In Part 1, I explored the main reason why I don’t believe there’s any special kind of paradox found in 1 Corinthians 7:3-4, that instead, it’s just a matter of which spouse is more mature in their holiness and humility. The definition of a paradox is something that, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory. I believe that’s true of lots concepts found in Scripture:
We live when we die (John 11:25)
We are at our strongest when we’re at our weakest (2 Corinthians 12:10)
We get through giving (Acts 20:35)
I don’t believe 1 Corinthians 7:2-4 fits the criteria of a paradox. In Part 2, I want to build onto that idea.
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In almost every instruction concerning marriage, God follows a pattern. When He address the couple, He speaks to the wife first1: Submit to your own husband. Then secondly, He tells the husband: Love your own wife.
But, in these particular verses, even though God’s subject is marriage, He’s not using any of the same language that He normally does – words like:
- Love (agapaō)
- Reverence (phobeō)
- Submit (hupotassō)
Switching It Up: 1 Corinthians 7:2-3
In 1 Corinthians 7, God draws our attention by changing the order – He addresses the husband first. If He was following the established pattern, the verse would read, let each wife have her own husband, and let each man have his own wife. But God didn’t frame it the same – He reversed the order by addressing the wife second.
THEN in verse 3, He puts an even finer point on His intention when He presses in on the responsibility – He continues aiming at the husband, The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs […]. Again, her responsibility is stated second, like a response to him, and likewise also the wife to her husband.
This isn’t a new method for God – we see Him doing it in the garden, right after the fall. Both Adam and Eve were hiding from God, but He specifically called-out Adam individually, the one with the responsibility. He speaks directly to the one who’s accountable for their responsibility at that moment.
Switching It Back: 1 Corinthians 7:4
But at verse 4, God does it again. He pivots back to His original pattern of addressing the wife first. His subject has changed. He’s not talking about desire anymore, but about giving up control, The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does[…]. How does the husband have control over his wife’s body? He controls the power to seduce her. She controls the power to succumb to that seduction.
Think about the last time you had sex – when did you have the most authority over your husband’s body? When he was in crescendo – during his climax/orgasm – and afterwards. This is the time when, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
God isn’t prescribing the rules of who gets to demand or command sex; He’s describing the responses of male and female sexuality, the way He created desire in each of us. As He drills down on the deepest level of relationship, He’s unfolding a transcendental experience of how sexual desire works: It is cause and effect.
First to Experience Desire
Eve’s creation was a response to a missing component2 in Adam’s life – she’s a responder to his whole being because she’s everything he’s not.
Adam recognized that there was no one for him through the experience of naming the animals in pairs. He was able to identify an absence, which shows that was looking for something else: his pairing for procreation. He was looking for – her. He had already begun to feel desire first.
Husbands go first simply because, more often than not, they’re the first to feel the desire3 for sex. So, it becomes theirs to plan out, to execute the completion of the task. All the euphemisms about sex back up this idea, such as – “men are like microwaves and women are like slow cookers” – there’s a reason for those sayings. They’re all rooted in a fundamental truth: men’s erotic desires are concrete and sit close to the surface – thus easily accessed. While the erotic desires of women are abstract and buried deep within our emotions, which makes it necessary for them to be drawn out to the surface.
God placed a massive capacity for expressive sexual reciprocity within the heart of women – a veritable red hot burning fire; but a husband will rarely see it unless he’s willing to seduce it to the surface to match his.
Sadly, it’s the PUAs who’ve got it right. These men know the secret truth about the game of sexual tension – but they use it wrong, that’s why women hate them. They know that once her fire is ignited, it’s almost impossible to turn off. Using their masculine energy, they CAUSE sexual tension which generates the EFFECT of female sexual desire.
Logically we know, a woman doesn’t magically change just because she becomes a wife. Yet there’s this idea perpetuated that says, when a man gets married he now gets a “pass” when it comes to creating that sexual tension – just like in the game of Monopoly: automatically receiving that 200$ for doing nothing more than “passing GO.”
There’s where we find the disparity: female desire is created out of sexual tension. Yes, it’s a game – a game of cat and mouse, not Monopoly.
Think Howard Wolowitz from The Big Bang Theory. Sure, we laugh at him because he’s so bad at it – lecherous, explicit and down-right corny. You know why it doesn’t work on Penny? She’s outside his numbered zone so there’s no attraction and – she’s not his wife. Corny works on wives because the attraction has already been established, otherwise there wouldn’t have been a wedding.
Conversely, if a PUA used the same lack of approach as some husbands do … they too, would never get laid. It’s not a Christian secret, God created all men with the same aptitude to be sexual aggressors and wired all women to respond to seduction4.
Reducing 1 Corinthians 7:2-4 to prescriptive behaviours that are found within the roles of husband and wife, completely misses what God intends for His description on sexuality. Instead of bringing sex to life in its fullest substance, a red hot steamy ride in living colour, fully experienced through its power — it gets sanitized through legalism – dehumanized to basics and turned into the most elementary form of sexuality. I can think of no faster way to kill desire.
2-component. I don’t mean that the wife is an afterthought. God already knew He was going to create the woman, He was waiting for Adam to realize that he needed her, before God created her. God said, “it was good” after He finished creating Adam and the animals. Then, He said it was, “not good that man was alone.” In order for man to be in “Our” [God’s] image and according to “Our” [God’s] likeness (Genesis 1:26-27) Adam had to be a relational being. Yes, he could function in the Garden and cultivate it, this was good — but “alone,” he couldn’t be in relationship nor could he populate the Garden. In order to complete Adam’s creation process, he would be changed from a “he” to a “we”.
3-desire. There’s a small margin of women that have a higher drive, but it’s rare and usually an anomaly.
4-seduction. Luke 18:6 – And [his] master praised the dishonest (unjust) manager for acting shrewdly and prudently; for the sons of this age are shrewder and more prudent and wiser in [relation to] their own generation [to their own age and kind] than are the sons of light. And, Matthew 5:45 – To show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers [alike].