“Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”--- I Corinthians 7:3-5 (NKJV)
Affection: fond attachment, devotion, or love; the act of affecting; act of influencing or acting upon; bent or disposition of mind; the emotional realm of love
Authority: the power to determine, adjudicate, or otherwise settle issues or disputes; jurisdiction; the right to control, command, or determine; a power or right delegated or given; an accepted source of information, advice, etc.; an expert on a subject; persuasive force; conviction; right to respect or acceptance of one's word, command, thought, etc.; testimony; witness
Deprive: to remove or withhold something from the enjoyment or possession of (a person or persons); to take something away from; deny
Consent: to permit, approve, or agree; comply or yield; to agree in sentiment, opinion, etc.; be in harmony; to be of the same mind or opinion; acceptance or approval of what is planned or done by another; acquiescence
Yes, yes, yes...I knew this one was coming. If you were reading (and processing) the definitions, again, this is one tip that we can already pass the offering plate 'round one time on, but because I know the Lord wants to bring about a greater clarity on the topic, we will proceed.
One of the first things that I think that people, especially men/husbands, miss when quoting these verses is that they don't do it IN ORDER (and we know that we serve a God of order-I Corinthians 14:40). Yes, the Word does say that in a marital union, there should only be ONE REASON why a couple would “deprive one another” (and we will get to that in a minute), BUT do you see what is mentioned before that part?
“Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”
Let's stop at affection first; something that I hear far too many wives say that they are lacking in the receiving department. Now, I will be the first one to stand up and say that one of the worst places to go for information on something as intimate as sex with your covenant partner is the media. I Corinthians 3:19(NKJV) says, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.”
I have told many of my friends that my first (official) sermon was gonna be entitled, “I Live With That Man.” You have NO IDEA how many guys that I have had a straight-up attitude with God about when he “denied me the right” to have them. In my spirit, God was like, “Are you serious? He slept with your girlfriend.” “Are you serious? His credit score is 400.” “Are you serious? He has an STD...and even he doesn't know it yet.” We have to get to a place that we really trust (Psalm 18:2) that in the “Yes” and the “No”, God knows what he's doing...that he created all and sees all. (Psalm 24:1) If there is a person that you desire, trust God to bring them...or take them away, knowing that he loves you enough to deny you no good thing (now, you have to be living right so that you can hear him clearly, of course-Psalm 84:11).
When it comes to intimacy with your mate, this same trust must apply. When the Word said, “Acknowledge him and he will direct you” (Proverbs 3:6), there was no loophole there. You want to know how to please your partner? Porn/Erotica is not going to tell you. Cosmo/Maxim is not going to tell you. Ray J's show is not going to tell you. Lil' Wayne doesn't have clue. (Oh, and for that matter, your parents...your pastors...your mentors should only speak the Word to you when it comes to this as well. What brings them “pleasure” may tend to be very different from what brings you and yours satisfaction...EACH COUPLE IS DIFFERENT.) GO TO GOD.
Now, that said, there was an article that I recently read on women and foreplay for a piece that I'm doing, and being that I am a woman, and I speak to a lot of women, the tips in there appeared to be pretty dead on (and non-biblically compromising). According to the research from this writer, women need their men to:
Hold hands with them
Touch them (at times) in a non-sexual manner
Give them flowers/candy/small gifts
Cuddle with them on the couch
Help around the house with the kids
Give them quiet time
TALK and LISTEN
Now, it's amazing isn't it, fellas? It doesn't say anything in there about grouping her breasts while cooking or slapping her butt while she's getting ready for work (not saying that anything is “wrong” with that...but everything has it's time, place and purpose-Ecclesiastes 3). I believe that because women are nurturers, the way that we are often stimulated is through nurturing. And, because you guys are conquerors, there are moments when you need to feel “conquered”; that we desire you so much that we just can't contain ourselves (duly noted).
But you see, before the sex, Paul spoke on affection...mutual affection at that. I have some male friends right now who don't know how to respond/react to a woman giving them gifts or holding their hand and I think it's because they've gotten a lot of SEX, but very little AFFECTION from women in their past. Your wedding night is not the time to start learning about how to be an affectionate person (male or female). Of course, due to the nature of the relationship, certain “acts of devotion” should be reserved for marriage, but even with your family and friends, this would be a good time to learn how to: touch without letting things become sexual; give gifts expressing your love for others; talk and listen...and yes (a hard one for me at times), give QUIET TIME. Due to schedules and life demands, there may not always be time for the kind of sex you would desire to have with your partner, but you must always make a way to be affectionate with them; to allow your feelings for them to have an influence on you...daily. Romans 12:10 (NKJV) says, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another...” This should apply with all men/women, but especially with your mate.
Next up, authority.
OK, this one just might step on some toes. Sorry. I was actually kind of thrown myself when I studied up on it. You know, I find it very interesting that when a woman gets pregnant outside of covenant, she often wants to claim sole rights on the baby that belongs to both her and the man that she was impregnated by. If she wants to keep, abort or give up the child for adoption, often in her mind, he should have very little to say because, “It's her body.” Well, it took the lost lives of four of my own children to accept that 1) it's not just “my body” (I Corinthians 6:19) and 2) “MY body” is housing “OUR baby”. I didn't create him/her alone and so I don't have the right to make decisions re: his/her well-being alone. (This is why a single mother saying she is the father and mother is so out of order. You are not even created to/capable of being both!) When a woman is pregnant, she doesn't have the AUTHORITY to make those kinds of decisions...in the godly or physical realm. (Just because God lets us doesn't mean he condones it...that it's his perfect will. It actually means that we have disrespected authority, and there are always consequences that come with doing that.-Galatians 6:7-8)
In a covenant relationship, again, this applies. When you DECIDE (because again, no one is making you take this on) to become “one flesh” with someone (Matthew 19:5-6), you are giving them AUTHORITATIVE RIGHTS WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR BODY (the physical structure and material substance of an animal or plant, living or dead). Like the “unplanned pregnancy” situation, I find it interesting how many women talk about wanting a man's heart, but then want to “buck up” when he makes a suggestion about her body. He should desire you(the same way) even if you gain 50 lbs in two years? He has no right to speak up if you change your hair color and doesn't like it? On the flip, fellas, you grow a beard and she's not really into all of the “hair burns” you are putting on her face? You started out with a six-pack and now you're rollin' with a keg? YOUR MATE HAS THE AUTHORITY TO ADDRESS THESE THINGS. As someone who is one with you, they are given, BY GOD, permission to “delegate”, “convict”, “bear witness to” your physical being (ouch, ouch, ouch, I know!). As your leader/helpmate, they are seen, BY GOD, as “experts on you”.
This is one reason why you should pay very close attention to how a man or woman feels about your physical appearance on the front end (before marriage). If he thinks you're a little “too healthy” (size-wise) now...if she doesn't like how you wear your (facial) hair now...if you never feel good enough (in their eyes) now, then don't expect him/her to let up on you later. Now, as FRIENDS, it's a preference. Later as COVENANT PARTNERS, it's an AUTHORITATIVE INSIGHT...and RIGHT. I've dated men who had near heart-attacks when I would shave my head. Shoot, I have spent 34 years with myself knowing and now accepting that my husband is not gonna too much care what I do with my hair (because creative people tend to be chameleons). Now, that doesn't mean that I won't respect his authority, but I have male friends now who barely blink when I take a pair of clippers to my scalp. My hair is not what they are drawn to....that is not a “deal breaker” in what makes me attractive to them.
During this time of singleness, and especially if you are seriously courting or engaged, listen to how your significant other is responding/reacting to your appearance. We all can (and should, to a certain extent) make suggestions on how others can become more attractive. But IMPROVING you is not the same as CHANGING you. She hates jeans and t-shirts now? Don't trip when she has the AUTHORITY to speak Brooks Brothers suits into your life. He doesn't like tattoos and belly rings now? Don't lose it when he has the AUTHORITY to request that they be removed. When you become one with someone, you don't just stake claim on their heart...you have a huge influence on their body as well. (I know, I know...control freaks, I KNOW!!!)
And yes, “authority” also applies in the bedroom. I am not sure if premarital counseling spends nearly enough time on the “bed being undefiled” chapter (Hebrews 13:4), but when it's time to prepare for walking down the aisle, this must be addressed. I know way too many men who thought they were gonna get, umm, “blessed” in certain ways that their wives actually find to be disgusting and never had any intention on, umm, blessing them with. If your mate is going to have “ a power or right delegated or given” sexually until death parts you, then you need to know what that entails ON THE FRONT END. Sex is a gift in marriage...it's so relevant that it's only for married people. I am especially speaking to the ladies when I say this: Don't get so “brand new” that you think a man who is committing the rest of his life to you is going to want to “cut corners” in the sex department. At the same time, fellas, you don't just have authority over us. We also have authority over you. Sex isn't just about what you want/need to be fulfilled. WE ARE IN THE BED WITH YOU. We have the right to speak up when something is right...and not not-so-right. If you don't want to hear it, you take that up with God. HE GAVE US THE RIGHT TO SPEAK UP WHEN IT COMES TO OUR SEXUAL SATISFACTION. The objective, aside from being fruitful and multiplying (Genesis 1:28) and aside from achieving oneness (Genesis 2:24-25), is pleasure...MUTUAL PLEASURE.
And this is where we will split up.
Men: OK, I chose the NKJV of this scripture because it is the translation that uses the word, “deprive”. Now, I have heard a lot of husbands use this word (almost as a weapon), but based on the definition, I think a lot of times it has been out of context. Yes we, as women, shouldn't keep sex from you without you deciding with us that it's seasonally for a purpose. (Amos 3:3) BUT, do you see that “deprive” doesn't just imply sexual activity? ANYTHING THAT GIVES PLEASURE SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN AWAY. Women don't just need consistent physical intimacy. We need the other things that define pleasure as well: “recreation or amusement; diversion; enjoyment”.
Don't stop dating your wife. Continue to come up with creative ways to express how you feel and how much you love her. The routine of life can make anything a drag after awhile...we love for men to create diversions. When the Word speaks on not depriving your mate, don't keep us from the special things that drew us to you in the first place. Wives love being their husband's girlfriend in the sense of being courted and wooed. THAT SHOULD NEVER END.
Women: I think most of us get the “men section” part. But it seems like the “mutual consent” trips a lot of us up. What I appreciate about the definitions of consent is that there appears to be no manipulation implied. The Bible does indeed tell us that certain things ONLY come by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:20-22), but it also says that we are not to withhold what brings our mates pleasure unless our husbands are under the same mind or opinion...that they permit...that they agree...that they are in harmony with us going without FOR A SEASON. Having a headache...rationing it out...PMS'ing (for half the month), none of these EXCUSES apply (unless the two of you are praying for the Jezebel spirit to be exorcised from you!).
There are way too many women I know who are floored when they find their husbands in an emotional/physical affair when the Bible makes it clear that if you deprive him, you give the Enemy an “in” to your marriage. You ain't had sex with him in six months and you're shocked that he's flirting with his secretary? You shouldn't be. You haven't complimented him in weeks and he's getting chummy with the 36-24-40 neighbor? Girl, please.
Yes, a man is accountable for his actions and what is done in the dark, God will judge. (I Corinthians 4:5), BUT as the woman who is one with him, you will be held accountable for the part that you played in it as well. You deprive your husband, you deny him the affection and authority that God has given him in your life, and yes, you have just played an Oscar-winning supporting cast role in him being tempted by Satan...in him coming in to steal, kill and destroy your union. (John 10:10)
Husbands and wives in training, as you are praying for leadership and guidance in this area, keep in mind that between you and your mate affection is due, authority is given and deprivation is not of God...until death parts you.
You want to “pray and fast” on something, pray and fast on that!
©Shellie R. Warren/2009