Words of Faith 5-31-17
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Study in the Land of the Bible with Dr. and Mrs. Hoy. Two trips available –
December 26, 2017 to January 5, 2018
January 4-13, 2018
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1 Corinthians 7
 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, 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.  I say this as a concession, not as a command.  I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.
"You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body" (6:20). How do we honor God with our bodies? To the Romans, Paul exhorted, "I urge you, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God -- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will" (12:1-2).
We are not to be conformed to the world. Our pattern for living does not come from Glamour magazines or from Oprah. We don't find our guidance at the movies or on Dr. Phil. The Word of God has everything that we need. Some will be called to singleness and a life of celibacy, like Paul. Others are called to marriage, the very first and most fundamental institution given to human society by God.
Marriage is the joining of one man and one woman in holy covenant before God-- "each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband" (7:2). This definition cannot be changed by any government or legislature. It was not a democratic decision. It was a gift from God, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24).
The sexual union consummates the one-flesh union. This union is a mystery of God. Within this context of marriage, sexual expression is wonderfully enjoyed by husband and wife. This is the design of God. The Bible teaches that of all the things God created, it was the creation of sexuality "male and female" that God declared to be "very good” (Genesis 1:27, 31). The sexual union is for the purpose of communication, recreation and procreation. Within the covenant of marriage, God's wonderful design for sex can be fully enjoyed and explored. The Bible celebrates the wonder of sexual love in the Song of Songs.
Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers that husbands and wives have a conjugal duty or marital obligation to one another in marriage. This doesn't sound very romantic, but the words used speak both of an accrued right and a benevolent kindness. In marriage, this benevolent kindness is exclusively for one's spouse. What Paul was trying to get across is that the one-flesh union was designed as the exclusive place for sexual fulfillment. It is in this relationship alone that such needs are to be met.
Paul went on to say that 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" (7:4). This does not mean that we have no say over our own bodies or that we have no decision as married people as to whether, when or where to have sex. But this does say that our bodies belong exclusively to the one person to whom we are married. This one person has the exclusive right and claim to our sexual energy and expression.
The world teaches that self-gratification and any gratification is fine and good. The Bible teaches that we no longer belong only to ourselves. As a husband or wife, our sexual energy and affection belongs to our spouse alone. We pledge to that person this exclusive "right" when we covenant in marriage-- "forsaking all others", we pledge to be "faithful as long as you both shall live".
Paul even went on to say that abstaining from sexual relations in marriage should only be by mutual consent. Sex in marriage should never be used-- given or withheld-- as a tool, bribe, punishment, or reward. While there are times when health reasons make sex difficult or nearly impossible, every effort should be made not to deprive each other.
Some couples may mutually decide to "fast" from sex for a period of time for the purpose of prayer, but Paul directs that this should not go too long so as not to create a temptation. This type of fast was not a command, it was simply a concession for those felt so led mutually. Paul's overall guidance about sex in marriage was to meet these needs in a pattern that was mutually agreeable.
It is probably important to add here the call of Scripture expressed in Ephesians 5. Husbands and wives are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (5:21). Wives are to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord (5:22). Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church, giving himself up for her to make her holy (5:25-26). Paul was not talking here about demanding the "conjugal right" of sexual activity. He was talking about loving sacrificially and exclusively in ways that meet one another's needs.
Today, family life is filled with busy schedules and many distractions. In marriage, great care should be made not to neglect the marriage. Careers and children can easily become a focus that draws married couples apart from each other. Every effort should be made to nourish the marriage relationship. When we neglect the physical closeness that God designed, we may create vulnerability in our marriage. Marriage is work but the efforts are worth it.
Father God, protect the marriages of Your people. Give Your married children the time and energy they need to be together. Bless the marriages of leaders and all who serve in your Kingdom. Keep them safe from the Enemy. May Christian marriages be a witness of Your love and very nature. In Jesus' Name.