Can a Christian wife withhold sex as a way to change her husband’s bad behavior?

Can sexual refusal be used by a wife to change her husband’s bad behavior? Does God allow sexual refusal as method for addressing wrong behavior on the part of a husband? Can bad behavior on the part of a husband justify a sexless marriage?

I recently received this very heartfelt comment from a Christian wife named Jenn and you can see how much she is hurting as you read this. I would be willing to bet there are many Christian wives that face a very similar scenario. The emotion runs deep in this story, and I think for some valid reasons.

Jenn’s story

“I agree that a sexless marriage is not God’s plan and that both parties should do everything in their power to maintain their physical union and covenant. However, I do not believe it is appropriate to give a blanket statement that denying sex in a marriage is sin. Sometimes, refusing sex becomes necessary as an effort to PRESERVE THE MARRIAGE when the husband repeatedly shrugs off spiritual leadership in the home, ignores the wife’s emotional needs, treats the wife as a roommate, does NOT consistently do the steps you outlined above (going on dates, upgrading around the house, show any type of affection, etc.) leaves ALL THE PARENTING TO THE WIFE, and then just expects to get laid!

Continuing to engage in intercourse under those circumstances is submitting to sexual abuse, even though there is no force or violence involved. Continuing to engage in intercourse for the wife leaves the door open for bitterness and resentment to fester. NO! The wife does NOT want to live in a sexless marriage, but neither does she want to be devalued and violated, either.
Yes, private communication was sought out to correct these issues… as was counseling that went on for 18 months… communication among godly, loving friends. To make matters worse, this person is an elder and a counselor in the church! Is all this grounds for divorce? Most say no. Does one uproot the children because one spouse is spiritually lazy and hypocritical? Difficult call.

Should the pleading spouse continue to allow the husband to treat her this way? Or should she stand her ground that she needs to be valued and cherished? The sexless part is actually the decision of the husband for refusing to correct his behavior out of pride.
So before you heap on condemnation, perhaps you should spend more time encouraging the husbands (or the wives, for that matter) to deeply investigate WHY there is no interest in sex in the first place.”

My response to Jenn and any other Christian wife who finds herself in this situation

I believe it is possible based on Jenn’s statements that her husband is sinning against her by not “knowing her” as the Bible commands him to do:

“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” – I Peter 3:7(KJV)

I wrote a post a while back entitled “10 ways to know your wife” – and these things are a challenge and admonition to all of us as Christian husbands (including myself). Yes we will fail as husbands and we may not do all these things as we should, but we need to get up each and every day and ask ourselves as men – “Am I communicating with my wife as I should? Do I know her concerns? Am I addressing areas where she needs my help?”

God knows that a wife needs her husband to know her on a spiritual, emotional and physical level. This is why he commanded husbands to dwell with their wives “according to knowledge”. A man cannot know his wife as God would have him to without talking to her, and listening to her on a daily basis.

Sometimes we as Christian husbands can become so wrapped up in our careers, hobbies or even our ministries (as this woman’s husband is a church elder and counselor) that we can become neglectful of the needs of our wives and children. This woman’s story should serve as reminder for each of us as believing husbands to make sure we are knowing our wives as God would have us to.

The second thing that Jenn’s husband might be doing is neglecting to honor his wife. This is a duty that God calls Christian husbands to. He does not appear to be honoring her in her role as his helpmeet. I also wrote a post on this subject entitled “12 Ways to Honor you wife” where I go into detail on how a man can honor his wife.

A big part of honoring one’s wife – is to show her that she is valued and to praise her for her work in the home. It is also about making sure that her children are respectful of her. From what I saw in this woman’s sad account – it appears her husband may not be doing any of this. This story should serve as admonishment to all of us as Christian husbands how it makes our wives feel when we don’t know them(talk to them and listen to them) and when we don’t honor them(value them and praise them).

It appears that if this woman’s account is accurate – her Christian husband has been neglecting many of his duties to her (and perhaps his children as well).

Is withholding sex a tool that God allows a wife to use to change her husband’s behavior?

Jenn as well as many other women (Christian and non-Christian alike) believes that withholding sex is valid and justified tool when a husband is neglecting his duties to her and his children. But as sad as these types of stories are – two wrongs never make a right. God does not allow for sex to be withheld as a tool to modify bad behavior, or to encourage right behavior on the part of a spouse (either the husband or the wife).

“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 7:3-4

“Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” – Ephesians 5:24 (KJV)

The Scriptures are clear in the area of sex that a wife is to willingly give her body to her husband, she does not have the power to deny him or withhold sex from him. The Bible says she is to submit to her husband in “every thing”, and this includes in the area of sexuality.

The only way sex can be halted or denied in marriage is by mutual agreement to do so for a short time. People talk about consent in regards to sex all the time. Biblically speaking sex is only to occur in marriage. But in the context of marriage, consent is about ceasing from having sex for short period (mutually agreeing to not have sex). Consent is not about ALLOWING sex as sex is a duty and responsibility in marriage – it is a central part of the marriage covenant that you freely give your body to your spouse for the purposes of sex.

I have talked in previous posts about a husband having the right to discipline his wife, to motivate her to repent and change her bad behavior. But a husband is never allowed to use sexual denial to his wife as method of discipline. So for instance, if a man’s wife keeps denying him and then eventually she comes to him for sex – he is not allowed to deny her because she previously denied him.

The Bible tells us we should not repay evil for evil:

“Recompense to no man evil for evil..” – Romans 12:17 (KJV)

A wife in the same way is not allowed to deny or withhold sex from her husband in an effort to reform his bad behavior. When a wife withholds sex from her husband because of his bad behavior in other areas – this is a textbook example repaying evil for evil and God will not bless such actions by a wife.

In fact when we look at sex from the wife’s role, this is just one part of her overall submission to her husband. God does not allow a woman to stop submitting to her husband in any area of her life (including sex) in order to reform his bad behavior – except if he asks her to engage in an immoral or sinful activity.

But doesn’t giving a husband sex when he behaves wrongly encourage bad behavior?

Many women ask this question, and I think Jenn is inferring it by her comments above. The answer is that it is never wrong to do what God has commanded, in fact it is ALWAYS right to do what God has commanded. Short of a husband asking his wife to engage in a sinful activity – she is always to submit to him (including submitting her body to him for sex).

The Bible tells us this:

“Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.” – I Peter 3:9 (KJV)

In God’s view if a woman’s husband is treating her sinfully by neglecting his duties to her, she is to repay this evil behavior by blessing him with her continued submission, even in willingly giving her body to him for sex.

I know what I just said sounds CRAZY from a human perspective. But this is God’s way, not man’s way.

I completely realize that Jenn’s head is probably spinning right now and I truly feel for her situation with her husband. If she does not withhold sex, but blesses her husband with her body – freely and willingly won’t this tell him that everything is ok and she is fine with his neglectful behavior?

No – and here is the reason why. Jenn and any other woman can continue to bring her grievances about his neglect of her and her children. Nothing stops her from doing that. I think it would really make a man’s head spin, that his wife brings her grievance before him in a respectful manner in one hour, and later that evening willingly gives herself to him when he initiates sex with no attitude or hesitation. This can be a powerful tool for change in a husband, when he sees that his wife continues to submit to him, even though she has legitimate grievances with him.

Isn’t this abusive behavior?

Jen said this about submitting her husband sexually under these conditions:

“Continuing to engage in intercourse under those circumstances is submitting to sexual abuse, even though there is no force or violence involved.”

This is not sexual abuse for her husband to have sex with her while neglecting her legitimate needs in other areas.

Her husband’s behavior in other areas may definitely be inconsiderate, neglectful and sinful by Biblical standards. But him asking for sex and her yielding to him for sex(regardless of his failings outside the bedroom) is NOT sexual abuse. I have said this in previous articles and I will say it again here. Christian wives need to be very careful of using terms like “abuser”, “rapist” and “molester” when it comes to their sexual relations with their husbands. Unless a husband actually rapes a woman(has forcible sex with a woman he is not married to), touches a person other than his wife in a sexual manner, or actually physically abuses his wife, his children or others these terms have no place in these kinds of discussions.

Let be clear as I always have to be in these posts. If a husband forces himself sexually upon his wife, Biblically speaking this is not rape but it could be abuse. So in that case it might be legitimate to call the husband an abuser, but it would still not be right from a Biblical perspective to call him a rapist.

But based on this story, there does not seem to be any forcible sex going on.

But won’t allowing sex to continue cause bitterness in the wife?

Jenn said this about bitterness:

“Continuing to engage in intercourse for the wife leaves the door open for bitterness and resentment to fester.”

I think we could safely say, and Jenn would probably concede that bitterness toward her husband has definitely “festered” in her heart. God says this about bitterness:

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice” – Ephesians 4:31

Someone once said of bitterness, “Bitterness is like talking poison when you are mad at someone for wronging you, and then hoping they will die from it”. I have many men write me with bitterness in their hearts towards their wives over their wife’s sexual denial – some say some very hateful things toward them and I have to remind them that they need to let go of that bitterness, that it is a sin against God, their spouse and really their own bodies (because it hurts you when you are bitter).

This same truth would apply to Jenn and other Christian women that are dealing with husbands who are sinning against them by neglecting their duties.

A wife needs to understand the source of her bitterness towards her husband about sex

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; “ – Hebrews 12:14-15(KJV)

If you don’t understand the root of your bitterness as a Christian wife, then you will never be able to remove it. The reason you grow bitter and resentful toward your husband when he initiates sex is this – you believe he did not earn it.

Let me put this another way. It is very easy for us as men to shut our wives out, to stop talking to our wives when they deny us sexually. It is easy for us to grow bitter and think – “She wants me to sit down and talk with her when every time I go to touch her she tells me “not tonight honey”. But our wives do not have to earn the right to talk to us by having sex with us. Talking to our wives, whether we feel like it or not is a duty of every husband.

In the same way as a Christian wife you must realize the truth that your husband does not have to earn sex with you by talking to you(as he should), honoring you(as he should) and doing other nice things for you. He has a right to sex with you because of the vows you made to him and before God.

When you as a Christian wife let this truth really settle in your heart, then you will find that you are no longer bitter at your husband when he goes to have sex with you – even when he is not doing right in other areas.

Does the husband’s behavior warrant divorce?

A husband being “spiritually lazy and hypocritical” is not grounds for Biblical divorce. Now if a man fails to provide for his wife and children and just sits on a couch all day while they lose their home and starve that may be another issue. But nothing I have seen in this story would allow for Biblical divorce.

A wife is not responsible to discipline her husband

A wife is not Biblically responsible (or allowed) to discipline her husband. The husband is spiritually responsible for his wife and his children and as the head of his wife and his home he has the right to attempt to discipline. As I stated in previous posts when it comes to the wife I don’t believe physical discipline is warranted or prescribed by the Scriptures. But other types of non-physical discipline like taking credit cards away, or stopping household upgrades may be used as discipline.

God does not hold a wife responsible for her husband’s wrong behavior, he only holds her responsible for her own behavior.

A situation like this can be extremely frustrating for a Christian wife, and we can see that all throughout Jenn’s post. But she and any other wives facing this type of situation needs to make sure they take a step back and realize they are not their husband’s mother, they are his wife.

What recourse can a wife take in this situation?

I think we can see that scripturally speaking a wife has no right to discipline her husband for sinful behavior and she does not have the right to stop submitting to him in any area, including in the area of sex because of his sinful behavior. To do so amounts to repaying evil for evil – something that is very plainly condemned in the Scriptures.

But a wife can continue to bring her grievances to her husband in a respectful way. She can ask her husband to attend counseling as this woman did.

But what if the husband never changes his ways?

Jenn would most likely respond to my last comment that “I tried counseling with him for 18 months and nothing changed! He says he will change with the counselor but he comes home and nothing changes!”

Is it possible that even if Jenn repents of her bitterness, and submits herself in all ways(including sexually) to her husband that he will still not change his ways and do what God would have him do as a husband? Unfortunately the answer is yes – he may never change his ways.

Also it can help to realize that you are not the only woman or man that faces these issue of being mistreated by their spouse. I often get emails from Christian husbands asking if they can divorce their wives for less than Biblical reasons.

These are some of the things they ask about:

They ask if they can divorce their wives for belittling them and disrespecting them – the Bible says no.

They ask if they can divorce their wives for going against their wishes and disobeying – the Bible says no.

They ask if their wife is giving them sex, but with a bad attitude and she just lies there like a dead fish can they divorce their wives – the Bible says no.

They ask if their wife is too involved in her career and other activities outside the home can they divorce their wife? Unless their wife is sexually denying them or cheating on them they cannot divorce her for being too involved in her career.

The truth is that we live in a sin cursed world and sometimes people do not submit themselves to God and repent. Sometimes our spouses have horrible attitudes, or they are neglectful of our feelings. Sometimes spouses are extremely selfish.

I believe though in these cases where husbands are not doing what God says they should do for their wives – Christian wives can get through this difficulty by depending on the Lord, and recognizing that their submission to their husband, is really them submitting to God.

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” – Ephesians 5:22

So perhaps from a human perspective, your husband has done nothing to earn your submission. But would say you don’t owe God your submission? It is God who is commanding you to submit to your husband.

What Jenn and other Christian wives need to do in this situation

Acknowledge your hurt and your feelings of disappointment with your husband, don’t bury it, don’t repress it. Give it to God, Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.(I Peter 5:7)

Pray and ask God to forgive you for any bitterness you are harboring in your heart toward your husband. Pray that God will strengthen you to be able to submit to and please your husband with a right heart and a right attitude. Pray that God will change your husband’s heart and reveal his sin to him so perhaps he will be the husband that God meant him to be.

Pray that God will continually remind you that your submission to your husband is really submission to God himself.  When you submit to your husband it pleases God, especially when he knows it is hard for you to do it because of your husband’s behavior.

All of us need God each day, we can’t live this Christian life in our own strength.

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75 thoughts on “Can a Christian wife withhold sex as a way to change her husband’s bad behavior?

  1. Emily,

    Thanks for that clarification. I applaud you for your stance on this(about premarital sex) and I agree. My position is that any kind of sexual contact(touching erogenous zones like breasts, thighs, ect…) is sex. Sex is not just intercourse. So you are right to maintain than none of this kind of touching, no oral sex, no intercourse will happen before marriage.

    But please don’t make all your judgements about him about his sexual frustration. This is an area many men struggle in. I know of Pastor friends of mine who after they were married admitted to me that they had sex with their wives before they were married. These men are great men of God in my opinion, the preach the Word and they make an impact for Christ. They lead their wives and they lead their families and they are not proud of having sex before they were married.

    It is one thing if this boyfriend of yours is flirting with other women and you think he would have a problem with being with other women. If you sensed that then you should dump him! But just because he is tempted to be with the woman he loves – you, try not to use that as the main test of his character.

    Again remember I don’t believe God intended for what we have today call “dating”. It would be easier for him if you two had little physical contact between now and then – in essence making your own “betrothal period” like they had in the Bible. Otherwise when you are together, you are only together around your families and other people.

    Modern dating in my opinion – is very unfair to man as God created him. While a woman might have some sexual temptation, I think most women would admit it is far easier for them to control that and to say no to it then it is for man.

    The reason I think dating is unfair especially to Christian men who want to honor God and keep themselves pure for marriage is because each time they around a woman they love and find attractive – their body and mind want her – it screams for her. It is a tease every moment that a man is in the presence of a woman whom he cares about and yet he cannot express love to her as God designed him to desire to do.

    The Christian woman on the other hand, gets those things that are most important to a typical woman. She gets all the talking she wants. She gets the emotional connection. She gets romance as she likes it(the flowers, the dates, the gifts). Does the man get romance as he likes?(Visual or sexual romance)?

    This is why again – I ask you not to judge your boyfriend on this issue. Instead look at his other qualities.

    Do you believe he is a genuine Christian?
    Doe he genuinely believe or does he just say so for you?
    Is being involved with the Church as important to him as it is to you?
    Is he a moral man, a truthful man? Would he protect you?
    Would he make a good father?

    I think these are the things you should be looking at. And in the mean time – you need to find a way to make his sexual frustration easier by limiting your time alone together(if at all). Make sure you are always with friends or family. Perhaps see less of each other and just talk on the phone more. I realize this flies in the face of modern dating – but remember it is not fair to him to date as you would like to. Make sure if you start limiting or ending your alone time together that you are doing this FOR HIM. You are doing this out of respect for the sexual nature that God designed him with.

  2. One woman, a professed Christian, advised me to try to have sex with women I dated. If they allowed me to, then I should drop them.
    I responded that I would be doing wrong to have sex with a woman who wasn’t my wife. She said that when an unmarried woman had sex that she was the sinner, not the man. And that virginity applied only to women, not to men.
    I replied that the Revelation referred to men who were virgins. She said that was in a vision, not for real; in heaven, not here.
    Seeing that I was getting nowhere with the woman, I avoided further discussions with her. Her presence was unavoidable as I had to give her a ride home every week. I turned the radio up LOUD.
    She was later excommunicated from her church for trying to take a deacon from his wife.

  3. That is very strange what she said. The Bible condemns whoremongering(men sleeping with unmarried women) all the time. The only difference is that in the Old Testament it did not have a specific punishment prescribed for man who was not a virgin, but it did for a woman.

  4. Gerry, I actually got that impression when I read the Old Testament’s laws regarding sex before marriage. However, the New Testament makes it clear that all sex outside marriage is wrong. Some Christians love to cherrypick, though I’m surprised that it’s a woman saying that lol

    Larry,
    Glad we agree on this topic. Though personally I think kissing outside of marriage is fine.
    I think a big problem with us is that we’ve already had sex (before I decided to be abstinent.) Therefore we feel comfortable around each other physically. And yes, I agree that the temptation for him must be very high. However, I don’t agree that it’s much easier on me. Yet I don’t lean towards sin. He does, he even watches porn sometimes when he thinks I wont notice.

    Elsewise he’s a moral person, but he needs to be more involved in church, talk to the priest, talk to good religious people.

    I think limiting time together is very good advice, though difficult since I sometimes live with him during the college semester. I also think that without my influence he may turn away from me, or worse, from God. But I’ll talk to him about it.

    God bless.

  5. Under:
    “Is withholding sex a tool that God allows a wife to use to change her husband’s behavior?”
    “Convent” should be “covenant,” an agreement that is not negotiable beyond a “take it or leave it” basis. Usually refers to a conditional offer made by a superior party to an inferior.
    Marriage is such an agreement. God established the terms; man and woman cannot alter the terms. If they marry, they acquire certain duties. In return they obtain certain benefits. They either take it and are thenceforth bound by the terms until death do them part, or they violate the terms and subject themselves to the consequences.

  6. “Submitting to sex under degrading circumstances is not a sign of godliness, it’s a sign of low self value.”
    Rather, it is obedience to the counsel of the Lord.
    Submitting to natural sexual intercourse under degrading circumstances? Like what? In front of others? Being physically forced? Bondage fantasy roleplaying? S&M?
    Such certainty can be refused. Not the intercourse but the degrading circumstances.

  7. Bilbicalgenderoles

    I still have a question for you . You say that a wife GIVES her body to her husband freely .
    Now , tell me HOW you can give something you have NO POWER over ??
    the husband has power over her body . What is the point of having that authority if it is not excercized ?

    She yields her body when she agrees to marry him. And so does he.
    The very day they get married , they have NO POWER over their own body anymore.

    You cannot use something as a tool when it does not belong to you , right ?

    Moreover , how come people always say that sex is a weapon in a wife’s hands ..(a SATANIC one indeed ) .. is not a husband commanded to render his wife sex too ?
    Amazing how that postmodern Satanic world talks about women as if they were asexual .
    Nothing could be further from the truth .. NOTHING.
    You should take a look at the sex saturated litterature women are used to reading .
    As a Christian I can’t stand lie anymore and I will do all I can to expose that fraud.

    If a the wife has no sex in marriage , she will ALSO be tempted by the devil , right ?

    Come TOGETHER again so that Satan does not tempt YOU 1 Co 7

    You ..the husband only ??? You = BOTH of you because you are not being ONE FLESH as you should be.

    The very definition of marriage is being ONE FLESH .

    How indignant the Lord is. How happy the devil .

  8. Emily ,

    A husband DOES have a legitimate right to take sex from his wife since he has power over her own body . There is nothing as such as “sexual abuse” in marriage , it is a devilish radical feminist lie made up to have marriage sexless ..and more and more marriageless sex.
    In the opposite , tell me HOW can a wife withhold something she has NO POWER over ?
    How does it make sense ?

    1 Corinthians 7 cannot be clearer .
    Withholding can only be done with mutual consent since the spouses have no power over their own body anymore but the other spouse has.
    So you need your spouse’s approval to defraud him/her.

    You told your story of your parents. What did happen ?
    Your mother took back authority over her own body and your father did nothing to STOP it .
    As a result , he saw another woman and she sinned with another man because she turned away from her husband’s sexual power.

    Byt taking sex , a husband exercizes the power he has over his wife’s body and does not let her sin.
    He saves her from temptation and saves himself too.

    There is a passage in the NT where men are commanded to keep their body in purity .
    A footnote in my Bible says his body = his vase (the original greek work) and the vase is his wife’s body.

  9. “But please don’t make all your judgements about him about his sexual frustration. This is an area many men struggle in ”

    How hypocrite ! As if we women had no struggle in this area !
    As if women were asexual beings .
    Remember the non virginal brides who were put to death ?
    Non virginal brides .. because women love free sex so much you know ..

  10. Framboise,

    Your Statement:

    “I still have a question for you . You say that a wife GIVES her body to her husband freely .
    Now , tell me HOW you can give something you have NO POWER over ??
    the husband has power over her body . What is the point of having that authority if it is not excercized ?”

    Here are four passages of Scripture that will answer this question:

    “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” – I Corinthians 6:20 (KJV)

    “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” – Romans 6:13 (KJV)

    “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” – Romans 12:1 (KJV)

    “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” – Revelation 3:19 (KJV)

    You see framboise – God owns us as believers and we owe our service to him. Yet he compels us to offer our bodies to him because he gives us the choice to obey. Now he offers consequences for disobedience and he disciplines us to bring us back to yielding ourselves if we stray. But he does not come in our minds and force us to change, he brings consequences that then persuade us to change.

  11. Emily on August 2, 2015 at 5:37 am wrote:
    “Hello Jenn,

    “I do think that the husband not loving you (and it’s clear to me that your husband has not been loving you properly) is grounds for an annulment (as is your refusal to have sex with him.)”

    Annulment is a legal finding that a putative marriage was invalid from its beginning. In lawspeak it was invalid “ab initio.”
    Nothing makes an invalid marriage valid. If a woman divorces her husband and marries another man, she is an adulteress. The subsequent death of her (true) husband does not legitimize her remarriage.
    Roman Catholic doctrine allows annulment of a marriage between a Catholic and an unbeliever (in Catholicism). This is not in harmony with Scripture, but then the Church teaches that the teaching authority of the Church can amend, annul or add to the word of God, or authoritatively “interpret” Scripture to mean what the Church says it means, somewhat like in the US the Supreme Court has the final say on what the Constitution means.
    According to this, a marriage may be voided at the option of the Catholic spouse along with the approval of the Church. But if the Catholic spouse is willing to stay with the unbeliever, the marriage will be regarded as valid unless there has been a civil divorce unaccompanied by a Catholic annulment.

  12. Jenn on August 3, 2015 at 2:10 pm wrote:

    “He doesn’t ogle women, he doesn’t watch porn and he doesn’t masturbate.”
    IN YOUR PRESENCE.
    He may be discreet enough that he doesn’t look at other women when you are near.
    Anyone can access porn on a smartphone and keep it out of the history, and prevent cookies from being retained. If a common Wi-Fi is not used, there is no way that access to websites can be found out without a search warrant served on the ISP used.
    Men, and women, can masturbate secretly. If careful, no one will be able to detect.
    I do not say that he is doing any of these things but do not be crestfallen if you learn that he is.

  13. Thanks for the thorough consideration of this issue. I, as a husband, find myself in a similar situation: it has been about 4 years since my wife allowed for us to have sex, and at this point we are separated for the last 3 months. Although I’m not perfect, I have tried to be loving and kind toward her, making an effort to be a godly husband and seeking counseling, but, now I am desiring divorce, since I feel she has recently rejected me one too many times and I have lost all hope. I can’t describe the agony of this period in my life, and I’m sure she’s hurting too, but, in my heart I am tearfully and desperately clinging to our Lord’s loving kindness to find the courage to end this failure and move on. To know God loves us regardless and understand our frailty is my great consolation!

  14. Read and study Matthew 5:31, 32; 19:3-12, Mark 10:2-12, Luke 16:18, Romans 7:2, 3; 1 Corinthians 7:2-5, 10, 11, 39; 2 Co. 6:14, Ephesians 5:22-24, 1 Timothy 2:9-15, 5:14, 1 Peter 3:1-7.
    The Christian wife is commanded to “submit” to her husband sexually, 1 Co. 7:3-5, Ep. 5:22. (Consider Leviticus 12:2, 4, 5; 15:19-28, 20:18.)
    She is to be subject to him in “everything,” v. 24. (Consider Acts 4:19, 5:29.)
    Mary, to be mother to Jesus, provides an example: “Behold the handmaid (doulē, female slave) of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” Lk. 1:38. “handmaiden,” v. 48. She did not claim to be the wife or even a concubine of the Lord but only a mere slave, a vessel to bring the Son of God into the world.
    Sarah is an example to Christian wives: “For after this manner in the old time, the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves (with a meek and quiet spirit), being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara(h) obeyed Abraham, calling him ‘lord’: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.” 1 Pe. 3:5, 6. qu. Ge. 18:12.

  15. I’m sorry, I need clarification…are you saying that a man has a biblical right to divorce his wife if she fails to submit to sex? Can you please give me the scripture reference from which you form this opinion?

  16. Another point of clarification…in your opinion is it always sin when a wife expresses that she does not feel interested in sex if a husband is requesting it…i.e. I’m sick, nauseous, sleep deprived, etc. Can you also please give the biblical references for your response…thank you.

  17. With all due respect…as your sister in Christ…I would caution you in telling another sister that Jesus will withhold His peace because of her bad behavior. This may be placing yourself in a judgement seat that does not belong to you…whether or not you are a man. 1 John 1:5-2:2

  18. I am at a loss for your desire to explain away the sin of the husband in this situation, but are so unforgiving with regard to the sin of the wife. His sin is begetting her sin and biblically he is held responsible for both hers and his own sin…yikes! It’s awesome but we have a savior who redeems us… we cannot overcome our sin on our own. Not Jenn, not you, not me. Run to your savior Jenn… He will save you! He can heal your husband and he can heal you! Jesus healed the man before he asks him to get up and walk…John 5 8-9

  19. Lisa Hussar,

    Your Statement:

    “I’m sorry, I need clarification…are you saying that a man has a biblical right to divorce his wife if she fails to submit to sex? Can you please give me the scripture reference from which you form this opinion?”

    First let’s establish the withhold sex from one’s spouse is sin:
    “3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.
    4 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.
    5 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 Scriptures show that sex is both a responsibility and right within marriage for both the husband and wife. This is given as a command, not as option and not when one feels like it or only when the relationship is in a good place and both people want to. Therefore we can conclude as general rule that it is a sin to refuse sex to your spouse.

    However the right to sex in marriage is also tempered by two other Biblical principles:

    1. The husband is the head of the wife

    “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.”
    Ephesians 5:23 (KJV)

    So while the Scriptures command that a husband is to give his wife sex and make himself available for sex – he is her head. So the “power” she has over his body does not override his authority over her. Instead the power the wife in regard to her husband’s body has is understood in light of his headship therefore it is sexual access that she has to him, not authority over him. In other words – my wife can’t command me to stop working and come have sex with her. She can request it and she has right to do so – but she is never in actual authority over her husband.

    2. The husband must care for the physical needs of his wife’s body as he would his own

    “28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
    29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church”
    Ephesians 5:28-29 (KJV)

    So this is the answer to you second question “when a wife expresses that she does not feel interested in sex if a husband is requesting it…i.e. I’m sick, nauseous, sleep deprived, etc.” The first part of “if she is not interested” is not grounds for sexual refusal. We all must do things we do not sometimes feel like doing. A husband gets up every day for work whether he feels like it or not. Like wise part of a wife’s duties is to have sexual relations with her husband. She is to submit to him in “everything“(Ephesians 5:24). Now as to when she is legitimately sick or not medically able to then that is when her husband should graciously allow her time to recover caring her his body as he would his own.

  20. Mr Biblicalgenderroles…you are a man. It is clear that you are unable to see past your own sexual desire to understand a woman’s need. I have no issue with your definitions of sin, but my heart breaks to see your hierarchy of sin and needs. You seem to think God has a greater for sexual desire then for the need for love… but, he says the creator of these is love ! We ought to clothe our words with compassion, kindness, gentleness, humility, and patience… and seek to understand before being understood. Romans 14:4

  21. Lisa,

    Sorry I did not finish my answer.

    In my previous comment to you I established these principles from the Scriptures:
    1. I Corinthians 7:3-5 makes it clear that sex is both a responsibility and right in marriage. Therefore it is a sin to refuse sex to one’s spouse in marriage.
    2. While the wife has a right to sexual access with her husband – this never overrides his authority over her.
    3. While the husband has a right to command his wife to have sex with him as her authority – he also has a responsibility to care for her body as he does his own so that means when she is truly sick and not medically able to have sex he should graciously give her time to recover.

    But then that bring us to your other question “are you saying that a man has a biblical right to divorce his wife if she fails to submit to sex?”

    The Bible only allows for divorce in very few cases. Spouses sin against each other in many ways all the time. Husbands can be harsh and unloving toward their wives. Wives can be unsubmissive and contentious toward their husbands. But God does not allow for divorce just because couples sin against one another.

    However, there are certain grave sins which God considers grave enough to break the marriage covenant.

    1. A woman can divorce her husband for him refusing to provide the basics of life to her(food, clothing,shelter) as well as if he denies her conjugal rights(right to sexual access to him).

    “10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.
    11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.”
    Exodus 21:10-11 (KJV)

    2. A husband may divorce his wife for any sexual sin.

    “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”
    Matthew 19:9 (KJV)

    Fornication encompasses all sexual sin. That means sex between unmarried persons, adultery, rape, homosexuality, bestiality and yes sexual denial. Sexual denial is a sin as seen in I Corinthians 7:3-5 and since it is a sexually related sin it is therefore a form of fornication. It is just as much a sin for a woman to sexually defraud her husband as it would be for her to have sex with another man(commit adultery).

    Therefore based upon this Scriptural evidence a man has every right to divorce his wife for sexual refusal as does a wife have a right to divorce her husband for sexual refusal.

    Now one note on this. I am not talking about a one time refusal. That is not what we are discussing here. We are discussing a pattern of refusal where the man or woman consistently denies sexual relations – only then would this be grounds for divorce. It is still a sin to occasionally refuse – but I do not believe that is grounds for divorce.

  22. Lisa,

    Your Statement:

    “Mr Biblicalgenderroles…you are a man. It is clear that you are unable to see past your own sexual desire to understand a woman’s need. I have no issue with your definitions of sin, but my heart breaks to see your hierarchy of sin and needs. You seem to think God has a greater for sexual desire then for the need for love… but, he says the creator of these is love ! We ought to clothe our words with compassion, kindness, gentleness, humility, and patience… and seek to understand before being understood. Romans 14:4”

    Sin is sin. However as I pointed out in my last post God considers some sins more of an affront to the marriage covenant than others. God allows a woman to divorce her husband for failure to provide and for failure to give access to sexual relations. He also allows a man to divorce his wife for refusal to sexual relations. This does not mean God thinks it is ok when a man neglects his wife or does not show love toward his wife. But in the same way God does not like when a woman is unsubmissive to her husband.

    The problem with your thinking here is that you are saying one sin justifies another. It is a sin the way this man was treating his wife, but it is equally a sin for her to sexually refuse him because of his sin. In God’s order – she is to lovingly submit herself sexually to him even though he may be sinning against her in many ways.

    In the same way I get emails from men all the time that have very submissive and nasty wives but their wife still has sex with them – even if she does it half halfheartedly or grudgingly. Do these men have a right to withhold providing for their wife the necessities of life, or protecting her, or leading her because she is so nasty toward them? Of course not. Unless she breaks the covenant of marriage(with sexual refusal or adultery) they must do their part as husbands toward their wives.

  23. Lisa Hussar,


    Your Statement:

    “Mr Biblicalgenderroles…you are a man. It is clear that you are unable to see past your own sexual desire to understand a woman’s need.”

    It is interesting how you have posed men’s needs as “desires” and women’s desires as “needs”. I understand why you do so because this is what our culture teaches today. But this is not God’s Word teaches. Let’s look again at this statement from the woman in this post who is refusing sex to her husband:

    “Sometimes, refusing sex becomes necessary as an effort to PRESERVE THE MARRIAGE when the husband repeatedly shrugs off spiritual leadership in the home, ignores the wife’s emotional needs, treats the wife as a roommate, does NOT consistently do the steps you outlined above (going on dates, upgrading around the house, show any type of affection, etc.) leaves ALL THE PARENTING TO THE WIFE, and then just expects to get laid!”

    God tells us what the most critical needs are in marriage are from a physical perspective:

    “10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.
    11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.”
    Exodus 21:10-11

    Now obviously there are needs and desires in marriage. But the two most critical needs that must be met is that husbands and wives have regular sexual relations and that the man provides food, clothing and shelter to his wife. If any of these needs are not met they can constitute a breach of the marriage covenant that will allow for divorce.

    However as I have pointed out many times on this site – I Peter 3:7 tell us husbands to dwell with their wives according to knowledge – to know them and honor their position as their wife. It also tells wives to submit to their husbands and reference them in Ephesians 5.

    But lets not confuse food, clothing, shelter and sex with taking one’s wife on dates. We in our modern society do this and act as if they are equally important when they are not. In fact I believe that if more women recognized their husband’s provision of the basics of life as a great act of love toward them they would not be so focused on other things.

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