“I’ll make it worth his while when I get home from my girl’s night out.”
“I cleaned the house, so I’ll be getting some tonight!”
“It wouldn’t bother me if we never had sex again.”
“Okay, let’s just get it over with.”
These are exact phrases we have heard from couples about their sexual relationships. It’s no surprise that one spouse typically enjoys or desires it more than the other. But it is a bit shocking that sex is so frequently used as currency to barter for services within the marriage relationship. God created sex to be enjoyed between a husband and wife in marriage. So, why is it often such a point of contention in relationships? He must have known such problems would arise when he led the Apostle Paul to pen these words to husbands and wives in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5. It almost sounds like he’s scolding us for misusing the sexual relationship in marriage and telling us what to do better!
“The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” -1Corinthians 7:3-5, NLT
Wow! This passage packs so much into just four sentences. Since God saw the need to address the most intimate act two people can share, we thought we would unpack a few things found in this passage that might help your sex life.
“The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs.” -vs. 3
This states two things pretty plainly. First, both men and women have sexual needs. Yes, you read that right. God gave both male and female the need, not just desire, to be sexually intimate with their spouse and the capacity to experience it pleasurably. If there is a medical or emotional reason that one spouse or the other does not enjoy sex, it’s a good idea to consult a doctor or counselor. But God’s original design is for sex to be enjoyable physically and emotionally for both the husband and wife.
This verse also tells us that there is only one way to get our sexual needs met… through our spouse. Hebrews 13:4a says, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled.” The only guilt-free, shame-free way to enjoy sexual freedom is inside the covenant relationship of marriage. Straying outside of this relationship or inviting others into the relationship physically or digitally defiles the marriage bed in ways that are difficult to come back from.
“The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.” -v. 4
Verse four addresses two more issues that are vital to a healthy sexual relationship in marriage. The first tells us that our bodies are a gift we give to our spouse. We offer ourselves to them willingly out of love, not merely as an obligation. Giving our bodies to each other is a way we not only serve each other but also connect. No one else is allowed to know us in this way. Sex goes beyond a physical act but binds our hearts together. There may be times we “don’t feel like it,” but God still calls us to offer ourselves to our spouse as a gift.
The other side of this verse is a reminder that while sex is a gift you give, it is also a gift you receive from your spouse. Notice that this verse says we “give authority” of our body to our spouse. You misunderstand if you read into it that you take authority of your spouse’s body. Sex is never to be stolen, demanded, or taken by force. Taking your spouse’s body against their will is a sinful defilement and a breach of trust in the relationship. If this kind of abuse is taking place in your marriage, it is NOT okay and should not be tolerated. If you are abusing or being abused, remove yourself from the situation, and seek counseling.
“Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer.” -v. 5a
God knows we all tend to be selfish. He knows our tendency to manipulate to get our way. That might be why He tells us not to “deprive each other of sexual relations.” We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard women allude to the fact that they were withholding sex from their husbands so they could get something done around the house or get their way in an argument. Withholding intimacy or using it as a bargaining chip or weapon cheapens the sacredness of coming together as husband and wife.
The rest of this verse indicates how often we should be having sex. Are you ready for this? The answer to how often is A LOT! The only reason we are told to abstain is if we both agree to pause so we can pray. Then, as the next verse goes on to explain, we come back together.
“Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” -v. 5b
So, why would God tell us to have a lot of sex with our spouse? Because He knows this is an area in which we are weak and Satan plots to tempt us. It is good for husbands and wives to love each other through the physical act of sex. God gave us a sexual drive to pull us together emotionally. But, if we are not meeting each other’s sexual needs, the enemy will take the opportunity to tempt us to satiate our appetite elsewhere.
Sex is designed by a loving God to be a physical expression of the ecstasy and joy He wants us to experience in our marriage relationship. Any time God blesses something and says it is not just good, but “very good,” the enemy of our souls will do everything he can to pervert, defile, or at the very least, spoil it. Sexual sins are the most difficult to overcome when the marriage bed has been defiled. That’s why God urges husbands and wives to protect it by unselfishly, freely, lovingly, and continually offering ourselves to our spouse through sexual intimacy.
Enjoying the Adventure,
Daniel & Bonnie