Marriage According to God’s Design

At my church we just finished a sermon series entitled “Sexology,” looking at God’s design for romance, sex, and marriage from 1 Corinthians. During the series our local paper, the Lebanon Democrat, asked me to run a few columns on faith. Below is the second installment:

As a child, my brother tried to warm up an unopened Pop Tart in the microwave, and it lit up like the Fourth of July Why? Pop Tarts aren’t designed that way.

That’s not just true for breakfast treats; it’s true for marriage and intimacy, as well. Our culture and churches are broken because we’ve departed from God’s design for intimacy in marriage alone. Broken marriages and broken homes surround us due to pornography, adultery, divorce and more.

Why? Fundamentally, we trust our desires more than we trust God’s design. The problem isn’t that our desires are too strong. The problem is they’re too weak. When we depart from God’s design for intimacy in marriage, we settle for far less than what we could enjoy. God’s design doesn’t minimize our joy; it maximizes it.

What is God’s design? Jesus goes back to creation in Matthew 19 to give God’s design for marriage. From the beginning, marriage was one man and one woman brought together in an exclusive union where intimacy would be enjoyed. This definition is the standard against which all intimate acts are measured.

Apple gets to tell us how to use the iPhone because they designed and made it. Ford gets to tell you how to use your truck. And, God gets to tell us what marriage is and how intimacy works best because He designed and made them. He gives us this design because He loves us, He knows how intimacy works best, and He doesn’t want us to hurt ourselves. He’s not trying to rain on our parade. He wants to maximize our joy.

The problem is that we depart from God’s design, which the Bible calls sin. There are all kinds of ways we do that, pornography, premarital sex, adultery, immorality and unbiblical divorce. We do these things because we elevate our immediate gratification over God’s plan.

When we depart from God’s design of intimacy in the exclusive relationship of one man and woman in marriage, we experience brokenness. When we use marriage and intimacy in ways God didn’t design, marriages disintegrate, families are broken, shame is experienced, and much more. And then, we try all kinds of ways to get out of our brokenness but end up more broken. People move from one destructive relationship to another looking for joy this time around, but they can’t find it.

But, there’s good news for broken people and marriages. Jesus took all of our brokenness on Himself so that we could be forgiven and cleansed. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 reveals there’s not a single sexual sin that can’t be cleansed by Jesus’ cross. Not one. Our response should be to recognize that what we’ve done is wrong, confess it to God, turn away from it, and place our trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection for forgiveness and a new start.

Once you’ve received forgiveness from Christ for departing from His design for intimacy in marriage, you can now recover and pursue God’s design for your life from this point forward. It doesn’t matter what your past is. You can’t go back and untangle all the knots, but you can pursue God’s plan from this moment forward by Jesus’ grace.

And if you’ll do that – if you’ll be patient, fight for your marriage in tough times, and if you’ll trust God’s design – then you’ll experience a joy you can’t imagine right now.

Jon Akin is lead pastor of Fairview Church in Lebanon, TN