Lots of people ignore intimacy in their marriage. So, they certainly don’t guard it. But, guess what? Good self-care protects Christian intimacy. Wonder w
Because it helps you obey to the Lord in two ways – although the latter feeds into the former.
- First: it helps you follow Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5. Take care of the body of marriage to give the enemy fewer opportunities for attack.
- Second: it helps you follow Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 5:21-30. Submit to the body of marriage. And submit YOUR body to each other to keep your mind, body, and soul in a place to be obedient for 1 Cor 7:3-5.
Our self-care protects Christian intimacy and not paying attention to these scripture instructions can put your marriage at risk.
Taking care of our bodies seems like a far-off requirement. It seems like it’s a low priority with busy schedules.
But that’s such a lie – self-care is important right now!
Before I get into the Scripture part of this, I’d like to share my story.
My husband and I have been married for 19 years (so, a little background is probably needed).
You’ve heard of delayed gratification, right? Well, we were living out delayed maturation. We were going to night school when we got married.
I was 30-years-old and my husband 37, so we (okay more me than we) were also fast-tracking that early period of marriage so we could grow our family.
To clarify, we were both working full-time, both going to night school part-time, and trying to grow our family while we were learning how to be married.
Neither of us made time to eat right.
We weren’t getting enough sleep so we drank a lot of caffeine. We ate a lot of processed foods (sugar). Ironically, I had a job educating people about how to change their lifestyles.
But behind the scenes, I was living off of Diet Coke and Peanut M&M’s.
We were too tired to exercise, too tired to socialize with friends, too tired to get involved in church, and too tired to even relax.
Sounds, like the perfect time to work on getting pregnant, right?
We lived this way for over five years.
Although we weren’t talking about divorce, we weren’t happy and thriving.
We weren’t well as a couple. We were unhealthy physically, barely hanging on to each other emotionally and unconnected spiritually.
I struggled a lot emotionally with this.
First, I was stressed about my age and the timing of everything. I kept searching for the ‘thing’ that would make my dreams of starting a family come true. In my mind, I didn’t have time to take better care of myself. And I sure wasn’t motivated. Strangley, all I was focused on was getting pregnant, not on our marriage.
Then one night, I had a moment with the Lord who helped me see why my earthly desire to grow our family while burning the candle at both ends, and ignoring the Lord was destroying my marriage. I wasn’t focusing on the marriage or the Lord. My focus was only on my own desires.
This was really the first time I felt like I needed Jesus-not just to go to Him in prayer-but as my savior who loved me so much He died for my sins.
I also felt convicted about my self-care.
In one fleeting moment, with the help of the Lord, I gave up my self-centered focus for a baby and through faith, I was led to put my focus on taking better care of myself and serving my husband. I remember telling the Lord that I didn’t see how this was going to work and that I was scared to give up after ‘trying’ for so long. But, I felt an odd sense of peace and a new passion for my husband. I also had a new passion to take care of myself. But still, having family was everything to me. I couldn’t see how letting
But it did.
Amazingly, when I started serving my husband more, he started serving me more. That was the turning point of how we experienced intimacy in our marriage.
It was also the time when I started digging into scripture.
And, then, that was when I became pregnant.
Later, after my daughter came, we struggled with time for intimacy again as we dealt with her colic. We had to readapt.
But because we had gone through it before and because we were in the Word, we were obedient to the Lord’s marriage instructions. This investment in our intimacy paid off, and it is still paying off today.
Our ‘action’ was a spiritual commitment to take better care of ourselves for the sake of the marriage. I started digging into scripture but as a couple, we became more committed to regular church attendance. We started eating a little bit healthier, getting a little more sleep, getting outside more (we liked to hike) and focused on improving our marriage by taking better care of ourselves so we could take better care of and serve each other. We put each other’s needs ahead of our own.
Why you should improve your self-care for the sake of intimacy in your marriage too.
As a Christian, your self-care protects Christian intimacy. I want you to be in a place that no matter what barriers interfere with intimacy, you have a plan. A plan that is focused on the Lord and your marriage.
I want you to be in a place where your intimacy, with a little patience and work, doesn’t just survive but thrives through the seasons of change.
Scripture – Self-Care Protects Christian Intimacy
Now let’s dig into this scripture to learn how making a spiritual commitment to take care of your body can positively impact the intimacy in your marriage.
Let’s begin with some scripture and talk about the Biblical reasons WHY we should invest time and energy into our self-care.
The first verse is a warning that Paul shares about the risk of temptations we all experience in marriage.
1 Corinthians 7:3-5 reads, “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (NIV).
The NIV version uses the words ‘fulfill his marital duty’. Other versions are more explicit: the ESV uses ‘give to his wife her conjugal rights’, and the NLT uses ‘fulfill his wife’s sexual needs’.
Paul wants us to understand, or another way to say ‘understand’ is to be fully aware of the fact that Satan knows EXACTLY where we are weak. Satan is waiting to attack the intimacy in our marriage if these needs are not met. And, we are to give our spouses our bodies to keep their intimacy needs satisfied.
When both spouses are obedient, it helps us overcome or prevent the temptation to sin in our marriage.
Paul’s saying BE ON GUARD!
Actively work at protecting the intimacy in your marriage. Make a plan, a commitment, and stick to it with action.
I think we’ve all heard that. But what does that look like in real life? Are there instructions? Is there a process? Well if you look at the world you’ll get a lot of suggestions. Most, are not really healthy or helpful to protect the intimacy of marriage.
How to Live it Out
But, if you look back into scripture, you’ll find the instructions. The verse above ended with the phrase, “because of your lack of self-control”. That’s not overly encouraging is it?
Well, that self-control doesn’t come from worldly balance and moderation – it comes through the Holy Spirit when you allow God to control your life. And He tells us EXACTLY WHY AND HOW TO DO!
This time we will go to Ephesians 5:21-30. These verses set the stage to build our strategic plan.
Ephesians 5:21-30 states, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church – for we are members of his body.” (NIV)
God uses these verses to show husbands (& wives) how to submit to their spouse and their marriage sacrificially as Christ does to the church. Christ gave 100% – sacrificially to the Church.
Paul is telling us how to serve each other through a spiritual commitment where we honor the Lord as a way to protect and invest in our marriage.
The main point – sacrifice as Jesus did.
That means not at 50%. Not 25%.
He’s saying to give up control of yourself in everything.
Be present for the sake of the marriage.
That begs the question. We need to ask ourselves, “Am I feeding and caring for my marriage as Christ did for the church?”
I see these verses as instructions that tell us the depth of how we should be taking care of our marriage. Per Scripture, if we
So, an additional way to look at it may be how to take care of ourselves – our minds, bodies
Therefore, we need to ask that question with the consideration of both. “Am I feeding and caring for the marriage body and my body as Christ did for the church?”
We all know that intimacy is a critically important part of marriage.
But, it’s more than sex, it’s connection.
I believe Paul gave this advice because he knew how intimacy would be affected when we became tired and distracted and aren’t intentional with our self-care for our marriage.
Now, note I didn’t say if. I said when.
These distractions are going to happen. Stay present in your marriage by applying these two actions.
- Sacrificial care for your marriage
- Sacrificial care for your own bodies
When these 2 actions are combined together they support the growth of intimacy in your marriage not just now but also serve as an investment for intimacy in the future.
In closing, it important to know why self-care protects Christian intimacy.
Do not let down your guard. Make a spiritual commitment to take better care of yourselves to help you obey the Lord and actively live out 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 and Ephesians 5:21-30.
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