One time in college I was meeting with this older gentleman who I looked up to and as we were talking the subject of relationships and marriage came up. We were talking about a couple of relationships of people we knew as well as one I had just gotten out of. Now this guy had gotten married really young and had been married for a long time.
The conversation turned toward the decision to get married. He said, “I always tell people this – don’t get married for sex.” Now I was young and arrogant so I nodded knowingly but I really had no idea what he meant. Ha. He went on to explain it basically saying that desire to have sex was not a good reason to marry. I think he was wrong.
I would maybe say that sex shouldn’t be the only reason you get married.
But actually, sex is part of the reason. God created us with a sex drive. Again this is pre-sin. Adam and Eve have sex – heck they are commanded to – before the fall. God did not create our sex drive so that we could sit around and not use it. And, as is fairly obvious in the whole of scripture (more on this soon) sex is to be enjoyed (key word) in the context of marriage. In fact one of the functions of sex is to bond the two together in marriage (hence the whole becoming one flesh thing).
One of the reasons that we have more single people than ever in history (49% of adults in the U.S.) is that we have separated sex and marriage.
Sex is an industry in our country. It is readily available in one form or another every day. This really screws up single people. For one thing, almost everyone has had sex before marriage. If you haven’t that is great but it’s not the norm at this point. So if you are having or have had sex, it makes marriage less urgent. If I can have sex, oral sex, and/or meet my own sexual needs through a constant stream of porn and masturbation without marriage – then there is less of a pull to get married. This is not rocket science.
Even worse, once you have sinned sexually you can allow the guilt and shame of that to drive you. It can drive you to continue doing it, or only date people that also have, among other things. It can make you feel like you’ve messed it up so you now can’t have it the right way.
On the flip side, and this isn’t talked about much, delaying marriage is one of the big reasons that people end up seeking sexual fulfillment outside of marriage. Even just 50 years ago in 1960 (not exactly ancient times) 59% of those aged 18-29 were married. That number is now 20%. So basically 60 years ago you started thinking about sex in your early teenage years and you waited 4-10 years. Now you wait 10-20. That is no joke. It’s hard to do.
Add to this the fact that a lot of religious people have turned sex itself into the bad guy, which leads to all sorts of problems, not the least of which is married people still feeling bad about sex. This is why it is so important to do more than tell single people to not have sex – it can mess up both singleness and marriage.
Here’s the point. Sex should be part of the reason you get married.
This is one of things Paul talks about this in 1st Corinthians 7. He is speaking to a group of people trying to navigate marriage and sex in a completely crazy society (sound familiar?). He says it straight up – if you are going to have sex – get married. In a way, Paul is saying, part of the way to avoid sexual immorality is to enjoy sex in the context of marriage. Paul says some have the calling to be single, but if you don’t, get married and have some sex.
This is so important. There are no easy fixes here in our context, but one of the things we have to do is get two things clearly in our heads. The first is we need a solid biblical view of sex (that it is good, from God, and part of marriage). The second is that it is indeed a part of the reason we get married – God intended it that way.
I’ve joked with friends before that if it weren’t for sex, would anyone get married? Look, there is way, way more to marriage obviously. And, obviously just wanting sex with someone is not a stand alone reason to get married. However, it is a part of the driving force – and that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.