At its best, the sexual act is a selfless celebration, in the presence of an approving God, of mutuality, difference, unity, and plurality. It is the emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual coming together of two consenting adults as husband and wife.

But in reality, our experiences often do not correspond with the ideal. Our differences divide us, while our sameness conjures up insecurities. We strive for individuality in place of unity, and codependent homogeneity where there ought to be distinctiveness. The very things that should contribute to making the experience fulfilling are perverted to turn the blessing into a curse. Instead of augmenting the emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of our lives, our sexuality can actually degrade them.

Leaving off talking about the supposedly “ideal” sexual encounter, many married couples in committed relationships rarely have sex. Even when it is not perfect, sex helps a couple to connect in a way that is unique to their relationship. Yet in the setting where sexuality ought to be freely expressed, couples are not engaging in the experience.

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 7:5, instructs married couples, “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.” It is in the best interest of the marriage relationship to come together sexually often. Notwithstanding other mitigating circumstances, failure to do so is both an indication that the relationship is in danger and a forecast that trouble lies ahead. It has been said that before marriage, the devil does all he can to get you to engage in sexual activity, and after marriage, he does all he can to keep you from doing so with your spouse.

In light of the fact that our experience of sexuality is more often flawed than not, how should we navigate this reality? What is the Bible’s ideal response to our distorted experience of sexuality?