1Co 7:3-5 “Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 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. 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.”
It is a wonderful blessing and gift from God to have a husband or wife. To treat it as less than that is to belittle God’s wisdom when He created man. Like all of God’s gifts to us, this relationship should be treated with care and nurtured in humility and thanksgiving.
Husbands and wives have a responsibility to each other, and it should not be viewed as a burden. It begins with the husband rendering. According to Strong’s, the Greek word translated as “render” means to “give away” and carries the idea of delivering or giving again. What we render to our wives is not meant to be a one-time deal, and what we are instructed to render is due benevolence.
The meaning of the word rendered as “due” means “to owe or be under obligation (see Strong’s).” When we are blessed with a wife, we owe her benevolence, which means “kindness or conjugal duty.” As husbands, then, we have the scriptural instruction that we owe our wives, again and again, kindness in all aspects of the marital (conjugal) relationship. Wives are then instructed to reflect these same attributes to their husbands.
Paul’s next statement is completely contrary to what our society advocates today. If the woman intends to have full control of her body (life, actions, etc.), then she should not marry. However, this does not give her the right to do as she pleases with her body because she was bought by the blood of Jesus Christ. While she might not belong to any man, she is still the purchased possession of God and should conduct herself as such. This same truth applies to men just as much as it does to women.
Therefore, marriage is an action of great trust. It is not just the repetition of a set of words. When we enter into a marriage, we are saying to each other that we entrust the other with control of our body. We trust the other party to be kind to us, be gentle with us, to be faithful to us, and to care for our body as much as they do their own because we have become one flesh.
According to the scripture, there is only one reason why a husband and wife should hold themselves apart from each other. Only by mutual consent for prayer and fasting, are we to deprive one another of an intimate relationship. Even then, we must be diligent to set a time frame around such separation. Otherwise, we open a door of opportunity for Satan to play on our lack of self-control and tempt us into fornication.
When Paul gives instruction to the Ephesians concerning marriage, he tells them “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church (Eph 5:32).” I believe the same can be said about the admonition to the Corinthian brethren. What a mysterious and wonderful blessing to know that Jesus, our husband, renders to us again and again such great kindness in our lives. He loves us with such care and compassion and has made us one body with Him. Surely, He deserves no less from us.
May God bless us to be a faithful in our union with our earthly spouses as an outward manifestation of our union with our spiritual Husband!