I Corinthians 7:4 "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."
The context of this passage is sexual. Paul is admonishing both partners not to use sex in any hurtful way against their partner, whether physical or emotional.
God made the pleasure of sex, not for selfish gain, but first to produce a godly seed. But also to be mutually satisfying through pursuing the feelings of your spouse.
I would like to extenuate the thought of the paradox that a husband and wife don't have authority over their own body (but the other does). Kind of grates on our American nerves to even hear such words. We are so much about our rights.
Well, here we have a divine "check mate" (pun intended). Husband, does your wife like your hair a certain way? Does she seem to you, to obsess over your appearance? Your cleanliness? Your SMELL? What you eat? Well, get over it! She has authority over your body. I mean really, can't you deal with a bit of fussing? Can you let her pick that "whatever" off your face? What I've found is that women usually have a pretty good sense of what is appropriate and what looks good (men usually don't as much, even though we think we do and sometimes don't care enough). And by the way, stats prove that married men live longer. Any guess why? Probably because they do better with a balanced diet rather than hot dogs with "the works" and hamburgers riddled with cheese and bacon. So stop complaining and eat your veggies!
But let's not leave out the women here. Women, does your husband like your hair longer? Do you look dowdy? Unfeminine? Christian men don't want to look like they are walking around, hand in hand with another man, despite our society. Does your husband tell you he would like a bit of makeup? Less makeup? What about modesty? Even though most husbands want their wife to look feminine, I would say they don't want them to look like they are "advertising" either, if you know what I mean.
And ladies, listen up. Your husband does not like drama and will do anything to avoid it, if he can. If you continually put up a fuss when he suggests something, he will shut up. He may even seem to tacitly go along with something, when really he would like you to wear or do what he asked a long time ago. Not saying it's right that we shut down like that, but be aware. For example, I have known many men who have some good, even Biblical suggestions for their wives, but they get flack and therefore give in. And it seems a shame because its often obvious that it would be a good thing for her to listen to him.
And so, to summarize this "paradoxical" formula: Husband and wife in a loving competition to see who can please the other best. Or as Paul wrote in Philippians 2: 3-4; "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others." (NASB)
Again, I'm not writing a thesis paper on these subjects. There may be many questions about this or that. My purpose is just to give you food for thought, not to cover every situation.
May God help us to learn to yield our "rights" on those areas that are not moral in the sense of breaking a Biblical principle.
Remember the lyrics to one of Keith Green's songs; "...It's so hard to see when my eyes are on me..."
Have you ever let someone borrow one of your possessions, a book, a tool, or some other valuable device, only to have it come back basically in tatters or disrepair with not seemingly a care from the person you lent it to?
The reality is that our spouse has been given to us by God. It doesn't matter how many negative things you want to say about your spouse. They have been "loaned" to you by God.
Now I was taught that when you borrow something, you should try to return it in better condition than when you got it. If it is a shovel, then clean and oil it before returning it. Whatever it is, try to shine it up a bit. If it is a book, don't mark on it, spill on it, or "dog ear" it.
Our spouse is very precious to God. If they are not a Christian, who's to know if God has plans to save them? So, you have in your "possession" this precious, eternal soul. Are you just to use him/her to consume on your own selfishness, while putting "dents" and "scars" or "running His possession into the ground"? Is that how you are going to return His possession? Abused? Broken? Disheartened?
I would encourage you to meditate on these scriptures:
Zechariah 2:8, Psalm 17:8, 1 Peter 2:9, and Eph. 5:22-33.
Note that "apple of the eye" should be taken as the "believer". Do you really want to mistreat what God views as His precious possession, the "apple of His eye"? To do so would be foolish and invite the displeasure of God. To do so would be to bring discipline by God on yourself as a Christian. To do so would mean you are tearing up the very thing with which God has blessed you for your good. In other words, it's practicing self-destructive behavior.
We should have the same attitude toward our spouse (and then moving out as ripples of water to other family, friends, etc.) as Paul did to those he was ministering to: Gal. 4:19 "My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you—" .
Again, I come back to the text in I Peter 3:7 which should be memorized by every husband. But also by wives in the respect that it reveals that both partners are "heirs together of the grace of life" and therefore both are very special in God's eyes.
"Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered." I Peter 3:7.
May we hear the words from our Lord in regard to the spouse he has given us:
"Well done, good and faithful servant!" Matt. 25:23.
Or my take on it here: Thank you for "helping" Me to form My image in your spouse.
Pastor Robert was born in San Antonio but came back to Northeast MO where his mother's family has roots. He received his B.S. in Education from Asbury University in 1988. He and his wife Kerri have raised three children and have enjoyed starting a U-Pick blueberry farm. Robert has always been passionate about teaching God's Word and it has been a joy for him to lead the saints at Faith Baptist Church since 2015.