But, the thing is, I think the subject is very relevant.
What happens between a husband and wife—the intimate space of their together life—is vital to marriage. And, for couples in ministry, intimacy can easily get crowded by other needs, left to languish in a dusty corner.
So, here are 4 Encouragements to Nurture an Intimate Life even in—especially in!—the challenges of a ministry marriage.
(1) Intimacy is duty, right, privilege, and pleasure.
Our gracious God, knowing our tendency to pigheadedness, sets us in marriage and says, “Do this,” and then, just so we pay a little more attention, He promises, “I have made it good.”
Sex, like everything else, is created to work according to the Creator’s design: pursue intimacy (1 Cor. 7:5), acknowledge the right to enjoy each other’s bodies (I Cor. 7:4), and know intimacy as both blessing and pleasure (Prov. 5: 18-19, 23).
A wise couple takes that all the way to bed.
(2) Intimacy mounts a defense against sexual sin.
A cheapened version of sex is everywhere streamed, linked, downloaded, and promoted in HD. It's also ten-feet-tall on the billboard I drive past in the van with my three sons, praying hard.
The Roaring Lion is outside the door, scratching on the doorposts of the bedroom. He wants ministry marriages to fall into sin, shame.
And the principle of Scripture is again and again: put off bad; put on good. So, pray it like you mean it: “Lead us not into temptation.”
Then, put on the goodness of intimacy. Put it on like your marriage depends on it.
Because, of course, it does.
(3) Intimacy provides emotional replenishment.
At the end of the day, a mother of young children is often tired of having children climbing on her, and asking for stuff, and following her around, and always, always touching her.
A variation of this is present in ministry life: After church, after meetings, after hospital visits, I just want some space. Alone, thank you.
But, contrary to what we might expect, married intimacy is exactly the right treatment for people-weary people. It is emotional replenishment for exhausted couples.
Writing in Design for Christian Marriage, Dwight Hervey Small says, “Sexual intercourse is more than a physical act, it is a symbol of a spiritual relationship and the expression of the complete oneness of two persons in married love.”
(Maybe you’ll let me digress long enough to share the best counsel I have ever received on the subject—Be willing to be made willing.)
(4) Intimacy creates privacy.
Does your phone bleep, beep, and buzz constantly? Does your dining room table seat twice as many people as actually live in your house? Do you think owning a bed-and-breakfast would be a no-brainer second career?
Being on call, on display, on demand, is a sacrifice for which the Lord gives much grace. But ministry marriages suffer without private spaces.
The Song of Solomon talks about walls: She is a wall. I am a wall. He stands behind our wall. An intimate life builds a wall of marital protection and much-needed privacy.
The wall creates a secret space for what author Wayne Mack calls “a means of deep communion and sharing through which a husband and wife come to know each other in a very intimate way.”
This is good.