enriching and ennobling the experience. In verses
3-5, he says, "The husband must give the wife what is due to
her, and the wife equally must give the husband his due. The wife
cannot claim her body as her own; it is her husbandís. Equally,
the husband cannot claim his body as his own; it is his wifeís.
Do not deny yourselves to one another." NEB.
Sex is Godís gracious gift to a married couple whom he
desires to make "forever one." Sexual union is an
intimation of the happiness which is the prelude to lifelong
The name of love is so fragile that it can easily be quenched
by the mistakes of marriage partners. Guilt can paralyze us, as
can the corrosion of jealousy and resentment. Sexual love can be
like Humpty Dumpty. Once broken, all the kingís horses and all
the kingís men canít put it back together again. So it seems;
but here is where the Lordís grace can do what seems impossible.
There is one situation in which it is even difficult for Godís
grace to avail to mend a broken marital relationship, and that is
what Jesus called "fornication" (porneia) in Matthew
19:9. This is a legitimate ground, although not a command, for
dissolving a marital union, because it destroys the foundation of
confidence on which such a union has to rest.
The barriers to renewal of physical love are generally
emotional. God is the "Wonderful, Counselor" (Isaiah
9:6), who notices when a sparrow falls and takes infinite care in
doing what no one else can do putting Humpty Dumpty back together
again. "I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the
goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord:
be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart."
Psalm 27:13, 14.
He who notices the fall of a bird is also concerned that His
childís sex life be happy. Some seem to have the old Dark Ages
idea that sex is intrinsically shameful, that God turns His back
on it. He who invented all the delightful intricacies of sex also
provides healing. But His healing lies in
Pride and self-righteousness can kill the tender plant of love
as surely as an icy blast of a freezing wind can kill spring
flowers. "Terribly sinful you have been unfaithful; righteous
I am innocent! You deserve hell; I deserve heaven." These
sentiments, said out loud or expressed in demeanor, are unjustified,
for "all have sinned." Romans 3:23.
The true record of our sins is not our own conscious memory,
but the record in heaven, where with X-ray vision the dark,
unconscious evils deep within are exposed to view. The books of
heaven record the sins that we would commitógiven the chance.
God is concerned about our hidden motives. A so-called
"innocent" spouse who would have been unfaithful had he
or she been tempted is not "innocent" in Godís sight.
Both need the grace of forgiveness. And until
both can sense this,
the healing that God is ready to give cannot take place.
Loving an unlovable spouse may appear to be impossible. But agape-love may illuminate with hope a situation that has otherwise
appeared dead. There is creative power in the word of God. He
created the world out of nothing, for He "calleth those
things which be not as though they were." Romans 4:17. Can He
not do the same for a "dead" marriage? Of course He can.
Jesus met a paralyzed man by the pool of Bethesda. The sufferer
had been a withered wreck for 38 years. "When Jesus saw him
lying there, and knew that he had been in that condition a long
time, He said to him, ĎDo you want to be made well?í"
John 5:6, NKJV. The man hardly dared to say Yes. His response was
like ours when we find it almost impossible to believe good news:
"Sir, I have no man to help me. Others get blessings, but Ió"
I can almost imagine him sobbing at this point.
Then Jesus "said to him, ĎRise, take up your bed and
walk.í" Verse 8, NKJV. The paralytic could have argued how
impossible this would be. But he chose to believe the good news.
Like Abraham, "against hope [he] believed in hope" and
thus showed himself a true child of Abraham. "And immediately
the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked." Verse 9,
We have spoken in delicate language about a delicate problem.
But the One who created the delicateness of a fragile rose petal
can create in you and in your spouse something beautiful, beyond
your wildest dreams. When He does, give glory to Him, and remember
that the happiness you discover is something you donít deserve.
It is something purchased for you by the sacrifice of Christ upon
His cross. Yes, the gift includes happy, life-long sexual love.