Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Gospel Sex

1 Corinthians 7:1-5 says:
7:1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 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. 5 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.”
This is a passage that has often been used by husbands to shift the burden of responsibility for their immorality onto their supposedly under-sexed wives. Pastors are not immune. Countless counseling situations are seen through the lenses of sexually frustrated men, quick to quote these verses, and leave it at that. But Paul won’t have it. If your husband does that, simply take him back to 1 Co. 6:16-17 where Paul compares being “one flesh” with a woman with being “one spirit” with Jesus. What that assumes is that the sex he’s talking about in this chapter isn’t the same thing as the immorality he condemned in chapter 6 – the self-serving, get-your-needs-met-and-roll-over kind of sex; “food is for the body and the body for food”. This is Hebrew sex; not just the uniting of two bodies but the uniting of two souls, the mingling of two lives. It’s an act of physical oneness that mirrors, pictures, illustrates, embodies, incarnates a spiritual oneness. It’s Gospel sex, a reflection of the oneness we have with Jesus by the Holy Spirit.

And that intimates the shocking suggestion that the reason your wife isn’t as willing as you are “to be intimate” is because you don’t want intimacy. You want to share your body, but not so much your soul. You want to receive pleasure, but you don’t want to receive your wife – her problems, her pains, her joys, her hopes, her sorrows. You have all the expectations of a sexual Gnostic, as though your wife’s body could be separated from her soul. You don’t really want to be “one flesh” – you just want to have sex. And the problem with that is that this is not the sort of marriage that will protect you from sexual immorality, because if that’s all you want, what’s the difference between sex with your wife and sex with anyone else? You’re trying to fight your selfish lust in the world with your selfish lust at home. How can you break your addiction to selfish sexual pleasure unless you begin to see your sexual acts as about a person instead of an orgasm? It won't work. Anyone can give you pleasure. You don’t need your wife for that. You can do that on your own. If you want to experience the kind of sex that will deliver you from your sinful lusts, you’re going to have to start acting like you’re married someplace other than the bedroom. You’re going to have to stop chasing the cheap imitation of sex-without-relationship (what the Bible calls "immorality) and start drinking deeply from your wife.

Beware arming yourself with the Bible in order to batter your spouse and feed your own flesh: it’s like a sword without a hilt or a handle – it cuts even the ones who wield it. Take it from one whose hands have been bloodied.


Even So... said...

Worth using as a pre marriage counseling tool...

Jacquelyn said...

Fascinating insight! There are many implications for women as well in regards to what we give to our husbands (body or soul).

Angela said...

HI, this is the first time I've read you blog and I was pleasantly surprised! this is an excellent post! Finally, a guy who gets it (well, besides my husband, of course)! Hope you don't mind, but I linked it to my blog! In Christ, Angela

Jim said...

Well written, this will clear up a lot of confusion for us men.

The Yellow Dart said...


Hey man - great post. Good for all of us single guys to hear too. Hey, I got into BHT from your blog, but I haven't seen you post in a while. Do you still keep up on the stuff there?