How to THRIVE in Your Marriage Vows Series - Part 2
Disclaimer - Because of sin, there is serious dysfunction in some marriages today. This series does not mean to whitewash any problems inside of broken marriages. Instead, it is my desire to uncover the beauty of the vows thru a Biblical worldview and how they are meant to play out in a healthy marriage.
“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth- for your love is more delightful than wine,” the woman purred about her man. The latest Hallmark movie? Nope. A dime store romance novel? Nope. Just the opening line from a sizzling book known as The Song of Solomon!
Ah, the beauty of marital love portrayed in God’s living Word. Why do we grow shy or are shocked when God and sex are mentioned in the same conversation? “We should not be ashamed to discuss that which God was not ashamed to create.” declared Dr. Howard Hendricks. Amen and amen! So discuss it we shall!
The Mystery of Oneness
How can 1+1=1? Only in God’s economy does this mystery make sense. Oneness is the ultimate goal of any marital relationship. It’s when two separate entities work together, using their strengths and differences to function as one physically, spiritually, and emotionally, for the glory of the Lord and the good of His kingdom. And it all begins in the bedroom.
The Vow of Oneness
Dear one, did you know you promised to have sex with your husband when you said, “I do!” You did! The first line of the traditional marriage vow begins with,
“I _________ take ________ to have and to hold from this day forward”
To have is a promise of unconditional acceptance, to receive without reservation the total self, a gift to the other spouse.
“To have” is the “I choose you just the way you are over everyone else in this world.”
To hold is a pledge of physical affection and tenderness, a vow to be available to the other person in body and soul. Whoop! Whoop! Yup, sex.
“To hold from this day forward” is the embodiment of God’s command to “leave and cleave.”
That is why a man leaves his father and mother
and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5, Ephesians 5:31.
What is this united and one flesh? How do we unite and become one flesh through the good, bad, and the ugly of marriage? Ephesians 5:32 tells us, “This mystery is great.” And a mystery it is. We won’t understand all of it until we step behind the veil. But God invites us to dig for treasures in His Word. Let’s get started.
“Father, open the eyes of our hearts to understand the Scriptures. Soften our hearts to accept the life-giving truth we’re about to uncover. May we live in such a way that pleases you and brings you glory. In Jesus’s powerful name, Amen.”
When you and your man come together as one, it is the ultimate picture of what your marriage should look like, the giving and receiving, the dying to self. Two unique beings joined together to make something beautiful. “The gift of sexual intimacy is to be an expression of unselfish love. It's a physical demonstration of spiritual unity.”(1) Therefore, to have and to hold is a picture of the bliss we’ll have in eternity with Christ.
The unique design of the male body coupled with the intricate design of the female body fit so beautifully together, making two one. Sex, making love, intercourse, whatever you want to call it, was designed by God. Sex was His idea, His gift to His creation.
God didn’t just design male and female to come together to create new life. He designed our bodies to enjoy coming together. He created us with sexual organs which have oodles of nerve endings meant to be stimulated and to bring us pleasure. In a healthy, giving relationship, to have and to hold is not only good, but also pleasing.
Fulfilling the Command of Oneness
In the disclaimer, I said I wanted to give the Biblical view on the marriage vows. Culture has tainted what God calls good. It’s time we peel back the lies and allow the truth to shine brightly into our marriages.
How do we “to have and to hold?” How do we leave and cleave and become one? God’s life-giving Word is a light unto our feet and a lamp unto our path in all our ways, including our bedroom. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 explains how we “to have and to hold.”
1. Be Kind
Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her,
and likewise also the wife to her husband. I Corinthians 7:3
Affection in the Greek is eunoia meaning goodwill, kindness and…drum roll…conjugal duty. Yup, sex. It is a kindness for the husband to give the wife the emotional affection she needs leading up to and in the act of sex. But this blog is for women, so we’ll move to what we can control, ourselves.
Be kind to your husband, in other words, he needs you. It is a kindness to make love and to make love frequently. This is regardless of whether we think he deserves it. He needs sex. It is the way God wired him.
Since God designed our man to want/need sex means he gave him that sex drive. The evil one wants to twist what God called good. So, he’s used culture as a megaphone for his lies: Men are pigs. Men think below the belt. All men want is sex. etc. Dear one, these thoughts are meant to crawl into your marital bed and strangle your marital love.
God created your man with that wiring so he’d come back to you after a long day at work or from a fishing trip with his buddies. You are his magnet bringing him back home. It’s God’s wonderful design.
Just think, your husband chose you of all the women on planet earth to be his one and only.
Dear one, it is kind to be a willing partner. It is your husband’s due, his privilege. After all, that is what you promised when you said, “I do.”
2. Be Giving
The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. 1 Corinthians 7:4a
I believe the NIV states it best: The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. It’s our body. It’s ours to take care of and use to the glory of God. But when we said, “I do” we enter a binding agreement that it also becomes our husbands. Not to abuse or take advantage of it, but for our body to bring delight to our husband. And vice versa, his body to bring delight to us!
Dear one, you promised to give him your body when you said, “I do.”
And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 1 Corinthians 7:4 Whoop! Whoop! See Song of Solomon.
3. Fulfill a Need
Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Corinthians 7:5
This is a big one. It’s a command. Stop depriving or denying your husband. Deprive in the Greek is apostereō meaning to defraud, rob, despoil. One translation says, “Do not refuse…” When we refuse physical affection and sexual intimacy with our spouse, we not only cheat them but ourselves as well. As one, when one person in the marriage is suffering, the partnership suffers.
If you both consent for a brief time to abstain because you’re praying and fasting, (1 Corinthians 7:5) that’s fine. But it needs to be brief, and you need to make love soon and often.
4. Rekindle Oneness
“To have and to hold” can grow cold because of busyness, kids, physical changes, emotional distance, etc. Here are some suggestions to try for the next 30 days to get the fires burning again:
1. Pray. Seriously. If it is God’s will for you to be your man’s lover, He will equip you to fully step into that role emotionally as well as physically. I like to pray different verses from Song of Solomon, esp. SOS 5:16.
2. Hug - 20 seconds - full body contact - set a timer if you have to but just do it. Every day. (2)
3. Kiss - 6 seconds - Before either of you walk out the door, kiss a very married kiss for 6 seconds or longer. (3)
4. Sex - 72 hour rule - My friend, that’s how God designed your man, with a 72 hour clock. Plan for it. Schedule it. Whatever, just make sure it happens. (4)
To have and to hold. One powerful line of a vow. I’d even go out on a limb to say it’s the most important line in the marriage vows. Why? When we choose to intentionally have and hold our spouse, it builds a ship able to handle the roughest storms.
May we Jesus Girls peel away culture's lies and choose to live counter-culturally. May we remember our promise to unconditionally accept our husband and be available to him all the days of our lives to the glory of the Lord and for our good.
“I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go.” Song of Solomon 3:4
How about you, my friend? Which of the 4 ways to heat up your marriage are you going to work on this month?
I Do? Who Knew? - Part 1
Heat up Your "to Have and to Hold" - Part 2
Winning Solution "for Better for Worse" - Part 3
Do Not Grow Weary "In Sickness and in Health" - Part 4
3. Revive Our Hearts
4. No MakeUp Require
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Confidante. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.