Martin Luther on divorce for sexual denial

“Only first the husband should admonish and warn his wife two or three times, and let the situation be known to others so that her stubbornness becomes a matter of common knowledge and is rebuked before the congregation. If she still refuses, get rid of her; take an Esther and let Vashti go, as King Ahasuerus did [Esther 1:12‑2:17]”.  This was a statement by Martin Luther “Living as Husband and Wife” (1523) on the subject of sexual denial and abandonment in marriage.

I had one of my readers(thanks Dash) bring this quote to my attention today.  I have attended a Baptist Church for most of my life, but I studied many of the writing of reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin in my youth and I don’t remember coming across this quote. After verifying it in several sources I thought I would bring Martin Luther’s words on this subject to your attention.

Let me first say, that unlike the Catholics, we as Protestants do not believe that our church leaders are inerrant in their utterances on doctrinal interpretation. So while I agree with the sentiment here of Martin Luther on the subject of sexual denial, there are many other areas where I would not agree with him.  But where we as Christians agree (whether we be Protestant or Catholic), we should stand together.

I think Luther’s words stand in stark contrast to a Pastor who emailed a man scolding him for considering discipline against his wife for her chronic sexual denial:

“I do not think it right to pursue discipline toward your wife for not having sex with you as you have previously suggested. Sex is the physical expression of intimacy that is to exist in a marriage relationship where the two are one – not just physically. I have never heard of or read of anyone being disciplined by a church for such a reason. And, I am not alone in that position. I have sought counsel from other pastors and elders on it without divulging your identities to those outside our church.”

So again I am not advocating for the inerrancy of Luther’s application and interpretations of the Scripture.  But whether you agree that the Scriptures allow divorce for sexual denial or not what this does provide is historical evidence for Pastors that the Christian belief in discipline for sexual denial is not a new teaching.

With all that said – here is the full quote from Luther on this subject of divorce for sexual denial:

 “The third case for divorce is that in which one of the parties deprives and avoids the other, refusing to fulfill the conjugal duty or to live with the other person. For example, one finds many a stubborn wife like that who will not give in, and who cares not a whit whether her husband falls into the sin of unchastity ten times over. Here it is time for the husband to say, “If you will not, another will; the maid will come if the wife will not.” Only first the husband should admonish and warn his wife two or three times, and let the situation be known to others so that her stubbornness becomes a matter of common knowledge and is rebuked before the congregation. If she still refuses, get rid of her; take an Esther and let Vashti go, as King Ahasuerus did [Esther 1:12‑2:17].

Here you should be guided by the words of St. Paul, I Corinthians 7 [:4‑5], “The husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does; likewise the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does. Do not deprive each other, except by agreement,” etc. Notice that St. Paul forbids either party to deprive the other, for by the marriage vow each submits his body to the other in conjugal duty. When one resists the other and refuses the conjugal duty she is robbing the other of the body she had bestowed upon him. This is really contrary to marriage, and dissolves the marriage. For this reason the civil government must compel the wife, or put her to death. If the government fails to act, the husband must reason that his wife has been stolen away and slain by robbers; he must seek another. We would certainly have to accept it if someone’s life were taken from him. Why then should we not also accept it if a wife steals herself away from her husband, or is stolen away by others?”

Martin Luther, “Living as Husband and Wife” (1523)

http://www.lutherdansk.dk/Web-Living%20as%20husband%20and%20wife/Living%20as%20husband%20and%20wife.htm

By the way I am not advocating for the death penalty by civil government for a wife denying her husband.  Martin Luther was a product of his time and his day there were a lot more crimes that people thought were punishable by death.

But I do think we make divorce far too painless today, especially as it relates to women. Today a woman can deny her husband sexually or have affairs with men and then when they divorce she gets either joint custody or primary custody of the children, his house and half of his assets. It is almost as if the government(which has been thoroughly infected by feminism) rewards the rebellion of modern women today.

If it can be proven that a woman was purposefully and willfully denying her husband or that she was committing adultery then I do think it should affect property settlements and child custody in divorce. There must be a price to pay.

On the issue of proving sexual denial, I think Martin Luther actually had a great idea.  Let others know. Make sure for some time that other members of the Church as well as family and friends know about her denial if she will not repent privately.  I agree that a husband should not make this public if his wife admits her wrong privately and changes her ways.  But if she is continues in her ways, it is time to drag her sin into the light.  Sin wants to hide in the dark, it wants to remain in secret.

Why does the KJV render Romans 7:7 as “lust” and “covet”?

Is lust the same as covetousness?  Why does the KJV in Romans 7:7 translate one word as “lust” and another as “covetousness” even though in other translations like the NASB and NIV they translate both words as “covet”?

A friend of mine, Emily recently wrote this to me about Romans 7:7.  For my readers who are not familiar with this discussion one of the truths that I believe the Bible teaches is that lust is covetousness.  Specifically in the context of Matthew 5:28 lust is referring to a specific form of covetousness – mainly to covet another man’s wife.

Emily is not alone, there are many good Christians who want to believe that lust is a separate sin from covetousness and that lust refers simply to sexual desire, rather than it applying more accurately to sexual covetousness. I believe based on the whole of Scripture, as well as the meaning of the original languages that this distinction between lust and covetousness is faulty. Lust IS covetousness.

Here was Emily’s statement to me:

 “But first… that is not how it is phrased in my Bible, fyi. I just looked it up. It compares coveting to coveting, not to lust. Lust is not mentioned in that passage at all!

In that case, there is not much else in the Bible that equates the two. So I mean, thanks for clarifying what you mean by covet but I still think lust in and of itself is a sin.”

The reason Emily is not seeing see it in her  English translation of the Bible is because some modern English translations have left out the distinction Paul was trying to make.

Here is Romans 7:7 in the KJV, the NASB and NIV:

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” (KJV)

“What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” (NASB)

“What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” (NIV)

Now usually between these three popular translations the KJV is the most literal(but uses older English words), the NASB is more literal than the NIV, but less literal than the KJV with more modern words and then you have the NIV rounding out with the most modern wording, but it is often the least literal out of the three. Each of these have their value and I have used all these and other versions in my studies over the last 20 years.

But occasionally the NASB is more literal than even the KJV, and sometimes even the NIV is more literal or a better translation of a particular verse than the KJV.

So the big question is why does the KJV translate the first word as lust and only the second word as covet while these other two translations translate both words as covet? The reason is because in the Greek these are two different words:

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust[Epithumia], except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet[Epithumeo].” (KJV)

Here is the definition of the Greek word Epithumia (which the KJV translates as “lust” in Romans 7:7) according to Thayer and Smith’s Bible dictionary:

“desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust”

Here is the definition of the Greek word Epithumeo (which the KJV translates as “covet” in Romans 7:7) according to Thayer and Smith’s Bible dictionary:

“to turn upon a thing

to have a desire for, long for, to desire

to lust after, covet

of those who seek things forbidden”

So while these words are synonyms they are not identical and the KJV accurately represents that distinction in its translation where the NASB and NIV loose that distinction for the reader. If Paul meant to use the same word twice he would have said “for I had not known [Epithumeo], except the law had said, Thou shalt not [Epithumeo].” but he used a deliberate word play here with these synonyms to get his point across.

Both Epithumia and Epithumeo are used in positive and negative contexts

These words do not always represent wrong desires, lust or covetousness in the bad sense of these words.  The context of the surrounding passage is what tells us if these words are being used in a negative or positive sense.

Here is a positive use of Epithumia(translated as “lust” in Romans 7:7) in another passage of Scripture:

“But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.  For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire[Epithumia]  to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” – Philippians 1:22-24 (KJV)

This is one of those passages of Scripture where I think the NIV does a better job of making this more understandable in modern English while still staying true to the wording in the original language:

“If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire[Epithumia] to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” – Philippians 1:22-24 (NIV)

In either case both the KJV and NIV correctly translate Epithumia as “desire” here. Desire is used in the sense of a positive desire on the Apostle Paul’s part to want to be with the Lord in heaven.

Here is a positive use of Epithumeo in the Scriptures:

“And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire[Epithumeo] to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.” – Luke 17:22 (KJV)

Here is a another negative use of Epithumia(translated as “lust” in Romans 7:7) in another passage of Scripture:

“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection[Pathos], evil concupiscence[Epithumia], and covetousness[Pleonexia], which is idolatry:” – Colossians 3:5 (KJV)

Concupiscence is an English word that means “evil sexual desires”.  Incidentally the word translated “covetousness” here is not the same word “Epithumeo” that is translated as “covet” in Romans 7:7.  This is another Greek word “Pleonexia” which has more to do with the greedy side of covetousness, rather than the desire to possess something that does not belong to us side of covetousness and this is why the NASB translates this same passage using the word “greed” instead of “covetousness”:

“Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion[Pathos], evil desire[Epithumia], and greed[Pleonexia], which amounts to idolatry.” Colossians 3:5 (NASB)

The NASB except for the word “immorality”, which should be “sexual immorality” is probably the most accurate translation of this verse to the original language of the Bible here in Colossians 3:5. The Greek word “Pathos” which is translated as “passion” in the NASB has the idea of a person being led astray by emotions.

But here we see based on the context of it being “evil” that these are speaking to wrong desires.

Here is another negative use of Epithumeo (translated as “covet” in Romans 7:7) in another passage of Scripture:

“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after[Epithumeo] her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” – Matthew 5:28 (KJV)

Conclusion

As I said before every translation of Scripture is just that, a translation of Scripture. Each translation has its strengths and weaknesses. But in this particular case the KJV rendering of Romans 7:7 by using “lust” in comparison to “covet” is accurately communicating the Apostle Paul’s attempt to play these two synonyms off each other.

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” – Romans 7:7 (KJV)

In the context of lust as it is spoke of in Matthew 5:27, this also proves by the fact that Epithumeo is used for lusting after a woman and Epithumeo is used synonymously of the 10th commandment in Romans 7:7 as “covet” that means God equates lust to covetousness.

Stories of Sexual Denial in Marriage Episode 7

Imagine if your Christian wife did not want to have sex on your wedding night? What if for the next 20 years she only let you have sex with her 8 times a year? This next story of sexual denial in marriage comes to us from a man named Mark. He has been married for 22 years. He sent me several emails detailing different aspects of his story. I am including relevant parts of his emails to show a picture of what was happening and he very much wanted me to share his story to help other men who are facing this situation know they are not alone.

Mark’s Story

“I am so thankful for your advice regarding how a Christian man can biblically handle a situation where his wife is perpetually sinning against God and the husband, by refusing sex to her husband.  I have that situation and am about to file for divorce.  I have lived with it for 22 years and never knew how to handle it.  Once I did finally follow the same advice that you have given, my problem was that when I got to the step of taking my wife to the pastor, the pastor, like our society, was afraid of my wife.  He got on me pretty hard about being a Christian husband, but never held her accountable to being a Christian wife.  In other words, he never said that she needed to have sex with me.  So, I have now gone a year without sex.

I have done everything that I know of to provide a loving peaceful home environment, but she will not repent.  I say this because I believe that there are many pastors, and churches that have embraced feminism.  So, they always see the man as the villain and the wife as basically sinless, and always right.  I am not claiming innocence in some of my marital problems because I am a sinner, but my wife is convinced that she is justified in her behavior and I received absolutely no help from the church.

I ended up going to a different church by myself.  I met with the pastor there and he referred me/us to a trained marriage counselor.  That marriage counselor is, at least, non-biased in evaluating our marital situation.  This feminism problem IN THE CHURCH is something that you might want to make your readers aware of.  It is a sad thing that is destroying homes.  Sadly, it looks like my home is one of the victims….”

In another email Mark supplied some more background and context to his situation:

“My wife has only had sex with me approximately 8 times per year. This is absolutely horrible. I’m getting older (47), but would still like to have sex at least twice per week. It also makes it difficult to want to stay faithful to her when all she does is turn me down.

Whenever I have confronted my wife about this, she clams up. She just won’t talk about it and usually walks away to avoid addressing it. She knows the scriptural command because I’ve shown it to her several times, but doesn’t really seem to care, and she faithfully attends church once or twice per week.

My wife has had a history of being unsubmissive toward me. She was raised in a home from age 5 until adulthood without a dad or brothers. Her dad left her mom when she was 5 (I strongly suspect because her mom did the same thing to her dad as my wife has done to me.). So, she was very independent growing up and never had a model for a Christian home life.

My wife has been a stay-at-home home school mother. By the way, tell any of your readers to not home school if the parents do not have a solid marriage. It is sad to say, but as a friend told me, it seems like many home school mothers have an entitlement attitude. I think that he is right.

I have six kids. Two of those six are daughters. I am most concerned about their future marriages as they have not had a good example in my wife…

The church needs to be the final step in the process of discipline, but if the church is not there to give support, we’re kind of out there on our own. That has been my case. The church that my wife now attends by herself but with my 2 youngest kids seems to be a very doctrinally solid church with plural elders and wise men leading. However, the lead/teaching pastor, the one that counseled us, does not even see that he is blind to the feminism that he has embraced…

Here is an excerpt from an email that I received from my wife’s pastor:

I do not think it right to pursue discipline toward your wife for not having sex with you as you have previously suggested. Sex is the physical expression of intimacy that is to exist in a marriage relationship where the two are one – not just physically. I have never heard of or read of anyone being disciplined by a church for such a reason. And, I am not alone in that position. I have sought counsel from other pastors and elders on it without divulging your identities to those outside our church.”

Mark gives more detail on the sexual denial and its impact on their marriage

“The entire 22 years has been a perpetual rejection sexually on my wife’s part….

I would say that I did try to do whatever it took to make/keep her happy so that she would be willing to have sex. But a majority of the time, it still resulted in rejection. We have only had sex, on average, 8 times per year for the past 10 years. Recently, she has withheld sex from me for a year as I stated in my first email. I moved out of the bedroom 12 months ago. I could not take the continual, perpetual rejection. At least I have not had to see her walking around the bedroom in her underwear knowing that I wasn’t getting any of that.

I would say that she pretty much has always been rejecting of me. She didn’t even want to have sex our wedding night. Not only that, we probably only had sex, maybe 3 times, our entire honeymoon week and I remember being upset about that.

For the most part, sex rejection on her part has always been a problem. I wish I would have had this advice years ago. Some people might wrongly think “Wow, you have 6 kids. Your marriage’s sex life must be great.” Not true. It has been horrible. What is sad is that she was much more affectionate before marriage. I assumed that I was marrying someone that would enjoy sex. That has not been the case.

She wanted all of the kids and was more willing to have sex when she wanted to get pregnant. But, as stated before, it never has been good as far as a willingness on her part – mostly rejection. And that has been another problem where she has elevated the kids way above the marriage. I love my kids, but not more than my wife.

I really want a companion that is a friend and lover and have never had that…

Mark’s experience with marriage counselors

“I put up with it (the perpetual sexual rejection), just praying away and hoping that God would intervene. But after 17 years, I threw in the towel. I was extremely frustrated. I said hurtful things to my wife and began to just do my own thing. I was never unfaithful but did not care about hurting her feelings. After about 2 years of that, realizing that that was not the way to go, I sought marriage counseling for us. The pastor (now her pastor, not mine) stated something like “Well, you can’t expect your wife to want to have sex with you if there is no relationship.”

I now realize how bad this advice was/is. This was just what my wife wanted to hear. This really angered me, because my wife has never wanted a relationship. She is just so different from probably most women. I actually have been the one that has wanted a relationship (even outside of sex). Over the past 5 years we have been through 5 different marriage counselors. We are about to have another session tonight with our 5th counselor. However, at our last session with the marriage counselor (who has been good at seeing both sides, not just the woman’s) I stated that this is it. I am drawing a line in the sand. If my wife (with her present to hear me) wasn’t willing to make any effort at reconciliation, that I was through and would be looking for a lawyer. I finally manned up…

By the way, we were sent to an expensive 3 day weekend ($1500) “Counseling Ministry” in Brown County, Indiana called Twelve Stones. It was absolutely terrible. Again, I tried to explain that my reaction to my frustrations of not getting any sex with my wife had caused my bad behavior toward my wife. I explained to them that the root problem was my wife’s perpetual rejection of sex. Well, they basically swept it under the rug and wanted to almost exclusively focus on me and my sinful reactions, etc. Upon my return home, I talked with 3 other men that had been to Twelve Stones and they all stated basically the same thing of how the focus was on the man, and very little on the woman. Tell your readers to avoid that place if their church, pastor, or elders recommends it…

My wife has stated that she clams up and does not want a relationship (of any kind) because she thinks that I am overly controlling (this was true some times in the past). I have repented of that. She also stated that is “isn’t safe” to talk to me about anything. She does see me as a male chauvinist, even though my view of husband leadership is based upon the scriptures, which she should certainly know because we have been in bible teaching churches our entire married life.

However, she does not like me to be a strong leader. I have really become a subdued wimp over the past couple of years in order to appease her. My oldest son, who does not live at home any longer and is well aware of the marital problems stated that he could not believe how subdued and wimpy I am these days. He said that one of the things that made him proud of me is how I was a good leader and strong in my convictions and how I taught him how to be a man’s man…

Mark recently sent me this update to what was previously stated:

“Last night’s counseling session was our last. Even the counselor sees the futility in continuing when my wife wants nothing to do with reconciliation or repentance. It is really hurtful to me that she does not see any need on her part to repent of such deep seated bitterness and also disobedience regarding the sexual rejection – in particular. I have gone to every possible effort to demonstrate my repentance and desire to save our marriage. It is really sad…

I believe that most, if not all, of this has happened because of feminism which has infected my wife’s thinking. She struggled for years with submission, but then the wrongful counseling is what cemented the wrong thinking. It is sad…

Thank you very much. I just don’t think most people, even Christians, realize what good you are doing. You will have the feminists after you for sure…

I do want my story out there though. Maybe it can help someone else and save their marriage or prevent some marriages for men that are planning to marry the wrong woman.”

My response to Mark and other men who face similar situations

Mark sent me this in as a response to my post “8 steps to confront your wife’s sexual refusal” which I am thankful to say is making an impact for Christ against the scourge of feminism that has infected our culture over the last century.

While I have seen many emails and stories from men about long term sexual denial from their wives I think Mark’s story highlights the problem of feminism in the church.

Thankfully the Pastor of the church I attend would not have such a cavalier attitude toward sexual denial and there are still Bible practicing churches that will call women to account for this. But Mark raises a great point which leads us to this question – “What if your Church is infected with feminism and false modern views of marriage as opposed the Biblical model of marriage?”

As I pointed out in a previous post, our Church leaders do not always follow the Scriptures and often times they will bow to cultural pressures and not preach and teach the entire counsel of God. This is why we need to be as the Bereans were when they received the Word of God from the Apostle Paul and they compared it to the Old Testament Scriptures to verify it was true before they accepted it.

“And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” – Acts 17:10-11 (KJV)

Mark did the right thing and searched the Scriptures and found in fact that what his Pastor was saying and how his Pastor was advising his wife was in fact “not so” from a Biblical perspective. His Pastor was flat wrong on this issue and was blinded to his own feminist view of marriage.

The husband is always the villain in modern marriage counseling

This is one of the biggest problems with marital counseling in modern times. It all about feelings and nothing about sacred duties to one another. The man is not making his wife “feel such and such” therefore she cannot be blamed for her actions.

You can see the complete and utter deafness to his concerns in his first Pastor’s response to their marital issues. Mark explains that after 17 years of denial, he threw in the towel and said some things toward his wife that were not right. Then after 2 years of just being angry and speaking wrongly to her he realized they needed counseling. So he goes to their Pastor and after explaining that his wife had been sexually denying him for 17 years before he threw in the towel for the last 2 years this is what his Pastor came away with:

“Well, you can’t expect your wife to want to have sex with you if there is no relationship.”

If I were Mark – my head would have exploded. He admits he was wrong for his behavior for the past two years, but the Pastor completely failed to see how he had put in all the effort of praying for his wife and trying to please her for the previous 17 years while she continued to deny him sexually!

“The Quiet Man” (1952) has always been one of my favorite movies since I was a child. In that movie a newlywed wife (played by Maureen O’Hara) goes to talk to her local town priest about her marriage troubles to her new husband (played by John Wayne). The priest’s reaction is the complete opposite of what most Christian Pastors and counselors would have toward sexual denial. She whispers in his ear that she has been denying her husband because she was upset at him for some things he was not doing and the priest went NUTS! He was yelling and screaming at this young wife.

The point is there was a time in our culture before the last 70 years or so that if a man and woman came into a priest or pastor and he heard sexual denial was going on he would hear nothing more and tell that woman to go home and do her duty with her husband.

Today unfortunately we have a lot of Pastors who may be brave in speaking out against many social wrongs but are cowards when it comes to preaching on the duties of husbands and wives toward each other in the bedroom and also confronting women in counseling for lack of submission in the bedroom.

The roots of Mark’s wife’s problems

Mark has admitted here as well as in other emails to me that he was not the perfect husband nor would he claim to be. I always ask men who email me when their wife’s sexual issues began and if it was from the very beginning of their marriage. I often ask “how was sex on your honeymoon?” as this can indicate where issues began.

In some marriages the sex is great in the beginning, including the honeymoon and into the first few years of marriage. Then after those first few years is when issues sometimes arise. Now sometimes the man does have some blame in the sense that he becomes neglectful of his wife and never wants to talk with her (know her) and spend time with her outside the bedroom.

Now this is not to say that a wife is justified in withholding sex from her husband, even under those conditions. Two wrongs never make a right. A husband must know his wife (talk to her) and a wife must have sex with her husband. Neither are prerequisites for the other – they stand independently from each other.

But in our sinful natures as men we will often clam up and not talk to our wives when they deny us sexually. And in the same way wives in their sinful natures will often deny their husband’s sexually when their husbands don’t make an effort to talk with them or spend time with them outside the bedroom.

But from what we can see in Mark’s account – his wife had problems in the sexual arena on day one of their marriage. She didn’t want to have sex on their wedding night! Now I know I will hear from some people and I have in the past heard of couples who did not have sex on their wedding night because she was too stressed out and tired from the wedding. But the next day and the following days she made it up to her groom.

I am not saying your marriage is cursed if your wife says no on your wedding night, but that is certainly never a good start to a marriage. There are going to be a lot more tiring and stressful days throughout the rest of your marriage and if she starts the trend on your wedding night – watch out! You might be in for some trouble.

And from a Biblical perspective, the marriage is not consummated until the husband and wife have sex. So technically speaking you were not husband and wife on your wedding night – vows don’t mean squat without the act of marriage sealing the deal.

It seems from Mark’s account the only time his wife wanted to have sex was when she wanted to get pregnant. How many men have heard this tune before? And she wanted all six kids!

It appears unfortunately for Mark, that like so many men (Christian and non-Christian alike) he was simply an accessory she needed to complete her life’s dream of having a big family and home schooling them.

Mark’s wife needed the man to bring home a paycheck for her and make sure she had everything she needed for her home. He was the sperm donor to supply her with the raw material for having the six kids she wanted. He was the father to pose for family pictures, help take care of the kids and fix things around the house and supply whatever the family needed.

In return for his services to her causes, she determined that she would gracious supply him with her body 8 times a year for sexual relief that had nothing to do with producing children.

But what she did not need was a husband. What she did not need was lover. She did not need someone trying to lead her or tell her what to do. Oh no, she would have none of that. And if Mark did not appease his wife and do what she said, he would get sex even less than the eight times a year!

The common thread in this story with every other story I have received from men facing sexual denial is a lack of submission on the wife’s part. It started on day one of their marriage. Yes Mark did act sinfully at some points down the road by his own admission, and he repented of it and tried to restore the marriage.

If a wife is truly submitted to God’s design for marriage then she will submit to her husband “as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). The first act of submission a wife makes to her husband in accordance with her submission to God is to submit her body in the act of marriage (sex). This forms the foundation for all other types of submission in 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)

I pray that if you are husband reading this you will have the courage to do as Mark did and search the Scriptures on this issue. I pray that you will see that this is about so much more than sexual denial, but rather it is about confronting sin and rebellion against God’s design and model in marriage. Do not be lead astray even to capitulate to this sinful behavior even by well-meaning Pastors, counselors and even relatives.

Counseling can be good, but only if it is Biblically based. When you see out counseling go and vet the counselor first to see they believe in the Biblical model of marriage. If you do not, then a counselor who rejects the Biblical models of love and marriage could actually do more harm than good.

If you are a wife reading this and you recognize any part of yourself here in denying your husband sexually you need to repent and ask God and then your husband to forgive you. You need to humble yourself before God, and then accept that God has placed husband over you as your head just as Christ is the head of the Church. God wants you to submit to your husband in “every thing”.

“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. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” – Ephesians 5:23-34(KJV)

One you have repented and humbled yourself before God as well as your husband make every effort to be as the wife of Proverbs 5:18-19 and ravish your husband with your body. This will transform your marriage and give it a new life like you have never experienced.

“Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.” – Proverbs 5:18-19 (KJV)

The Church, Women and Barbeques

Imagine that you had a neighbor that had barbeque parties all summer long in his backyard. You like to barbeque too. But there is a world of difference between what he gets to cook on his barbeque and what you get to cook on yours. He cooks steaks every weekend, but you can only afford hamburgers.

By now you have probably honed your hamburger making skills to a science. You make the best barbequed hamburgers for your wife and children. But hamburgers will never be steaks.

Your neighbor makes a lot more money than you. He gets the best cuts of steak every weekend to make for his wife and their friends. Every weekend as you cook in your backyard you can see those sizzling steaks. The aroma is intoxicating. You can imagine just sinking your teeth into one of those steaks and how awesome it would be.

But you never allow your thoughts to turn to covetousness toward your neighbor’s steak. Instead you thank God each week for the ability to buy and cook those hamburgers that you have down to a science.

But what if you allowed your thoughts about those steaks to go to a different place? What if you started to imagine scenarios where you could sneak over there in your neighbor’s yard and grab one of those steaks off the grill? He and his wife go in their house all the time to get things for their party, you could wait till their gone for a second and take one. Maybe you act on this thought, maybe you don’t. It does not matter – what you have just experienced is a covetous thought.

Do you see where imagination moves to covetousness? God created us as human beings with an imagination. God also gave us a natural desire for and pleasure from the sights, smell and taste of food. But our sin nature will take something that God intended for our pleasure (our imagination and the pleasure we get from the sights, smell and taste of food) and corrupt it into wicked and covetous thoughts.

Covetousness takes our God given desires and corrupts them into the desire to possess those things which he has not given us to possess. Covetousness then moves from the desire to possess into imagining in our mind ways we could take possession of that thing which does not belong to us. Covetousness does not require that we actually act on any imaginations of possession, even just the imaginations in this case become sinful.

The Bible tells us to enjoy the blessings God has given us in the book of Ecclesiastes:

“Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.

Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.” – Ecclesiastes 5:18-19 (KJV)

God tells us in his Word that it is “good and comely” to enjoy the gifts he has given us. Some of those gifts include food and drink, our jobs and houses. The old English word comely is a translation of the Hebrew word “Yapheh” which literally means “beautiful or handsome”. God literally finds it “good and beautiful” when we as his creations enjoy the many gifts he has bestowed upon us – and one of those gifts is our ability to imagine things and also our ability to enjoy the sights, smells and taste of our favorite foods.

So what do Steaks have to do with women and the Church?

Well let’s change up our story a bit. Sure you like steak. But you notice something even more attractive than the steak your neighbor is cooking and that is wife.

“That’s wrong! That is lust! That is totally different than enjoying the sight of your neighbor’s steak. She is person man! Get your mind out of the gutter! She is a person for whom Christ died, not some object for your sexual viewing pleasure!” – This would be the reaction from many Christians and even some non-Christians.

Let’s say you had one of your friends over with wife for a barbeque. Your wife and his wife are chatting away in the house while you and your friend stand around the barbeque chatting. Your friend mentions “Boy those steaks you neighbor has cooking look great!” and you reply “And so does his wife.” If your friend has been in a typical Christian Church for any length of time he might mention Matthew 5:28 to you.

“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” – Matthew 5:28 (KJV)

Your fellow Christian Brother might then point out to you “This verse means that if you look with lust on any woman you are not married to you are committing adultery in your heart. You see In Christianity, it’s the intentions, just as much as the actions that are important.”

Now many people think of lust in our modern English terms as having to do completely with sexual thoughts but in the Bible however lust is not always talking about sex. So if you were not a really inquisitive person you might leave it at that – take our modern definition of lust, apply it to that verse and from that point on whenever your neighbors’ wife comes in his back yard you would have to look the other way even though it is just as hard as trying to ignore the smell of those steaks sizzling on your neighbor’s grill.

But what if you were like the Bereans?

But what if you were like the Bereans and have searched the Scriptures on this subject of lust – you may have some questions and observations for your Christian brother.

“And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” – Acts 17:10-11 (KJV)

You see the Berean’s would look up everything the Apostle Paul was teaching them from the Old Testament about the coming of the Messiah and his plans for a time when the Gentiles and Jews would form a new body – the Church. They didn’t just take his Word for it – they checked the Scriptures to be sure.

Here are some observations that you could point out to your Christian brother.

Let’s look at Matthew 5:28 in with verse 27 to give it more context:

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” – Matthew 5:27-28 (KJV)

The context of Christ’s discussion on lust was adultery. He first refers to the 7th commandment which forbids adultery.

The Biblical definition of adultery up to this point was when a man had sex with another’s man wife. The marital status of the man was irrelevant. In the Old Testament adultery was never a sin against a wife, it was always a sin against the husband of the other man’s wife(and of course it was sin against God as all sin is ultimately against God).

In the Gospels (Matthew 5:31-32, Matthew 19:3-12, Mark 10:2-12 and Luke 16:18) Christ expanded on the definition of adultery to include when a man wrongfully divorces his wife. His putting her away wrongfully is a newly defined form adultery, as well as the fact that he causes her to commit physical adultery by marrying another man and that man commits adultery because he is taking a woman that is still another man’s wife in God’s eyes.

Going back to Matthew 5:28 Christ gives us another form of adultery – “mental adultery”. But really this was not a new sin, but simply a new label for a specific form of a sin that God had already spoke against in the 10th commandment:

“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.” – Exodus 20:17 (KJV)

So this new type of “adultery in the heart” or “mental adultery” refers to a specific form of covetousness – mainly to covet another man’s wife.

Even the Biblical definition of lust confirms this:

“for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” – Romans 7:7 (KJV)

God’s Gift of Sexuality

In addition to the gift of being able to enjoy the sights, smells and taste of food along with many other gifts God has given us – he has also given us one of two other gifts.

For a chosen few he has given them the gift of celibacy.

“For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.” – I Corinthians 7:7

Celibacy is a gift that is to be used in God’s service and not for one to purposefully and selfishly avoid God’s institution of marriage. The gift of celibacy is God’s ONLY exception to his command in Genesis 1:28 for man and woman to “be fruitful and multiply”, otherwise the rest of us are supposed to be getting married and having kids if it is possible for us to do so.

But the majority of us do not have the gift of celibacy, but rather God has given us the gift of our sexuality. This helps us to fulfill his command to be fruitful and multiply, but that is certainly not the only reason God gave us sex and he could have used a much different means of reproduction.

God has blessed both men and women with his gift of sexuality, but he distributes it differently to men then he does to women. For most women their sexual desire is more emotionally based and for men it is far more physically and visually based. So the way in which men and women experience the gift of God’s sexuality is very different.

“Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:” – Genesis 49:25 (KJV)

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.” – Song of Solomon 1:2 (KJV)

“This thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes. I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof: now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine, and the smell of thy nose like apples;” – Song of Solomon 7:7-8 (KJV)

Breasts in the Scripture have a dual symbolism. In the context of a mother and her child they symbolize nourishment and comfort. In the context of sexuality they represent a woman’s body and the fact that it is a gift of God toward men.

The Scriptures are clear that sexual relations of any kind between a man and a woman are strictly reserved for marriage:

“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” – Hebrews 13:4 (KJV)

But while sexual relations between a man and woman are reserved for marriage alone, this does not mean our sexuality itself is reserved for marriage alone. In other words the focus of all one’s sexual thoughts and sexual energy does not have to be solely directed at one’s spouse.

The Bible does NOT forbid sexual fantasy and sexual imagination. Rather the Bible forbids sexual covetousness which is also referred to as adultery of the heart (mental adultery) or lust.

The Bible condemns sexual imagination that is evil, but not all sexual imagination. We are forbidden from imagining ourselves in sexual acts that are a violation of God’s design of sex. God designed heterosexual sex(sex between a man and a woman), but things like homosexual sex, orgies and bestiality are corruptions of God’s design for sex. Even thoughts of heterosexual sex can be become sinful if they become covetous imaginations(adulterous thoughts).

But aren’t all heterosexual thoughts outside of marriage sinful?

As we just stated God designed sexual relations between a man and woman to be ONLY within marriage.  Some people reason from this that even imaginations of heterosexual sex are reserved only for marriage and only about the person you are married to.  They would say that just as it is wrong to have homosexual imaginations or imaginations about bestiality it is equally wrong to have heterosexual thoughts about someone you are not married to.

But thoughts of heterosexual sex are not wrong in and of themselves.  God created us to desire and think about heterosexual sex – it is his gift to us. It is always the context of heterosexual thoughts that makes them right or wrong.

If you simply have an imaginative thought about what it would be like to have sex with a woman, regardless of if your are married to her or not – there is no sin that. 

It is only when you add more context to that thought where you are thinking of covetous ways that you would actually seduce such a woman(or pay her) to actually have sex with you that now your heterosexual imagination becomes a covetous and sinful thought.

So how does all this relate to our neighbor, his steaks and his wife?

What this means is that in the same way that God designed your brain to get enjoyment from the sights, smells and taste of food he also designed your brain to get pleasure from the sight of women(and not just your wife), the imaginations of heterosexual sex and the act of sexual relations itself. Again while the act of sexual relations is strictly to be within the bounds of marriage as we discussed earlier, the rest of your sexuality is not restricted to only your wife.

What this means for your neighbor, his steaks and his wife is that in the same way you could enjoy the sight of that steak on his grill you can freely enjoy the sight of his wife. Obviously you don’t want to gawk and be rude, but you receiving pleasure from tasteful glances of her beauty is as pure as the driven snow. You are enjoying the gift of sexuality that God has given you within the bounds of his law.

Even if you were to at some point later to have a sexual imagination while you are awake or a sleep it matters not as long as you are not thinking covetous sexual thoughts about her. That would be like fantasizing about befriending your neighbor’s wife (which usually starts with just neighborly talking, then leads to talking about more intimate things, then the flirting and eventually getting her into bed). That is a covetous sexual imagination, that is adultery of heart (mental adultery) and that is lust.

Applications of Biblical truths surrounding Lust

I have shown conclusive evidence from Scripture that lust as it is mentioned in Matthew 5:28 is referring to a specific form of covetousness, mainly to covet another man’s wife. Now certainly within the context of Scripture as a whole we understand all covetousness to be sinful which means it would also be wrong for a woman to covet another woman’s husband. Christ labeled this specific form covetousness as “adultery in the heart” or in other words “mental adultery”.

So what does this mean for Christian men when it comes to them enjoying the view of a woman whether she is right there before their eyes or the woman is simply an imagination whether that imagination is just in one’s head, or that imagination comes in the form of a moving picture set (a movie), a still picture or a painting?

It means that not all imagination is sin. In fact our ability to imagine, even outside the context of sexual imagination is a gift from God.   As long as we don’t sit with our heads in the clouds all the time to the neglect of our other responsibilities to our wife and children, our churches and jobs there is no sin in this.

“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” – I Corinthians 6:12 (KJV)

That means if you are watching the Avengers movie and you are imagining how cool it would be to be in that Ironman suit saving the day there is no sin in that.

This means if you are watching a movie like Fury (a World War II movie) and you imagine yourself on that tank mowing down Nazis with that machine gun there is no sin in that.

It also means if you are watching a movie that has a beautiful woman in it having sex with a man and you imagine yourself having sex with her the way he is – again there is no sin this.

The reason this is not sin has to do with a statement we referenced earlier.

“In Christianity, it’s the intentions, just as much as the actions that are important.” So what are your intentions when you are imagining yourself in the position of that man on that moving image set (movie) having sex with that woman? Is your intention to go find out who the inspiration was for that image (the actress) and find her address and pay her to have sex with you?(fornication) Or is your intention only to enjoy the imagination of her and you have no covetous intentions towards her?

If you have no covetous imagination or intentions towards the actress that inspired that movie there is no sin in your imagination. It is a gift from God. These are pure thoughts as God has designed your mind to receive pleasure from thoughts of normal heterosexual between a man and woman.

Now if you spend all your time thinking about sex with that woman or other women or even your wife to the neglect of your other responsibilities than then you have violated the principle of I Corinthians 6:12 and have come “under the power” of your sexual imagination(this would be by definition sexual addiction).

Addressing the jealousy of wives toward their husbands

While jealousy certainly affects both men and women it does not mean men and women are equally jealous of the same things. For instance most men would not mind if their wife thought the actor Chris Hemsworth was attractive. In fact most men, unless they are taught to be jealous(like through church teaching or others), would not mind a bit if their wife got sexually excited by watching a Chris Hemsworth movie and she wanted to have sex with them.

However if you put a typical woman (not all women) in this same position she would have a very different reaction. If her husband were to watch a Megan Fox movie which made him want to have sex with her many women would be offended by the idea their husbands were thinking sexually of another woman.

In fact I have a Pastor friend of mine whose wife forbid him from watching anymore Transformer movies when she figured out that Megan Fox was putting him in the mood. Unlike some of my other Pastor friends, he has not able to break free of the Church’s incorrect teaching on what lust is and he felt his wife was right and that he was lusting after Megan Fox and he was in the wrong.

So the million dollar question here is which person is wrong? Is the husband wrong for having sexual imaginations about any other woman than his wife? Or is the wife wrong for being upset about her husband having sexual imaginations about women other than herself.

Biblically speaking jealousy is not always wrong. If something belongs to us then it would not necessarily be wrong for us to be jealous of that thing. God shows himself jealous toward his people because his people belong to him and they owe him their worship.

But does a man’s sexual imagination belong to his wife? Are all his thoughts regarding sex to be of her and her alone? The answer scripturally speaking is no. Therefore his thoughts and sexual imaginations are between him and God and as long as he does not allow his sinful nature to corrupt his natural sexual imagination there is no sin and his thoughts remain pure.

Because of this a woman has no right to be jealous of her husband’s sexual imaginations. This is in fact a sinful and selfish jealousy of her wanting to be the only woman he would ever think of sexually.

Some may try and point to this verse as saying a wife does have a right to compel all of her husband’s sexual imagination toward her:

“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.” – I Corinthians 7:4 (KJV)

The “power” spoken of here is the power to have sexual access to your spouse’s body. A wife is to have sexual access to her husband’s body and as he is to be able to have sexual access to hers. This does not remove his headship (Ephesians 5) over her nor does it give her control of his thoughts or desires.

Another argument I hear often about jealous wives comes from people who oppose the Scriptures I have shown demonstrating that God allowed and condoned polygamy (more specifically polygyny) in the Bible. Their argument usually goes like this “polygamy never works because it always causes jealousy by women when their husbands take other wives”. What these same people never consider is –were those wives justified before God in being jealous of their husbands having other wives?

The answer Biblically speaking is no they were not right in being jealous of their husband’s other wives. We even see that God blessed a wife in Scripture for overcoming her jealousy of her husband and giving him another wife!

Leah was always jealous of Jacob’s affection toward his other wife Rachel. In truth God saw sin on both sides in Jacob not giving Leah the love she was due and God gave Leah children while leaving Rachel barren to prove his point to Jacob. But Leah at the same time was also wrong in her jealousy over Jacob. God stopped Leah from having any more children. Then she overcame her jealousy and gave her servant Zilpah to Jacob as another wife. God rewarded her for overcoming her jealousy and opened her womb again to give her another child.

“Then Leah said, “God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband.” So she named him Issachar.” Genesis 30:18(NIV)

How many women today could have done such a thing and give their husbands another wife? Yet today in our post Roman culture (which eliminated polygamy from most of the western world) women will not even tolerate their husband’s thinking of another woman, yet alone would they give him another wife.

It is certainly something to ponder.

See these other related articles

How should Christian women respond their men looking at other women

What is Lust of the Eyes in I John 2:16

Was polygamy a sin God overlooked in the Old Testament?

7 Ways to Discipline Your Wife

Biblically speaking all those who are under various authorities can and should be disciplined by those authorities. The husband wife relationship is no exception to this rule. So how should a Christian husband go about his duty of disciplining his wife whom God has placed under his authority? This is a question that we will seek to answer here.

When we hear the word discipline in the context of wives this can be a scary term for many. It invokes images of husbands beating their wives and knocking them around or locking them in closets. It might invoke images of husbands standing over their wives yelling and screaming at them and using all kinds of obscenities. This is not the type of discipline that we are talking about in a Biblical context. Men who behave in such ways will answer to God for this abusive treatment of their wives.

Arguments against the discipline of wives by their husbands

Before we can get into how to discipline your wife as a Christian husband we need to address the arguments against any form of discipline by husbands toward their wives.

Argument #1 A Partner cannot discipline their other partner

The first and most common argument against Christian husband’s disciplining their wives is the belief that a husband and wife are equal partners in marriage. The Bible does not show marriage as a partnership, but rather a Patriarchy (male lead hierarchy). See my post “Is Marriage a Partnership or a Patriarchy?” for all the Scriptures that present marriage as a Patriarchy and not a partnership.

Argument #2 Discipline infantilizes a wife

Some would argue that if a man disciplines his wife in any way that this is treating her (an adult) as a child. This could not be further from the truth. The discipline of a wife is certainly different than that of a child and we will discuss that later in this post.

But discipline is something that applies to adults as well as children. Governments have the power to discipline their adult citizens, military commanders have the ability to discipline adults under their command, Churches have the power to discipline their adult members, and employers have the right to discipline their adult employees. Discipline applies to all of us as adults – both men and women.

No one would argue against discipline in these other spheres of authority or say that it infantilizes these adults.   Certainly there is also the potential to abuse one’s authority and discipline in wrong ways, but the exercise of discipline itself is not wrong, only the abuse of it is.

Argument #3 A wife’s submission to her husband is voluntary, therefore he cannot discipline her

Even some Christian complementarians and others who believe in male headship in marriage reject the husband’s right and responsibility to discipline his wife. They do so based on their belief that while a wife is commanded by God to submit to her husband, this is a voluntary submission on her part and cannot be compelled from her husband.

So in their reasoning if a husband cannot compel his wife’s submission, he cannot discipline her for failure to submit to his leadership. I have shown how the Scriptures refute the idea that a wife’s submission is voluntary but rather they show that her submission is mandatory and synonymous with obedience. See my previous post “Should a Christian husband make his wife submit?” for more on this subject.

Argument #4 Christ does not discipline his bride

Some Christians, both complementarians and egalitarians, have attempted to argue that since we have no examples of Christ disciplining his bride (which is the Church) that husbands ought not to discipline their wives. This is actually not true.

Throughout the Scriptures God pictures his relationship with his people in two primary ways. The Bible pictures our relationship with God as individuals as that of a Father and his children. The Bible pictures God’s relationship with his people as a group as that of a husband and a wife with God being the husband and the people of God being his wife.

In the Old Testament God made a covenant with and married Israel as a nation (Ezekiel 16:1-14). Later he shows he had to divorce Israel because she failed to repent of her wicked ways and return to him (Jeremiah 3:8) despite the discipline that he had brought on Israel.

In the New Testament God has a new bride which is foretold in the Old Testament prophecies. But the Church (which a new body compromised of the remnant of Israel and Gentile believers) is pictured as bride that is betrothed to her husband which is Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 11:2). The marriage and consummation of the Church with Christ is seen in the marriage supper of the lamb in Revelation 19:9.

Even as a betrothed bride, Christ disciplined his Church through his Apostles who acted as the protector and guides of his bride.

“I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.” – II Corinthians 11:2 (NIV)

“What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?” – I Corinthians 4:21 (NIV)

When speaking to his seven churches in Revelation (chapters 2 & 3) Christ rebukes and disciplines all but one because of their failings and Christ says this to his churches:

“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.” – Revelation 3:19 (NIV)

So my point in all this is – Those who say God does not discipline his bride are ignoring passages of Scripture that show both in his previous marriage to Israel as well as his current betrothal to the Church that he in fact does discipline his bride.

My position on wife spanking

While I do not support all the methods prescribed by Christian Domestic Discipline (CDD) movement (a group that advocates for wife spanking and other physical discipline toward wives) I do not think wife spanking by itself is sinful.  I do not practice this myself at this time with my wife.   But I do know some godly Christian couples that use this in their marriage with the wife’s consent.  I have written an entire article on this subject that you can read “Does the Bible allow a husband to spank his wife?

Different Types of Discipline for Different Spheres of Authority

The discipline from each authority that God has established looks very different. The types of discipline that a government can bring on its citizens looks very different than the discipline that church authorities can bring on their members. The discipline of an employer toward his employees looks very different than the discipline of parents toward their children. In the same way a husband’s discipline toward his wife will look different that the discipline used in these other spheres of authority.

But what all these spheres of authority have in common is this:

In every sphere of authority God has established that the authority has not only the right, but the duty to discipline those under their authority.

Discipline makes us a better person

The Bible has a lot to say about discipline. These are just a few of those passages.

“Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.” – Proverbs 10:17 (NIV)

“Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.” – Proverbs 13:18 (NIV)

“Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.” – Proverbs 15:32 (NIV)

Discipline should be measured

“I am with you and will save you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only in due measure; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.’” – Jeremiah 30:11 (NIV)

As husbands our discipline should always start off gently and then move toward harder forms of discipline. So for instance, if your wife rarely speaks in a disrespectful or demeaning tone to you then if she slips up gently let her know that her tone was demeaning or disrespectful. If she apologizes then no further action is needed.

But what if your wife is acting defiant or publicly speaks disrespectfully toward you as her husband? In this case a Christian husband may be compelled to use harder forms of discipline.

Discipline is about holiness

Christ did not sacrifice himself for his bride (the Church) in order for her to follow her own selfish ways, but rather he sacrificed himself to make her holy.

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

– Ephesians 5:25-27(KJV)

As we previously mentioned God says this to his churches in Revelation:

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

No man who truly loves his wife takes pleasure in disciplining her. We as Christian’s husbands naturally want to see our wives happy we don’t want to rock the boat needlessly. This is why discipline on the part of a husband toward his wife if he is truly acting in love is a sacrifice on his part. It saddens him to have to take these measures with his wife whom he loves.

Discipline is about maintaining Order

I think the comparison of the family structure to military ranks is both Biblical as hupotasso (the Biblical term for submission in marriage) is a military term and it helps us to understand the discipline in the home as well.

God is like our General (4 star). In the home the husband would be like a Lieutenant General (3 star), and the wife would be like a Major General (2 star). The children would be the enlisted men. Imagine that a 4 star General came along and saw a 2 star General publically degrading her 3 star General in front of other officers or the enlisted men. What do you think the response would be from that 4 star General?

That 4 star General would first scold the 2 star General for her disrespect and then he would probably scold the 3 star General for allowing the disrespect to go on. It is the same with God as he looks at the relationships of husbands and wives.

He has given us different positions and we are to exercise and play out those parts he has given us. As a Christian husband you cannot allow your wife’s demeaning or disrespectful behavior to go unchecked because it is an affront to God’s established order. You are responsible for teaching both your wife and your children the ways of God. You are equally responsible for disciplining your wife and children when they rebel against God’s ways.

So now that we have addressed the arguments against a Christian husband disciplining his wife as well as the intended purpose of a husband disciplining his wife we can now look at practical examples of how a Christian husband can discipline his wife.

7 Ways to Discipline Your Wife

Discipline toward your wife should always start with the gentlest approach first and only move toward harder forms of discipline if the gentle approach does not yield results. Warnings should always be given before harder types of discipline are implemented. You should always pray and seek the Lord’s guidance before bringing these types of discipline on his wife.

Here are 7 ways you can discipline your wife if a gentle rebuke does not work:

#1 For Disrespect

If your wife is speaking in disrespectful and demeaning ways in public in front of others (whether this is toward you or others) this might require a public rebuke of her tone and actions.

#2 For Overspending

If your wife is spending money against your wishes – this may require confiscation of her credit cards and ATM cards. Of course this can be done in measured amounts. Perhaps you might just take away one or two cards that she has abused and if her spending continues to get out of control you would move toward removing the ATM card as well. This does not necessarily mean she would have no money, but you could give her a cash allowance each week.

#3 For failing to care for your children or contradicting your authority with your children

If your wife is failing to do her duties as a mother toward your children or she is continuing to contradict your authority with the children then perhaps you might put off buying that new car for her and have her continue driving her older car for a while as long as it is safe for her to drive. If you have to purchase another car – you could downgrade the type of car she will be able to get or buy her a used one instead. Maybe you put off the purchase of that new dishwasher she has been wanting.

#4 For too much TV watching

If your wife is watching too much TV you could cancel the cable or satellite TV and just have antenna service.

#5 For too much online time

If your wife is spending too much time online (like Facebook or other social outlets or online shopping) then if she does not respond to your warnings about this you could change your internet code on your router so that her devices will not have access to the internet.

#6 For neglect of the home

Maybe your wife is not watching too much TV or spending too much time online but she is still neglectful toward her duties in your home. If your wife is being neglectful of her duties to care for your home then you might put off that new living room furniture set you have been talking about or those new window dressings she has been wanting.

#7 For sexual denial

If your wife is un-submissive in the sexual arena and chronically denies your sexual advances (without legitimate medical or psychological reasons for doing so) then perhaps that upcoming trip you were going to take her on gets canceled. Maybe that wardrobe upgrade your wife was looking forward to gets downsized or canceled. The Bible says a man has to supply his wife with clothing, but it does not say it has to be the expensive clothing she wants!

Some of these disciplinary procedures may affect the family as a whole, but sometimes it is necessary to do this in an attempt to bring your wife to repentance.

These are just some examples of non-abusive ways that a Christian husband can discipline his wife in a way that honors God and his design for the home.

Conclusion

God not only give husbands the power to discipline their wives, but he also gives them to the duty to do this. Men should not discipline their wives out some sort of power trip or prideful arrogance. Instead men should discipline their wives from a place of love in order to bring about holiness and order in their homes. Even if a wife rejects her husband’s discipline as Israel did God as her husband – he should still discipline her and pray that God will bring his wife to repentance.

Update 10/20/2015

Answers to readers questions

What if a wife works and makes her own money or even makes more money than her husband?

Many have emailed and asked me “What if a wife works and makes her own money or even makes more money than her husband – wouldn’t that take the teeth out of most of these types of discipline?”

Discipline is not about controlling someone and physically forcing a person to do a certain thing. Discipline is about trying to motivate someone to choose to do the right thing.  I have teenage sons and they are both bigger than me now. I gave up trying to physically make them do anything many years ago.

Now I discipline them through very similar discipline to that which I could use with my wife.  I take away their laptops sometimes for a few days, other times I take away their cell phones for a few days.  Now could my son’s physically refuse to hand over things, or work around any punishment I gave them? Absolutely.

But my sons submit to my discipline because as angry and rebellious as they can be at times, they know that God has placed me over them to look out for their spiritual and physical good and they know I love them.

I hear from women all the time – “well if you took this away, I would just do this…and so on”.  Yes whether they be young adults (teens) or older adults we all must decide if we will submit to and learn from discipline what the person in authority is trying to teach us.

Wives must choose to submit to discipline – there is no question.  I am not saying it is optional or voluntary, God requires women to submit to the discipline of their husbands. But a husband cannot physically control his wife or her actions.

However just because a husband cannot physically control his wife, he is still required to do as much as is in his power to do as her husband to bring discipline into her life that will show her the right path.  Now she can either rebel against that discipline and try and go around it, or she can learn the lesson that is meant to be learned by the discipline.

When a husband has done everything he can do as his wife’s immediate authority, then he leaves her in the hands of her higher authority which is God himself.

One last thing on the area of finances.  Yes your wife might work.  Yes she may make more money than you. But if she is mishandling the money you have an obligation to a least separate your money from hers so she will not be able to use it for sinful or reckless purposes.

But won’t discipline attempts by a husband toward his wife ultimately lead to divorce?

Other husbands have emailed in and asked “But won’t these types of discipline ultimately lead to divorce?”

Divorce is always a very real possibility in any marriage, whether discipline takes place or not.

But God does not call us as husbands to abdicate our role as the head of our wives in order to keep our marriage together at all costs. Christ did not sacrifice himself for his church to enable her sin, but to make her holy.

If you allow your wife to believe the threat of divorce will get you to let her continue in whatever sinful behavior she is doing she will use it every time.

In fact the two most powerful tools in the hands of most modern rebellious wives is that of the threat of divorce or the removal of sex.

There are many men in American and western cultures that have been brought to their knees in submission to their wives using one or a combination of these two evil weapons.

Now on the threat of divorce – threats of divorce are not always evil.  If a woman threatens to divorce her husband because he is physically abusing her or her children, or because he refuses to work or provide for his family she is Biblically justified in doing so (there are other valid reasons for divorce as well).

But if she threatens divorce because of unbiblical reasons this makes the threat of divorce a weapon of evil.

At the end of the day you as a husband must stand against sin in your home and your marriage regardless of what consequences may come.  Your wife will then be left with the choice of whether she will rebel against your discipline (and therefore against God’s authority) or she will submit to your discipline and learn from it and the fruit of it will be righteousness in her life.

“Can’t you just talk to your wife like an adult? What is all the need for this discipline stuff?”

I have received many variations of this question since I first posted this article. The answer to that question if you actually read this post is that a husband should always speak to his wife gently at first.

So for instance if a husband thinks his wife is mishandling the credit cards his first action is not to take away the cards.  It is to first speak with her gently.

With many Christian wives the gentle approach is all that is needed.

But are we so naïve to think that every wife will respond to these gently conversations and turn from her sinful behavior, whatever that may be? Is there no such thing as an unrepentant and rebellious sinful wife who tells her husband “where he can stick it” anytime he brings things to her attention?

Many Christians and even non-Christians would have us to believe that wives who do the things I mentioned above do not exist.  The existence of these wives is equivalent to big foot, it’s just a myth in their view.

Others will acknowledge the existence of these kinds of women. But many Christians will say that all a man can do is pray for his unrepentant wife, he is not allowed by God to bring any kind of discipline into her life.  I believe in the power of prayer, and a husband should always pray about discipline he is bringing into his wife’s life.

But if you asked these same Christians if they had a rebellious child or teen if they should do nothing and just pray about it – they would have a very different answer.  The reason is because many Christians have made this “carve out” this special class for wives where they are immune to discipline.

Even a husband is not immune to discipline. But rather his discipline comes from the Church or from civil authorities.  For instance if a wife is being physically abused by her husband she has every Biblical right to go to her husband’s authorities in the Church and in civil government to seek help and for them to discipline him.

Update 3/29/2016

What if finances are tight is there any other way a wife can disciplined?

As of today, this post by itself as received almost half a million views since I first published it back in October 2015. I have had countless emails from Christian men asking me to clarify things as well as address their specific situations.

One of the issues that has been raised is how can a man discipline his wife if the finances are tight? What if you are living on a shoe string budget and there is no money for the niceties she may be wanting or what if as I previously mentioned she works and has her own money to do what she wants?

The answer Christian husbands is TIME. Really this could be considered “the 8th way to discipline your wife”. Most women want three things from their husbands – money, time and tokens of affection.  Some women will go without the money, others may even go without the tokens of affection (flowers, jewelry, and other gifts). But few women except for those who married only for money will go without their husband’s time.

So no matter how poor you are Christian husband – in most cases you have a precious and costly item to your wife in the form of your time.  Certainly God wants you to spend time with your wife. In Deuteronomy 24:5 we read that newlywed men were not to go away to war or for any kind of business for the first year of their marriage in order to “cheer up” or as some translations render it “make happy” their wives. I Peter 3:7 tells men to “dwell with their wives according to knowledge” – You can do this without spending some time with her.

I say all this to say that in no way am I saying that you can completely ignore your wife as a form of discipline.  One wrong does not make another wrong right. But you can use discretion with your time.  If you give your wife 5 hours of your free time a week for just the two of you cut it back to 3 hours.  Perhaps there are some TV shows you watch with you wife that you have zero interest in but you just watch them to spend some time with her.  Stop doing this.  There may be upgrades around the house that require more of your time than your money. Perhaps it is repainting rooms.  Leave handy man tasks alone unless they are absolutely necessary.

My point is you know your wife best and where she wants your time – use those times to show her your displeasure in her wrong actions.  You would be surprised at how quickly just the removal of some of your time with her will get the gears in her brain running.

 

Should a Christian husband make his wife submit?

Is a wife’s submission to her husband voluntary? Does God want or allow a husband to compel his wife to submit to his leadership through various disciplinary practices? Does a husband’s headship over his wife come with enforcement powers?

There has been a debate in recent decades amongst those who believe in male headship about whether a husband has any ability to compel his wife to submit to his headship. The topic of “voluntary submission” is often raised in these discussions.

Does the Bible show that a wife’s submission to her husband is voluntary?

Carm.org (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry) has a post that is a good example of this disagreement. CARM definitely believes in and advocates for male headship in marriage and they strongly encourage women to submit to their husbands as seen here:

“Women are not commanded to submit to their husband’s because God insures that men will be just or loving. When a woman submits unto her husband, she is actually submitting unto God (Ephesians 5:22). A woman, therefore, does not submit because her husband deserves it in his own merit. She submits because she knows it is pleasing to her Lord. There will be times when a woman needs to submit and her husband does not deserve it from a human perspective. But by divine right, God set the man as leader, and a woman can trust that God is good. She can also know that nothing escapes God’s notice, and a wicked man will be held accountable for his actions.”

https://carm.org/apologetics/womens-issues/what-does-it-mean-wife-submit-her-husband

But in this same article and another article on the topic of submission CARM takes the position that this submission by a wife is voluntary and cannot be compelled by her husband:

“The Greek word for submission is hupotasso, “to subordinate . . . put under . . . ” God exhorts women to voluntarily follow their husband’s leadership (Ephesians 5:22, 1 Peter 3:1). A woman is actively doing this–choosing to put herself under leadership, choosing to be subordinate in a circumstance or relationship. This is not forced upon her by the recipient.”

https://carm.org/apologetics/womens-issues/what-does-it-mean-wife-submit-her-husband

“First, submission is actually a voluntary action by the wife. Wives are commanded by the Lord to submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22, 1 Peter 3:1). This is a commandment from the Lord. However, there is nowhere in Scripture in which husbands command their wives to submit. A wife chooses to follow her husband’s leadership. Slaves, on the other hand, choose nothing. Their decisions are chosen by their master. When a woman submits to her husband, she is actually submitting to the Lord. It is an act of worship and love for her Savior, not as one of a weakened slave.”

https://carm.org/apologetics/womens-issues/wifes-submission-her-husband-slavery

Before we continue on here let me say where I agree with CARM on the issue of a wife’s submission to her husband. I agree with them that a wife submits to her husband, not because he necessarily has earned or deserves her respect, but because she respects the leadership position God has given him over her. I also agree that Biblical submission does not mean a woman is treated like a slave where she can say nothing and has no opinions about anything. A wife Biblically speaking is not a doormat.

But where I and other advocates of Biblical headship disagree with CARM (and others in their camp) is about the enforcement and disciplinary powers of a husband over his wife. CARM maintains that a husband has no power to compel his wife’s submission and that if his wife will not submit to his leadership a husband is powerless to act against his wife’s rebellion.

But before we can proceed we need to understand what the Greek word hupotasso means as it is used in the original language of the New Testament.

What does hupotasso mean?

The Greek word hupotasso is translated as “submit”, “subject”, “subjection” and “obedient” in our English translations of the Bible.

This is the definition of hupotasso according to Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary:

“to arrange under, to subordinate

to subject, put in subjection

to subject one’s self, obey

to submit to one’s control

to yield to one’s admonition or advice

to obey, be subject

A Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader”. In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”.”

So there are two uses of the hupotasso, one had the idea of military commands like dividing units under leaders and the other is a more voluntary or cooperative type of submission.

Hupotasso, not unlike many words changes its meaning based on the context in which it is used. CARM has chosen to take the second meaning of hupotasso in regard to a wife’s submission. But we need to look at the Scriptures to see if their application of the second meaning of hupotasso to submission in marriage is correct.

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians actually illustrates both uses of the Greek word hupotasso

First it is important to remember that the chapter and verse divisions of the Bible were added many centuries after the Bible was completed (Stephen Langton divided the Bible into chapters in the year A.D. 1227 and Robert Stephanus divided the chapters into verses in A.D. 1551). So the chapter and verse divisions are not given to us by divine inspiration and sometimes they actually cause confusion in understanding the meaning of many passages of the Bible.

In Ephesians chapter 4 Paul is speaking on the unity of the Church as well as the different gifts and offices God gives in the Church:

“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ…

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” – Ephesians 4:4-7 & 11-13 (KJV)

Paul continues his discussion on the unity of the Church and the proper behavior of believers in the body through Ephesians chapter 5 verse 21:

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” – Ephesians 5:19-21 (KJV)

Then in verse 22 of Ephesians Paul goes from his discussion of believers and their relationship to one another in the body of Christ to the family. Paul’s discussion on the Christian home begins in verse 22 of chapter 5 and does not end until Ephesians 6:4. So here is Paul’s jump from speaking on Church relationships to speaking on family relationships in context:

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 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. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” – Ephesians 5:19-33 & 6:1-4 (KJV)

So now let’s go back and revisit Paul’s use of the word hupotasso in Ephesians 5:21-24:

“21 Submitting [hupotasso] yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

22 Wives, submit [hupotasso] yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 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. Therefore as the church is subject [hupotasso] unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

Many who reject the concept of male headship in marriage attempt to soften Paul’s command to wives to submit with verse 21 that precedes his call to wives to submit to their husbands in verse 22. They teach a false doctrine of mutual submission and partnership in marriage.

I agree 100% that verse 21 of Ephesians chapter 5 is talking about mutual submission amongst believers within the assembly because of the context of the previous verses in which hupotasso is used.

But in the context of marriage hupotasso is not used in the “voluntary, cooperative” sense of the word, but rather it is used in the context of the military use of the term in which family members are given their various roles and responsibilities.

Wives are commanded to hupotasso their husbands because their husband is their head(leader) in the same way that Christ is the head(leader) of the Church. Wives are to hupotasso to their husbands in “every thing”.

Children are later told to obey both their mother and father in Ephesians 6:1.

“submit and obey” – a distinction without a difference

Ephesians 6:1 uses a different word than hupotasso, instead it uses the word “hupakouo”.

“Children, obey [hupakouo] your parents in the Lord: for this is right.” – Ephesians 6:1 (KJV)

This is the definition of hupakouo according to Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary:

“to listen, to harken

of one who on the knock at the door comes to listen who it is, (the duty of a porter)

to harken to a command

to obey, be obedient to, submit to”

Some have tried to seize on the use of this word to show that women don’t have to “obey their husbands”, but rather “submit to their husbands”. What they say is “obedience is mandatory, while submission is voluntary”.   But in the Apostle Peter’s first letter he writes:

“For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection[hupotasso] unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed [hupakouo] Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.” – I Peter 3:5-6 (KJV)

The Apostle Peter’s uses hupotasso and hupakouo interchangeably when speaking to the relationship of a wife to her husband. This tells us that those who try and say a wife is to submit to her husband, but not obey her husband are truly guilty of making “a distinction without a difference”.

Even in the case of a master and servant relationship hupotasso and hupakouo are used interchangeably in the Scriptures and no one would argue that slaves had no choice in obeying their masters.

“Exhort servants to be obedient [hupotasso] unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again;” – Titus 2:9 (KJV)

“Servants, obey [hupakouo] in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God;” – Colossians 3:22 (KJV)

Just as a side note – Marriage is also pictured in Scripture as a type of Master/servant relationship – see my post “Is Marriage a Master/Servant relationship?”

In the context of Biblical authority structures whether they be kings, governors, church leaders, masters and yes even with husbands and parents the Bible interchangeably uses hupakouo and hupotasso – there is no difference. In the context of authority and subordinate relationships hupotasso ALWAYS means “mandatory submission” which is also synonymous with obedience.

Now that we have established that within the context of marriage submission by a wife to her husband is just as mandatory as obedience is from children to parents we will look at a husband’s role in regard to his wife’s submission.

So should a husband compel his wife to submit to his authority?

CARM says “there is nowhere in Scripture in which husbands command their wives to submit”. Really? While there are no passages in Scripture where a husband commands his wife saying “submit” there are passages in Scripture where a husband compels his wife’s obedience.

“Only acknowledge your guilt—

you have rebelled against the Lord your God,

you have scattered your favors to foreign gods

under every spreading tree,

and have not obeyed me,’”

declares the Lord.

“Return, faithless people,” declares the Lord, “for I am your husband. I will choose you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion“ – Jeremiah 3:13-14 (NIV)

Throughout most of the Old Testament prophesies God is pictured as the husband and Israel as his wife. God compels his disobedient and unfaithful wife to come back to him and turn to obedience to him.

So it seems in Scripture we have an example of a husband commanding his rebellious wife to return to him and obey him and whose is our example husband as Christian men? Is it not God himself?

In a followup post to this “7 Ways to Discipline your wife” we will discuss more Bible passages that prove that a husband can and should discipline his wife. In that post we will also discuss some practical ways that a husband can and should discipline his wife.

Conclusion

A Christian wife’s submission to her husband is not voluntary, it is mandatory and synonymous with obedience. A Christian husband has not only the power to discipline his wife, but he has a duty to do this.

Loving Through The Pain Episode 1

“To women who feel it is their right to refuse sex, I can only give my thought process. I can be quite the feminist when it comes to certain things, but I don’t think there’s any place for that in a marriage.” – This is a quote from a woman named Angel who recently started commenting on my blog.  I include her full story below that she emailed me and gave me permission to publish this.

I am hoping to make this a continuing series as I get testimonials from married couples who have continued to show physical and sexual love toward one another through various physical adversities they face.

The most amazing thing about her story is that she and her husband are not Christians.  But they instinctively knew what God put in their hearts(even if they did not know his word on the subject of marriage).

Their story reminds me of a passage from Romans:

“(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law.  They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)  This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. – Romans 2:14-16 (NIV)

I am not saying that following God’s law regarding marriage gets you to heaven. The Scriptures are  clear For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. – James 2:10 (NIV)

None of us can keep God’s law perfectly and that is why despite her obedience to God’s laws in marriage(without even knowing it) Angel and her husband still need to trust Christ as their savior.  I hope they will see the wonderful savior we have in Christ as they explore his Word.

With that said here is Angel’s story.

Angel’s Story

Firstly let me just clarify that we are not a Christian couple. In fact, until I read your blog I was quite disparaging of the bible. It was only after reading your blog and seeing that Christian couples hold very similar views and morals to our own that this view is starting to change. I am now reading the bible as is my husband. I felt it important to let you know this from the start as I’m not sure if you are specifically interested in the religious aspect of our relationship.

I will tell you my story but will not be offended if, because we are not a Christian, you choose not to use it.

We have been married for 8 years, we always knew we wanted a traditional marriage, although I have to admit that the first year or two was quite difficult for me. It is one thing to say you want a leader and are happy to acquiesce to that leadership and another to put this into practice.

There are consequences for my behaviour as it is a reflection on his leadership. For instance, if I overspend one month, my budget with be cut the next. Again at first this was difficult to accept but, as we had both agreed before marriage that this is how we believed relationships work best, with a leader and a follower and we both felt the leadership role was the mans, it eventually worked out. I now enjoy the benefits of having a strong relationship and loving guidance. And get genuine pleasure from my husband’s praise, whether that be on how I look or having certain chores done when I’m having a difficult health day. I also feel genuinely sorry if I do something that makes him disappointed.

About a year into our relationship I found out I was pregnant, this ended in an ectopic pregnancy, the operation to remove the tube caused huge health complications which are ongoing. I will suffer severe pain for the rest of my life. Some days are better than others but at least once a month I will have a flare-up, this is the only time that I will ask him for a rain-check sexually, although I hardly ever have to as he is aware when flare-ups happen.

As the leader, he also leads in the bedroom and regularly brings up sexual discussions. How best to please him and how he can best please me. He needs sex or sexual release more often than I do, if we were to wait until I was sexually excited without any help from him, our sex life would be a lot slower.

Part of one of these discussions was me explaining to him that, for me, sexual arousal starts in the mind and so we regularly exchange naughty texts and he seems to delight in whispering naughty things in my ear to embarrass and excite me. He looks at me in a certain way sometimes and I know he wants me.  The upshot of these little things is that I am very regularly looking forward to bedtime without him ever having laid a finger on me.

However there are times when this doesn’t happen, where we get into bed and he makes his desires clear without having indulged in the mental foreplay beforehand. Sometimes I am aroused quickly and its not an issue but then there are times when I am tired or feel particularly sore.

It’s those times that I see it as putting in the effort to make my husband happy and make our marriage work. I could make him feel like I’m doing him a favour, but I don’t see it that way. It is my job as his wife and help-meet (I believe the term you used was help-meet and it resonated with me, that is how I see myself.) to do what I can to keep him satisfied.

In the first instance, if I am tired, I turn over and join in, completely. I’m lucky in that I have a husband who gets pleasure from giving me pleasure, he enjoys my orgasms (my face is red) immensely and very rarely just wants release. These times do happen obviously, sometimes he’s tired and just wants a quickie.  Again, I join in enthusiastically and make sure he goes to sleep satisfied.

When I am in more pain but am not having a flare-up, I make him aware that I am sore before we start. This used to stop him in his tracks until I explained that I only made him aware of it to make sure he treated me more gently. Sex is always painful at these times and so we have a certain position which allows penetration without adding to my pain and so that he cannot see in my face if it causes me more pain. This was my decision as I don’t want him to feel bad and stop.

I haven’t shared with him that I don’t get physical pleasure during these encounters as I would hate to make him feel guilty about something so natural. And again, I get pleasure from satisfying my husband. It may not be physical but it goes far deeper than physical. It can be difficult agreeing to sex during these times as I know it will hurt, but if I didn’t we would hardly ever have sex and I feel that would hurt our marriage far more than the physical discomfort I feel.

The longest he has had to go without sex is about 3 weeks, it was during a flare-up and I had asked for a rain-check but this flare-up just seemed to last so much longer than usual. He was good about it but I knew he was feeling frustrated. We discussed it and he finally allowed me to satisfy him in other ways. As soon as I was able to after everything had settled, I initiated sex and tried to make up for the length of time it had been. We have discussed it and he’s told me that he does get sexually frustrated during my flare-ups but that he doesn’t get cross with me because he knows that I would never refuse him without my pain being bad and that he would rather wait and be frustrated than to add to my pain.

I think it’s really important to have an active sex life. If I allowed my pain to get in the way of that it would change the way we are with each other. Sex is fun and makes you feel good (most of the time) but it’s also an intimate act, a way of strengthening your bond. We giggle during sex, usually about the funny noises our bodies make and the awkward positions we try out. Other people are not included in this, this is our time to be sexy and loving but also goofy and vulnerable. I think giving up sex would be giving up a huge part of the intimacy that keeps a couple strong.

To women who feel it is their right to refuse sex, I can only give my thought process. I can be quite the feminist when it comes to certain things, but I don’t think there’s any place for that in a marriage. You can say “we should only have sex when we both want it” but ultimately this can only damage a marriage. If you are regularly rejecting your husband it will affect his confidence, he will become insecure in himself and will think its because you don’t want him. That is a horrible thing to do to another person, especially the person you have chosen to spend the rest of your life with. And it will lead to affairs and/or divorce.

Just like you have the right to not want sex, he has the same right to want it, why should he have to constantly go without?  If you don’t feel in the mood, do you just not bother to cook for your children? Or go to work? Sometimes in life as well as marriage we have to do things we don’t want to. But the consequences for not doing it make us grit our teeth and do it anyway. And 9 times out of 10 when I’m just not in the mood and he makes advances, it will only take a kiss in a certain place or a (excuse the graphics) well placed finger, for me to become aroused.

Perhaps the next time you aren’t in the mood, make the effort anyway, you may be surprised at how quickly you will start to enjoy yourself. And it will make your husband feel loved and wanted again.  I was in a previous relationship where my partner regularly refused me, he just wasn’t into sex, it might not have had anything to do with me but it totally destroyed my confidence in my looks, personality and sexual ability. I would hate to do that to another person, even accidentally.

Angel

The sacrificial love that Angel’s husband shows to her during her flare ups would put many Christian  husbands to shame. The sacrificial love that Angel shows to her husband by having sex with him even through the pain at times or when she is not in the mood would put many Christian wives to shame.

The way that Angel willingly submits to her husband’s discipline in the area of finances is another thing that would put many Christian wives to shame.

Angel’s story shows that even when non-believers practice God’s design in marriage they reap the benefits of following his design.  If only more believers in Christ who have this plainly set before them in God’s Word would follow their example in this regard.