1 John 5:3
In I John 5:3, love is clearly defined, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” Sex has no such specific definition anywhere in God's Word. “Keep” implies the activity of guarding and doing so by means of our conduct. Thus, the Bible defines love as an action not a feeling. Actions also include right attitudes. Feelings are certainly involved, but they are not the primary element that makes love the positive influence that God intends.
A vivid example is rape, which involves a sexual action, but it is most certainly a forcible attack against another. It cannot be considered an affectionate action in any way. It is the forceful taking of a momentary pleasure while simultaneously injuring another. Such a vile act hardly builds oneness, by any stretch of the imagination.
Love is outgoing concern, behavior that seeks the good of the one loved at least equal to the love of self. This element greatly facilitates husband and wife becoming one in all aspects of life (see Genesis 2:24). If a marriage is built around sex, it may indeed last, but it will probably lead to intense emotional frustration and may even produce adultery by one or the other or both. Sex was not created for that purpose. It is one among many expressions of love, one fully intended by God to be expressed—but only within marriage. It is an intimacy reserved only for the one other person sharing the relationship.
By “commandments,” I John 5:3 means all of God's commandments that bear on what love is, not merely the Ten Commandments. Major adjustments may have to be made if a marriage is going to produce the pleasures God intends. God's intention is achieved by cultivating the lawful interests and aspirations of both to each other. This is not easy to do because the carnality within us asserts our self-interests so quickly and sometimes so strongly.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Leadership and Covenants (Part Six)