Let’s Talk About the Bedroom


The first time I read about Intimacy Anorexia (IA), I was completely unaware of how prevalent it is across America, and apparently, it’s not uncommon even among Christians. IA is the result of a spouse deliberately withholding sexual intimacy from the other spouse. While such an aberration of biblical marriage might require long-term counseling, I would like to share a few thoughts to encourage those who may presently exist in a sexless marriage.

1. Understand God’s Plan

The Word of God addresses this problem head on, and the Apostle Paul’s inspired advice on this subject is clear: “Do not deprive each other of sexual relations unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (1 Corinthians 7:5 NLT)

A biblical theology of sex reveals that God intends sex within marriage to be the selfless, satisfying affirmation of our spouse. Denying such affirmation could very well result in bitterness, resentment, or just plain sadness, and those are the things that often lead to divorce.

In a nutshell, the Lord created the sexual relationship for three basic reasons, and I believe it’s vital that Christians have a biblical understanding of God’s plan for marriage.

1. Partnership: Marriage is a partnership which is cemented and fortified by sexual intimacy. Husbands and wives becoming one in this intimate partnership is what Peter calls becoming “heirs together of the grace of life.” (1 Peter 3:7) A.W. Tozer explains, “it seems to be the will of God that husband and wife together may become what neither one could be apart and alone!”

2. Procreation: I believe that, in most cases, it is the will of God for marriages to produce children. In general, the Lord desires couples to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). Children are a gift from God and the fruit of the womb is his reward (Psalm 127:3).

3. Pleasure: God invented pleasure and intended marriage as a means to that end. “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.” (Proverbs 5:18-19)

Of course, God’s design for sex doesn’t guarantee that there won’t be problems and challenges in the marriage bed. Yet, I believe the Lord intends for us to take the better along with the worse so that we can work together pursuing a meaningful and pleasurable experience. To that end, we must trust God for the wisdom and grace to make that happen.

2. Understand Your Spouse

Peter exhorts husbands to “live with your wives in an understanding way.” (1 Peter 3:7) Depriving a spouse of sexual intimacy makes them feel unwanted and unaffirmed. Men especially need to understand that a key component of sexual intimacy is heartfelt, open communication. Therefore, determine to have the hard conversation about the state of your sex life because one of the characteristics of IA is using silence to maintain distance in the relationship. Be prepared to listen in order to understand and remember that honesty, in this case, is the best policy.

3. Commit to Change

One of the leading causes of IA is pornography. Viewing pornography is, by nature, a selfish act of consumption that runs contrary to God’s purpose in sex. Husbands oftentimes turn to pornography as a way to fantasize about being desired by a woman without doing the relationship work—which is a reason why it can be a downward spiral when there is tension in your marriage. Filling your mind with sordid sexual images will inflict great long-term harm on your marriage.

If you have experienced a loss of intimacy due to this sin, I strongly exhort you to repent and commit to restoring your marriage. “He who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)

Commit to the renewing of your mind by feeding daily on God’s Word. Ask the Lord to give you the grace to sacrificially love your wife as Christ loves the church. If your church has a men’s ministry, get involved and commit to building healthy relationships with other men who will encourage you in your walk with the Lord. Confess your sin to a Christian brother who will hold you accountable without defeating you.

Ultimately, the key to sexual intimacy with your spouse is spiritual intimacy with God. It’s only when he isn’t central in our hearts that something else can be, and Satan always provides counterfeits to fill that void.

Three keys to getting back to sexual intimacy with your spouse.