Every Tuesday we’ll post something to do with strengthening marriages. Hope it helps.
Hers, Mine and Ours
“Likewise the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.” – I Corinthians 7:4
St. Paul doesn’t leave a married guy much leeway when it comes to his own body. First he reminds the man that if he belongs to Christ, then he is “not his own.” Then he clarifies who the true owner is when he informs him that what he calls his body is actually a temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19) and that he is literally a purchased possession (“For ye have been bought with a price” – I Corinthians 6:20) rather than a Possessor. And just to make the guy never again kids himself into thinking he can be his own man, Paul throws in yet another deed holder:
“The husband has not power of his own body, but the wife”, he says, driving a final and immutable nail into whatever sense of entitlement the Mr. still has.
My body belongs to God, my wife is second in line, and my privileges are seriously limited.
I really think most married men will testify to the change in management that happens after the I Do’s. Henry Higgins, the learned professor from My Fair Lady, had it right when he observed:
Let a woman in your life and your sabbatical is through.
She’ll re-decorate your home
From the cellar to the dome
Then go on with the enthralling job of overhauling you!
And who could argue with him? I thought I knew how to dress myself before Renee came along, but once she became Mrs. Dallas she morphed into the CEO of my closet, purging it of undesirables and trying, with limited success, to say Let There Be Light where there have traditionally been jeans and blessedly familiar, coffee stained t-shirts. My wardrobe was without form and void, she spoke, I protested, and may the best man win.
She did. That alone shattered any illusions I had about who owns this carcass.
But of course, Paul had something more basic than clothing choice in mind, because Chapter Seven of First Corinthians concerns itself primarily with the sexual covenant in marriage. And in saying a man’s sexual quest must be to fulfill his wife, rather than himself, he turns the Playboy philosophy of the past decades upside down, then kicks it out of the park.
I’ll sadly admit to being a regular reader of the Playboy Advisor, a regular feature of Playboy Magazine, from boyhood well into adulthood. From the Advisor I learned how entitled I was to pleasure, how to seek and cultivate it, and how to use another for my own gratification. The illustrations and photos throughout the magazine underscored the Advisor’s basic premise: women were there for men, and we could take or leave them as we choose. No wonder so many guys loved Hugh Hefner.
But the leap from Hefner to Christ is immeasurable. Upon becoming a Christian a man learns his Creator has intentions for his body, which is no longer his, but His. And when that same Christian man becomes a Christian husband, he learns that sex in marriage is not for him, but for her. When she wants him sexually, he must give himself, His own moods or wants notwithstanding. And he must give himself with the knowledge that she has ownership over the body she desires, a body built for her pleasure and satisfaction above his.
But as always, our amazing Father knows and wants what’s best, and any man loving his wife sacrificially will tell you that the fulfillment, both erotic and emotional, of sacrificial love is an enormous Wow next to the heat of self-centered sex. The married lover who cares about, plans and performs for his wife’s greatest pleasure is in fact more satisfied than sacrificial, more the getter than the giver. It’s like the paradox of losing your life and thereby finding it, and to this I can attest firsthand: Declaring my body to be hers, not mine, makes it ours, and in that union I get more than I ever could if I demanded sole ownership of it. When I love my wife, physically as well as emotionally and practically, I reap levels of joy and energy higher than anything I experienced when I still held the title deed on my own body.
Unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and dies, Jesus said, it abides alone. And unless and until a husband dies to his sexual self by living to fulfill hers, he abides alone as well. And that, you know, is the first critical thing God ever said about man: It is not good for him to be alone.
Let that never be said of a husband who belongs to Him, then her. Because with those two claiming ownership, that guy is blessed, privileged, and definitely not alone.