We’ve seen how our spirits, minds, and souls affect our relationships. Now let’s get physical and discover how God intends for our bodies to interact in relationships.
Your body is the temporary physical address where your spirit, mind, and soul reside. You use your body in your worship of God, your service to God, and your physical interaction with other people.
From a relationship perspective, the physical aspect involves all bodily contact and interaction, physical affection, and sexual intimacy.
The Significance of Your Body
Some people believe you can do whatever you want since you “own” your body. But the reality is that you do not. The only part you “own” is your accountability for how you use the body God gave you. It is not yours — it belongs to God and He wants you to use it to honor Him (I Corinthians 6:19-20).
If you do not exercise balance and self-control in the physical aspect, great harm can occur. Satan tempts with things or situations that have a strong physical appeal. If he can influence you to compromise your spiritual morals, he can cripple you with guilt. If he can lure you into immoral decisions, he can defeat you with self-doubt and regret. If he can get you to yield to carnal feelings, he can enslave you with sexual addiction.
To protect against this attack, put on God’s armor so you can stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11). Also, “Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1). Notice the phrase “the sin” in this verse. You have a specific sinful vulnerability. It is your “pet sin” against which you must always be on guard.
Physical Interaction With the Other Three Aspects
Of all the four aspects, the physical most desperately needs the interaction and balance of the others. Our inherent sinful nature craves sinful thoughts and actions. However, Paul warns us to not let sinful habits control our bodies (Romans 6:12).
Yes, the physical can offer immediate attraction, instant pleasure, and sexual gratification. However, lasting physical satisfaction and fulfillment only occur within marriage and when interdependent with the other three aspects.
A mature and balanced physical aspect acts within the moral restraint of the spiritual aspect. It is God’s desire that all sexual activity take place within marriage (I Thessalonians 4:3). This includes all sexual fondling, oral sex, and sexual intercourse. If you question whether a certain activity is “allowed,” err on the side of godly morality.
It is within marriage that God intends for a couple’s physical union to be one of mutual enjoyment, pleasure, and fulfillment for both the man and woman.
Mature people behave in a manner that is governed by sound reason and moral restraint. Paul advised Timothy to teach young people to be “sober minded” (Titus 2:4, 6). This means to self-control your passions. Use your mind and spirit to control the emotional impulses and physical urges you may experience prior to marriage.
Each day, you face situations that require a moral choice. With the prevalence of sexual and pornographic images everywhere (magazines, movies, the Internet, etc.), choose to refuse the entrance of such immoral garbage into your life. A sound mind governed by the morality of a mature and balanced spiritual aspect will help you live a pure life and make choices that honor God.
A strong level of trust and self-control is necessary when two people approach the physical phase of their relationship. Due to its powerful attraction, involvement at this level should take place only after proper progression through the other three aspects. First, you must be a compatible match spiritually and intellectually. Next, a compatible emotional connection should follow. Then, the physical aspect is the final phase in a relationship.
Do not risk long-term satisfaction by physically “experimenting” or pushing moral boundaries during courtship. Peter urges us to “abstain from the sensual urges” (evil desires; passions of the flesh) you may feel (I Peter 2:11). Do not sacrifice lifelong fulfillment by surrendering to immediate, passionate, and uncontrolled feelings that lead to premarital sexual involvement.
How the Physical Aspect Affects Relationships
The physical aspect requires as much compatibility as the other three aspects. Physical commonalities include attraction and chemistry, levels of affection, comfort with public displays of affection, and expectations regarding sexual intimacy. But a word of caution — don’t confuse attraction with compatibility.
A wholesome relational approach views the body not simply as a tool for sex but as the expression of the spirit, mind, and soul.
Physical Development and Maturity
God gave you only one body. Make sure you keep it in peak shape and performance for many years. As plans are made for marriage, create mutual expectations to grow old together gracefully. Commit to doing everything possible to delay the aging process and enjoying each other fully over a long and healthy lifetime together.
Signs of Physical Maturity
Maturity involves more than reaching a certain age or physical stature. It also requires a mature spirit, mind, and soul. Here are some ways you reveal your maturity in the physical aspect:
- Show respect. Be honorable in your dating behavior. If a dating partner does not respect your moral standards, respect yourself enough to move on to someone who does.
- Say no to yourself.
- Exhibit personal accountability to a godly moral standard. Control your actions through the morality of your spiritual aspect and God’s Word. Appreciating physical beauty is one thing; viewing it as the only factor when considering a potential spouse, is a problem. Keep the physical aspect in balance with the other three aspects.
- Do not place yourself in vulnerable situations. Don’t make it easy for Satan to cause you to fail. Inviting your dating partner to your house when you’re there is risking your moral resolve.
- Commit to physical health and well-being. Take care of the body God gave you. Commit to staying active, eating healthy, getting periodic medical exams, and maintaining overall physical wellness.
Read the rest of the series to find the wisdom you need for a lasting relationship.
Used with permission and excerpted from Nate’s book, Matched 4 Marriage—Meant 4 Life.