Intimacy in Marriage

Building An Eternal Marriage Teacher Manual, (2003), 39–41


Doctrinal Overview

Note: Do not add greater detail on this subject than what is given by the Brethren.

“And they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

President Spencer W. Kimball taught: “There are many aspects to love in marriage, and sex is an important one. Just as married partners are not for others, they are for each other. Paul knew the approaches to adultery and the ways to avoid them:

“‘… Let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

“‘Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

“‘The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

“‘Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.’ (1 Cor. 7:2–5.)” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 73).

The union of man and woman is sanctified in marriage and becomes an expression of the love, unity, and potential godhood of the couple. President Joseph F. Smith noted, “The lawful association of the sexes is ordained of God, not only as the sole means of race perpetuation, but for the development of the higher faculties and nobler traits of human nature, which the love-inspired companionship of man and woman alone can insure” (“Unchastity the Dominant Evil of the Age,” Improvement Era, June 1917, 739; or student manual, 139).

Principle

A correct understanding of intimacy in marriage increases our chances of building a happy marriage.

Student Manual Readings

Selected Teachings from “Intimacy in Marriage” (139–41)

“The Fountain of Life,” Elder Boyd K. Packer (141–46)

“The Ultimate Symbol of Total Union” and “A Symbol of the Relationship with God,” in “Personal Purity,” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (234–35)

Selected Teachings from “Birth Control” (14–16)

“I Have a Question,” Dr. Homer Ellsworth (17–18)

Suggestions for How to Teach

Discussion. Explain that there are many distorted views in the world today about sexual relationships, which if believed and practiced can destroy our happiness. It is important that we understand our procreative powers in terms of the plan of salvation.

Read and discuss the following statement from the Church Handbook of Instructions: “Married couples … should understand that sexual relations within marriage are divinely approved not only for the purpose of procreation, but also as a means of expressing love and strengthening emotional and spiritual bonds between husband and wife” (Book 1: Stake Presidencies and Bishoprics [1998], 158).

Read Abraham 4:27–28. Point out in verse 28 that God calls the capacity to multiply and replenish the earth a blessing.

Conduct a classroom discussion based on the following selections from the student readings for this lesson: “Physical Intimacy Ordained of God” (student manual, 139–40), “Physical Intimacy Only in Marriage,” “Purposes of Intimacy” (140), “The Fountain of Life” (141–46), “The Ultimate Symbol of Total Union,” “A Symbol of the Relationship with God” (234–35). As part of your discussion, consider these questions:

  • How are our God-given natural affections a blessing to us?

  • How are sexual relations within marriage the ultimate symbol of total union?

  • How are procreative powers within marriage a symbol of our relationship with God?

  • How does the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth apply today?

  • Why are procreative urges designed to be strong and constant?

Emphasize that procreation comes from God and is holy but is appropriate only between a man and a woman within marriage. Bear testimony of the truth of these principles and of the blessings of obedience. (Do not stray into the details of your own relationship with your spouse.)

Suggestions for How to Teach

Discussion. Read together the statements by the Brethren under “Misused Physical Intimacy” (“Intimacy in Marriage,” student manual, 140).

Suggestions for How to Teach

Discussion. Explain that sometimes couples place too much emphasis on the physical aspects of marriage. Physical intimacy is an important element of married love, but more is required to achieve a pure love.

President Spencer W. Kimball taught: “Your love, like a flower, must be nourished. There will come a great love and interdependence between you, for your love is a divine one. It is deep, inclusive, comprehensive. It is not like that association of the world which is misnamed love, but which is mostly physical attraction. When marriage is based on this only, the parties soon tire of each other. There is a break and a divorce, and a new, fresher physical attraction comes with another marriage which in turn may last only until it, too, becomes stale. The love of which the Lord speaks is not only physical attraction, but spiritual attraction as well. It is faith and confidence in, and understanding of, one another. It is a total partnership. It is companionship with common ideals and standards. It is unselfishness toward and sacrifice for one another. It is cleanliness of thought and action and faith in God and his program. It is parenthood in mortality ever looking toward godhood and creationship, and parenthood of spirits. It is vast, all-inclusive, and limitless. This kind of love never tires or wanes. It lives on through sickness and sorrow, through prosperity and privation, through accomplishment and disappointment, through time and eternity” (Faith Precedes the Miracle [1972], 130–31; or student manual, 140).

Ask students to read “Mature Love” in Elder Boyd K. Packer’s talk “The Fountain of Life” (student manual, 142) and look for attributes and experiences that help us achieve a mature and pure love. List student findings on the board. Summarize that pure love takes time and effort to achieve. Physical intimacy in marriage is part of the process of becoming as one in the Lord.

Suggestions for How to Teach

Group work. Refer to the section “Birth Control” in the student manual (pp. 14–18). Invite students to read or review this section outside of class. Explain that these issues are personal and sacred. Husband and wife should make decisions regarding birth control in unity after seeking the guidance of the Spirit. Encourage students, if they have questions, to seek counsel from parents and priesthood leaders.

Conclusion

From the very beginning the Lord decreed, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (Genesis 2:18). The Apostle Paul said, “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:11).

When we understand physical intimacy with the perspective of the plan of salvation and are obedient to the Lord, we can avoid many of the problems that plague the world as a result of disregard for the law of chastity. Husbands and wives knit together in love and fidelity can experience joy in their physical relationship and help the Lord fulfill His purposes in multiplying and replenishing the earth.