“Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
Do not deprive one another
God commands Christian marriage partners not to withhold sex from each other. This is an emphatic command in the Greek, making sexual pleasure ordained from God. Literally, the phrase is “stop depriving one another” of the pleasure of sex. The word “deprive” carries the idea of stop defrauding or stop robbing. When you deprive your mate of sex, you rob or defraud him or her. Frigidity of any type always causes deep problems in marriage.
Note what this phrase does not say – “I demand sex from you.” That disrespects the mate. All good sex comes from the volition of the mate. The most beautiful sex is always freely offered.
except with consent for a time,
There are three conditions for withholding sex:
- It is with mutual consent.
- It is done temporarily.
- It is for the purpose of extraordinary prayer.
There is one exception for withholding sex from a marriage partner. There are two qualifications for this exception: (1) with consent, and (2) for a time. The couple needs to mutually agree on the length of time they withhold sex from one another.
that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer;
The purpose of withholding sex is that the marriage partners “may give” themselves “to fasting and prayer.” There are extraordinary times when a couple needs to deal with a spiritual issue, so they need to be free from distractions during this time. Prayer must be unhurried by the rush of life, so there are exceptional times to cease from sex for hurried prayer. Note that “fasting” is not in the original manuscripts.
and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you
After the predetermined, agreed-upon time to return to sexual pleasure in marriage, the couple must not hesitate to do so. If a couple is not careful to maintain sexual pleasure in marriage, they will be susceptible to sexual temptation.
because of your lack of self-control.
There are several dimensions to self-control in sexual pleasure. Still, one of them is fulfilling sexual pleasure in proper sexual relationships before temptation comes in an illicit sexual situation. All of this presumes a good relationship in a marriage where that relationship is fulfilled in sex.
Sex in marriage is a matter of mutuality.
Sex for pleasure in marriage is not extraneous, but a vital part of marriage. Far more than being a remote option, pleasure in sex in marriage is integral to a healthy marriage.
Part and parcel of a good sexual relationship is a good relationship. Marriage is more than a face and figure. A husband who demands sex from his wife without a good relationship with her scores her soul. A wife is a responder in sex. She responds to the total relationship with her husband. A wife who constantly withholds sex for any pretext plays with fire.