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Saturday, November 2, 2013

What does grace have to do with sex? Everything.

This is the fourth and final post in this series on helping your spouse to be secure in your love, based on part of the excellent new book by Dr. Tim Kimmel called Grace Filled Marriage. This is one of the best marriage books I've read in a long time.

To me, grace and love are the bookends of marriage. Both are essential for keeping your marriage aligned with God's plan for marriage, keeping you and your spouse close to each other, and keeping things in your marriage from toppling over. Grace Filled Marriage does a fantastic job of communicating the grace end of that message, and I highly recommend it for every married couple. You can buy it through my affiliate link by clicking on the book image at the bottom of this post, or by clicking here. Also see below for the details of how to win a free copy.

We are focusing on a part of the book that deals with one of our core human needs: the need to be secure in love. In the Introduction to this series, I explained how we all desire the security of knowing we are loved. (This is the first of Dr. Kimmel's three core human needs: security, significance and strength.) In Part Two I explained how your spouse feels more secure in your love when you accept them for who they are. Part Three emphasized our need to have affinity for our spouse's heart by caring about and engaging with the things that are important to them.

We are Designed to Need Physical Affection

Today I conclude with Dr. Kimmel's third key ingredient for making your spouse feel secure in your love: physical affection.

Of course affection can and should be shown in many non-physical ways, and these are important. But God designed our physical beings to crave the affection expressed through actual human contact. As Dr. Kimmel puts it:
Our hearts respond well to regular and generous helpings of affection. That’s because love grows much more secure when our spouse is lavish about giving and receiving meaningful touch.
Grace Filled Marriage p.72

The fact is, physical affection is a powerful agent for building secure love into our spouse. Holding hands, hugging, and kissing all add layer upon layer of security in the love within each other’s hearts. But these are all warm preliminaries compared to the ultimate display of affection in marriage—sex. (p. 73)

Grace Filled Sex

I've been reading and commenting on some posts on other blogs in response to a recent Relevant Magazine article, which exclaimed, in what I felt was a purposefully inflammatory title, that "Christians Are Not Called to Have Amazing Sex." You can probably guess that there are a lot of things in the article that I disagree with, but the bottom line for me is that I do believe it is God's intent and desire that every marriage be one in which physical intimacy thrives. Do look at it otherwise is to deny God's design for marriage.

I believe sex is an essential component of intimacy that should not be downplayed. It is wonderfully unique in that this is the one component of your marriage relationship that only you and your spouse can share. Of course sex should not be elevated to the point where it becomes an idol either, but if I had to guess, there are a whole lot more sex-starved marriage than sex-idol ones.

So what is the connection between sex and grace? You might be surprised how closely the two are linked:
What does grace have to do with sex? Everything. If anything, our sexual relationship is the litmus test on how serious we are about being an agent of God’s grace when it comes to our spouse. p. 74
Because of the intense vulnerability and raw emotions that sex brings about, it is probably one of the areas in marriage where grace is most called for.

Dr. Kimmel first explains what graceless sex looks like:
  • Sex used for manipulation or to get what we want
  • Sex as reward for "good behavior"
  • Withholding sex as a form of punishment
  • Viewing sex as an obligation rather than a privilege
  • Demanding sex
  • Defrauding sex by denying its rightful place
I don't need to expound much on these. I'm sure you've seen plenty of examples of graceless sex. If these are NOT how sex should fit into your marriage, what is the opposite?

Here's the bottom line of what grace-filled sex is, as explained by Darcey, Dr. Kimmel's wife:
Grace-filled intimacy is about giving with enthusiasm and receiving with joy. The more we align our hearts with God’s heart of grace, the more we can see the strategic role we play as an intimate partner with our spouse. God meant for our marriage bed to be a place of passion, joy, fun, adventure, and mutual satisfaction. And when the intimacy we enjoy  there is an extension of our gracious desire to meet each other’s needs, our love grows  secure. (p.82)
Perfectly said. Amen!

A Secure Love Challenge

Have you given some thought to my question from the Introduction to the series? What would your marriage be like if neither you nor your spouse ever had any doubts about the fact that you are truly, deeply loved by one another? Ponder it. I'm willing bet it's impact would be significant.

In wrapping up this short series on Grace Filled Marriage, I hope I've helped convince you of the important role of grace in marriage, and more specifically how important it is to help your husband or wife be secure in your love. (I also hope I've convinced you to go get this great book! Again, you can get it on through my Amazon affiliate program by clicking on the book image below.)

Let me issue a challenge to you. Consider the three ways I've described in this series to help your spouse feel secure in your love.
  1. Accepting and appreciating who your spouse is at the core of their being
  2. Embracing and participating in the things that are important to your spouse
  3. Showing consistent affection, primarily through sexual intimacy, but also in other ways

Identify the one you feel you have the most to improve on. Now, make a specific plan for what you are going to do differently in the next week to make your spouse more secure in your love.

As a bonus, give yourself a little accountability and extra motivation by leaving a comment below with your planned area for improvement. You don't have to share your specific plan, unless you want to.

image credit:  vgstudio /

Get your copy of "Grace Filled Marriage" on Amazon by clicking on the book image to the right. When you buy through my affiliate link, you help support this marriage ministry. Thanks!

I'm giving away a free copy of "Grace Filled Marriage." I'm selecting from among all those who newly "like" my Journey to Surrender Facebook page. If you already like my page, you can also enter by "sharing" or leaving a comment on any of my Grace Filled Marriage series wall posts (on my FB page).


Anonymous said...

"3.Showing consistent affection, primarily through sexual intimacy ..."

I would add heavy emphasis on the word CONSISTENT. Sex changes a man's heart. I don't know how and I don't know why; only that it does.

Unknown said...
You have touched on many great points concerning the dynamics of intimacy and security while revealing this book to us. Thank you for your thoughtful posts.

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