SEX! (blush, blush) ;-/
A subject that is critical for your marriage and for the glory of God in your life.
1 Corinthians 7:1-9 is a passage of scripture written by the Apostle Paul specifically regarding married sex between man and woman. He has just finished writing on sexual immorality and now he is speaking to moral sex as ordained by God. I will not type the whole thing here but I encourage you to read it. I was hesitant to speak to it but I am aware that, just as it was in Paul's day, there is a problem among many married couples of maintaining a healthy sex life.
Now I am not an expert i.e. a sex therapist etc. nor do I pretend to grasp every area of the bible that speaks to healthy love making between a married couple though I do know that there are some i.e. Song of Solomon.. I am well aware however, that in today's world of self-gratification and instant-gratification, there is a selfishness that can permeate even to the bedroom and that couples have experienced marital problems and even divorce because one or the other was not "taking care of the needs of their spouse". This is a problem.
There is so much more to this topic than can be addressed here. Please know that I am not under any delusions that this is a simple topic. However, the overarching point is the same as the rest of these posts on marriage. In marriage you must commit to selfless service of your spouse, always with the glory of God as the highest priority in every area of your life, while trusting Him to be all satisfying. If God is all satisfying, then everything else will be icing on the proverbial cake verses some inalienable right that we should fight for, no matter the cost.
Authoritarian surrender of your body and loving submission to God
The gist of 1 Corinthians 7:1-9 is this: If you can stay single, do it. If your gifted with the ability to be celibate great. You will be free do more for the kingdom in some ways if you do not have to worry over a spouse. However, if you burn with passion and cannot exercise self-control, then you should marry. Once married, you should not withhold conjugal rights (sex) from one another except for an agreed upon time, and that for prayer.
Now, this is where it get's dicey and some will be offended. Paul states that the reasoning for not holding out on each other aside from the tendency of increased temptation is this; your body does not belong to you! The husband has authority over the wife's body regarding this matter just as the wife has authority over the husbands body. In other words, each spouse has the right to desire and expect that their sexual needs will be satisfied by the other and neither has the right to be unwilling to help in this matter.
Remember that this is not a power game. This is yet another area that we are to love each other and submit those things in which we have been commanded to submit by the Lord, as unto the Lord. Ultimately you are not giving in to your spouse. Ultimately, it always comes down to a matter of loving obedience and submission to Christ who gave his life for you. When you consider that He died so that you might live life to the full, isn't it silly to pridefully and selfishly fight the system that He ordained to help create this full life?
A Healthy Marriage Hangs in the Balance!
So why was this important enough to blog about? Consider this. If we are built to desire one another, and we are also spiritually ordained and responsible to satisfy each others desires; and one spouse refuses the other, it will not be taken as a simple no. More often than not it will be taken as a resounding NO! This cuts straight to the heart and self-esteem of a given spouse. A heart and self-esteem that we as spouses are responsible for cherishing and guarding from harm. So when we are harmed by the one who means more to us than anyone else in this world, it can create a huge wound. This is important because if this issue does not serve as a reason for divorce, it will certainly feed other issues if not help to push the rejected spouse into the arms of another.
We are still responsible!
Let me be clear, as I hope I have been in the previous posts. I am not advocating that this should be an issue to divorce over and I am certainly not condoning allowing yourself to succumb to adultery. This challenge manifests itself in many forms. Sometimes sex is used as a weapon to manipulate. This corrupts everything about it and should never be done. Sometimes there is emotional damage that affects someone's ability to be intimate. Often there are biological reasons that cause people's sex drives to change. In any case, the bible makes it clear that, married or otherwise, we are responsible to God to be faithful representatives of Christ's sacrificial love, no matter what anyone else does. So if you are not being taken care of in this area, then alongside possible counseling and healthy discussion about the matter, much prayer, meditation on the word, and striving to find your satisfaction in God is a must. A lack of intimacy is not an excuse for ungodly, disobedient behavior.
If you are the one who is lacking desire, here are some thoughts. I have no doubt that a part of you feels justified in not doing something that does not interest you. There is probably a part of you that also recognizes the flaw in that lack of desire as a partner in a marriage covenant. I do not want to beat you up for your lack of desire because I realize that you may not even understand it yourself. The only exception that I can foresee there may be to what I am about to say would be if you have a verifiable medical condition that makes it difficult to perform as male or female in the marriage. I do recognize these challenges.
However, as with any other biblical command, as a believer, remember that you are still responsible to make every effort to hold up your end of the bargain regarding your spouses satisfaction, whether you feel like it or not. You must also pray, feed on the word and maintain a relationship with your redeemer that, if biblical, should correct some issues in time. Not only should it feel natural to want to satisfy your spouse, but that is part of what you committed to when you made your vow, in the marriage covenant. A vow not only to your spouse but before God. So whether you feel like it or not, if you selfishly ignore that responsibility, you are not only harming your spouse but you are acting in direct disobedience to the word of God.
As always, I do not wish to simply come off strong, beat you up, or seem insensitive. You may say, Josh you just don't understand. To that I say, trust me. Most marriages if they last long enough have moments that make this topic one with which many can identify. That is true of myself as well. Even if it wasn't, God's word is God's word. We must not make excuses for disobeying it by trying to discredit the experience of the deliver of that word as it were. If your greatest desire is God's glory then you will strive to learn to be satisfied in Him when everything else in life is letting you down. You should learn to be satisfied in Him whether everything is hunky dory or not.
God loves you. He knows what's best for each of us. He created this sacred act of love so that we could be fruitful and multiply and grow in intimacy together. The latter cannot stop just because we are done with the former, as is often the case. So love your spouse selflessly, just as Christ loves you and died for you selflessly. In order for this thing to work we must press into our relationship with the one who created it and who best knows how to make it work for you. So press into Jesus. Rest in Jesus. And, trust Him to work all things together for the good of those who love him and who have been called according to His purpose(Romans 8:28).
In Jesus name,