Ecclesiastes 3:5b – “a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;”
“A time to embrace and a time to refrain,” at first glance, appears to write itself in a devo for husbands and wives. One way to look at it is the season of embracing comes after the marriage vows, after a season of refraining.
Sex is God’s idea. He created it. Scripture is clear about this. Sex within the context of marriage is not only right and good, but beautiful and commanded. Song of Solomon celebrates the pleasures of what happens in the intimate moments of marriage. First Corinthians commands husbands and wives to give themselves bodily to one another. In the beginning, with the man and his wife both naked and not ashamed, God said, “be fruitful and multiply.” God gave sex as a gift to husbands and wives.
Marriage is a time to embrace. The marriage bed is not simply about physical pleasure and procreation, it is a place of intimacy. Because we have been made in the image of our triune God, we have been designed for intimacy with a member of the opposite sex. While this intimacy includes the physical, we are also called to embrace emotional and spiritual intimacy. Scripture tells us that marital intimacy is a mysterious picture of the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church. This relationship is put on display when we embrace all areas of intimacy in our marriage under the Lordship of Christ.
Intimacy is a sharing of lives, a knowing of each other and of being known. It is being loved and cherished within that knowledge. Intimacy breeds vulnerability and authenticity. Intimacy builds trust, strengthens connection, increases joy and takes you on a journey together.
Without intimacy the marriage bed becomes self-centered. Marriage without intimacy is cold and lifeless. Without intimacy husbands and wives lead separate lives under the same roof, disconnected, lonely and prone to resentment.
So how’s it going? For some of you, you’re killing it. You are embracing well and often. Connected physically, emotionally and spiritually. Others are scratching their heads to recall when the embrace of intimacy departed your marriage. And everyone else is on the spectrum somewhere in between with seasons where one area of intimacy is embraced more than others.
Embracing intimacy in our marriage takes work. We must consider what we choose to embrace daily as well as what we choose to refrain from embracing in order to strengthen our marriage bed. Embracing intimacy is not simply a matter of “try harder, do better” and it doesn’t even start with our spouse. Intimacy begins with the Lord.
As we discover and deepen our relationship with Christ, intimacy with Him increases. As intimacy with Christ increases, our understanding of what He calls us to embrace and to refrain from grows. As understanding grows, we submit our lives to His wisdom. As we walk in wisdom, we embrace our call as husbands and wives. As we embrace our call as husbands and wives, God is glorified and intimacy with one another is fostered.
Today, may we invite the Lord to lead our marriage and to be the foundation of intimacy with our spouse. May we walk as husbands and wives known and loved. May areas where intimacy has dimmed be brought to life and may new depths be revealed. May we embrace sacrificial love for our spouse and refrain from the belief that they must do so for us first. We have been created to embrace intimacy; may we embrace the one God has given us in marriage.
To embrace is to hold closely, to accept or support willingly and enthusiastically, to clasp gladly.
- Have you embraced your God-given role as a husband/wife? Why or why not?
- How are you embracing the way God has made your spouse different and unique from you?
- Where do you need to embrace repentance/forgiveness in your marriage?
To refrain is to stop holding on, to let go of, to abstain, to avoid, to stop.
- Who or what are you holding on to that is robbing your spouse of your full devotion?
- What ideas do you have about what it means to be a husband/wife that are not about the glory of God? How will you release them?
- The enemy has three tactics, lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life. What are you trying to feel, to have or to be that is keeping you from giving yourself fully in intimacy to your spouse?
Genesis 1:27-28, 1 Corinthians 7, Genesis 2:24-25, Song of Solomon 7:6-12, Mark 2:6-9, Ephesians 5, 1 John 2:1-17