Pastoral Pre-Marital Counselling – Part 6

The last of the Pastoral pre-marital counselling sessions with a couple is left till last for a very good reason. This is usually and best left until the week of the wedding. By this stage the couple has gone through the first four levels of developing intimate communication (discussed in my previous posts). We now come to the fifth and the most intimate level of communicating.

The pastor will chat with the couple to disarm them before the final pre-marital session starts. He would do well to listen particularly for any stressors that the couple may be encountering. There is then some revision and a review of their homework from the previous session.

We live in a very sexualised culture. Despite this, we also live in a deeply lonely culture and one where relationships are increasingly shallow and unsatisfying. Our culture promotes relationships where lust and infatuation are confused for “love”. It celebrates sex without intimacy and connections without commitments. Marriage is now profoundly counter-cultural! 

Marriage is the solution to loneliness. Marriage provides the environment for an intensely deep connection with another person who is emotionally, biologically, and (somewhat) spiritually radically different. Rather than enabling a person to have their needs met, marriage provides the privilege of meeting another person’s needs. Lust takes while love gives. Lust demands while love surrenders. Lust is insatiable while love is satisfying. It is within marriage that sex becomes a physical expression of the deepest possible intimacy between a man and his bride.

Sex within marriage is not a side issue. It is, after all, why many people get married because they know that sexual activity outside of marriage is both immoral (against the Natural Law) and sin (against God’s Law). Sex has been described as the “glue” that binds a husband to his wife. We even use sexual language to describe the commencement of a marriage with the word – wedding.

Having shown a couple the difference between the world’s vision of sex and the God of the Bible’s view of His sacred gift to a couple, the pastor will then explain to a couple about the fifth and deepest level of (intimate) communication and its connection to sex. The pastor will explain that sexual intimacy is an expression of love, rather than lust, and he will give a couple some reasons to support this.

In the previous session with the couple, the pastor went through the Marriage Vows. Now he will show and explain why aspects of these vows involve the couple’s sexual relationship. The Vows open with the question, “Will you take this woman to be your wedded wife”. To “wed” is to merge together. In the sense of a marriage it at least involves sexualising the relationship. The Vows contain the expression, “…to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of marriage…” Living together is not merely co-habiting. It is intimate sharing – of resources, time, social engagements, meals, goals, holidays, thoughts, a bed and their bodies. “…keeping yourself only unto her…” is a vow of not just sexual fidelity (to not commit adultery) but of sexual dedication

Every time a married couple makes love they are renewing their wedding vows. Sex between a man and his wife is a glue designed to knit them together physically – their bodies are perfectly designed for it – emotionally – relationship security is enhanced with the associated messages of desire and surrender – and, spiritually – God has designed men in a certain spiritual fashion and women in another spiritual fashion that is celebrated in the union of marital (“covenant”) sex.

Some people state that whatever happens in the bedroom of a married couple is fine as long there is consent. Generally this is true. However, there must be boundaries. The marriage vows help to establish some. “Keep yourself only unto” not only precludes the involvement of a third party, but surely the virtual involvement of any other person or people. We live in a virtual world now of smart-phones, tablets, video-screens and home-theatres. Pornography is largely virtual today. Despite porn-peddlars promoting their wares as “marital aids” they rarely serve any interest other than a commercial one.

Our bodies are designed to be sexual – but not just sexual. That is, not every part, cavity, crease, or crevice, is designed for the purposes of sex. Some parts of our bodies are, to use the old King James language, “unseemly” (Romans 1:27; 1Corinthians 13:5). They are designed to perform a vital biological role that could be injured or damaged if used for another purpose.

Intimacy is furthered by good communication. Over the past few months as the pastor has worked with the couple giving them ‘homework’ and communication exercises, it has been the goal of these sessions to help the couple to prepare for their marriage by helping them to communicate more effectively. I have discussed this in my previous posts. The most intimate form of communicating is when a married couple share and meet each other’s needs. It is from intimacy that sex is thrilling and deeply satisfying. Having helped a couple to understand that each other’s sexual needs are met differently (men are generally aroused visually while women are generally aroused audibly, followed by appropriate touch) the pastor can conclude by inviting questions and letting the couple know that they are just days away from opening God’s beautiful wedding gift of sex. After closing in prayer, their next appointment is the wedding rehearsal.

Andrew Corbett.


About Dr Andrew Corbett

Pastor, Teacher, Theologian, Writer, Speaker, Coach.
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