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A daily devotion for April 8th

Sex In Marriage

Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman. But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.

1 Corinthians 7:1-2

The Corinthians had communicated to Paul an important question: In view of the sexual temptations we face in Corinth, is it perhaps better to take a vow of celibacy, to renounce marriage for life, and to withdraw from all contact with the opposite sex? That question probably arose from the difficulty that some were having with handling their sexual drives. They were living in a sexually-oriented society, much like what we have today. They were facing exposure to temptation in these areas every time they turned around, just as we do today, and some of them were saying, Well, rather than struggle all the time, why not just forget the whole thing and get away from the opposite sex and live as a monk?

This is an attitude that is commonly felt and held. This gave rise to monasticism in the Middle Ages. People withdrew from all contact in this area, viewing sex itself as defiling, dirty, and unworthy. They viewed the celibate state as a higher level of spirituality. But it did not work, and it never will work. It never is God's intention for the sexes to live separately. Monasticism proved to be a disaster, as it always proves. You cannot run away from drives that are within you, and Scripture recognizes this.

The apostle's answer is that there is nothing wrong with celibacy; it is all right to be single. He stresses that right at the beginning. Nevertheless, because of the temptations that abound, marriage is preferable. Some take that to mean that Paul had a very low view of marriage, that it was a kind of second best state of affairs, but that misses the whole thrust of this passage.

It is true that the apostle was unmarried himself, at least at this time, and he glories in it. But now, he says marriage, and sex within marriage, is right too. Sex within marriage does permit relief from sexual pressures. He does not suggest that you should get married in order to be free from sex drives. What he's saying is that, when you are married, it does free you in this area. It helps to be married when you live in a sex-oriented society. This answers the claims of some that sex was given to us only for procreation purposes. It is clear from a passage like this where married couples are urged, even commanded, to experience sex together, not just once in a great while when a child is desired. Sex has another function within marriage, which is to provide mutual pleasure to one another. Sex in marriage is given to us for the mutual pleasure of those involved. Within those marriage bonds, sex is designed to be an exquisite pleasure which a married couple experiences as frequently as they mutually desire. This is what is meant in Hebrews 13:4 where it says, Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled.

Father, thank you for the frankness with which your word deals with these matters. Teach me the beauty and the glory and the joy of sexuality. Help me to learn how to express it in ways that give honor to you and fulfill your intention for me. Amen.

Life Application

Do I have a healthy, biblical view of sexuality? What factors in my life have contributed to how I feel about this area of my life?

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

Sex in Marriage

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