intimacy and ownership

Challies points to a post by John Piper regarding I Corinthians 7:3-5.

here is the passage:

3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

John Piper points out the difficulty with this passage.

This is paradoxical counsel to married couples, and I think Paul knows it. It does not give either spouse the right to demand certain sexual acts from the other that he or she does not want to give. It is more complex than that. Follow the thought with me.

What is paradoxical and delicate about this text is that logically it doesn’t work. What it does is call the couple to a profound effort to please the other without settling who will wind up getting the most pleasure, especially because each person will get pleasure in not asking the other to do what the other finds unpleasurable.

Here’s what I mean. If her body is his and his body is hers and each has authority over the other’s body, then he has the authority to ask her to do something he would find pleasurable, and she has the authority over his body to ask that he increase her pleasure by not asking that she do that.


This is real life. I have dealt with it in my own marriage, and I have seen it in many couples. Logically, the text leads to stalemate. And I think Paul knew it. He was leading them beyond logic in this matter.

go read the rest for his explanation of the issue. Excellent stuff.

by the way, for more Piper on marriage, you can download his book This Momentary Marriage in pdf form here for free.


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