Counseling Notes are a series of short posts that are often taken from Twitter threads that I’ve done on various topics. The goal of Counseling Notes is to take the short snippets (tweets) I make about Soul Care issues and compile them into one place.
There has been a pattern in “Biblical marriage counseling” I have witnessed for several years now that is deeply concerning. This is pattern is the use of texts like I Corinthians 7:1-16 to argue that women are obligated to give their husbands sex whenever they desire it. This interpretation is often used to pressure women into having sex with husbands who do not respect or honor them. Using this text in this way is spiritually abusive and in light of that I decided to write a Twitter thread about this. A Twitter thread is not a treatise and so my points & exegetical arguments below are by no means exhaustive. In time, maybe on my podcast or Youtube channel, I will do a deeper dive into this issue.
(1) Husbands, your wife does not owe you sex, and you trying to leverage the Bible to get it is spiritually abusive. If you’re members of a church where pastor tries to pressure wives into giving husbands their bodies, you should protect your family & seek to leave said church.
(2) Sexual intimacy should be overflow of desire, not obligation or pressure. You should be relating to your wife in way that cultivates in her a desire for you, a feeling of safety, & openness. Failing to do these things & expecting wife to still desire sex is wildly audacious.
(3) you don’t treat your wife with respect & kindness in order to get sex out of her, but you also shouldn’t expect sex if you don’t treat your wife with respect & kindness. Doesn’t matter how many times you’ve had sex prior, it is still a fresh act of vulnerability every time…
(4) If you cultivate a home environment where your wife doesn’t feel seen, heard, honored, cherished, loved, cared for, or safe; it is 100% understandable if she is also resistant to placing herself in a context with you that requires extreme measures of vulnerability; sex.
(5) Furthermore, if you can treat your wife these ways and still expecting/insist on sex; you are proving that sex isn’t about intimacy to you but about the mere physical pleasure of an orgasm. You are proving that you are inclined to use your wife’s body not honor & cherish it.
(6) It’s not okay, that segments of the church, have established this principle that wives must go against their physiological & psychological instincts that cries out “not safe” and have sex with their husbands despite treatment. Marital sex should never be traumatizing.
(7) And to be clear, there are theologies that promote marital rape and they do it via weaponizing the Bible and this is a serious problem. If marriage is supposed to reflect Christ & the Church, promoting/encouraging marital rape is heresy of the highest order!
(8) Also, it is 100% possible for a husband to objectify his wife. To primarily be interested in your wife’s body & the pleasure it can provide for you rather than being engaged with her entire personhood, affections, & even personal pleasure; is to objectify/dehumanize her. What about I Corinth 7?
1st off, it is important to understand historical & textual context. First off, the original epistle did not have headers or chapter & verse markers. I Cor 7 matters. 6:12 – 7:16 is one thought. I Corinth 7 is a direct response to the sexual immorality prev discussed.
In verse 12 of I Cor 6, Paul is quoting a principle that has been spreading in the church that is cultivating lust; an idea that “all things are lawful”. Folks often miss quotations & assume Paul is making those statements when in reality he’s quoting principle & responding.He responds to principle by saying that just because “all things are lawful” doesn’t mean all things are helpful or that we should give ourselves over to lust. Again, Paul is combating the exploitation of the gospel’s power to liberate from the law that is being done.
Chapter 7 begins w/ Paul doing this again. He has dealt w/ one extreme “sexual immorality” and now he is addressing another extreme, a command for celibacy even among married couples. Paul’s point is that married couples shouldn’t be having sex with other people but eachother. (5) It’s funny how in this text, men live to talk about having authority over wives body but never about how wife has authority over theirs. Paul’s point tho is not about power but about Covenant. He is addressing married couples giving their bodies to other people, even incest.
Paul’s statements in I Cor 7 is a direct response to a specific church consommés by extremes. Married couples are either “swingin’” or one spouse is choosing celibacy based on outside teachings that are presenting sex as inherently impure or evil. That’s what he’s addressing.
What we do find in the same letter just a few chapters forward (I Corinthians 13) is the Apostle Paul laying out what Christian Love is & in that layout he says Love does not insist on its own way, and is patient & kind, etc. men who don’t love their wives expecting sex from them is trash.
Using I Cor 7, a text about sexual immorality & about challenging toxic views of sex in general, is a misappropriation of that text. It requires comprehensively stripping it from his context & reappropriating it for a personal agenda to pressure wives into having sex. It is doubly wicked because it is weaponizing scripture to put women’s body’s in bondage. Toxic interpretations of I Corinthians 7 is no small thing, it is serious.
If you would like to see the original thread, you can do so by clicking below.