Biblical Intimacy in Marriage

The exchange of oaths between two individuals who want to share their lives often starts as a joyful celebration witnessed by family and friends. But as time passes, when “newlyweds” is no longer a suitable adjective to describe a couple, the realities of everyday life—such as stress from work, financial issues, health problems, and other difficult circumstances—can strain the once-happy relationship.

Many factors can make it challenging to maintain a healthy marriage, but one key indication that a marriage is headed for trouble is the loss of intimacy between husband and wife. This loss of intimacy isn’t just about physical closeness; it also involves being emotionally, intellectually, and most especially, spiritually connected with your spouse on a deep level. True intimacy transcends the superficiality of physical attraction and carnal lust, reaching far into the depths of the human heart. Cultivating this kind of profound connection is essential for maintaining a strong, healthy marriage.

Marital intimacy according to the Bible

Genesis 2:24 states: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” The “therefore” here points to the preceding verses which narrate God creating Adam first, and then after a while, He created Eve and presented her to him (Genesis 2:15-25).

Here are two points we can learn from this:

  1. God is the author of marriage. He instituted marriage as the first ever human-to-human relationship. Realizing marriage’s divine origin reminds married couples that their relationship is more than a social convention.  Rather, it is a God-initiated standard that therefore should be regarded as sacred. This perspective elevates the spouses’ commitment to each other, encouraging them to honor and cherish their relationship as a holy and enduring bond.
  2. The Concept of Oneness. From the verse itself, we learn that the marriage bond is supposed to be so intimate that when a man and woman are joined together as husband and wife, they are considered as “one flesh.” This doesn’t mean that they should like the same things all the time, do the same things all the time, or even have the same opinion about all specific things all the time. However, it means they should be united in their dreams and goals.

    This biblical principle of oneness in marriage does not sit well with our modern society, which focuses on individualism. In our era, marriage is often seen as a partnership between two autonomous individuals bound by a contract for mutual benefit. When one or either party deems the partnership as no longer beneficial, the contract can be voided and the partnership dissolved at will.

    While the Bible affirms that “it is not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18), and that indeed “two are better than one” (Eccl. 2:9), scripture goes beyond teaching that marriage is not meant solely for companionship nor a commitment for the sake of convenience. Rather, the biblical concept of oneness in marriage calls for a deep, inseparable union that transcends personal convenience or benefit. This union is rooted in a commitment to love, support, and cherish one another through all of life’s challenges and joys.

    The concept of marital oneness is one of complete and thorough intimacy: emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual. Let us see what the Bible says about each of these.

Emotional Intimacy

Ephesians 5:25-27: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”

This passage emphasizes the importance of sacrificial love in marriage. Emotional intimacy in a biblical sense involves nurturing a loving, supportive relationship where both partners feel valued and cherished. It’s about being there for each other in all circumstances and creating a safe space for emotional expression and growth.

Intellectual Intimacy

1 Peter 3:7: “Husbands, in the same way, be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”

Intellectual intimacy involves understanding and respecting each other’s thoughts and opinions. This verse encourages husbands to be considerate and respectful, fostering a relationship where open communication and mutual understanding thrive. Couples should engage in meaningful conversations, share their aspirations, and support each other’s intellectual growth.

Spiritual Intimacy

Colossians 3:14: “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Spiritual intimacy is the bond that ties all aspects of marriage together. By putting on love, couples can achieve perfect unity, which includes praying together, studying the Bible, and growing in faith as a united front. This shared spiritual journey strengthens the marital bond and aligns the couple’s hearts with God’s will.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

This passage illustrates the strength found in unity, particularly when God is the third strand in the marriage cord. Spiritual intimacy involves supporting each other through prayer, worship, and shared faith, making the relationship resilient and deeply rooted in God.

Physical Intimacy

1 Corinthians 7:3-5: “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”

Physical intimacy is crucial in marriage, providing a means for expressing love and maintaining a close bond. This passage stresses the importance of mutual consent and fulfillment in sexual relations, highlighting the need for a balanced and respectful approach to physical intimacy.

Marriage Reflects the Relationship between Christ and the Church

Ephesians 5:31-32: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. (Emphasis added).

The ultimate goal of marital intimacy is to reflect the union between Christ and the church. This “profound mystery” signifies the spiritual depth of marriage, where the couple’s unity mirrors the divine relationship. In marriage, spouses are called to love and serve each other in a way that reflects Christ’s sacrificial love for the church.


As you reflect on your own marriage, consider these personal questions: Are you nurturing emotional intimacy by creating a safe and supportive environment for your spouse? Do you respect and value each other’s thoughts and opinions, fostering intellectual intimacy? How are you growing together spiritually—do you pray and study the Bible together? Are you maintaining a healthy and respectful physical intimacy?

Be reminded though, that intimacy is not the goal. Rather, it is a means to reflect the profound union that God desires for marriage—a reflection of the unity and love between Christ and the church. Striving for deeper intimacy is about honoring God’s design for marriage, cultivating a relationship that glorifies Him, and providing a strong foundation for enduring love. Remember that your ultimate aim is to build a marriage that not only satisfies but also sanctifies, drawing you and your spouse closer to each other and to God.

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