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Sex. A Holy Discipline

 
Adrian and Celia Reynolds | January 19th 2021

How would you complete the following sentence? In the beginning...

You might be someone who knows your Bible well, in which case you would perhaps complete the sentence the way the Old Testament does in Genesis—“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. Or maybe you thought of the New Testament wording from the start of John’s Gospel— “In the beginning was the Word...”? Full marks.

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How to enjoy intimacy in Christian marriage.

But you might take a more philosophical approach. In the beginning there was nothing, you could reply. You would also score highly. God made all things out of nothing (Hebrews 11 v 3), so considered from this angle, this answer is also right.

Or maybe you are more theological in your thinking (and, let’s be honest, just a little abstract). In the beginning, God. That’s your answer. Just, “God”. Period. Full stop. Your science teacher might not score this an A+, but your religious studies or philosophy teacher might award the top grade. Right again.

Can I suggest another way to complete the sentence. 

In the beginning, God thought of sex.

Christians ought to have a good and right perspective on sex. It is a temporary joy before the eternal reality takes over.

I doubt you’d ever complete the sentence this way. Indeed, you might think that such a sentence is bordering on blasphemy, or at the very least, it’s pushing the boundaries a little. But that kind of response reveals precisely the problem that many Christians have about sex. Married believers know sex is enjoyable, fun, intimate, delightful: but they can’t quite bring themselves to include it in a list of holy disciplines.

Couples should pray. And read their Bibles. And belong to a church. And be hospitable. And be godly. And all of these in increasing measure, or at least with increasing delight and skill. And to this list, I want to add delight in one another and in the sexual union that God has gifted you. It’s why we’ve written a book about it.

For in the beginning, God thought of sex.

Finding its proper place

Christians ought to have a good and right perspective on sex. It is a temporary joy before the eternal reality takes over. As one of our friends, pastor and author Christopher Ash, puts it, “Sex is not ultimately important. But it is jolly important”. Maybe for the moment we could all echo the Kane Gang’s 1980s classic: “This could be the closest thing to heaven I have ever known”. But that’s not a song we’ll be singing when Jesus returns. We’ll have no need.

All of this puts us at odds with the world. When we first wrote about sex, we sent a copy of what we had prepared to Suzi Godson. Suzi is one of the UK’s foremost sexual counsellors, author of many books and countless articles. We have always liked her writing, valuing—as she seems to do—many of the same things we value: patience, commitment, selflessness and so on. She kindly read what we had written and wrote us a short note in return. “I wish you well with your book”, she wrote, “but you clearly have a completely different view of sex from me.”

At first, we were a little annoyed. Was the outworking of our view really so different? Yet as we reflected on her response, we realised she was exactly right, for in all the common ground on behaviour, communication and resolution that we shared, Suzi would never be able to say the one thing that we believe is a prerequisite to any Christian discussion about making love:

In the beginning, God thought of sex.

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Sexual intimacy in marriage is a great gift from a good God that cements couples together and brings unity and happiness.

Nevertheless, in our broken and messed-up world we often need help and direction to understand and enjoy what it means to give ourselves to one another, and to overcome some of the difficulties and questions that every Christian husband and wife faces.

In Closer: A Realistic Book About Intimacy For Christian Marriages, Adrian and Celia Reynolds are straightforward and compassionate as they look at Scripture to guide couples in this area. They give five clear biblical principles relating to sex and apply them to the common questions Christian couples ask about intimacy.

Adrian and Celia Reynolds

Adrian is one of the leaders of Christchurch Harborough and also serves as Associate National Director for the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches in the UK. Celia works as a homemaker and serves two days a week in Women’s Ministry for the church. She also volunteers part time with a local group for vulnerable mums. Adrian and Celia have three adult daughters and two grandchildren.

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