by Rich & Deborah Murphy
According to a survey we saw a few years ago, Christian couples who have been married for more than one year have sex with their spouse an average of twice a month. With God's plan for sexual intimacy being to make us one flesh, is this enough? I'm sure we could all offer our own opinion about this, but I'd much rather hear what God's opinion is.
First Corinthians 7:5 says: "Do not refuse and deprive and defraud each other [of your due marital rights], except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, so that you may devote yourselves unhindered to prayer. But afterwards resume marital relations, lest Satan tempt you [to sin] through your lack of restraint of sexual desire." (Amplified) In this verse, God says very clearly:
· Do not avoid sexual intimacy unless it is for a time of prayer and fasting.
· Only avoid sexual intimacy if it is by agreement between both parties.
· If you jointly decide to have a time without sexual intimacy, limit it, so you don't fall into sexual temptation.
Don't think that you can take only one of these statements and use it by itself. God has made it clear that all three of these conditions must be met. Otherwise, any avoidance of sexual intimacy in your marriage is defrauding your spouse.
So, this then raises the question of how long do we fast and pray. Let's be honest. Most Christians today do very little praying, and even less fasting. Even for those who do fast, God hasn't required them to avoid sexual intimacy, only given them the option to do that for him. When they fast, the time that they would normally use in eating or lovemaking is to be used solely for prayer.
Well now, how many meals do you eat a day? If you are like most of us, you eat three times a day, with maybe a snack or two in between. If you fast, it might be for only one meal, or maybe one day. Finding a couple who decides to fast together is even more rare. So, what we actually have, is people (especially women) deciding to abstain from sex for fasting as an excuse, and not even praying during that time. This is an invalid excuse! Don't twist God's Word to give you a loophole. Insead, let God's Word mold you into His Son's image.
Basically, our bodies are designed in such a way that we need to eat every day. We are uncomfortable, and our health can go downhill if we don't. Guess what? If we're not fasting, we have no excuse to avoid sexual intimacy either. Otherwise, our marital health can go downhill, even faster than our body's health will go downhill from avoiding eating. This isn't an issue for pleasure, it is an issue for the health of our marriages!
Right before Paul wrote that couples should only abstain from sexual intimacy for prayer and fasting, he wrote: "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." (1 Corinthians 7:4 KJV) Whether or not you feel like making love is immaterial. Remember, we said that only having sex when one partner or the other is "in the mood" would prevent you from ever moving out of the physical realm in your love life. It is when we make a decision to love our spouse, by sharing our bodies together, that we can truly join together as one flesh.
God's perfect will is for a married couple to have sexual intimacy every day, except when the woman is having her menstrual period.
The Jewish people at the time of Jesus were much more open to talking about sex than we are today. Young people were openly taught about their responsibilities and roles in the sexual relationship. Even the writings of the rabbis spoke of the sexual relationship.
The Talmud is a series of rabbinical writings done about the time of Jesus (both before and after His earthly life). It records a series of many conversations between the most learned rabbis of the day, explaining the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). Since there is much there which is subject to interpretation, the rabbis were attempting to understand and explain these items so everyone could be in agreement. This series of writings is divided into volumes, and is about the size of a set of modern encyclopedias.
Although the Talmud is not scripture, there is some legitimacy to it. First of all, it is written by the most learned theologians of the time, who were earnestly trying to understand God's law. Secondly, it shows us what the Jewish understanding of the scriptures was. And thirdly, nothing that Jesus, or Paul taught is in disagreement with it.
One of the many things that the Talmud talks about is sexual intimacy for a married couple. It specifically states how often a couple should have sex together. The Jewish people understood God's purpose for sex, and were so concerned about His purpose that they made sure everyone would understand His plan.
When the Talmud talks about sexual frequency, it bases it upon the man's occupation. If a man was a sailor, obviously he wouldn't be home every night. Same if he was a traveling merchant. However, for most of the people, then just as now, the man is home from his work every night. In those cases, the Talmud says that a couple should have sexual relations a minimum of once a day. The Old Testament understanding of God's word matches up with Paul's writings in the New Testament.
They also talk about "mutual consent for a time." According to the Talmud, the longest you could do this for was one week, over and above the time of the woman's menstrual period. Why do they say this? The answer is in the second half of 1 Corinthians 7:5 "...But afterwards resume marital relations, lest Satan tempt you [to sin] through your lack of restraint of sexual desire." The only reason that anyone, man or woman, gets involved in an adulterous affair is because they are not getting what they need out of their marriage.
Since we're looking at the Talmud, let's take it a little farther. According to Jewish civil law, a woman had a legal right to take her husband to court for punishment if he didn't consistently satisfy her sexually. What? Why would they do that?
Let's take a look back into the Old Testament. Genesis chapter 28 through 38 tells the story of Jacob, grandson of Abraham. In chapter 29, Jacob marries two wives, Leah and Rachel. Later, in a contest to see which of them could have the most children, Leah and Rachel give Jacob their maids as wives.
There are many polygamous situations in the Old Testament. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that this is wrong, except for those in leadership (although this was never God's ideal plan). Therefore, we can understand that it was a normal, and acceptable part of society in those days. However, in a situation like this, when a man has several wives, he has responsibilities toward all of them. He has no right to ignore one for the others. This is one reason a woman had a legal right to take her husband to court. Otherwise, there would be no recourse for her if she was being ignored.
Now, let's go one step further. Not everyone was in a polygamous marriage. Why would Jewish civil law allow a woman who wasn't in this type of relationship to take her husband to court?
We've already stated that the sexual union is what makes us married. We've also seen that you can become married to someone you don't want to through sex. But, are we one flesh with someone, just because we've had sex with them? No! Although there is a bond, or soul tie, the couple isn't one flesh.
You can have sex with someone for your whole life and never become any closer to becoming one flesh with them. Or, you can have sexual intimacy with someone the first time, and start becoming one flesh with them. The difference is whether you are just having sex, or being intimate.
So, how do you tell the difference? Bonding together as one flesh only happens when both partners are sexually fulfilled. To put it bluntly, you only bond together when the woman has an emotional orgasm. Men will always have an orgasm, although it can vary in intensity, women will only have one when you are being sexually intimate in the soul realm.
Material in this teaching taken from "And God Created Sex" by Rich & Deborah Murphy, Copyright © 1997.
Copyright © 2000 by Richard A. Murphy, Maranatha Life All rights reserved.