1 Corinthians 7:3-7

( The King James Version) 3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. 5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. 6 But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. 7 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.

(The Comtemporary English Bible) 3 Husbands and wives should be fair with each other about having sex. 4 A wife belongs to her husband instead of to herself, and a husband belongs to his wife instead of to himself. 5 So don't refuse sex to each other, unless you agree not to have sex for a little while, in order to spend time in prayer. Then Satan won't be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 In my opinion that is what should be done, though I don't know of anything the Lord said about this matter. 7 I wish that all of you were like me, but God has given different gifts to each of us.

(New Living Translation) 3 The husband should not deprive his wife of sexual intimacy, which is her right as a married woman, nor should the wife deprive her husband. 4 The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband also gives authority over his body to his wife. 5 So do not deprive each other of sexual relations. The only exception to this rule would be the agreement of both husband and wife to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time, so they can give themselves more completely to prayer. Afterward they should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt them because of their lack of self-control. 6 This is only my suggestion. It’s not meant to be an absolute rule. 7 I wish everyone could get along without marrying, just as I do. But we are not all the same. God gives some the gift of marriage, and to others he gives the gift of singleness.

(The New American Standard Bible) 3 Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control.6 But this I say by way of concession, not of command.7 Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.


The above passages pretty much explain themselves by the various translations. Because the use of some words are no longer used in our everyday language; people often get confused when reading the old language and try to comprehend in modern application. I strongly suggest that you use different translations to help you understand the message behind the words. Too many people get hung up on words, and lose sight of the real message.

As we study this passage of scripture for this lesson, there are several points we need to make. Though these particular verses are not touched upon very much in the discussion of "divorce and remarriage", they are important to the discussion of "marriage".

The human sexual drive is a very strong emotion. Unlike the animals that instinctively participate in an activity that has certain human restrictions placed upon it by God. Man has determined that sex is not just for the procreation of the species. Man has determined that this is a very pleasureable thing. Because of this emotion, many have sought ways to engage in such activities. As a result, this activity becomes a source of many sorts of evils. Apparently God knew the potential for those seeking pleasure of all sorts.

In the very beginning, God saw that there was no creature suitable as a help meet for man. No animal was compatible to help man in every way. Thus God created woman. The original design for man was that he would leave his parents and join unto his wife, and start a new family unit.

In Genesis 4:19 we read that the sixth generation from Adam that a person takes two wives. If the Holy Spirit saw fit to make us aware of it, it must be important. Later on as man becomes continually evil, they are destroyed by the flood. Several generations later, we have the confusion of the languages. Even later we find that man has become very depraved once again in certain places. In the valley that contained Sodom and Gomorrah, the sin of homosexuality is exploited and encouraged. Not only with their own inhabitants, but even strangers. God demonstrated to us his acceptance (or lack thereof) of such behavior. Later on, we see as the children of Israel enter the wilderness after their deliverance from Egypt. Some of the laws place upon them were prohibitions of all sorts of sexual behavior. Even within the marriage relationship where sex was permitted, there were laws governing the behavior of husband and wife.

This behavior concerning husband and wife is what we are discussing here in 1 Cor 7:3-7. When a man and woman involve themselves in a marriage relationship, they give themselves into such a relationship. Each of them give themselves to the other. The wife belongs to the husband and the husband belongs to the wife in that relationship. To leave that relationship for sexual benefit is unfaithfulness, adultery, uncleanness, fornication, or what we call "having an affair". This action by the guilty party constitutes grounds for divorce by God today. Under Jewish law, the guilty party would have been put to death.

An important point that needs to be made is that if the wife or husband belong to each other, that they are not treated as a posession. Though the two individuals become one, we must recognize that there are still two spirits or individuals in this relationship.

There must of necessity be an agreement on the part of both parties in whatever activities they, as a married couple, engage in. This "belongs to" is not the same as what you would do with a physical posession.

Take for example "my watch". It is my watch, I can do whatever I want to do with it. I can throw it away, throw it up, or change the settings. I can wear it or I can put it away.

A wife is not a posession of which she has no control. Many men feel that their wives must engage in sex anytime that they want it. The same can be said of many wives. Within this relationship, there should be consideration for the part of the mate. If she says she has a headache, the husband should not get mad and demand that she engage in sex anyways. Neither should she use the excuse that she has a headache for the purpose of depriving her mate of what is rightfully his. Neither party should deprive the other of sexual relations as a form of retaliation. Neither should hold sex as a form of ransome. "If you do this for me, I'll let you have sex." Making sex conditional has taken it out of the proper relationship that God intended for it.

Both parties must be involved in the relationship. Both parties must be understanding in this relationship. And both parties must be compassionate in this relationship. Love returns love, compassion returns compassion, using returns using, and hatred returns hatred. There should be a time in which both parties agree not to participate in sexual activities.

When one becomes so focused upon one thing, that they ignore other things, they have lost control. Husband and wife can monitor the activities of each other and when one determines that the other has no self control, they must seek to bring into reality the proper use of sex in the relationship.

God did not create Eve so that Adam could have sex all the time. God created woman to give man companionship. You might say that sex is just a benefit of this relationship. As the couple grows old together their sexual activities diminish, but their love grows even stronger. The phrase "love is the tie that binds" has far reaching sentiments from the sexual activity we call "making love".

Jesus never discussed this part of the relation within the marriage. Jesus never discussed how to make babies or how to fulfill sexual desires. This is what the apostle Paul means when he is saying this of permission rather than what the Lord spoke or commanded in this relationship.

Immediately after saying this, Paul expresses his wisdom in this matter. Paul feels that celibacy is the best way to be. Paul expresses this sentiment several times in this chapter. However Paul also realized that not everyone had the self control and stamina that he had. Therefore Paul realized that some needed to marry rather than engage in sinful activity. This is what Paul calls "each man has his own gift". Some people would want to remain unmarried, but some would not. This will be discussed in another part of this section.

Return to the New Testament Book of 1 Corinthians

Return to the MDR Index