The Journey to Deep – Part 2
From Compromise to Commitment
(A Study of 1 Corinthians)
1 Corinthians 5-7

When our kids were little, like most parents, we would take them in for a check-up at the doctor’s office a couple of times a year.  The first thing you do when you get to the doctor’s office is you…?  You wait.  It’s not a hard question.  You go to the waiting room, and you wait.  That’s what it is called, so that is what you do there.  Then they take you in.  The first thing they do is they measure your child—check their height, check their weight—and then they put those measurements on a chart so we can see how our child has grown and how they’ve matured over the years and since the last time they visited.  It’s a way to measure their maturity to make sure everything is developing the way it should.  If they’re not growing, if they’re not maturing, you know something is wrong.

In some ways this is what 1 Corinthians does for us as believers.  Paul provides these marks of maturity.  It allows us to gauge our growth as believers.  He planted this church three years earlier, and now he is challenging them to go on this “Journey to Deep” because they weren’t growing as they should.  Instead, he’s received these reports of immorality and division within the church.  So now he is writing, and he is challenging them to grow in their walk with God.

And so, we’re going on this journey together, as a church, as well.  If you have your Bibles, open to 1 Corinthians 5.  You have some notes in your worship bulletin, so please pull those out and follow along, because we’re going to go from chapter 5 through chapter 7 and there is a lot of material here.

In chapters 5 through 7 Paul talks to us about moving…as believers…from compromise to commitment.  His primary focus is sexual immorality.  There is this sexual immorality in the church that has compromised the church, has compromised these believers.  They are looking more and more like the culture, so he addresses that.  

CHAPTER 5 – THE CRISIS OF COMPROMISE

In chapter 5, verse 1, here is what he says to the church.  He says: “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans….”  And here is his example: “A man has his father’s wife.”

So here is what’s happened.  When Paul planted the church, he clearly established, “These are God’s standards for your sex lives.  This is what God wants from you in this area.” But now these reports have come back from him where the people have compromised.  And the word he uses for “sexual immorality” here is the word porneia.  It’s where we get our word “pornography” from.  It’s kind of an umbrella word, and under that word falls any kind of sex that is not between a husband and wife in a marriage covenant.  “Well,” you say, “what about this?” or “What about this?  What about this?”  Well, if it’s not between a husband and wife in a marriage covenant, then it falls under the umbrella of sexual immorality.  Paul says, “It is reported that that is taking place within the church.”

And then, I think, he gives the most extreme example of what’s been reported to him.  He says, “A man has his father’s wife” – presumably his stepmother.  And Paul says, “How could this be?  How did it come to this?”

So how is it that compromise creeps into the life of a Christian?  How is it that it comes into the church?  How is it that we find ourselves doing things and acting in ways that we never meant to?

Well, there are a few steps toward compromise.  First, we become complacent.  

Since Paul was there, to this point things have slid, but it didn’t happen all at once.  It was just becoming complacent one little step at a time.  You can hear the disbelief and the shock in Paul’s voice when he says, “It is actually reported….  How did it come to this?”  It’s just complacency in the little things.

Jim Collins, the business author, wrote an article about business ethics in light of the bankruptcies of several major American companies in recent years and he talked about how these business leaders went wrong.  And I want to read to you a section of that article.  He says:

If you told them (these business executives) ten years ahead of time, “Hey, let’s cook the books and all get rich!” they would never go along with it.  But that’s rarely how most people get drawn into activities they later regret. When you’re at Step A it feels inconceivable to jump all the way to Step Z, if Step Z involves something that is a total breach of your values.  But if you go from Step A to Step B, Step B to Step C and Step C to Step D, then someday you wake up and discover you’re at Step Y, and the move to Step Z comes about much easier.

That’s what happens to us as Christians and within the church.  We don’t go from Step A to Step Z, but there are these compromises that take place.  And one day you wake up and maybe you find yourself caught up in some pretty graphic images on the internet.  Or you wake up and you have to count in your head to remember how many people you’ve been with.  Or you wake up and you’re lying in bed next to a person that you’re not married to. Well, how did this happen?  It’s not what you were committed to.  You were going to do things differently.  So how did it happen?  Well, you go from Step A to Step B and Step B to Step C. You think, “Well, I can watch this movie and it won’t really impact me.”  “We can mess around on our date, but we’re not going to cross any lines.”  “I can flirt with her in the office, but I’ll keep it innocent.”  And these little steps of complacency lead to compromise.

That is why Paul says in the next chapter…  Verse 18 of chapter 6, Paul says, “Flee!” “Flee from sexual immorality.”  And the word he uses for “flee” is a very strong word.  It says, “Run, run, and keep on running!”  And he doesn’t say, “Flirt with sexual immorality,” which is what a lot of us tend to do.  We get as close as we can to the line without actually stepping over.  He says, “No, don’t get as close as you can.  Run away as fast as you can.”

A second reason why compromise comes into the church is that we confuse love with approval.  

We confuse love with approval.  We think that if we really love someone it means that we’re going to approve of their decisions and their behavior no matter what it is.

So Paul says in verse 2 (talking about this man in the church), “And you are proud!” You’re proud that he is a part of your church fellowship?  “Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief…” (Shouldn’t this have broken your heart?) “…and [shouldn’t you] have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?”  

So the church is proud.  They say, “Hey, look.  We’re an open church.  We’re an accepting church.  We allow all kinds of people to be a part of our family.”  And Paul says, “What are you talking about?  That’s not at all the loving thing to do.”  When a Christian is caught up in sin and they won’t repent, they won’t recognize that it’s wrong, the most loving thing you can do isn’t to just accept them and approve of them, but it’s to say something, to do something.

If you and I are traveling down the road together and you know exactly how to get to where we are going, and I miss my turn and you don’t say anything because you want to be loving…well, that’s not loving.  The most loving thing you can do is say, “Hey, David, you need to turn around and go back here.”

And Paul says, “That’s what you need to do to this guy.”  Look at verse 5.  Paul gives them these instructions.  He says, “…hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.”  Paul says, “You need to show this guy some tough love.  If he experiences some of the consequences of his decision, maybe he’ll change.”

And that is exactly what happens.  In the next book, the next letter, that he writes to this church, 2 Corinthians chapter 2, we discover that this same man has repented.  He is sorry for what he has done.  And Paul writes to the church and says, “Okay, now you forgive him, and you reaffirm your love for him.”  You see, when a church starts confusing love with approval, compromise comes in.

Last week Paul talked to us about the importance of unity in the body of Christ, but unity never comes at the cost of compromising God’s standards.  When we do that, it’s not unity; it’s heresy.

The third thing that leads to compromise with Christians and in the church is that we compare ourselves to other people.  

It would have been easy for this church in Corinth to kind of look down the road because there was a temple called “The Temple of Aphrodite” where the pagan worshipers would engage in communal sex and orgies as an act of worship.  So it would have been easy for the church in Corinth to say, “Well, at least we’re not doing those things.  I mean, we’re not doing that!”  Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:12, “It’s not wise for you to compare yourselves with yourselves.  Instead, we compare ourselves only to God’s standards.”

Former Police Chief of Los Angeles, Bob Vernon, talks about what he calls “the parallel lines theory.”  It goes like this.  (Show image of 2 lines.)  Imagine that there are two parallel lines running.  The lower line represents the world, the culture; the top line represents the church.  According to his theory, whenever the culture takes a dip morally, so does the church.  Now the church is always just above the culture statistically when it comes to things like sex and morals, but whenever the culture dives, so does the church.  So it’s this parallel lines theory.  But here is the way it should be.  As the culture takes a nosedive in its values, the church maintains its standard of holiness based upon what God’s Word teaches.  So we get in trouble when we start comparing ourselves to the culture.

So in chapter 5, Paul identifies this crisis of compromise within the church.  

CHAPTER 6 – THE CALL TO COMMITMENT

Then we move to chapter 6, and he is going call these believers to a higher level of commitment.  

In verses 9 through 11, he reminds them how they used to be like the world in their sexual thinking and in their sexual behavior, but in verse 11 he says, “No longer.  You have been washed, you have been justified, you have been sanctified through Jesus Christ.  This is who you are now.”  And in chapter 6 he goes on to compare the way the world thinks about sex, the cultural reasons for sex, and he compares that to the spiritual reality of our sexuality.

So, in verse 12 he gives the first way the world thinks about sex, and he quotes the Corinthians.  This was a popular Corinthian saying (verse 12): “Everything is permissible for me.”  

For the people living in Corinth, how they determined right and wrong, what was moral and immoral, was based upon what was legal or illegal.  As long as it was legal, as long as it was culturally acceptable, then it was permissible.  And Paul writes to tell the church, “This isn’t the way it should be.”

Now for us, we say similar things.  We say, “Well, as long as it is between two consenting adults…”  “As long as they’re consenting adults, nobody is getting hurt here.”  Or we might say, “If it feels good, it’s fine to do.”  And Paul says, “No.”  And here is the spiritual reality… “Everything is permissible for me.”  The spiritual reality is, “Ya, but not everything is beneficial.”  So even though it may be legal, even though it may be accepted by society, if you are violating God’s standards it is not beneficial.  There are still consequences that have to be paid.  Some of you understand that.

He also says… “Everything is permissible,” but secondly, “I will not be mastered by anything.”  The most enslaved people I know are those who are not resisting their sexual desires but just give in to them.  Those people are not sexually free; they are sexually enslaved.

In verse 13 Paul quotes another saying popular among the Corinthians.  He says, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food.”  In other words, sex is just a natural, biological function.  It reduces our sexuality down to that of an animal.  “This is just the way my body works.  Just as my stomach needs food to eat, sometimes my body needs a sexual release.”  It reduces sex down to just a pure biological function.

But Paul says, “Here is the spiritual reality.”  Verse 13, “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”  

The spiritual reality is the purpose of my body is to glorify God.  The purpose of my body is to glorify God.

In Corinth there was a group of false teachers called the Gnostics who taught that there was this separation between your body and your soul.  In other words, you could do whatever you wanted to sexually and it wouldn’t impact who you were spiritually, because this is just your body.  It’s just biology, and your soul and your body…those two things are separate.

But some of you know firsthand that that is just not true.  When you are violating God’s standards sexually, there is something that comes between you and Him.  And it’s hard to pray.  You come to church to worship, but your heart is not really in it.  You’re just kind of going through the motions.  That is because who you are sexually and who you are spiritually—those things cannot be separated.

There is another cultural reasoning, a third one, that could basically be summed up like this: “It’s my body and I can do what I want.”  

“It’s my body.  Don’t tell me what I can do with my body.”  And Paul addresses that in verse 19.  He says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”  And here is the spiritual reality right here: “You are not your own.”  “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body” (vv. 19-20).  Paul says, “Your body is a temple. It is a holy dwelling.”

A while back I was in the church foyer and I was talking to a man who was a fairly new Christian, new to church, and in his conversation with me he accidentally took the Lord’s name in vain.  And as soon as he said it, you know, he wanted to get that back and he couldn’t.  So he apologized for it.  He said, “Oh, I am so sorry.  I forgot I was in church.”  And I encouraged him, and I tried to help him along with his path, but I wanted to say, “Hey, you know, this church is not where God lives.  This isn’t…  When we talk about this as being God’s house, this is just a building.  This (pointing to body) is God’s house.  Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.  This is where God lives.”  And it’s not just what happens within these doors; it is what happens out there.  He is with you.  He is with you when you stream the movie, and He’s with you at your girlfriend’s house when her parents aren’t home.  Like, they may not be home, but Jesus is at home.  He’s with you.  So you’re not your own.  You’ve been bought with a price.  So, he says, “Therefore honor God with your body” (v.  20).

CHAPTER 7 – ANY QUESTIONS?

Now in chapter 7 he is going to speak to us about sex specifically in the context of marriage, because what oftentimes keeps us from being committed to God in this area of our lives is that we underestimate the importance of the sexual relationship in marriage.  So he speaks very directly on some issues.

Now I know that for some of you some of this can be a little bit uncomfortable.  Yet, you know, I said last week, “Where the Bible speaks, we speak.”  And that is what we’re committed to.  And we hear so much of this from our culture and from our world that we need to speak directly about it in church.

A few years ago, I preached another sermon about this topic and I had a single guy come up to me after church was over and he said, “You know, we talk a lot about not having sex in church, but it was really helpful to me to be able to look forward to what God really has in mind.”  So Paul talks to us very directly about this because this directly affects our commitment to Him. 

In chapter 7, verse 1, Paul says, “Now for the matters you wrote about….”  

Apparently, the church in Corinth had sent Paul a letter asking him some pretty specific questions about this area, about sex in marriage, so Paul is going to address those questions.  Here is the challenge for us: We don’t have the questions; we only have the answers.  So it is kind like Jeopardy.  We have to come up with what the questions were.

The first question that Paul seems to address is this: Is it better to just have nothing to do with sex?  

In chapter 7, verse 1 Paul says, “Now for the matters you wrote about:….”  Now I want you to notice…  Do you see the punctuation there?  There is a colon.  Hang onto that. “Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry.”  Literally that reads, “It is good for a man not to have sexual contact with a woman.”

Now we could just stop there and find out what happens to our church attendance next week.  I think it would look a lot like a Beth Moore conference.  There wouldn’t be a lot of men here if this is where we stopped, so we’re…  What is Paul talking about!?  I mean, what is he talking about?  It is good for a man not to have sexual contact with a woman?  Really?  Is that what he means?

Well, you’ve got to go to that colon.  You see, Paul is simply restating the conclusion that many of the people in that church had reached: “Hey, the best thing for us to do is just swear off sex altogether.”  That’s not what Paul is saying, it’s what the people have said and Paul is restating it.  Their intentions were probably good.  You see, those people in the church grew up in a very pagan culture where sex was just very closely associated with false gods and with idolatry.  So, for them, this was the challenge: They could not associate sex with things that were good and godly.  They couldn’t associate sex with something good and godly.  But Paul says in verse 7… he describes it as a gift.  It’s a gift from God, but they just couldn’t think of it that way.

And I think that is a challenge for many people today.  Many of you grew up in a home where your parents never talked to you about sex, and even now it feels very uncomfortable and somehow inappropriate because sex doesn’t seem like something that is good or godly.  So you grew up with this idea; you got married, and it’s something that you endure but it’s not something you embrace as a gift.  It’s not something you celebrate as a gift.

But that was God’s plan!  In Genesis, Adam and Eve, we are told, stood naked in front of one another without shame or embarrassment.  In Song of Solomon, when you read through that book, here is just something to keep in mind.  Chapter 4 of Song of Solomon is just this description of this couple passionately making love.  If you ever get bored during church and you’re just having a hard time staying awake, then that’s what you need to do!  Turn to Song of Solomon, chapter 4, and just start reading through it.  Don’t do it now.  It would be too obvious!  But you just start reading through it.  And you may yell, “Amen!” at the wrong time, but that’s okay.  At least you’ll be awake.  But here is what happens.  You read through that book and that chapter, and you just keep checking, and you’re like, “Is that really the Bible?  I mean, is this really in the Bible?”  Ya, this is God’s idea.  It was God’s plan.  It’s not something to run away from.  When it’s in the context of marriage between a husband and wife, it’s a beautiful thing.  The Hebrew word for sex is “dowd.”  It means “a mingling of the souls.”  So God gave us this gift as a way to bring intimacy between a husband and a wife.  In Song of Solomon at the end of chapter 4, after the couple has made love, it’s the only time that God speaks in the entire book—in chapter 5, verse 1.  And here is what God has to say.  He says, “Eat, O friends, and drink; drink your fill, O lovers.”  That’s what God says.  He says, “This is my idea.  Go ahead.  Keep drinking.”

The second question that Paul seems to address in chapter 7 is this: Is it really my job to sexually satisfy my spouse?  

Even the nature…or the way that question is worded reveals the primary problem, right?  What’s the word?  Job.  Is it really my chore?  Wash the dishes.  Check.  Fold the laundry.  Check.  Slept with my husband this week.  Check.  That’s the problem—that instead of a gift we see it as this job.  So Paul speaks very directly in verses 3 and 4.  But he doesn’t speak about sexual technique; he speaks about attitude.  He speaks about the way you think, because this is what really makes the difference.  

Verses 3 and 4, “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.  The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband.  In the same way (And this would have been a revolutionary idea in that time.) the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.”  The Message paraphrase puts it this way: “The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband.”

This is the opposite of how we have been indoctrinated to think about sex.  We’ve got to recognize this.  We have been taught that sex is very selfish, that the purpose of sex is for me to feel good.  It’s for my desires to be satisfied and for my needs to be met.  And Paul says, “No, that is exactly the opposite.  It is an opportunity for you to express love.  It’s an opportunity for you to express affection.  It is an opportunity for you to seek to satisfy your spouse.”

There is a problem in your marriage if you do not receive joy from seeing your spouse receive pleasure.  When I marry couples I say to them, “May your greatest moments of happiness come from seeing each other’s needs be met.”  And if you don’t receive joy, if you don’t receive happiness from meeting the needs of your spouse, then I think it’s likely because somewhere along the line your understanding of sex was poisoned.  Maybe…maybe because there was abuse.  Maybe it was a past sexual relationship where it was all about duty and it was all about guilt.  Maybe it’s because of pornography.  Maybe you watched one too many episodes of Desperate Housewives, and you’ve just kind of bought into this idea that it’s all about me and getting my needs met.  Paul says, “No, it’s exactly the opposite.  It’s about a husband seeking to satisfy his wife and a wife seeking to satisfy her husband.”  Husbands, notice the order of that.  First, the instruction is to you.  First, you seek to satisfy your wife.

So why don’t husbands and wives do this?  Well, one, we saw is selfishness.  Another is that it’s just not taken seriously.  Husbands and wives just underestimate the importance of sexual intimacy in their marriage.  Husbands, if you put the same passion into your love life as you did your work life, things would change in the bedroom.  If you gave the same attention to your wife…listening to her…as you gave to the football game or golf match you’re going to watch this afternoon, it would impact the way things are in the bedroom.  Wives, if you put the same creativity into the bedroom as you did in decorating the bedroom, it would make a difference.  If you gave your husband the same encouragement that you give to your girlfriends, it would make a difference.  Do not underestimate the importance of this in your relationship.

There are many different areas where God speaks to us and we just don’t quite believe it, but once you practice it you realize that He was right.  We hear this with people when it comes to giving.  People say, “Well, I don’t…  Giving 10%?  Tithing?  That doesn’t make sense.  It just doesn’t add up.”  But then they do it.  They test God in that and they discover that God really knows what He’s talking about.  Maybe that is what you need to do with this area of your life.  Say, “Okay, God, I’m going to test it.  I’m going to find out if your way really is the best way.”

Another reason why husbands and wives don’t seek to sexually satisfy one another is communication.  Communication is really important.  And it’s amazing—as much as sex is talked about in our culture, how rarely it’s talked about in our marriages.  So you need to speak clearly about what you like and what you don’t like, about what your needs are.  One of the things you’ll notice through the Song of Solomon is how often the woman in the book expresses herself.  She is very responsive.  She constantly is talking to her husband.  In these intimate moments she is speaking to him.  She is very verbal as she talks through things.  She just makes it very clear.

And, wives, your husband will never say this, so I’ll say it for them.  We have no idea what we’re doing, and we need help!  We need help.  Don’t underestimate the need for just clear communication.  And you know what?  It’s awkward and…  It’s awkward!  I know that it can be.  And, husbands, talk to your wives—not with a passive aggressive spirit, not as if you’re a martyr, but talk to them with a spirit of vulnerability.  Communication is important.

In verse 4 of chapter 7 Paul addresses another reason, and that is the selfish way we see our bodies.  He says, “The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband.  In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone, but also to his wife.”  

And when we hear this language in our culture, we become very defensive.  We say, “Time out.  No, this is my body.  This is my body.”  That’s not the way God designed it.  And when you entered into a marriage covenant, you said, “This no longer just belongs to me, but this belongs to you as well.”

Quite frankly, I rarely hear a man complain about this idea.  Like, I’ve never had a man come up to me and say with disgust, “She only wants me for my body.”  I’ve never heard that. Or, “She just sees me as a sex object.”  I’ve never heard a man complain about that.  But, women, think about how this could work to your advantage…this verse.  I mean, if his body isn’t just his body but it’s also your body, then you can say to him, “Hey, that’s not just your body; that’s my body, and I don’t really like a spare tire on my body.”  Or you could say to your husband, “You know, that’s my body too, and it’s really important for me to have two separate eyebrows.  I’d like to have two…  On my body I’d like to have two separate and distinct eyebrows—not just one but two.  Could we do that?  Because that’s my body, you know?” Paul says, “Listen.  It doesn’t just belong to you.  It belongs to your spouse.”  And this understanding, this attitude, this thinking makes all the difference in how we approach each other sexually.  So there is incredible sexual satisfaction in a marriage when two people are selflessly seeking to satisfy one another.

Lastly, the question he addresses in verse 5…  Here is the question: How often should a Christian couple make love?  

And I hate to do this, but we are out of time!  And…uh…we always end on time…  No, I’m kidding.  I’m kidding.  Um, this is actually…  I did a little research and I found out that on most marriage websites this is the most commonly asked question by married couples.  What’s normal?  What’s the right amount of frequency?  So Paul addresses that.  

Let’s look at verse 5 together.  “Do not deprive each other except by (This is an important phrase here.) mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer.”  Then Paul writes, “Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”  

So he says, “There needs to be some mutual consent and only for a short time so that Satan won’t tempt you.”  Again, he’s coming back to the fact that this has a lot to do with your commitment to God.

Now because this is an issue…but not always…certainly not always…but frequency is usually more something that a man is concerned about.  Instead of me teaching this section, I want to read to you the words of author and teacher Sarah Emerson, who wrote the book Love and Respect with her husband.  Here is what she writes about this section.  She says: “Paul says each is to fulfill their duty to the other.  Husbands particularly can come under satanic attack when deprived of sexual release.”  She writes, “Wives might be able to better understand this if they think about how they would feel if their husbands only wanted to talk or listen to them once a week or a couple times a month.  Being deprived of emotional release would make most women miserable,” she writes.

Then Sarah tells about a time she was teaching through this material at a conference and a young woman came to her after the conference.  She was married with children and she said to Sarah, “I’ve got to tell you what happened just last Sunday.  I called my mom on Sunday afternoon and told her, ‘Hey, Mom, this Sunday our family is not going to be able to come over.’”  They usually would go over to her parent’s house on Sunday afternoons.  And her mom, who is in her late sixties, says, “Well, why can’t you come over?  What’s going on?”  And her daughter said to her, “Well, if you really want to know, my husband is walking around feeling all sorry for himself because we haven’t been intimate for more than a week.”  And she says her mom didn’t hesitate but she scolded her daughter.  And here is what her mom said…late sixties… her mom said, “Honey, you should be ashamed of yourself!  Why would you deprive him of something that makes him so happy and takes such a short amount of time?!” And her daughter said, “Mom, I can’t believe you just said that!”  And then she thought to herself, “You know, my mom has been married for forty-seven years and I don’t know anyone who has a happier marriage.”

The issue of frequency can cause a lot of conflict in marriage, so Paul addresses it.  In some ways the previous question speaks to this one.  When you have a husband and wife who are both completely committed to selflessly loving and seeking each other’s satisfaction, this question gets answered.  But more often than not, the question goes something like this, “How many times…?  How many times a week?  What’s normal?”  And Paul doesn’t give a number, because it’s different—different seasons of life, different scenarios—but instead he gives some really important principles that help each couple answer this question.

The first principle is the principle of mutualityThe principle of mutuality.  Paul says, “Don’t deprive one another.”  And in your relationship, you never have the right to demand sex and you never have the right to withhold sex.  Instead, you decide together.

When my wife and I go out on a date, sometimes she wants to go eat at one restaurant and I want to eat at another.  And if she says, “You know what?  It would really mean a lot to me…  It just sounds really good if we go out tonight for Italian.”  I’d be like, “Okay, well let’s go out for Italian.”  It’s a spirit of mutual consent.  It’s just… sometimes one wants it this way; sometimes one doesn’t.  But we agree together.  No one has the right to demand it; no one has the right to withhold it.  Again, it just goes back to this idea of selfless love.

But there is more to the problem of frequency than just how often.  The reason why this is such a big issue for couples is that when a wife turns a husband down he often interprets it as a rejection of his manhood.  And I think this is a major reason…  Certainly it’s not an excuse. Listen to me.  It is not an excuse, but it is a major reason for one of the problems of pornography in our culture today—that a man feels rejected.  He feels like his manhood is rejected and he doesn’t want to feel rejected.  So as you say, “You know, I don’t feel like it,” or whatever, make sure you keep that in mind—that you’re building him up, that you’re affirming him.  And when a husband is always pushing for more frequent sex with his wife, she starts to wonder, “Is there something wrong with me?  Is there something I’m doing wrong?”  And here is what happens.  Sex is all about guilt.  Sex is all about pressure.  Sex is all about bitterness. And it gets further and further away from what God wanted it to be for your marriage.  Instead of bringing you closer together it’s pulling you apart.

The second principle here is a principle of need.  He warns that you should not stay apart for long so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.  Pastor Bob Russell put it this way.  He said, “If you are not sharing love in your marriage, you are sending a starving person out into the world, which is a food court with luscious aromas beckoning and many shops offering free samples.”  The temptation level goes up and the commitment level in the marriage goes down; and as a result, the commitment level to Christ is compromised.  If you are regularly just kind of…if you reject or you deny this teaching, you are rejecting or denying the teaching of Scripture.  So Paul speaks clearly to us on these issues.

Now as you read through this section, it really comes down to selfless sacrifice, to loving your spouse the way that Christ loves us.  God calls us not just to love one another that way but to love Him that way too, with a full commitment.  The church is described in Scripture as the Bride of Christ, where we give our love fully to God as He has shown His love to us through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus.

David Hall
First Church of Christ
September 26, 2021