Does a husband have to earn sex with his wife?

husband asks wife for sex

Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary published an article on Crosswalk.com in 2005 called “The Meaning of Sex”. In this article he states that “a woman has every right to expect that her husband will earn access to the marriage bed”.

The full article “The Meaning of Sex”, can be found at here.

Here is the larger context of how Dr. Mohler builds his foundation for the belief that God wants men to “earn access to the marriage bed”.

Dr. Mohler states:

“A biblical worldview understands that God has demonstrated His glory in both the sameness and the differences that mark men and women, male and female. Alike made in the image of God, men and women are literally made for each other. The physicality of the male and female bodies cries out for fulfillment in the other. The sex drive calls both men and women out of themselves and toward a covenantal relationship which is consummated in a one-flesh union.

By definition, sex within marriage is not merely the accomplishment of sexual fulfillment on the part of two individuals who happen to share the same bed. Rather, it is the mutual self-giving that reaches pleasures both physical and spiritual. The emotional aspect of sex cannot be divorced from the physical dimension of the sex act. Though men are often tempted to forget this, women possess more and less gentle means of making that need clear.

Consider the fact that a woman has every right to expect that her husband will earn access to the marriage bed. As the Apostle Paul states, the husband and wife no longer own their own bodies, but each now belongs to the other. At the same time, Paul instructed men to love their wives even as Christ has loved the church. Even as wives are commanded to submit to the authority of their husbands, the husband is called to a far higher standard of Christ-like love and devotion toward the wife.

Therefore, when I say that a husband must regularly “earn” privileged access to the marital bed, I mean that a husband owes his wife the confidence, affection, and emotional support that would lead her to freely give herself to her husband in the act of sex.”

Dr. Mohler is alluding to I Corinthians 7:4-6 when he states “, the husband and wife no longer own their own bodies, but each now belongs to the other”. He then alludes to Ephesians 5 where God commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church.

What part of I Corinthians 7 or Ephesians 5 state that men must “earn access to marriage bed”? The answer is NO part does. I invite the reader to study these passages closely. In fact that only “mutuality” about sex that Paul mentions is that married couples need to only cease having sex when they “mutually” agree to short time to stop for prayer and fasting.

Sex is to occur regularly, and anytime that either the wife needs it, or the husband needs it. The reality is that in most relationships the husband will need it far more often than the wife (but there are some exceptions to this).

The husband’s sex drive is much more physically based than the wife’s need as he has hormones that drive him to have a sexual release at least every 72 hours.

Dr. Mohler incorrectly paints the male sex drive as shallow and he paints the women’s view of sex (both emotional and physical) as the true intent God had for each sexual encounter between a husband and wife. This is why he sees that husbands must earn sex with their wives, because any sex that is only physically based, and not also emotionally based, is less than the sex God intends for marriage in his view.

The Biblical facts are these – NEVER once in all of Scripture is a husband commanded to “earn” sex in the marital bed by showing his wife affection and emotional support. Men are commanded to Agape love their wives – this is love of the will and of the mind, not an emotionally based affectionate love.

Dr. Mohler’s advice may sound great from a woman’s point of view, but it is far from a Biblical point of a view and it is teachings like these that are leading to the great divorce epidemic we have faced in this country for decades. Almost 70 percent of divorces today are filed by women, and the vast majority of them are filed because they believe their husbands are not “emotionally connecting” with them enough.

Dr. Mohler states “Alike made in the image of God, men and women are literally made for each other.” This statement could not be further from the truth. Read the passages below and tell me if Dr. Mohler’s belief lines up with God’s Holy Word:

“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man…

 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”

I Corinthians 11:7 & 9(KJV)

Man is the image and glory of God, and woman is the glory of man. Man was not made for woman, but woman for man. This guiding principle of the roles of men and women in God’s creation, and in marriage has been all but lost in our modern society over the last 50 years. Even conservative Bible preachers have left God’s teachings behind because of pressure from Christian feminists within our churches.

No husband has to “earn access” to his wife’s body any more than a wife has to earn access to her husband’s body.

Often time’s sex is in fact purely physical for a man in that it helps him to relieve stress and it helps him to build fondness for his wife. So many times sex, even in a loving marriage, will be no more than two people getting physical relief.

But what Christian wives often discover is, when you do what God commands and offer your body freely to your husband, with no pre-conditions, your husband will often do what God does not command – and act affectionate toward you and give you some of the emotional support you crave. But you also have to realize your husband is not girlfriend. Some men can over time emotionally connect on a very deep level with their wives, perhaps as deep as their girlfriends. But what many women discover over decades of marriage is, most men simply are not wired by God to give a woman all the emotional support she needs, that is what good Christian lady friends are for.

If a woman makes full emotional support and connection a precondition for every sexual encounter with her husband, this will quickly cause friction in many marriages, and often leads to the destruction of the marriage.

Consider this historical fact. For thousands of years, before the last two centuries, many, if not most marriages were arranged. Either parents would arrange them, or a man would approach a woman’s father and ask for her to be his wife, he would offer her father something in trade and she would be made to marry that man.

The love they pledged in marriage was not an emotional love, but one of duty – based upon the Agape love defined in the Bible. It was not a friendship or romantic love, but it might grow into that over some time. But for a while, this new bride was having sex with a man she barely knew, and may or may not be physically attracted to. There was no emotional or affection preconditions to their having sex, it happened whenever the husband needed it. Society embraced the Biblical concept that man was not created woman, but woman was created for man.

But the smart women, those who accepted their role and position in society as God designed it, found that they could in fact earn their husband’s affection and emotional connection by freely offering their bodies and affections to their husbands. They looked for any way they could to please their husbands, both inside and outside the bedroom and they honored and respected their husband.

In time – they planted the seeds of passion and romance in their husband’s hearts which lead their husbands to give them the affection and emotional connection they craved.

So this leaves us with some questions and admonitions to Christian husbands and wives.

Wives – will you submit to God’s design and role for your life? Will you see yourself as beautiful gift that God created for your husband? If you have been taught these false teachings that your husband “must earn” access to your body in the marriage bed – will you repent of this false belief and give yourself fully, freely, and without condition to your husband?

Husbands, do you realize that when you follow the unbiblical advice given by many Christians teachers today (including Dr. Mohler), that you must earn sexual access to your wife, that you are in fact giving up the leadership of your home when it comes to sexuality? God commands you to lead your home in all areas, and that includes sexuality.

While in generations past Misogyny(hatred toward women), was the more prevalent problem, today the pendulum has swung completely in the other direction.  Dr. Mohler and many other Christian leaders, with their negative views toward male sexuality, are contributing to the growing Misandry (hatred of all things male) that has become so prevalent in our modern society. As Christian leaders in our homes, we as men have a duty to fight Misandry wherever we find it. No man ought to be made to feel that his God given “maleness” is some sort of liability, anymore than a woman should be made to feel that her God given “femininity” is a liability.

While it is true that a man’s God given sexual nature has the capacity to lead to sin if it is unbalanced and unchecked, it is also equally true that a woman’s God given emotional nature has the same capacity to lead her into sinful behavior as well.

God commands that sex is to happen regularly (I Corinthians 7) and the only “mutuality” that is commanded in the sexual arena is in ceasing to have sex for a short time of prayer and fasting and only if both mutually agree. If you need sex, you should initiate it with your wife. If your wife needs sex and initiates it with you, you are commanded to have sex with her. The emotions may or may not be there each time. Even if you don’t need sex, sex should happen regularly as a part of marriage. You as the husband, must take the lead in this area to make sure it happens often and regularly.

What should a Christian husband do if his wife refuses to submit to his leadership in this very important area of sex?

This is a part of a much larger discussion of how Christian husbands should handle unsubmissive wives.  When I complete that post, I will link it back to this post.  For now I will leave you with what God’s Word says about the need for regularly occurring sex within marriage.

Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

I Corinthians 7:3-5(KJV)

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7 thoughts on “Does a husband have to earn sex with his wife?

  1. I haven’t had sex with my wife in nearly three months, due to her being comatose after being struck by a driver (she was a pedestrian). Her doctors say that she will be vegetative for the rest of her life, unless she is removed from life support and allowed to die naturally. Her family insists on keeping her alive, and our church teaches it’s the right thing to do. They don’t care how it affects me.

  2. Derek – My heart breaks for you brother. My wife has many health problems, but nothing compared to your wife. But what you and I do have in common is, many people, especially women(but also some men) would judge me, and they would judge you for complaining at all about our wives health condition and how it affects us in this area of sexuality. But the truth is, it is more than just sex, it is about companionship. For most men, the primary way we give and receive love is through sex – that is a FACT period. Whether women like to hear it or not, or call it shallow or not(which it is definitely NOT shallow, but by the design of God).

    The fact is, if she is going to be in vegetative state, that means her mind is gone, that means her body is now only a shell. Please forgive me if I am being too blunt, but for all intents and purposes, your wife is dead. You as her husband have the only right to determine if she should be taken off the machines and allowed to die naturally, and if you believe what the doctors say about her being in a permanent vegetative state, then you need to let her go.

    When you do let her go, do not let anyone judge you by how fast you date again. We had a man at my church whose wife died from brain cancer – he is about 60 years old. This was his second wife to die from cancer. She spent the last month or so of her life basically not know who anyone was anymore. Some people judged him for starting to date again within 6 months after her death. I was one of the ones who supported him, and still do. God made us men to crave and need the companionship of a woman, it is how we are built and it is not shallow or wrong.

    I wish you all the best my friend, may God bless you, and help you during this very difficult time in your life.

  3. Regarding young women and arranged marriages, keep in mind the young man may not have had a choice, either. How well would you perform, (i.e. have an erection) in a situation where you were not sexually attracted to a woman?

  4. You are correct that often times young man was forced to marry a young woman. If a man was not attracted to a woman, that is what a dark tent was for! Think about it, Jacob was tricked in sleeping with Leah before he had Rachel, and it was for this very reason, he just went into a dark tent and did the deed. You will find that most men can attain an erection this way(in a darkness, where her unattractiveness would not turn him off). But at a certain point, a man has a physical need to release, and even if he is not attracted to a woman, most men would take any woman in the “dark tent” scenario.

  5. What would your response be to a woman who has a proposal of marriage close to menopause with related physiological issues?

  6. Patty,

    My response would be if you are not willing to have regular sexual relations with your husband then you should turn down his proposal of marriage. Sexual relations while not be the only thing in marriage are something that is central to marriage as a ‘one flesh’ relationship. You can’t have a one flesh relationship without sexual relations.

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