3 “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”
These verses make it patently clear that celibacy is wrong for married people. This was not clear to Corinthian Christians.
Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her,
God expects the husband to give his wife her sexual due. The word “render” means to give away from oneself. This word demonstrates that marriage is not a selfish institution whereby one gets raw sexual pleasure for self. It is an institution that gives to the partner in marriage.
and likewise also the wife to her husband.
Reciprocity of sex is the responsibility of the wife as well as the husband.
The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does.
Paul reiterates mutual obligation in sex within marriage. The present tense of “does not have authority over” indicates that the principle is constantly true. The word “authority” indicates that each partner has authority over the other in the desire and participation in the sex act. Sex is one expression of love and that is why there is inherent authority to request sex from one another. Sex is more than a physical function; it is a bond of love between husband and wife.
And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
There is no biblical basis for husbands and wives depriving each other of sex. There is oneness of body in a Christian marriage. The husband’s body is not his personal property exclusively but the wife’s property as well. This does not mean that the wife or husband is a slave of the other. The whole idea is to fulfill the other.
Withdrawal from sex in marriage is not spiritual, but each owes the other the mutual pleasure of intercourse.
Withdrawal from sex in marriage is not spiritual. There are no exceptions to meeting each other’s sexual needs. Sex is not only permissible but obligatory in marriage. Husband and wife have a duty to give each other sexual pleasure. There is no difference between husband and wife in this. Both have equal rights in this regard. Both surrender their personal independence in sexual pleasure.
We should never use sex as a reward and should never have a performance base. Neither should we use it as an inducement for something else. We should never withhold sex as a means of punishment. On the other hand, sex on demand is not a proper implication of the principle of these verses.
Biblically, sex is always an expression of love. Marriage is not a sexual slot machine where we put in a coin and get out the product we want. Sex comes from love, cherishing, and protecting. This is especially true for the woman since she is more of a responder. She responds to the tenor of love from the husband. God designed her physically and mentally that way. God designed the man to be incomplete without the woman and the woman incomplete without the man. The issue is not one of superiority but of complement. God designed each partner to fulfill the other partner.
There is no justification for withholding sex, even when the partner has been unfaithful. God never justifies holding protracted resentment against one’s partner. Those who have been unfaithful because their partners mistreated them have no excuse either. They have no independence from giving their mates sexual pleasure.