Open any issue of this newspaper over the last 12 months, and there’s bound to be an article on the subject somewhere. It’s the hot topic of the moment and seems to have been so for… well, for ever.
But we want to suggest while there might be lots of public airtime, it seems couples themselves are more neglectful. If the statistics are to be believed, many Christian couples undervalue or simply ignore the important part that intimacy should play in our living holy, righteous and healthy lives for Christ.
We do need to talk about sex.
Of course, it’s rightly a very private subject and even reading this article may be pushing the boundaries for you. But we should not be those who get our wisdom from the world when it comes to this topic. We have God’s word. So, why not take another look at your Bible? You may be surprised.
First of all, the Bible establishes the importance of sexual intimacy right from the start. It also sets sex in its wider context. Sex is extraordinarily and spiritually profound, pointing towards a greater (and longer lasting) truth – the intimate union of Christ and His church. Couples who fail to see what sexual union is picturing will always end up devaluing the intimacy that God grants them.
Second, the Bible warns us against unholy sex. This takes all forms – just reading Genesis is an eye opener! But it is impossible to read the pages of Scripture and not see the damage and pain caused by sexual sin. The antidote to this sober warning for couples is not abstinence. Instead, it is recovery; recovery of the beauty and delight of intimacy in its right setting.
Third, the Bible provides a framework for couples to enjoy sexual intimacy together. This surprises many Christians. Those who search often turn to Song of Songs (a book whose interpretation is much disputed) for inspiration and end up disappointed. But that wonderful book is a love poem, not a ‘how to’ guide.
And for the most part, the Bible does not give us that kind of chapter and verse (if you’ll excuse the pun) – a kind of Joy of Sex for believers. Instead, it gives us something much better. For in the Bible, we find godly and timeless principles that couples should grasp and apply to their own context in order to be able to enjoy and delight in one another.
Realistic and optimistic
It is this richly rewarding approach that we have set out in our new book, Closer. We wanted to write something both realistic and optimistic for couples, but above all, we wanted to write something Biblical. That meant avoiding the ‘how to’ kind of book – something we were more than happy to do – and instead showing couples the foundations that Scripture clearly establishes.
A recent survey in the British Medical Journal found that over half of the couples interviewed (not just Christians) were less sexually active as a result of lockdown. Rather than providing opportunity for couples to be together, the opposite was actually true. Your experience may perhaps mirror this.
We wanted to write to help couples buck the trend and be Closer: closer to each other, and closer to the ideal that God has set out for them. That means closer, ultimately, to him.
It’s time Christian couples started talking about sex.
Adrian and Celia Reynolds are the authors of Closer: A realistic book about intimacy for Christian Marriages, published by The Good Book Company. ISBN 978 1 784 985 738, £8.99