intimacy is almost always associated with sex, how are Christian couples—married and unmarried—supposed to respond? I would like for us to consider a few things today:

Emotional and spiritual intimacy is the foundation for physical intimacy.

When my husband and I began communicating, he was serving overseas, and I was on staff at a church in the States. Needless to say, our romance was unexpected. For the first six months, the only thing Chris and I had for communication was email and Skype. We discussed everything from childhood experiences, ministry opportunities, God’s calling on our lives, theology, sports, and eventually, us. When he came home to continue his seminary education, we realized that we knew each other really well. But, we didn’t know about some of the “physical” aspects of a relationship—how to walk beside each other, sit by each other, to hold hands or not to hold hands, etc. After we got married, we discovered that our time learning about each other and learning to communicate with each other gave us a foundation that we didn’t see in some marriages.

Two years later God would call both of us into college ministry. We have amazing opportunities to minister to young adults and help them work through relationship issues. One of the overwhelming problems we encounter is couples who are dating and get too physically involved before they get married. They are left confused, hurting, and broken because they’ve physically given themselves to another without the commitment of marriage. And they lack the emotional intimacy that makes physical intimacy rewarding. Our society tells young couples they cannot truly know if they are compatible unless they co-habitate or sleep together before marriage. However, God tells us, “Run from sexual immorality! ‘Every sin a person can commit is outside his body.’ On the contrary, the person who is sexually immoral sins against his own body. Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:18-20).

So, this begs the question: Is physical intimacy the be-all and end-all of a relationship? NO! Instead, learning how to communicate and connect with each other on an emotional and spiritual level before marriage can be the foundation for a fulfilling sex life once God joins a couple in marriage.

Though physical intimacy is not THE foundation for a good marriage, it IS important in a marriage relationship.

As Christians, we should not be embarrassed or scared to discuss physical intimacy. After all, it is our God who created sex. When God formed Adam and Eve, He told them: “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it…” (Gen, 1:28). Physical intimacy in marriage is healthy and good. God created us to enjoy sex, and He desires for married men and women to connect with each other through the act of physical intimacy. (And all the men say, “HALLELUJAH” and “AMEN!”)

This truth is underscored by Paul’s writing to the church of Corinth: “Do not deprive one another sexually—except when you agree for a time, to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again; otherwise, Satan may tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Cor. 7:5). When a husband and wife come to know each other emotionally and spiritually, then their physical intimacy is only enhanced. God does not want married couples to withhold sex from each other just for the sake of withholding intimacy. Whenever that happens, it invites all sorts of temptations into the marriage. However, God also says there may be a time when physical intimacy needs to cease for a period of time. If the only “intimacy” a couples knows is based on sex, then when that—for a time—is taken away the couple’s intimacy level crumbles. As said before, sex should enhance the intimacy level of a marriage and not be the deciding factor for a marriage.

Ladies, we serve an intimate God who desires for marriages to reflect that intimacy. However, we must not get so caught up in elevating the physical intimacy over the emotional and spiritual intimacy that comes through spending time together. As a married woman, I want to know that my husband desires me physically. I’ve walked alongside women who have been told they were not longer wanted. The pain they endure is overwhelming. But, I also want to know that my husband desires to spend time with me—talking, laughing, praying, and reading God’s word together.

If you are not married and caught up in seeking physical intimacy, I want to beg you to repent, seek forgiveness, and then commit to growing in intimacy with God, the Lover of your soul.

If you are married and you realize that you only know your husband physically, and not emotionally or spiritually, then I encourage you to commit to learning how to know each other in a deeper, more meaningful, way. God is for your marriage, and He desires for your husband to be the one person who knows you best.

Finally, if you are withholding sex from your husband, then I implore you confess that to your husband (he already knows), ask his forgiveness, and begin to walk toward a more fulfilling sex life that is based on a commitment to honor God. Let’s not be women who run away from understanding God’s design for intimacy, but let’s run to the One who can teach us how to grow in true intimacy.



[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-a-90-day-sex-fast-changed-terry-crews-marriage_5627d147e4b02f6a900f2ee1

4 thoughts on “Why Intimacy in Marriage is So Much More Than Sex”

  1. Wzrd1 says:

    Communication and understanding one another is critical in marriage, with or without faith being involved.
    We have long since been able to complete one another’s sentences courtesy of that communication.
    It’s worked out quite well for us, even if we are still newlyweds of 34 years, this December. 🙂

  2. Lilian says:

    If the couple knows and understand the different stages of both, it help in the emotional and physical relationship. Walking together is the clue, asking questions and going to the doctor appointments help.
    Good theme Amanda, bless you.

    1. Wzrd1 says:

      You have a point, there are a number of stages in a relationship, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
      Oh wait, that’s the stages of grief. 😉
      The romance stage, the power struggle phase, the stability stage, the commitment stage and the bliss stage.
      Many problems begin at the power struggle stage, leaving the struggle unresolved and left to fester. Clear communication is key for both partners to find equilibrium in their relationship.

  3. Aimee says:

    One of the things that I have found recently is that the lack of emotional and spiritual intimacy is what drives people to have an extra marital affair, and that an emotional affair –where you are emotionally closer to someone you’re not married to–can be more damaging than physically having an affair.