In marriage, Christ calls husbands to love their wives like he loved the church (Eph 5:25). Jesus’ love for his bride was utterly selfless in that he gave himself up for her (v.26). This call to love unselfishly extends to our sexual relationship within marriage. We should, as Paul exhorted, have the mind of Christ, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phil. 2:3-4)
As Christians, we’re accustomed to hearing that all sex outside of marriage is bad. So much so perhaps, that we’ve just assumed the opposite: all sex within marriage is good. The reality is, married Christians can experience sin in their sex lives too. Here are three ways we can use sex harmfully within marriage:
1. We can withhold sex to punish our spouse.
When someone has upset us, our natural defense mechanism is to build a wall that will keep them from doing it again. This is a way of protecting ourselves. We will often move from self-defense, to damage; seeking ways to make the other person feel the pain we have felt. One way we can try to hurt our spouse in marriage is by withholding ourselves from them. In a sense, this is a way of defending and damaging at the same time. We defend by not being vulnerable, and we hurt by withholding something precious. In situations like this, we need to exercise forgiveness. Forgiveness breaks down walls of defense, and sets aside the malicious intent to hurt. If you have been withholding yourself from your spouse to punish them for something they have done, consider talking to them about how they’ve offended you.