Is pornography adultery?
Am I obligated to sleep with a spouse who I do not think loves me anymore and is just using me for sex?
These were submitted as two separate questions. Both might receive a simple 'yes' based on Matthew 5:28 and 1 Corinthians 7:4-5. But addressing sin in context of marital sex deserves far more depth, and three posts are planned to offer some answers:
Part I: Sexual Immorality, Unique Sin
Part II: Sex Drive, Unique Motivation
Part III: Sexual Contrasts, Unique Solution
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PART II: SEX DRIVE, UNIQUE MOTIVATION
"In real love you want the other person's good.
In romantic love, you want the other person."
~ Margaret Chase Smith
Once upon a time, in a world without sin, the Creator gave woman to man as a companion. In all creation, she alone was like him, and yet she was wholly different. Their ideal lives had nothing to challenge unconditional love for each other.
Then sin came into the picture. Agonizing toil and labor would now consume both the man and woman in their respective occupations, and newfound self-centeredness would forevermore put their relationship in continual jeopardy.
Little might compel a man and woman to unite if the Creator did not also give the man a fight-to-the-death sex drive and the woman a drive for relationship ("your desire shall be for your husband"—Genesis 3:16). While there is no doubt that men were also created for relationship, and women were also created to enjoy sex, it's generally understood that most men are more driven toward physical satisfaction and most women are more driven toward emotional satisfaction. *
Ideally, each partner prompts the other to find both kinds of satisfaction in sexual intimacy—the Creator's super glue to permanently bond together two otherwise ill-fitting creatures in the institution of marriage.
Super glue is interesting stuff. It is reputed to create a bond stronger than the materials it unites. It forms that bond with incredible speed. And if not used with sufficient care, it will bond things not meant to be bonded, or otherwise cause damage.
The same is true of sexual intimacy. Blog host Russell Holloway noted in his comment last week that sex has recreational and procreational components, but is most importantly a form of communication. Sexual intimacy creates a unique vulnerability and opens channels of communication in marriage which can strengthen it as nothing else. If intimacy includes immorality, sexual intimacy can also injure a marriage as nothing else.
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.
~ 1 Corinthians 7:4-5 (NKJV)
It’s been said that women learn to fake pleasure and men learn to fake relationship.
Dishonesty and vulnerability are a dangerous mix.
Faking might seem preferable to facing how weak the marriage is. Indulgence of sexual immorality might look like a way to revive the sexual bond of marriage. But sin can never deliver on what it promises. What it does always deliver is consequences greater than its fleeting pleasure.
Not-faking might seem an adequate excuse to avoid sexual intimacy. But frustrated desire—whether a man's physical desire or a woman's emotional desire—makes a person vulnerable to seeking some manner of satisfaction outside of marriage, and is a recipe for marriage failure.
God’s Spirit provides another, better option, to be examined next week.
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* Paul mentions that for the sake of God's kingdom, the Holy Spirit gives some people a gift to appreciate celibacy (1 Corinthians 7:7-9;32-34).
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For more on the consequences of sexual immorality, see "For Beauty, If She is Listening."
This post originally appeared at Bullets & Butterflies. To see additional comments containing ongoing dialogue, click here.
What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below (anonymous questions welcome), or email buildingHisbody [plus] @ gmail.com.
© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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