The Apostle Paul lived the life of a single, celibate man (1 Corinthians 7:8).  He denied himself the lawful privilege of having a wife as he stated in 1 Corinthians 9:5, “Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?”  While he certainly had the power, or authority, to marry, Paul remained single so that he could be free in all things to serve the Lord.  He goes on to say in 1 Corinthians 7:8, “I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.”  He was single in order to more fully serve the Lord.  He stated that it would be good if other single people (unmarried or widows) would also remain single so that they might serve the Lord more fully.  However, he realized that this was not the norm and certainly was not something that everyone could do. 

The Lord has created most of us with sexual desires that can only justifiably be fulfilled within the bond of marriage.  There are only a few that can live a life of abstinence without ‘burning with passion’ for a mate to have and share intimacy with. 

In Matthew 19:3-9, the Lord addresses the subject of divorce.  He states in verse 9, “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”  To this, His disciples responded that it might be better for a man not to marry at all.  We have the Lord’s response in verses 11-12, “But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” 

The ‘saying’ the Lord is referring to is the thought of living a celibate life…a life of no sexual intimacy at all.  There are not many who can live this lifestyle.  In this portion, the Lord mentions those who are eunuchs (a castrated or unmarried person).  Some were born that way (without the ability or without the desire to live a life of sexual intimacy).  Some were made that way by being physically castrated so they could not perform sexually.  Some chose to live the life of a eunuch and remain single, giving themselves wholly to the work of the Lord.  Certainly, this life is not for “all men” for only a small percentage of men would be able to live a celibate life without a desire for sexual fulfillment.

For those who do not have self-control, or who cannot overcome the desire for intimacy, there is nothing wrong with being married.  This person should not “burn with passion” while denying himself the privilege of having a wife.  Paul goes on to say in 1 Corinthians 7:28, “BUT AND IF THOU MARRY, THOU HAST NOT SINNED…” 

You state that you have not had relations with your wife in the past nine years.  Is there a physical or emotional problem that is preventing intimacy with your wife?  Under normal circumstances, we should heed the words of the apostle in 1 Corinthians 7:5, “Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (NASB).  Men and women have physical needs and for one of the marital partners to deny the needs of the other only causes temptation and can cause one to lose self-control.  If this is the case, you need to talk with your wife and tell her of your continuing desires for intimacy.  If there is a physical or emotional reason for this lack of intimacy, I suggest you and your wife speak to your doctor to see if this is a situation that can be corrected with the proper professional treatment.  If your wife’s situation cannot be changed, I encourage you and your wife to pray together about this situation and ask the Lord to give you the ability to live without intimacy.  Even if she cannot fulfill your sexual needs, you still need to love her and be faithful to her.  (486.6)