Redefining a “Great” Sex Life

Over the past decade, I’ve interacted with hundreds of married Christians who want help with sex in marriage. They are looking for solid, biblical counsel on issues like these: 

What do I do if my spouse is looking at porn?
How do we get on the same page sexually when our desires are so different? 
How do I learn to enjoy sex when all I ever heard growing up was that “sex is bad”?
Does the Bible teach that I always have to say yes when my husband wants sex? 

Very few couples experience “smooth sailing” in their sexual relationship. Unfortunately, many just give up on their sex life once they can’t find solutions to their problems. God cares about your sex life. He created it in such a way that sex will not be a neutral issue in your marriage. Sex will either be a source of deepened intimacy or a barrier to it. 

Understanding the purpose for sex is perhaps the most important step in working on your sexual relationship as a Christian couple. Yes, sex is for procreation. But is that the only reason God created sex as He did? 

When we read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, we find that God created the one-flesh union of marriage for another very profound purpose: as a way He reveals His covenant love. Our sexual love in marriage was created to echo how God loves His covenant people. We see this parallel clearly both in the Old Testament with the nation of Israel and in the New Testament with Christ and the Church. 

If we want to know what defines a great sex life in God’s eyes, we need only to ponder how He loves us, His covenant people. Honoring God with your sexuality is not only about avoiding sexual sin, but also includes working toward the full expression of covenant love in your marriage. 

Four Elements of God’s Covenant Love

In my latest book, God, Sex, and Your Marriage, I wrote about four specific elements of God’s covenant love that apply directly to how you are called to love one another within your sexual relationship. 

1. Faithfulness

God’s character is the foundation of His covenant love. The Bible is filled with references to the Lord’s hesed (steadfast love), continually reminding us that He keeps His promises, He doesn’t change, and He will always be with us. 

The difference between a modern-day marriage and a covenant marriage is faithfulness. God designed your marriage to be based on a promise “forsaking all others, until death parts us.” 

Faithfulness is not just the promise not to cheat on your spouse—it gets to the deeper issue of character. Are you trustworthy? The most important ingredient in your sex life is character. Without a committment to be faithful to one another, you cannot safely experience the beauty of sexual love. 

All of our marriages are plagued by unfaithfulness. Infidelity and pornography use are the most obvious examples of where we may fail to remain faithful, but God’s call to faithfulness extends further into the heart. Do you withhold affection as a form of punishment? Do you ever wonder if life would be better had you married another man? Have you held onto anger and resentment toward your husband? These are all ways that we fail to love each other faithfully. 

As we mature in Christ, He exchanges His character for ours. The fruit of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, and self-control) are meant to be applied within our sexual relationship, creating a foundation of faithfulness in which sexual intimacy can flourish!

2. Intimate Knowing

Both in our relationship with God and within the sexual relationship in marriage, we tend to confuse activity with intimacy. We focus on the external things we should be doing instead of pursuing the intimacy those actions were meant to foster. You can read your Bible every day for years without personally knowing God’s love for you. In a similar way, you can be sexually active for decades without ever experiencing sexual intimacy.

God has given you the gift of sexual love as a journey. Because sex is so vulnerable, it touches on the deepest aspects of our humanity. On the journey of sexuality, you will likely encounter desire, shame, excitement, insecurity, temptation, and fear. Sexual intimacy means that you share more than your bodies. You also share the sexual journey with each other.

Ironically, you will experience the greatest opportunities for sexual intimacy when sexual activity isn’t going the way you hoped it would. The very roadblocks that frustrate you may invite you to share with each other the feelings, experiences, and meaning underneath. 

3. Sacrificial Love

When we talk to single Christians about sexuality, we remind them of the importance of self-control and laying down their desires for the sake of following Christ. Then we naively expect that all of our sexual desires will be (and must be) met within marriage. 

Every couple will hit a wall of disappointment when their vision of what sex should be isn’t what they experience in marriage. One spouse wants frequent sex, and the other views it as an obligation. Sex triggers trauma from the past or the grief of infertility. Sexual intercourse is impossible because of medical complications. These are each disappointing realities that may become part of a couples’ experience of sexual intimacy.

A hallmark of God’s covenant love for us is Jesus’ death on the cross. As Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13 ESV). We can apply that naturally to many areas of marriage, but we often fail to consider what it means for our sex lives. 

God did not give you the gift of sex to be a source of selfishness, division, or manipulation in your relationship. He calls both the husband and wife to steward their sexuality in a way that honors and considers each other. Sex should never be demanded, manipulated, nor intentionally withheld to punish your spouse. It is a gift with which we are called to bless one another. God wants to teach you to be a great lover as you navigate the challenges and disappointments of sex within your marriage. 

4. Passionate Celebration

Why do you think Christians gather together every weekend for church? Yes, it is for the encouragement of a sermon and to build relationships. But the most important reason we gather is to celebrate our love for God. 

The Bible tells us that we, the Church, are Christ’s Bride. You are not the bride; you are part of the Bride. It brings God great pleasure for His people to be unified in our worship and adoration of our Lord. The Bible encourages us to celebrate our covenant with God with singing, shouts of joy, praise, lifting our hands, bowing down, and dancing.

The same is true of our marriage covenant. Even when times are challenging, we need to take time to celebrate our love. The book of Song of Solomon doesn’t seem to fit within the rest of the Bible unless you understand the importance of passionate and faithful love. Within that book, the bride and groom celebrate their sexual love for each other. This not only affirms God’s blessing on sexual pleasure, but also reminds us of the importance of stirring our passion for God. He is worthy of our love and admiration, and He loves His Bride!

Take the Next Step

Friend, perhaps reading this blog discourages you because you realize that your sexual relationship is far from the ideal. You are not alone! The vast majority of Christian couples struggle to build a sex life that is a blessing for both a husband and wife. Yet God has given us a roadmap through His example of love toward us. 

Can I encourage you simply to take a step toward building true sexual intimacy? Perhaps that means praying together about your sex life or reaching out to a trusted friend or counselor for help. At Authentic Intimacy, you will find biblically-based and practical resources, like God, Sex, and Your Marriage, to help you reclaim God’s design for sexuality. 

There’s no lack of confusion when it comes to the world’s view of gender and sexuality today . . . and many of us within the Church are looking for clarity too. That’s why Revive Our Hearts is hosting Gender & Sexuality: Clarity in an Age of Confusion as a preconference summit before True Woman ’22. You’ll hear from guests Mary Kassian, Dr. Juli Slattery, Dr. Rosaria Butterfield (via video), Laura Perry Smalts, and more during this unique event, live in Indianapolis on Thursday, September 22. Learn more at TrueWoman22.com/preconference

About the Author

Juli Slattery

Juli Slattery

Dr. Juli Slattery is a clinical psychologist, author, and co-founder of Authentic Intimacy, a ministry dedicated to reclaiming God’s design for sexuality. In addition to speaking, she hosts the podcast Java with Juli. In 2020, Juli launched Sexual Discipleship®, … read more …


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