Christians Gathered and Sharing Theirs Lives Together

A daily devotion for April 9th

A Beautiful Reciprocity

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.

1 Corinthians 7:3-4

The thrust of this paragraph is telling us that sex in marriage is designed for the fulfillment of each partner. There are several important statements in this paragraph to bear in mind when thinking about that: First, you will notice that Paul does not say to the husband and the wife, Demand your own sexual rights. He never puts it in that way, and yet in scores of cases one of the major problems of the marriage is that one partner, usually the man, demands his sexual rights from his wife. Nothing, perhaps, is more destructive to marital happiness than that — for the male to come and demand that his wife submit to him in this area, whenever he feels like it. To mistake and mistreat the passage where it speaks of the wife not ruling over her own body and thinking of this as giving license to the husband to demand sex whenever he wants it, is to destroy the whole beauty of sex in marriage. Nothing is more hurtful to a relationship than that.

What Paul says is that what you have the right to do is to give him or her, as a gift from you, the fulfillment of these sexual desires — and the responsibility you have is not to your mate, but to the Lord to do so. It is a matter that Paul puts on the basis of the relationship that a believer has with the Lord. It is the Lord who asks us to give this gift to our mates in marriage. Sex in marriage is a gift that you are to freely offer to each other. It is not a selfish, self-centered satisfying of your own desire.

If we understand that, it is going to make a big difference in many marriages, and if you reflect on it a moment, you will see why. Sex is given to us to teach us how to relate to one another. It is designed by God in order to teach us how to relate and fulfill the basic law of life, which Jesus put in these terms when he said, If you attempt to save your life, you will lose it (Matthew 16:25). If you try to meet your own need, if you put that first in your life, the result will be that you will lose the joy of life and you will lose everything you are trying to gain. Instead of finding fulfillment you will find emptiness, and you will end your years looking back upon a wasted experience. You cannot get fulfillment that way. That is not merely good advice — that is a law of life, as inviolable as the law of gravity. The only way to find your needs met and yourself fulfilled is to fulfill another's needs. This is what sex is all about. It is designed not to have your needs met, but to meet another's needs. Thus, in marriage, you have a beautiful reciprocity. In the process of devoting yourself to the enjoyment of your mate, and to giving him or her the most exquisite sense of pleasure that you can, you find your own needs met.

Father, may my marriage increasingly become a beautiful picture of a deep relationship, of the harmony of two different lives becoming one beautiful and attractive person. Amen.

Life Application

Do I view sex as an opportunity to give to my spouse, or is my focus on getting my own need met?

This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray's Messages

Sex in Marriage

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