As Christians who embrace God’s Word as the guide for our lives, we know that the Bible condones sex ONLY within the bounds of marriage. But unfortunately, since the sexual revolution of the 1960’s our culture has embraced the idea that pre-marital sex is the norm, and that we actually need to try out the person sexually before we are married to make sure that we are sexually compatible.
Our culture’s acceptance of pre-marital sex has been one of the major contributing factors to the decline in marriage, and the rise in cohabitation rates.
Why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free?
This phrase was coined to reflect the reality that when you make sex outside of marriage culturally acceptable, less people will marry, and the statistics today prove it. The most literal and historical meaning of this phrase meant “why marry a girl, when she will give you sex without marriage?”
I remember growing up in my Church youth group, hearing speakers sometimes say this phrase about the milk and the cow. Obviously they would always start with the Scriptures that forbid fornication – which includes (but is not limited to) sex outside of marriage. But then they would follow up the Scriptural commands, with some practical reasoning, especially to the young ladies, exhorting them to “make these crazy hormone driven boys to wait for marriage” before giving up “the milk”.
I can hear it now – “What about those boys! This is not fair that all the pressure is on the women”. Yes the Scriptures command BOTH men and women to not engage in sex before marriage, and yes they did speak to us as young men about being godly men of integrity, about being gentlemen. However, if you examine the Scriptures closely, you will see that God places the greater burden on the woman to refuse the man. In the Old Testament law, a woman could be executed for not being a virgin when she was married, whereas there was no such punishment for a man that was not a virgin. I realize this goes against our modern “gender equality” ideas, but the Bible supports no such notion.
But once you have bought the cow, you ARE supposed to get the milk for free
One of the problems we face today in the Christian community (but it certainly is not limited to Christians) is that often times, even after we have waited, and “bought the cow” (married our wives), our wives expect us to “buy the milk” as well. I recently wrote a post responding to a Christian teacher’s false belief, that in marriage men do in fact have to “buy the milk”(earn sex), even after “buying the cow”(marrying a woman).
A quick word on the “cow analogy” before we continue – in no way am I meaning disrespect toward women, or saying that cows are somehow equal to women, or that women are less human than men. But Biblically speaking, a wife does belong to her husband (men paid a “bride price” and one the terms for husband in the original languages of the Bible is “baal” which means “owner or master” (e.g. Proverbs 31). I Peter 3 says “Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord[master]“.
The fact is, in marriage, neither the husband, nor the wife, should have to earn sex. While husband’s denying their wives sexually is a problem sometimes, the vast majority of the time it is the wife denying her husband. Ask any pastor (and I have many pastor friends) and they will confirm this. Ask any marriage counselor, and they will confirm this as well.
But there is a difference between flat out denial, which some wives are guilty of, and a woman making her husband earn sex (but both are equally wrong). I once knew a Christian couple, where the only way the man got sex from his wife was when he did the dishes and picked up the house. For other men, it might be buying flowers for your wife, or taking her out to dinner. Please don’t misunderstand me, I don’t think it wrong for a husband to do these kinds of things for his wife, but these things should NEVER be a prerequisite to sex.
The sinful sexual pattern of modern women
Husbands listen to me, engaged men please hear me. There is a pattern that takes place in a lot of Christian marriages (and non-Christian marriages). At the beginning of the sexual relationship between a man and woman (which should begin after marriage, but sometimes it sinfully starts before marriage), women will give their husbands all the “free milk” they want. She lets him “taste the goods” so to speak.
But not long into the marriage, the milk is no longer free of charge, it now comes at a cost. That cost looks very different from woman to woman, but there is a cost of some sort. For some Christian men, it might simply be household chores, for others it is buying jewelry or other gifts. For other husbands, it is making a decision the way their wife wants it, but they do not think is best.
What all these different prerequisites have in common is, they require a man to transfer his God given authority over his home, his children, and his wife and yes even his wife’s body to his wife. Only if they do the bidding of their wife, will she give them “the goods”.
How to stop this wicked pattern
For you engaged men, or newlywed husbands it will be much easier if you spot this change in your wife and nip it in the bud right away. If you allow this pattern to go on for years of marriage, it only becomes harder (but not impossible) to break. Whether you have been married 6 months, or 6 years, the fix is still the same.
When your wife tells you “If you do ___________ for me, then I will do that for you”, you need to sit down and take out the Word of God. You must see this as God sees it, as an act of rebellion against your authority over her (and her body), and by extension as an act of rebellion against God himself, because he has given her to you. You need to rebuke your wife’s sinful behavior.
Take her to I Corinthians and read the Word of God to her:
“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)
The Bible places absolutely NO preconditions on sex between a husband and wife within the bounds of marriage (contrary to what many Christian books and teachers teach today). In fact the only mutual agreement a couple is called to is, when they STOP having sex for a given period.
As the head of your home, and the authority of not only your children, but also your wife, you will be called from time to time to confront a sinful attitude or behavior in your wife, just as Job confronted his wife’s sinful behavior.
“Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.
But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.” – Job 2:9-10(KJV)
I remember one time in Church my Pastor referenced this passage, and he said “Sometimes we as husbands need to call out our wives sinful behavior, but it might be a good idea to back up a bit before you do, I think Job might have.”
What about the aftermath?
This is a form of discipline, and discipline is never pleasant, but all authority figures must discipline those who are under their authority from time to time. Before anyone goes nuts here, I am not talking about physical discipline here, but there are other forms of discipline that are not physical.
After you confront your wife’s rebellion (not only towards God’s command to her, but by extension the authority he has given you) – she is not exactly going to be in the mood, if you know what I mean. It may feel as though you have been unloving to her, but you are in fact loving your wife when you call out her sin, and call her to repentance, just as God calls to all of us.
In what is often called “the love chapter” of Scripture, where love is defined by God’s standards it says this:
“Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth.” – I Corinthians 13:6(HCSB)
Your wife’s rebellion against your sexual authority over her body is by definition “unrighteousness”. You would in essence, be “unloving” to your wife, from God’s perspective, if you allowed her sinful attitude to go unchecked.
But should you still have relations with your wife after such a confrontation?
I believe the answer is yes, if she yields to you (even with the wrong attitude). When I first had to confront my wife with these types of issues, I would confront her, and then just leave the sex to happen another night, because after all, I like most men don’t prefer to have sex with my wife when she acts grumpy about it.
But I realized that the sex still needs to occur, that sex is not about being in the mood, and it is not about feelings, it is about doing what is right. I agree whole heartedly that the best sex a Christian couple can have is when they are spiritually, emotionally and physically connected all at once. But the truth is there will be many times when we don’t have all that in place, but we must still have sex. God wants us to do the right thing, even when we don’t feel like it.
This probably won’t be a onetime thing
As a Christian husband, and really just as a Christian, we must realize that we all from time to time slip back into patterns of sinful behavior. Please don’t think that if your wife seems to submit to your sexual authority over her body after confronting her with the truth of God’s Word, that this rebellion will never seep back up again in her life. This has definitely not been a onetime thing with my wife, and I have also talked with other Christian men who have told me it is the same with their wives as well.
Whenever we see sinful behavior crop backup, whether in ourselves, or wives or children we need to address it.
We as husbands must also realize that, there will be less of a chance of re-occurrences of rebellious behavior by our wives and children when they see that we ourselves are submitting to God’s authority over us. If we are keeping our families in the Word, and in Church this can greatly help to keep the “flare ups” from happening as often.
But if you are husband trying to submit to and follow God’s will for your family, don’t think everything should just fall in place. Your wife may have had a very different upbringing, and there may be some very bad habits and attitudes that are deeply ingrained in your wife’s person, that she has to battle with the help of the Holy Spirit on a daily basis.
Can my Christian wife ever say no to my sexual advances?
This is the logical question you as a Christian husband (or engaged man) might ask after everything we have just looked at. The answer to this question is a Christian wife should never give her husband a flat no, BUT she can humbly and gently ask for a delay. There may be legitimate physical or other issues that might prompt your wife to ask you for a delay. But this must be done humbly and respectfully, and always with the attitude in mind that her body does belong to her husband. But a Christian wife should ALWAYS make good on her “rainchecks” with her husband. Also these “delay requests” from wives should be the exception, and not the normal response to a husband’s sexual advances.
This has been part 3 of our series “How to be a godly husband”. In the next parts of this series we will address the topics of “Is a husband selfish for having sex with his wife when she is not the mood?” and “How to handle your wife’s sexual refusal”.
Previous Posts in this series: