The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable to him.” … So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made the woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’, for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
~ Genesis 2:18, 21-24 ~
Some Pharisees came to test him [Jesus]. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate.”
~ Matthew 19:3-6 ~
What is marriage? What is sex? What is love? These are questions that most people ask at some point in their lives, or some variant thereof. Perhaps they are a young person with their first crush, or they had their first kiss, or they are wondering what boundaries are. They could be someone a bit older, looking for the person to spend the rest of their life with, who is wondering if cohabitation is right. They might be someone who has been married a long time; perhaps content, perhaps not. Yet they each might wonder the same things: What does love, sex, and marriage have to do with each other, and why does it matter?
Marriage, love, and sex are tricky things. Now, they do not have to be, but they often become so. In an age where casual sex is common and broken marriages or families are every one in two, it can be hard for a person to know how to navigate a life with love. What is right and wrong? Is there a right and wrong choice? The answer is yes, regardless of the desired answer.
In the beginning, God made them male and female; their names were Adam and Eve. Though there was likely no ceremony, no gifts, no officiant, these two were married. Why? The answer was simple: they were united in flesh. Not only were these two made for each other because they were of the same flesh – or kind, which is mankind – they were united in body through, you guessed it, sex.
In today’s world, and perhaps especially in the United States, we think someone is not married until they have signed a marriage license. These licenses are a rather new phenomenon and have a rather negative history. Moreover, they are not what actually makes two people married. Others say a couples has to be married before a pastor, and this is a little bit closer to the truth, but not exact. People are married in the eyes of God when they are united in flesh. This is because marriage and sex are two things that should never be separated.
Marriage and sex are closely intertwined. People should only have sex if they are married and only engage in it with the person to whom they are married. There are no third parties in this: no adultery, no threesome, no porn, etc. This is a sacred and intimate act that should only ever be engaged with a ones spouse. Regarding the marriage contract, while for some it is nice to have a physical statement of commitment, that is not the true goal. The goal is to recognize the sacred institution of marriage before God and that you will not break that contract for any reason, besides death, which breaks the contract, or adultery, which does not make you unmarried – but those are for another time.
Thus, sex should only be between a husband and a wife. But what about love? Well, this is when people make things unnecessarily murky. People know that marriage should only be between a husband and a wife. Yet at some point, people decided if they weren’t getting what they wanted in marriage, they could go elsewhere to find it. This was wrong. Sometimes the wrongness took the form of secret partners, prostitution, or rape. Each are wrong and on a number of levels. But instead of calling the wrongness for what it was, the definition of what was right and accepted and wrong was blurred some more. People decided that so long as they loved each other, or consented to the act, they could have sex. But this blurred the lines more, because then people didn’t know if it was truly consensual or not. Worse, families were broken, lives lost, and children grew up with bad examples that they were keen to follow. Why keen? Because as was from the Rebellion, mankind has been prone to follow the sinful nature. Because sex was disassociated with marriage, people were harmed by their own or someone else’s actions. In the end, it was “not good” and not the way that God intended the union of two people to be.
So what about love? Well, love, marriage, and sex do not always follow. Sometimes, one spouse will not love the other. For this reason, they think they are justified to have sex with the person whom they love. They associate sex with love and love with sex instead of sex with marriage which typically results in love. Instead of following the natural order, they did what was wrong. You see, when people disassociated marriage from sex, they forget its true purpose. By doing what was wrong in the Lord’s eyes and snubbing commitment, they discarded the family and spousal roles they agreed to follow when they became one in marriage. They forgot that no one should separate what God has joined. In doing so, they confused themselves in their own sin and then fear the consequences they dwell in because of it. They were caught in their own folly.
Marriage always has to come first. Then sex may and should follow. In engaging in this holy and intimate act, love is bound to follow. But this order does not go the other way. And in fact, even when love and sex aren’t there, marriage still stands. Marriage is a contract before the Lord and to each other that should not be broken. As our Lord said, “What God has joined together, let no man separate.”
People have made these three things very tricky, but as I said, they need not be. If one follows the guidelines laid out by the Lord, one will be fine. God does not give rules for no reason – though even if our understanding is below His and we don’t see the reason, we should still obey. But no, the Lord gives rules because He loves us, just as He disciplines us when we disobey. It is not to our detriment, but for our good. Sex is not a game or something for the mere sake of pleasure. Sex was designed only to be between a husband and wife. Anything outside of this will result in suffering. On the other hand, one can avoid the consequences of extramarital sex when one follows what the Lord has taught. This is not to say that marriage will be smooth sailing, especially since mankind is fallible, but these rules exist to guide us towards what is right and what pleases God our Savior. There is a right and a wrong choice regarding marriage, sex, and love. But no matter what stage you are at, beginning to follow the commands of God is always the best way to go; Our Lord is a forgiving Savior, and He loves us with an unfailing love. And as His Church is His bride, He will be faithful.
Blessings to you and yours,