I recently published an article on the meaning of sexual intimacy in marriage in the academic journal, Eikon: A Journal for Biblical Anthropology. You can view the entire article, “The Beautiful Meaning of Marital Sexual Intimacy” for free online.
In the article, I make the argument that sex is tremendously significant, in the first place, for theological reasons. And those reasons, in turn, are of remarkable practical import. Theologically, I make the case that sexual intimacy in marriage is governed by the telos of symbolizing union with Christ. The chief meaning of sexual intimacy is of consequence then, because it points beyond itself.
I argue that sex in marriage is a form of covenant renewal ceremony, with some beautiful parallel symbolism to the Lord’s Supper. And, further, for the expression of its deepest meaning, marital sexual intimacy depends on what I term (borrowing from Jonathan Edwards) a unification of diverse excellencies. All of this, when understood and cherished, can serve the very positive practical cultivation of intimacy (of which, sex is only one aspect) between the husband and wife in their complementary, embodied, pursuit of vow-renewing unity.
Finally, for reasons that the article goes into, I think that one of the key upshots of understanding the telos of marital sexual intimacy is the resultant clarity that sexual behavior outside of those contexts is, as C.S. Lewis would put it, “far too easily pleased.” If any of that sounds of interest, feel free to check it out. My hope is that, in God’s kindness, it would not only help us to think more accurately about God’s gift of sex in marriage but also have a part to play in strengthening the marital unity of many Christian couples.
Access “The Beautiful Meaning of Marital Sexual Intimacy,” Eikon: A Journal for Biblical Anthropology, 3/1 (2021): on pages 30-41 online.