Reframing Intimacy vs Gratification

(Photo by Selma Komisky)


Reframing Intimacy vs Gratification

By Iain Dick

Guys, I need to tell you something important.

During 2022, I will: turn 34 years old, celebrate 11 years of marriage, and 20 years since I was baptized. BUT I am still relearning some stuff. It’s pretty amazing that all it takes is for our perspective to be 1° off-course, and for us to not notice, for it to become a major detour in life. I find remembering that image helps me to reframe, and keep asking God “What am I not quite understanding right now?”

Honestly, one of the subjects I’ve noticed this is so true for is sex/sexuality, and that’s in the church! My wife and I have both taken it in turns to teach small groups in our own church on holy sexuality, and the teaching/discussing the topic was just as eye-opening as the preparation. It’s by God’s grace that He let a huge penny drop in my spirit shortly before being asked to teach on this.

Let me tell you, purity is the same. Unless we seek God to do something in our spirit, to change our hearts and minds on sex and purity, we will keep missing the point.

There are two particular threads within purity that I firmly believe we men need to change our perspectives on:

The first is what I call “Boys will be Boys”. How many times do we hear that phrase said, as certain behaviors are swept under the carpet because “boys are just like that”? We should never justify sexual immorality by playing the “he’s a boy” card. If we do, when does that excuse end?

Galatians 3:28 reminds us that“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”.

The presence of sin is equally applicable to all, but so is the power of the cross.

Men, let’s be honest. Internally, we make it too easy to justify certain things to ourselves; a sexy movie, some casual flirting, some suggestive conversation, masturbation, pornography… we tell ourselves we’re ok, but we get tripped by it every time. Why? Because in our flesh, we cheapen sex so much that it’s nothing like what God intended. Let me challenge you to stop relying completely on simple “accountability” measures. We all know that you’ll find a way around those when you want to. Start relying on God to help you, from the inside out, to live as a man of integrity, where you can experience purity in your heart, and not just in action (or lack of)!

The second thread is more of a personal challenge to every man reading this. When it comes to sex, sexuality, and the relationships you have – ask yourself “Is my motivation for this intimacy, or gratification?” The Intimacy vs Gratification question is relevant for everyone, married or not. 

Single men, if you take the time to ponder this in prayer, I believe it could be what helps the penny drop to help you stop masturbating. It was never supposed to be about “tension release.”

Married men, when you are with your wife, if your motivation is satisfaction intimacy, then you run the risk of using her as an object for your own wants and desires. Don’t get me wrong, having desires and wanting them fulfilled, in itself, isn’t wrong, but when you prioritize her for the sake of God-intended intimacy, you’re in a very good place.

Ephesians 5:22-25 talks about the respect/love dynamic between a husband and wife. Both are expected to prioritize the other, just as Jesus says for us to love one another (John 13:34), in our relationships, we must learn to be sacrificial.

John Mark Comer, in his book ‘Loveology’, quotes this as a false subliminal slogan from the church: “Sex is dirty, save it for the one you love.” And I agree; the biggest mistake we can make, as followers of Jesus, is to associate sex as dirty and shameful. It is good because God made it. When it is taken out with the safety of biblical marriage, it can cause unspeakable damage. But within that safety, can be a beautiful reflection of true intimacy that God wants us to enjoy.

Here are some books that I’ve found super-helpful in keeping a balanced, biblical view on sex.

  • Loveology” by John Mark Comer
  • “Sex in a Broken World by Paul” David Tripp
  • “The Great Sex Rescue” by Sheila Gregoire