About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
you visit my web site (stevesweetman.com) you will notice that I have
commented on every verse in the New Testament.
I have ignored none, including 1 Corinthians 7:1 to 4, which in
light of increasing immorality and divorce among Christians today needs
there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife and each
woman should have her own husband. The
husband should fulfill his marital duties 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" (1 Corinthians 7:1 - 4 NIV).
Corinth, the city in which the
believers to whom Paul wrote lived, was the centre of an immoral
polytheistic paganism. Its
boast was the Temple
of Aphrodite, the goddess of fertility, love, and sex.
At any given time there were a thousand or more female and male
prostitutes at the temple providing sexual services as an act of worship
to Aphrodite. Upon entering
puberty, men routinely visited these prostitutes as an act of worship.
I suggest this would be a difficult habit for any new Christian to
break, thus the reason for Paul's instructions.
western culture is steeped in immorality but it hasn't stooped as low as Corinth; at least not yet. Still,
sexual temptation is a readily available enticement today, not just for
men, but also for women. This
makes 1 Corinthians 7:1 to 4 just as relevant today as it was in Paul's
Paul's teaching opposed the culture of his day, as it
does in our day. "Since
there is so much immorality each man should have his own wife and each
woman should have her own husband (verse 2)."
Wife and husband swapping, which is prevalent today, is never
permissible. Paul went on to
say that husbands and wives should not withhold sexual intimacy from each
other. Simply put, when a
husband or wife experiences sexual satisfaction at home the desire to look
In verse 3 Paul said that the "Husband must fulfill his marital duties to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband." This won't sound romantic but the word "fulfill" is translated from the Greek word "apodidomi," meaning "to give away from." In context, fulfilling one's marital duty means to give away your body to your spouse in sexual intimacy, which in a physical sense is the ultimate expression of a loving and trusting relationship.
Paul continued in verse 4 by saying 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." Again, this won't sound romantic but the phrase "does not belong," as it pertains to the bodies belonging to the husband and the wife, is a Greek present active indicative verb. This means that in this present moment it is a certain fact that the husband's body belongs to his wife just as much as it belongs to him. Likewise, in this present moment it is a certain fact that the wife's body belongs to her husband just as much as it belongs to her. This sounds completely foreign to our western world ears, but I believe Paul's thinking is rooted in God's original intention at creation for a husband and a wife to live in a unified and harmonious oneness.
Genesis 2:24 states that the husband and wife become one flesh in marriage. The Hebrew text implies that they become permanently glued together in marriage. Oneness of body, soul, and spirit was God's original intension for a husband and a wife. God made it clear. "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness ... He created them male and female" (Genesis 1:26 - 27 HCSB). The Hebrew text implies that we were not created as duplicates of God but rather shadowy reflections of God. As Father, Son, and Spirit are one, so husband and wife were created to exist in a similar state of oneness. If I am one with my wife then all of who I am belongs to her, including my body. Sexual intimacy is thus a God inspired loving expression of a harmonious oneness.
said the wife's body belongs to her husband and the husband's body belongs
to his wife. The word
"belongs" is translated from the Greek word "exousiazo,"
meaning "authority." This
tells me that both husband and wife share authority over each other's
body. Having authority over
anything always presupposes responsibility for that which we have
authority over. If we refuse
to take responsibility for that which we have authority over, we abuse
authority and become dictatorial. Both
husband and wife, therefore, are responsible to love, respect, and care
for each other's body. It's
all about a mutual equality between husband and wife where neither claim
dictatorial ownership of the other. It's
about us, not me.
realize this passage addresses the loving exchange of two bodies in sexual
intimacy, but, such a loving exchange should exist in all aspects of
marriage. It's all about both husband and
wife freely giving of who they are to each other in a caring respectful
relationship where sexual intimacy is not a matter of making love but is a
matter of giving love away, as Paul taught.