Restoring Intimacy in a "Valley of Dry Bones"
This is a touchy subject, but one that is hugely prevalent in today's Christian marriages - sex-deprivation. Sex-deprived marriages lead to frustration, bitterness, and, ultimately, allowing sin to flourish. So, what can be done to restore intimacy in these marriages before it is too late?
A great lesson that relates to this issue can be found in the book of Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 37 (aka "The Valley of Dry Bones"), Ezekiel has a prophetic experience where he is brought by the Spirit to a valley of bones. He is told by the Lord:
“Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” (Ezek. 37:4b-6)
What comes next? The bones come together with flesh, but they have no breath or life in them. So the Lord then tells Ezekiel:
“Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” (Ezek. 37:9b)
Then, the Lord put breath in them and they came together as a great army! Consider that...these bones - which before were merely remnants of lives that used to exist - revived to become a vast army representing the House of Israel - which was at the time in captivity by the Babylonians - and demonstrating that they would ultimately be restored to the promised land!
So, how does Ezekiel 37 relate to a dry, sex-lacking marriage?
Well, first and foremost, it demonstrates that the Lord has the power to revive even the most flat-lined marriages back to life and unity. This can be done by:
Ezekiel spoke with the words that the Lord had told him to prophesy and the bones actually moved! If you are the partner that is sexually frustrated, communicate your frustrations to your spouse with boldness. Sex is a God-given gift and privilege of marriage (see 1 Corinthians 7). If one spouse is withholding sex or intimacy from the other, they are in sin and it needs to be addressed. Remember, sin comes in the form of commission (doing something you are not supposed to do) and omission (not doing something that you should be).
Ezekiel had to call on the winds to bring life to the bones, even when they had flesh. Similarly, the sexually frustrated partner must pursue their spouse - not other forms of sexual gratification (ex. pornography, another relationship, etc.). Follow communication with God-honoring action.
The bones represented that the House of Israel would ultimately be restored to their homeland, but this took decades. The restorative work in a sexually-frustrated marriage can take time and perseverance - hold fast and trust that God is still in the miracle business.
For the women who are sexually depriving their husbands, please prayerfully consider:
1. Are their any idols or negative influences in your life that are drawing you away from your husband sexually? Get rid of these as soon as possible. It may be a friend that talks down about men, too busy of a schedule, or something else that is leading you away from your husband - repent and enjoy the role that God made for you as a wife.
2. Are you respecting your husband as the God-ordained head of your household? This is pretty drastic in our modern age, but the Lord created women to be a help-mate. Allow your husband to lead, and you will likely see incredible results.
3. What is one thing that you could do today to improve the intimacy in your marriage? Take small steps to restore intimacy.
Some resources for couples recovering from sex-deprivation include:
Also, check out our Recommended Reading page for great books on marriage and intimacy.
Honor God. Honor Your Spouse. Enjoy the Gift!