1 Corinthians 6:15 - 7:5 "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 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."
Ok! This will be chock full and long. Sorry. Not sorry. LOL! Tie up your knickers so they don't get in a twist!
I recently found myself utilizing the verses above dealing with sex addiction issues and the marriage. Oftentimes this is the go-to passage for many a minister who has not been trained or educated in the aspects of sex addiction. It runs deep. it damages and breaks everything in its path with the odd power of making the broken soul cry out, "Yes sir, may I have another!" Then as the woman suffers oftentimes in silence, she is faced with the torment of the broken covenant, the feeling of inadequacy literally overwhelms her and she feels as though the world that she knew is dying (and it is) and nothing will ever be the same. "What about the children?!?" "Will I need to get a job? A second job?" "Who can I turn to?" They often feel like an outcast, especially within the confines of the church. So thankful we've all turned the local church into a place of judgment and condemnation aren't you? And while the addict is somehow feeling this sense of freedom and weights being lifted off of him for coming clean, the wife might as well have walked onto the battlefields of Gettysburg, Normandy, Vietnam and Afghanistan all at once with a bullseye on her back.
Enter the pastor. (Not all pastors miss this, some get it but there are many....)
"Maybe if you'd have given him more sex....?" (INSERT EYE ROLL HERE) After all your body belongs to him and the Bible says you shouldn't block the road, so to speak, so he doesn't fall into temptation. ("Here pastor let me lift up my blouse so you can see exactly where the knife is entering my flesh to get it as close to my heart as possible.")
This verse normally gets taken out of context and quite consistently stays one sided toward the wife. Yes, the patriarchy is alive and well is some places. But not for the reasons one thinks. It's just a lack of understanding and most likely fear of not knowing what to do. Fear seems to be at the root of everything these days.
Yes. Ok. Guys have physical release needs as it relates to sex. There, I said it! We feel things differently than a woman. We hang out in the physical realm and respond to that first just as much as she hangs out in the emotional realm and responds faster to that. Does it mean that women never find a guy attractive if he's ripped like the construction worker in the old Diet Pepsi commercial? No, they get jazzed about a guy's body, but it is not the primary draw of a woman to a man. Does a man rarely have an emotional moment and only feel his feels when he nabs a deer in bow season or when his team wins the championship? No. They quite often have emotional moments relating to the their wives and especially children, but it's not the primary draw. Men are more physical, women are more emotional but the other party is not void of the other trait. It's just primary and secondary. When the pastor says more sex is the prescription for a happy life, he is misinformed, even from Paul's inspired writings. First let's settle what Paul meant by your body belongs to the other.
If you flip back and read what Paul was writing to the neurotic Corinthian church that wasn't quite getting the whole "new life in Christ" thing, you see him bringing some correction to an issue that permeated every facet of normal life under Roman rule: S-E-X. It was everywhere. Not just prostitutes and hook-ups. Incest was rampant on all fronts. Even in the political leadership of the day, brothers marrying sisters and just yucky stuff. Ewwwww. Even this second I'm shaking off the willies.
Paul first had to explain to the church, among other things, that having sex with a prostitute actually made you one with her (or him). It is because God designed sex to be the catalyst to oneness in a covenant relationship. God is not going to remove the power and purpose of sex just because it gets abused by mankind. As long as you keep the marriage bed undefiled you can pretty much do anything. If you want to try it swinging from a chandelier just to change things up, I guess if it's just you two and you are both in agreement ... I mean it's dangerous and you could die so that would suck, but in some odd way, it would be allowed. The bottom line is, God gave us sex for a myriad of reasons but it is not to be treated with contempt. The behaviors exhibited when two people in a covenant, God-ordained relationship are "making love" need to be pure. Whatever you do in word or in deed...you do it all to glorify God and yes! that means when you are sexually engaged. (Colossians 3:17) Not outside of marital sex and no, no masturbation thinking about your wife. Seems noble at first but for the sex addict, it only fuels the addictive mechanism in the brain because you are doing the exact same thing you do when watching porn and objectifying an image. Your brain doesn't know the difference. The actions are exactly the same. Did I mention they were exactly the same?
Now onto moving from the purity aspect of sex to the functionality of it. When Paul was writing that the woman's body belongs to the husband and the husband's body belongs to the wife it wasn't for this "permissive taking of the body" whenever you wanted it for your own needs. That's not love now is it? Sounds a little more like lust. Paul was simply clarifying, in light of his point about oneness with a prostitute that in the marriage covenant - and this is my take on it - your bodies belong to each other, not to anyone else. Not a prostitute. Not a family friend. Not a person you met in the local bar when you went to drown your sorrows. To each other. God will not share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8) and so a woman or man should not share the glory of their covenant relationship with anyone else. EV-ER. If you have invited God to take part in your journey together stating your covenant vows, what do you think happens when you traverse outside the bounds and bring that brokenness back into your marriage? Yeah. It slimes God too. Not very kind to the One who bankrupted all of Heaven to rescue you from sin, death, hell and the grave, now is it?
So now let's hit the meat of the reason I wrote this blog shall we? The age old response to marital conflict: have more sex. Sex was meant to be a lot of things but the two main things that sex is never to be is a weapon or a quick fix for deeper issues. Paul says that it is good to fast sex - not have sex fast - but to abstain for a while for a greater purpose like people who abstain from eating to devote themselves to focusing on God. But Paul also says to do it for a season but come back together because if there is too long of a break, then it gives Satan a real playground for your emotions and physical needs. As people engaged in a godly marriage, there are targets on our backs. If we are not working on our marriage in all the areas we need; communication, finances, dreams, goals, children, maturing, spiritual growth, self-care, date nights, and yes sex, then Satan will look for some type of foothold in there to create conflict and tear the marriage apart. So even God, speaking through Paul by the Holy Spirit, knows that it is not good to elongate the times between our sexual encounters because we aren't perfect...yet. We both have needs and it does start to create a sense of conflict when sex does not take place. If we were not created to be sexual creatures, then everything would be great! If we were created to be sexual creatures, but there was no pleasure in it per se, and we simply pro-created like two machines, then fine. But that's not why God gave us sexual bodies or created a sexual realm for us to enter into and experience deep abiding pleasure...and said we could do it whenever! (within the proper boundaries). So it is good to engage in sex as regularly as you both can agree upon. I know couples who have regular sex 4 or 5 times a week. Some women are probably looking at that saying, "uh, yeah, not in this universe!" Some guys are going, " if only..." and then letting a bit of a whimper escape their mouth. Others it is not as much and it does not affect them toward the negative. But it does need to happen. The times where it does not happen for the most part is when there are women, who because of some form of sexual betrayal, will not give themselves to their husband because they no longer feel safe. COMPLETELY ACCEPTABLE. (Yes there are medical/emotional health reasons as well but for the purpose of this article I am speaking about sexual betrayal.) If you were to take the above pastor's advice the woman would feel forced to perform sexually - which is all it would be - and the man entitled to receive it.
When there has been a crossing of a line, say, when a man (for all intents and purposes - yes it happens vice versa) indulges in and probably has been indulging in porn for years prior to the marriage, this becomes a betrayal to the wife. You can't minimize it or justify it. The man has betrayed his wife sexually because he has gone outside the boundaries of the marriage to achieve sexual fulfillment and satisfaction. PERIOD. END OF SENTENCE. The reason that the man went outside of the marriage is rarely, "we fasted sex for a while and pursued God for a month but the wife didn't join back together with me so I had to find another outlet." If you were pursuing God for a month, you should've walked away with something more powerful than sex will ever be. An encounter with God I would hope. No, the reasons the man was so able and willing to walk outside the boundaries are as endless as the sands on the seashore. Ok, well maybe not that endless but there can be many. Trauma (Big T or little t), neglect, abuse, loss, much of which can affect the man in deep and profound ways. The reason a woman does not want to have a sexual encounter, even in the confines of the marriage are equally as many and for the same categories listed above plus betrayal. This infringement upon sexuality, although caused by humans, finds its origin in the pit of hell. As I mentioned, there is a target on the back of marriages. You are becoming one in body, soul and spirit; just as God designed it to work. He designed it after the pattern of His interaction with His creation. That interaction is based upon love, trust, vulnerability, and intimacy. The picture of the marriage is meant to be a snapshot of who God is at His core. When that is destroyed or marred in some way, the world around us doesn't get the full glimpse of God. We can say a lot of religious things to make people want to experience God but they will look at our life before they ever trust our words. Satan knows this and so he wants nothing more than to eradicate the ability of Christians to share the truth of God's heart for all mankind. You may think, "Wow, all this boils down to sex?" Well in one way. If you go back to the building blocks of covenant relationship that God set up when He created Adam and Eve, there is relationship (with God), purpose (tending the garden and growing it larger), relationship with each other (loving, cherishing, serving, understanding, intimacy, and yep! sexuality). So sex is important. God told them to multiply after their kind but He also made it enjoyable and it should do both. Bring newness of life but also pleasure - both leading to a deeper experience that unifies two souls and draws both closer to God and godliness.
When it gets interrupted by the enemy's activity in our lives that assaults us from every direction, we do need to take the time necessary to distance ourselves from it because it is not going to end up being done in a healthy, holy way. It is a tool to create unity but when the tool is damaged, it doesn't fix things. At least not long term. It needs to be repaired but there does come a time when the hurt parties (usually both man and woman are damaged in some way) will have to step out into the water together to attempt to take back the land the enemy stole. It's not a "giving in." It's a "taking back." That will be the focus of my next blog.
My answer to all this is is this: SEX (wish I could make the font bigger) needs to be knocked down a little bit as far as our perception of it. Man typically craves it and wishes the woman would too. Women can often dread it and wish the man could understand their perception of it. Both need to come closer to the middle. For the man, stop making sex so centrifugal to your existence. It is like this because you have fed yourself a steady diet of it for years or have believed some lie that life is supposed to revolve around sex. It's become like eating, sleeping and breathing to you. Women, aside from deeper issues, don't keep it in the dirty category that your folks, in trying to keep you vigilant and a virgin made you think it was. If it has heinous, painful, unsafe, unthinkable then there are some serious large fish to fry as far as betrayal or deep rooted pain, or both.
PLEASE GET HELP!!!
Don't run from it. If you both surround yourself with solid clinical and godly spiritual input you can knock the monster it has become back down to size, submit yourselves to God as he draws you into His way of healing - in time, not in like two weeks - maybe more like two years - and reclaim your marriage with a balanced perspective of the beauty that is sex. Never rush your healing journey. Do the necessary work you need to do for YOURSELF and if and when the time is right, venture back into each other's safe space, build trust through honor and sacrifice. There is the chance you could find a brand new marriage where you are both free.
Got any questions? Ask me below. I'd love to interact with you all!