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Two Different Ways to Think About Sex in Marriage

Two Different Ways to Think About Sex in Marriage

You have no right to a secret sex life. If you are married, you have no right to do anything outside the knowledge and consent of your spouse. That includes adultery, of course, but it also includes sinful fantasies and all manner of self-gratification. It’s simple. It’s obvious. It’s biblical. But it’s widely ignored. You have no right to a secret sex life because you do not own the rights to your body.

The first right of ownership is God’s. God created you and, as your creator, has rights over all of you. This is why God could declare how Adam and Eve were to put their bodies to use: “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (Genesis 1:28). He gave them arms and legs and hands and feet and told them to put them to use in exercising dominion over the world; he gave them sexual organs and told them to put them to use in procreation (later making it clear that pleasure is also a legitimate use of their bodies). You can do nothing to your body or with your body that is not consistent with the purpose for which God created it.

The second right of ownership is God’s. Yes, God owns it a second time, though this time we see the Son and Holy Spirit joining the Father in exerting their rights of ownership. God the Father owns it as your maker, God the Son owns it as your redeemer, and God the Holy Spirit owns it as the one who resides within it. In sin you essentially usurped God’s right of ownership, but Christ’s work on the cross bought it back. Here’s how Paul says it: “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” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). You can do nothing to your body or with your body that is not consistent with the purpose for which the Son redeemed it and for which the Holy Spirit indwells it. It is to be presented as a living sacrifice, committed to God’s purposes (Romans 12:1).

The third right of ownership is your spouse’s. If you are married, you have ceded all rights over your body to your spouse, at least in the area of sexuality. “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” (1 Corinthians 7:4). Therefore, “the husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband” (7:3). In marriage, you willingly give your body to your spouse, acknowledging that you do so on their terms, not your own. You tacitly say, “This body is now your body, to be used as you see fit when you see fit.” This requires a husband and wife to willingly and joyfully give their bodies to one another and willingly and joyfully withhold their bodies from anyone else—including themselves.

God’s body, God’s way. God created my body and I will only ever use it in ways consistent with his will.

“My body, my way. This is my body and I will use it in any way I please.” This is the creed of the pagan and the creed of the Christian who is refusing to be obedient to God. Yet we were created to declare, “God’s body, God’s way. God created my body and I will only ever use it in ways consistent with his will.” And, in awe of God’s gift of a spouse to say, “her body, her way” or “his body, his way.” “I give my body to my spouse and will only ever use it in ways consistent with his or her will.”

Husband, your body is hers. You gave it to her and have no rights over it, no right to do what she does not consent to. Wife, your body is his. You have no right to do what he does not know about. Husband and wife are to take all the sexual desire, energy, and activity they’ve got and freely, joyfully cede it to their spouse. It’s God’s way.


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