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Let’s read 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 from the New King James Version, “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his body, but the wife does. 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.”

This passage speaks about the physical union of a husband and a wife. Paul uses delicate language to describe the responsibility there is to maintain physical intimacy in the marriage relationship. In fact, it is a “duty,” as we see in Exodus 21:10, which says “If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.” The husband is just as obligated to provide for her need of physical intimacy as he is for her need of food and clothing. And the woman is equally responsible to provide for her husband’s need for intimacy. Verse 4 teaches us that each spouse is not to look upon their own body as their own any longer, for in marriage they have transferred the authority they once had over their body to the other.

Verse 5 brings out one exception to this rule; they may abstain from physical intimacy if they feel exercised to give themselves to “fasting and prayer.” This is a noble reason but even in this there are two conditions which should be observed:

1) There must be MUTUAL CONSENT. They should BOTH AGREE to this time of abstinence. If one insists on abstinence without the other agreeing, they are robbing the other of the affection due to them.

2) It must be TEMPORARY. It should be limited to the time needed to complete their spiritual exercise of fasting and prayer. At that time it is vital that they “…come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”  (147.7)  (DO)