Marriage and Sex - Page 4 of 7 (series: Lessons on 1 Cor.)
by John Lowe
but the husband:
The husband has the sole power over his wife’s body, and may require the use of it when he pleases; but this does not justify a husband abusing or coercing his wife, sexually or otherwise. Paul's point is that we have a binding obligation to serve our partner with physical affection.
The man is not to run up to that temple of Aphrodite. That is sin. Love and sex are to take place at home. That is exactly what he is saying here. The only motive for marriage is love—not sex, but love. I am convinced that Paul had known the love of a good and great woman. So many of the great men in Scripture knew the love of a woman. There are Adam and Eve, Jacob and Rachel, Boaz and Ruth, David and Abigail—it was Abigail who told David, “… the soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with the LORD thy God …” (1 Sam. 25:29).
It is said about John Wesley that when he came to America he was not a saved man. He wrote, “I came to this country to convert Indians, but who is going to convert John Wesley?” The story goes that the crown had sent to America an insipid nobleman. Due to the terrible custom of that day, the nobility was entitled to marry the finest, and he had married a woman of striking beauty and strong personality, who also was an outstanding Christian. Then there came into their colony this fiery young missionary. And these two fell in love. But she said, “No, John, God has called you to go back to England to do some great service for Him.” It was she who sent John Wesley back to England—to marry the Methodist Church. Back in England Wesley was converted, and she was his inspiration. Behind every great man is a great woman.
and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.
And, when they are married, both husband and wife are to render the other due benevolence (love, compassion, affection) (See 1 Corinthians 7:3), and consider the temperament and need of each other, and provide the conjugal duty, which is owed to each other. Because, as the apostle argues here, in the married state neither person has power over his or her own body, but has delivered it into the power of the other, the wife giving hers into the power of the husband, the husband giving his into the power of the wife. And therefore they should not defraud one another by withholding the use of their bodies, or any other of the benefits of the wedded state, which have been selected by God for the purpose of keeping the vessel in sanctification and honour, and preventing the lusts of uncleanness; except it is done with mutual consent (See 1 Corinthians 7:5) and then only for the time they are devoting themselves to some extraordinary religious activities, or giving themselves to fasting and prayer.
Note, Polygamy, or the marriage of more persons than one, as well as adultery, must be a breach of marriage-covenants, and a violation of the partner's rights.
Note, There may be times when deep humility requires abstinence from lawful pleasures. But this separation between husband and wife must not be prolonged any longer than necessary, because, by doing so, they may expose themselves to Satan's temptations, due to their sensuality, or inability to contain fleshly desires.
Note, Persons expose themselves to great danger by attempting to do what is above their strength, and at the same time not required by any law of God. If they abstain from lawful pleasures, they may be ensnared by unlawful ones. The remedies God has provided against sinful inclinations are certainly best.
Here, each sex is put on exactly the same footing. The body of each belongs to the other, and cannot be given away to other parties. The spirit of the passage not only forbids adultery, but polygamy. I hope you will agree: It is an awesome obligation that out of the billions of people on the earth, God has chosen one, and only one, to meet our sexual needs. There is to be no one else. The equal rights of husband and wife, in the Scriptures, are to be maintained everywhere. They are to regard themselves as united in the most intimate union, and in the tenderest ties. It is a sin for either party in a marriage to withhold the use of their body from their spouse; or abuse it by self-pollution, fornication, adultery, sodomy, or any other unclean acts: but this power over each other's bodies does not allow, by consent, either the husband or the wife to lie with another.
Now Paul continues his guidelines for conduct in marriage.
5 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.
Defraud ye not one the other,
Paul is expressing some negativity here: what is expressed positively in verse 3, is expressed negatively here. What he is saying is “the husband is NOT to defraud the wife, and the wife is NOT to defraud the husband:” “Do not defraud the other” means “stop depriving one another.” The biblical precept of marriage implies that conjugal rights will be regularly exercised. By withholding those rights, denying the use of the marriage bed, refusing to pay the conjugal debt, is what is called "diminishing of her marriage duty" in Exodus 21:10—“If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.” The Septuagint uses the same word "defraud", as the apostle does here; it is what both have a right to, and therefore, if either party is denied, it is a case of injustice, a defrauding—unless the following conditions are met:
1. With mutual consent and understanding between husband and wife. In the East, the women have separate apartments, and during this period the husband would not enter the wife's apartment.
2. Temporarily—and then only for a short time.
3. For the purpose of fasting and prayer, and meditating upon the things of God, without distractions—not pleasure.
This verse needs to be preached often in the Church today. No wonder divorce courts are grinding out divorces like water pours over Niagara Falls. Men and women work today with the husband on one shift and the wife on another. They take separate vacations, having their own personal bank accounts, and their own personal automobiles. In fact, many marriages today seem to be largely an agreement that the two parties will live under the same roof, though rarely seeing each other and having almost no fellowship as man and wife. Under such arrangements they are separated more than they are together, and this cannot lead to a happy marriage.
except it be with consent for a time,
When men and women unite in marriage, they become one flesh, and it is unscriptural for husband and wife to stay apart for extended periods of time for any reason. Please note that even in the case of fasting and prayer the separation is to be for only a short time. Many homes have been broken and divorces granted because the wife spent too much time in her parents’ home. In that case the wife should never have married and left her mother. Homes have also been broken (and divorces granted) because the husband spent too much time hunting and fishing—or with the “boys” at the club—than he gave to his own wife and family.
When husband and wife agree to separate from each other for a season of prayer, they are instructed, “come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” That is, “Get back together before the devil overwhelms your self-control by means of a temptation to commit evil—yes, even after a time of prayer.
In such an apostolic directive as this, the notion that sexual relations between Christian marriage partners are allowed only for procreation, totally disappears. On the other hand, the refusal of one of the partners to cohabitate is designated as fraud. Since they have a mutual power over each other's bodies, abstinence must be voluntary on each side; otherwise injury is done to the person that does not consent, who is deprived against their will of that which is rightfully theirs; but if there is agreement, then there is no defrauding, because each give up their right.
Humorous Marriage: Several guys were talking about why their wives chose to marry them. One guy said, “My wife married me because she thought I was funny. Now she just thinks I’m a big joke.”