It’s natural to think that your body belongs to you. After all, you’re the one living in it, right? But natural and biblical thinking often conflict. According to the Bible, your body (if you’re a married Christian) has two other owners.
Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost . . . and that you are not your own? You have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Corinthians 6:19,20.
Not being your own is doubly so for those married. According to God, your spouse has access rights to your physical body. Your body isn’t yours because Jesus bought it at the cross. And, it isn’t yours because it belongs to your spouse.
As God said, “The two will become one flesh.” This isn’t a nice sentiment designed to make grandmothers cry at weddings. It is a declaration from God that constitutes a fundamental change of spiritual and physical status: Where two were, there is now one. This is why in 1 Corinthians 7:5 the Scripture says, Don’t defraud one another . . . (don’t cheat each other by coming up with excuses for saying “no” to sex when your spouse wants it). And, an important side note, here – in this matter, Scriptures teach men and women are on absolutely equal ground. The wife’s rights to her husband’s body are the same as his.
Question – Do you ever withhold physical intimacy from your spouse? You may have a list of reasons a mile long (and yes, there are some legitimate reasons (a very few!) but, apart from those, withholding sex from your spouse is not defensible behavior for the Christian. It’s sin, plain and simple but, it’s worse than that. The Word also says if you choose that path, you’re inviting more sin into your marriage. In the normal Christian marriage (there are marriages with extenuating circumstances) no sex, or even infrequent sex leads to more sin.
Anyone who ignores his/her spouse’s needs for physical touch and sexual intimacy is walking in sin.
Put so starkly, this may sound harsh but the Bible isn’t an ice-cream shop where Christians can pick and choose what flavor (verse) they like best. So, what does the Bible say, specifically?
If married men and women do not remain physically intimate with each other on a regular basis, they are setting themselves up for sin. If they withhold sex from each other, they are setting up their spouse for sin – the point made by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:2-5
“. . . to avoid engaging in illicit sex of any kind, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. The husband should ensure his wife’s sexual needs are met and the wife should make sure her husband’s sexual needs are met. The wife does not have power (exclusive authority/the right to deny her husband) over her own body and neither does the husband. And, don’t defraud each other (withhold sex from each other), unless you both agree for a time so you can fast and pray about a particular issue. Then, be sure to commence having sex so Satan doesn’t have an opportunity to tempt you to have sex with someone else.” (MLJparaphrase)
Loads of sex – it’s the Christian couples burden to bear! Who knew obedience was so much fun!
Seriously, though, we will all stand before God one day, to give an account of our (sex) lives. Many husbands and wives will have to answer the question, “I told you to have sex often, why did you withhold yourself from your spouse? Why didn’t you meet the sexual needs of the wife/husband I gave you? Why did you live as if your body belonged to you?”
When a wife or husband desires sex she/he should never be made to feel like an intruder. Yes, we must consider where each other may be at, emotionally, physically. Yes, we must not be thoughtless, selfish, and inconsiderate (and it must be said, here, that many men are very unloving in seeking sex only rather than seeking the intimacy of communication she craves, non-sexual touch, and insuring that their wives feel cared for) but, the basic mindset of a biblically informed spouse should be: Your body is right here waiting for you. Come and enjoy it whenever you desire. Don’t withhold from your spouse what is rightfully hers/his. If you need to make a change then find the right moment to acknowledge to your spouse you’ve been walking in sin in this area and, going forward, you are aligning your thinking with what the Bible teaches.
In a happy, fulfilling, God-honoring marriage, you won’t find two perfect people. But, you will find two people who seek to be obedient to God’s instructions for marriage.
Are you a married Christian? Then glorify God in your body by not withholding what God says is rightfully your spouse’s.
P.S. Nothing in this article should be construed to advocate or defend control or abuse of any kind, which are nothing less than willful sin.
Matt Jacobson is a biblical marriage coach and founder of FaithfulMan.com a biblical marriage, parenting, and discipleship ministry providing written and audio teaching, as well as couples marriage coaching. He is the co-host (with his wife, Lisa) of Faithful Life Podcast and is author of the bestseller, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife. Matt is pastor of Tumalo Bible Fellowship and is married to Lisa, founder of Club31Women.com (they have 8 kids!).