A few years further down the line at university, there were guys I liked, and some of my non-Christian friends would ask, “Have you slept with him?”. “Of course not”, I would answer, to which they would inevitably ask “But how will you know if he is worth going out with, if you haven’t slept with him?”. I used to think, surely this cannot be the way to find out if this is the right person for me. God requires a step of trust – first commit to each other and the rest, including sexual intimacy, will follow.
The Bible is really clear on the right context for sexual intimacy. Jesus said to the Pharisees who questioned him on marriage;
Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.
We can see from Jesus’ words that sexual intimacy, ‘…the two shall become one flesh’, is in the context of married life, ‘therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife…’ and the Bible does warn us against sexual intimacy outside of marriage .
It wasn’t until I met my husband a few years ago, that I realised the importance and goodness of why God has placed intimacy in the context of marriage.
I met my husband at church. We talked briefly, but realised there was something worth pursuing.
The first time we went for lunch together he told me, “I don’t think it’s right to hold your hand until we know if this will end in marriage; because until I know that, you have the potential to be another man’s wife”. Some of you might read this and think, “Wow! That seems a bit heavy for your first lunch together”. And that may be the case, but actually I learnt a lot about him in those few words.
What he was conveying to me was that he was taking this relationship seriously, he wasn’t in it just for fun, but to see if it would end in marriage. He took intimacy with me, even in the smallest sense of just holding my hand, as a very precious thing to be cherished. All of this told me that he really cared about me.
It was truly wonderful to stand with my husband and before God on our wedding day and to know that, no matter what, he was committed to me. He wasn’t marrying me because he had determined, after sleeping with me, that I was worth it; but rather he cared for me, and was committed to me. He was willing to work through and navigate all the exciting and new moments of marriage that lay ahead, as well as any challenges we might face. We had the wonderful and extraordinarily valuable gift of sharing a very deep and precious part of ourselves with one another, that no one else ever got to experience.
All of this has built a foundation of friendship, trust and commitment for our marriage.
- Matthew 5:27-28 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”