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Intimacy in Marriage: The Role of Sex January 24, 2012

Posted by occhristiancounseling in Dr. Curtis Lehmann, sexuality.

by Dr. Curtis Lehmann

Some people struggle with a philosophical question: what is the role of sex in marriage? Historically, sex has been seen as simply the means for procreation and building a family. But in a modern context where contraception is used to prevent procreation, we have to ask whether sex serves another function. So the real question is, other than creating babies, does sex accomplish anything else and, if so, are these things good?

To answer the first part of the question, we simply need to pay attention to the experiences of people who have sex. The most obvious experience in sex is pleasure – sex feels good for many people. On this note, it is hard to argue that there would be anything wrong with having sex for pleasure, except in the case where the sexual experience is worshipped and given too much importance. In that extreme situation, people place sexuality before developing a deep relationship with God and pursuing growth in their character. Although we worship God with our bodies, sex does not constitute the full scope of a spiritual experience.

The second experience, sometimes less obvious, is that sex is capable of creating a bond between two people. Sex involves a shared vulnerability between two people that results in feeling connected. Particularly for women, the hormone oxytocin, also called the cuddle hormone, can be released during orgasm leading to this feeling. In the case of a non-committed relationship, a break in this bond can be incredibly painful, as if actually severing a limb, and is a major factor in why God discourages sex outside of marriage. Within a marriage, however, sex can be a protective factor in the relationship that helps two people feel close to one another even when emotionally they may feel occasionally distant.

As I see it, the role of sex in marriage is threefold: to build a family, to bring forth enjoyment, and to form a strong bond. Sex is a magnificent gift from God that we ought to enjoy!


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