Quite a few years ago, a younger friend was preparing the final details of her wedding plans. With a playful grin, I mentioned to her that two of my favorite verses in the Bible was 1 Corinthians 7: 3 & 4. She agreed with me and we had a good chuckle about it. However, over the years, I have come to see how this little passage has been taken out of context and the original meaning that Paul intended. This “advice” on marital intimacy is seriously lacking. Sure, maybe it sounds good at first, but when I really thought about it, the advice just didn’t sit well. Perhaps you’ve fallen into the trap of this ‘advice’ as well. Are you believing the lie of being intimate with your husband in the name of duty? Are you wondering “Is It Really My Duty As His Wife?”
You’ve probably heard this ‘advice’ – or maybe you’ve even given it to a friend.
Scripture says my body belongs to my husband, therefore I should not deprive him. It doesn’t matter if I don’t ‘feel like it’, I should give it to him anyway because it is my duty as his wife.
OK, it is true. Scripture does say that husbands and wives should not deprive each other…but I think we’ve taken this whole duty thing out of context and way too far.
Let’s dig into this a bit more, shall we?
Out Of Love Or Duty?
Let’s start with a bit of a different scenario. You get home after a day of crazy errands and you find a lovely bouquet of flowers on the table. Your first thought is how sweet your husband is to think about you and surprise you with such a wonderful gesture. As soon as you see him, you gush and thank him for the flowers. His response is simple…”Well, it’s my duty”. He bought them for you because that’s just what husbands do – it is his ‘job’.
Does this change the way you look at the flowers?
Do you even still want them?
Do you wish that he had bought them for you because he loves you instead of out of duty?
I don’t think I’d be alone in my response to that scenario. My heart would be full of disappointment if my husband bought them for me out of duty. I don’t think I’d even want them anymore. The flowers, as beautiful as they might be, would mean much more to me if they are purchased out of his love for me.
Well, the same goes for husbands and sex. A loving husband doesn’t want to be intimate with you because it is your wifely duty. It would be like saying to your husband, “Well, if I really have to, I will – because it is my duty as your wife. But let’s just do it and get it over with.”
That is not a message of love.
When Paul talked about the marriage relationship, he assumed that there was some degree of physical attraction there. He believed that there was desire between husband and wife to be intimate. He did not hold to the first-century consensus that the husband maintained all rights to sex in marriage while the wife weakly submitted to his desires…out of ‘duty’. Sexual enjoyment went both ways between husband and wife.
Verse 4 says that a husband is to render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. It is clear that intimacy was intended for the enjoyment of both husband and wife. Paul supposes that intimacy in marriage is equal and not one-sided. That both husband and wife enjoy the act – hence the word ‘affection’. This hardly gives the idea of the wife servicing her husband merely out of duty is what ought to be expected.
Get What You Expect
When we begin thinking…and believing…that intimacy is simply a duty to perform, a chore like doing the laundry or vacuuming, then why should we surprised when it feels like a duty?
When Paul told us to take every thought under the authority of Jesus Christ, he also included thoughts of intimacy with your husband. Every single thought.
What would happen if you started to change your thought pattern about intimacy? What if, every time you thought about it being a chore, you took that thought and placed it under the authority of Jesus Christ? And what if, when you did that, you replaced it with His truth?
Did you know that God intended marital sex to be gratifying and pleasurable for both parties? If you aren’t sure about that, then you might want to read Song of Solomon…together!
Maybe, just maybe, if you started to change your heart attitude (and, dear sister, that’s exactly what this is…a heart issue), you might begin enjoying intimacy with your husband as God intended when He created sex.
Not Out Of Duty
Marriage is a representation of the gospel message, it is a model of the bride’s relationship with the Bridegroom and vice Versa. Our Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, went to the cross for us, His bride. Not out of duty. Not because he had to. He went to the cross and went through all He did out of His love for us. Ought we not do the same in our own marriage?
Let’s not give into the lie that any part of our marriage is ‘duty’, but a joy, wonder and a gift. A delightful gift from God. Yes, I know, it can be hard, it takes work – but anything that is worth something takes work. You have to fight for it, sister. And fight hard. If you’ve been feeling like sex is just a duty in your marriage – well, you’ve been lied to. Are you ready to pick up your sword and begin fighting for this area in your marriage? Are you ready to tell the father of lies exactly where to go? Because trust me on this, he’d LOVE for you to believe this lie about sex being your duty. When you believe it is just a duty to perform, that’s when you grow apathetic.
And when you are apathetic in your marriage, well, that is dangerous territory, my friend.
Sometimes, we share with a trusted friend that we are struggling in this area of our marriage and she offers this ‘advice’ – that it is our duty to be intimate with our husbands. So, suck it up, Princess. get the job done. Because if you don’t, then he’ll turn to pornography…or worse, another woman.
And you feel hopeless and just so disappointed. Is this really what it supposed to be like?
Can I say this to you today if that is the advice you’ve been given?
Your friend – or whoever said that to you – is dead wrong. Clearly, she is believing a lie about sex being a wife’s duty. But you don’t have to fall for it. You don’t have to sink into that deep, dark hole. You have a choice here. You don’t have to suck it up. You can enjoy it.
If you are stuck and not sure what to do, here are some tips – tried and true, my friend! TRIED AND TRUE!
Start praying. Pray hard over this area of your marriage. I am constantly praying over this aspect of my marriage. I ask the Lord to help me to be content, seeking Him for healing and joy in this area. In the past, I have asked Him to ignite that passion for my husband.
Start fighting. This is a fight, friend. Make no mistake about it. Sex is an important part of marriage. It ties our souls together. Don’t give up fighting for healthy intimacy. Ever.
Get Godly counsel. Obviously not your ‘suck it up’ friend. But someone you can trust to give you Godly wisdom and counsel. Someone who will pray with you and for you.
Talk to your husband. Ask him to pray for you. I don’t think there is a husband out there who wouldn’t pray about this! They will reap the benefits, of course! And your husband loves you. He wants you to be whole.
Go natural. Look into herbal supplements. I’ve gone this avenue, too. It helps. Check your diet. If you are filling your body with unhealthy stuff, that’s going to affect your libido.
Spiritual healing. You might find this post helpful, too. For The Wife Who Doesn’t Feel Sexy.
Next week, we’ll talk about another aspect that will affect intimacy in marriage…your attitude.