Ask a Pastor is a podcast designed to help you believe God’s Word by discovering what Scripture really says and how it applies to real life.
Does the Bible require a wife to have sex with he husband every time he wants to? And the technical answer is, “yes.” But wait. Before you click me off, keep reading. I’ve heard a lot of husbands used 1st Corinthians 7:4 to defend that answer. And it says that, “the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does.” So, the technical answer to the question is “yes,” but you gotta keep reading because that same verse… verse 4 of 1st Corinthian 7 goes on to say, “likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”
So, does the Bible require the wife to have sex with her husband anytime he wants? Yes. But does the Bible require the husband to refrain anytime she wants? Yes. Can you see God smiling? Like He’s just saying, “Good luck with this. I’ve set up a two-member committee… equal authority over the other person’s body. And the only way this thing’s going to work is if there is love.”
He has purposely designed the most intimate expression of love to be locked up in a stalemate… That’s an interesting word: stale – mate. …if the husband and/or the wife are focused on their own rights. If they’re looking out for their own rights, they’re actually going to kill the marriage. It’s like dissecting a frog and then wondering why it won’t jump. You’ve killed it.
The key, according to Scripture, is love. A few chapters later, Paul writes in 1st Corinthians 13:4, “Love is patient and kind.” 13:5, “Love does not insist on its own way.” So, what does that look like for a husband who has a wife who is weary or worried? He is patient. He is kind. He does not insist on his own way. What does that look like for a wife who has a husband who has longed for many days to be intimate with her? She is patient and kind and does not insist on her own way. So, when the Bible is describing a husband and wife who each tapping into the love of Christ, fueling their own hearts with His overflowing love so that they can move their relationship beyond the “he owes me, she owes me” stalemate and into the creativity of love.
Love is extremely creative. It finds ways to overcome obstacles. Love is extremely flexible – in contrast to law – like if you operate on the “she owes me, he owes me,” then you’re in the inflexibility of law and the two will come to a stalemate and really tear each other down. But love is flexible. It adapts to the challenges and the seasons of life.
And let me just say a quick word to couples who continue to struggle in this area. There are times where love might motivate a couple to actually call a doctor and seek help if there are physiological problems in the area of intimacy. There are times where love may motivate a couple to contact our counseling office or another one because we are privilege to partner – both provide counseling and also partner with ministries that specialize in helping couples – when the struggle is emotional or relational. But in either case, love is always patient. Love is always kind. Love does not insist on his own way.