Welcome to our mini-series on sexual love from a biblical perspective. We started in Genesis, and today we are looking at the last principle – mutual responsibility in marriage.
Our verse of the day comes from 1 Corinthians 7:1-5.
“Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does.
Likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
Let’s dig in.
The Apostle Paul starts with somewhat of a shocking statement – “it is good for man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” I imagine that caught some folks off guard than as I’m sure it does now. But what is Paul trying to say?
Remember who he is speaking to – the church at Corinth. Corinth was well known for its wealth and its wickedness. It was known for its immorality. Many Corinthians worshipped the goddess of love, Aphrodite.
Paul addresses their question about marriage, but his response is somewhat of a carryover on the subject of immorality from chapter 6.
At first glance, it would appear Paul is teaching against marriage. But if that were the case, he would not have spoken favorably of marriage in his other letters in Ephesians 5 and 1 Timothy 3.
Sexual immorality was prevalent in Corinth. Paul adds that because of sexual immorality and that they might be tempted to fall into sin, Paul specifies that each man is to have his own wife and each woman their own husband. By doing this, one could avoid sexual immorality.
He further instructs them as to the normal behavior and attitude that the Christian man and wife should have. In doing so, he argues against asceticism (which is what they thought would be best.)
Asceticism means “severe self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons. Abstinence, self-denial.”
Paul argues that they should have normal sexual relations with their marriage partners.
Marriage partners are not to withhold the normal marital rights from each other, except by mutual consent and agreement, and that only for a specified period of time.
Some would say withholding marital rights from the spouse can lead that spouse to sexual immorality both inside and outside the marriage, either with pornography or another physical relationship with another.
But if we read the passage above, we find that Paul says it is so that the two can come together in prayer. When this time of prayer is over, the married pair are to come together again.
Satan lurks about seeing whom he may devour, and marriages are no exception. He may try and lure one away by tempting them and using their possible lack of sexual self-control to sin.
Paul wrote this letter a few thousand years ago to warn the Corinthians of the very things married couples still face today. Some things haven’t changed.
The Apostle Paul is aware of normal sexual drive in the human being, and he is aware of the command by God to multiply (Genesis 1:28).
Some in Corinth were practicing a type of celibacy inside marriage. Paul says this should not be the case.
Marriage is a beautiful institution if it is kept pure. The Lord intended for marriage to remain pure between husband and wife. It’s a painful time when one goes astray.
Marriage is hard work and requires effort from both the man and the woman.
Each partner has a mutual responsibility to the other in honoring their marriage vows.
Lastly, remember the one thing Paul said about your time apart? Pray. Couples should pray for each other. A praying couple is a strong couple, able to withstand the attacks of the enemy.
Paul tells the Corinthians Satan is looking to take them down, which is the same for marriages today. Pray that you may be able to withstand the attacks of the enemy together. Seek the Lord together.