BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES OF SEXUALITY
IN FIRST CORINTHIANS 7
Dr. Paul Douglas Smith
Editor’s note: Dr. Smith was once incarcerated in Texas and writes this article not only from his professional training, but from personal experience.
1. Sexual relations within marriage are holy and good. God encourages sexual relations and warns against their cessation.
2. Pleasure in sexual relations is not sinful but assumed. The bodies of both parties belong to each other (note also the Song of Solomon and Proverbs 5:18 – 19).
3. Sexual pleasure is to be regulated by the principle that one’s sexuality is not to be self-oriented but other orientated — rights over one’s body are given in marriage to the other party. All homosexuality and masturbation are out of accord with this fundamental principle. The idea here, as elsewhere, is that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
4. Sexual relations are to be regular and continuous. No exact number of times per week is advised, but the principle is that both parties are to provide such adequate sexual satisfaction that both sexual desire and the temptation to find satisfaction elsewhere are avoided.
5. The principle of satisfaction means that each party is to provide sexual enjoyment (which is due him or her in marriage) as frequently as the other party requires. But, of course, other biblical principles (moderation, seeking to please another rather than self, etc.) also come into play, as well, within the marriage. Consideration for one’s mate is to regulate one’s request for sexual relations. But this must never be used as an excuse for failing to meet genuine needs. On the other hand, requests for sexual satisfaction must not be governed by an idolatrous lust.
6. In accordance with the principle of “rights,” there is to be no sexual bargaining in a marriage, such as “I’ll not have relations with you unless you … .” Neither party has the right to make such bargains.
7. Sexual relationships are equal and reciprocal. Paul does not give the man superior rights to the woman. It is clear, then, that mutual stimulation and mutual initiation of relations are legitimate. Women need not be timid about taking the initiative in requesting or suggesting sexual relations. Paul’s words plainly indicate that there is a mutual need that each partner is required to satisfy. Indeed, the doctrine of mutual rights involves the obligation of mutual responsibility of active participation in sexual stimulation and intercourse. Neither the husband or wife should hesitate to cooperate or initiate foreplay in sexual relations.
Note: The printed version (May/June 2012, page 16) of this article has the incorrect scripture noted in item 3 — it was listed as Acts 5:18-19, it should be what is stated above, Acts 20:35.