Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
Married couples have a unique opportunity to experience the love and forgiveness of God when their partner sins against them. And no- I’m not talking about when one of them cheats on the other. Rather, the Holy Spirit showed me how a suggestion from Paul for couples allows us to see and feel sin, then grant immediate forgiveness out of love and understanding.
The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife for her husband. 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. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control (1 Corinthians 7:3-5).
Now, according to this a husband or wife should not turn down the other’s advances. However, pretty much every married person has been denied by their spouse some time or another. This is actually really cool, because it’s a perfect model of sin. The husband puts his foot up on the couch like a pirate on a treasure chest and bellows, “Get in my bed, woman!” only to hear a nonchalant, “Ehh…I’m not really feeling it tonight, sorry honey.” The husband has made a request and was turned down due to the wife’s feelings. This is a picture of willful sin, which James outlines as he writes,
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death (James 1:13-15).
In our model, the husband makes his command, and the wife’s desire is to not get frisky tonight. Therefore, motivated by her feelings, she chooses to go against her husband’s wishes. This works both ways; I’m just using the example of a husband propositioning his wife- but it could go down differently in your house.
Now, if you’re in the mood and get shut down what do you do? Probably nothing –well, maybe you stomp off disappointed, but after that it’s soon forgotten as you work on something else. You love your spouse and you understand them. God also understands when believers follow their feelings instead of his commands. Hebrews 4:15 reminds us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are- yet was without sin.” And just like you, horny spouse, God might be a little disappointed at your refusal to obey his will; but it lasts only a moment. After all, Christ is a believer’s heavenly spouse and he understands. Paul reminds us that our relation to Jesus is the same as a marriage covenant as he writes,
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery- but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband (Ephesians 5:31-33).
And if you really want to get into it, Paul even fills in the specific roles from my above example of the disappointed pirate-husband;
For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything (Ephesians 5:23-24).
You may even get to experience the love and forgiveness of God in your own home, tonight (though hopefully you won’t have to).
Consider this: Christ already died for your sins (as it is written in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”), it’s not like he’s going to revoke your salvation over a little disobedience. Likewise, you’re already married, it’s not like you’re going to divorce your spouse over not getting it on as much as you’d like…well, I’d hope not anyway.