Sunday, May 3, 2015

Thou Shalt Put Out?

"But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you."--1 Cor 7:23 (KJV)

I keep seeing Christians with the view that their spouses owe them sex - on - demand.  Mind you, they will also deny this is the case, but still hold the position that a spouse sins if they just say no to sex.  They try to sugar coat it with "if they are asking reasonably" or "the spouse should delay, not outright deny" or "if they are treating their spouses well."  But come on, be honest. Isn't Sin Sin, whether sugar coated or not?

"No, your Honor, it wasn't murder. Oh, I killed him--but it was painless and I was polite about it."

"It was NOT adultery; my husband dared me to go find someone who would have sex with me."

Either it's a sin, or it's not. There is no "middle" ground, no compromise with sin. We can be forgiven our sins, but we can't dictate whether what we do is sin or not.

The loudest rallying cry for "I must be gratified," comes from misinterpreting 1 Corinthians 7:3~5, which I guess I'll post again:

"3 A husband should fulfill his obligation to his wife, and a wife should do the same for her husband. 4 A wife does not have authority over her own body, but her husband does. In the same way, a husband doesn’t have authority over his own body, but his wife does. 5 Do not withhold yourselves from each other unless you agree to do so just for a set time, in order to devote yourselves to prayer. Then you should come together again so that Satan does not tempt you through your lack of self-control." (ISV)

Verse 3 is said to command the spouses to "pay up" the marriage due.  Verse 4 is said to explain how each spouse really is in control of the other.  Verse 5 is said to command "you must not say no."

Problem is Verse 6:

"6 But I say this as a concession, not as a command."' (ISV) (Hmmm.)

Of course, there are scholars that believe this applies to Verse 7:

"7 I would like everyone to be unmarried, like I am. However, each person has a special gift from God, one this and another that." (ISV)

But this seems absurd.  Why, you ask?

Because Apostle Paul is clearly stating "I" and not God.  Not once, but twice: "I would like" and "like I am." There is no reason whatsoever to pre-clarify what is already, obviously, not being stated in God's behalf because of Apostle Paul's use of I.  Still not convinced? Then, I guess if you're not married, you cannot be a Christian, because in Verse 2, Apostle Paul says:

"Yes, and yet because sexual immorality is so rampant, every man should have his own wife, and every woman should have her own husband." (ISV)

There is that "should" again. Not once. But twice. Ergo, everyone in the congregation should be married. And, by the way, just in case you think this is a far-fetched idea, you should know that there is no word for "bachelor" in ancient Hebrew.  Not being married by 20-or-so was generally considered a sin against God's command to fill the Earth and to be arrogantly defying Jehovah's own statement in Genesis 2:18:

"And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him." (ASV, emphasis mine.)

So, unless you are willing to believe Verse 6 applies to all the verses before it, you must be married to be a Christian. Straight from Apostle Paul's hand--which you know is not what he meant because of Verse 7's "I would like everyone to be unmarried, like I am."

And, thus, we come to the clincher: Verse 1:

"Now about what you asked: “Is it advisable for a man not to touch a woman inappropriately?”" (ISV)

Can you see it now more clearly?  Verses 2 ~ 7 are in direct response to the question in Verse 1, and the only way Apostle Paul cannot be contradicting himself in Verses 2 and 7 is if Verse 6 applies to Verses 2~5. Because otherwise, if Verse 6 applies to Verse 7, or does not go all the way up to Verse 2, in Verse 7 Apostle Paul would be recommending the "sin" of singleness. And there is No Way he would be recommending sin.

Hopefully, this will stop people from beating their spouses with 1 Corinthians into submitting to unwilling sex. Because we all know what you call unwilling sex, right?

So, when your spouse says "no,"  should it have been better phrased? Of course. Should it have been a delay and not an outright no? Probably. Should they explain themselves? If they are wise, yes. Do they owe you an explanation? Absolutely not. Are they sinning? Most certainly not.  So deal with it. God's way

"Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."--Romans 12:17-21 (ESV)

In conclusion, then, even if your spouse tells you "no" with annoying regularity, unless it is a constant or long term, continuous pattern of refusal, they are not sinning.  But you obviously have something going on that needs addressing.  Pray for insight, keep humble, and keep your faith. Remember, Jehovah wants you to have a happy, joyful marriage. But he will only help.  You must make it happen.

My prayers go with you all.

Image courtesy of marin at


  1. "Of course, there are scholars that believe this applies to Verse 7"

    And you think this is absurd because of your knowledge of Greek? You know more than Biblical scholars, who have invested their life's work into studying the original language?

    Just what bona fides do you bring to the table to discount their expertise and say that they are wrong?

    1. Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

      "(6) But I speak this by permission.—Better, Now I say this as a permission, and not as a command. As the passage is given in our English version, it might seem as if the Apostle implied that he had no actual command, but only a permission to write this, which is not at all his meaning. What he does say is, that the foregoing instructions are not to be considered as absolute commands from him, but as general permissive instruction, to be applied by each individual according to circumstances.
      It has been much discussed as to what part of the previous passage the word “this” refers. It is perhaps best to take it as referring to the leading thought of the whole passage, which is that marriage is allowable, expressed especially in 1Corinthians 7:2."

      Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

      "7:1-9 The apostle tells the Corinthians that it was good, in that juncture of time, for Christians to keep themselves single. Yet he says that marriage, and the comforts of that state, are settled by Divine wisdom. Though none may break the law of God, yet that perfect rule leaves men at liberty to serve him in the way most suited to their powers and circumstances, of which others often are very unfit judges. All must determine for themselves, seeking counsel from God how they ought to act."

      Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
      "6. by permission … not of commandment—not by God's permission to me to say it: but, "by way of permission to you, not as a commandment." "This" refers to the directions, 1Co 7:2-5."

      Matthew Poole's Commentary
      "Some refer these words to all that had gone before in this chapter; but the best interpreters rather refer them to what went immediately before in the preceding verse, declaring, that he had no express command from God, as to those things of abstaining for a time for fasting and prayer, and then coming together again, but he spake what he judged equitable and reasonable; but as to particular persons, they ought to judge and govern themselves according to their particular circumstances."

      Since I see so much division, I prefer to err on the side of compassion of the spouse who would basically have to submit to rape every time their spouse demands sex whether 1, 2 or 10 times a day (again, as I said in the post, Sin is Sin, every time). Being "not under Law" but under "prinipal of Law" I cannot support the argument of "because of Jewish customs at the time" for submitting a spouse to rape.

      Another reason is Apostle Paul himself. He was a brilliant man and communicator, capable of exquisite subtlety and powerful, straight-to-the-point reasoning.
      I see no reason for him to be pussyfooting around this issue by unclear language, so I stand by my reasoning.

      Prayers to you (And I do like your site).

  2. Ellicott - 1700's
    Matthew Henry - 1710
    JFB - 1800's

    So you're cool with relying on scholars who are two and three centuries behind in currency? Who wrote without benefit of modern archaelogical finds (the massive discovery of texts, including the Dead Sea scrolls)? All three are okay as basic commentary, if you don't rely on them too much. After all, the study of Koine Greek has advanced greatly in the two centuries that have passed since these texts were published.

    One reason why these texts are so popular on Bible study sites is because they are "public domain". In other words, they are out-of-date and can be used without violating copyright law. A great advantage if you are operating a website and don't want to pay copyright fees for current scholarship.

    If you want, I can email you a copy of another writer's exegesis of 1 Cor. 7 demonstrating that v.1-5 are imperatives and not suggestions. My email can be found at my blog.

    1. Not necessary, as I have seen several opinions leaning that way as well. I still stand by my opinion based on the fact there *are* many other dissenting opinions, and I just *cannot* put my head around Jehovah sanctioning what amounts to rape.
      I try to envision the "worst case scenario" the sexually-addicted spouse who continually demands sex from their significant other, beating them over the head with the Bible. The right to say no *must* exist or they *must* comply with *every* demand, *no exception*. And I will *not* believe that our God, who *is* Love takes the stand of "open up and swallow what I give you, or God hates you." The wife impaled by the penis or the husband drowned by the vagina.
      It goes against the concept of the honorable marriage bed when the spouse is nothing but a sexual slave to the other's lust. Even slaves had more rights than that, and the ancient Israelite's code (as I interpret the translation) did not require consent of every request, just not a pattern of such.
      I'm ranting, aren't I?

  3. Curmudgeonly Librarian here. For some reason, when I try to post a reply I'm getting a message from WordPress that says I don't own my identity, so I am having to try to do this differently. Sorry.

    Here are a few snippets from that exegesis I mentioned, above, and they demonstrate that the Greek does not support the idea that 1 Cor 7:1-5, is a suggestion and not an imperative.

    This first snippet is from the writer's exegesis of v. 3:
    In verse 3, Paul refers to sexual intimacy as the “οφειλή” (the duty or debt), that both a husband and wife have for one another. The Greek word οφειλή is defined by BDAG (Bauer/Danker Greek Lexicon) as:
    1. That which one owes is a financial sense.
    2. That which one ought to do, duty
    Apprehending and giving full weight to the meaning of this word is critical in a right understanding of this passage. Paul is very clear that [sexual intimacy] is a debt that we owe one another and a duty that we are obligated to render unto one another.

    This next quote is from a much longer exegesis of v. 5
    Now that we understand what those words mean, we must deal with the construction. "Μὴ αποστερειτε" forms an imperative prohibition. MacDonald's Greek Enchiridion is of great help to us in translating this verse. It lays out the rule that when mh is used with a present imperative verb it is considered a prohibitive imperative, which is best translated as “do not continue, stop, cease, or quit.” (MacDonald's Greek Enchiridion, page 50)
    This is what Paul is getting at here. Αποστερειτε is the present imperative, which means that Paul is telling them to stop doing something, not supplying a suggestion….

    A few lines down, the writer cites another source, giving further insight into the original language:
    Consider the insight of Daniel B. Wallace
    The imperative is commonly used to forbid an action. It is simply a negative command... (Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, page 487)
    If Wallace, who teaches Greek at Dallas Seminary, is correct, then Paul's words to the Corinthians, telling them to stop depriving one another, constitute a negative command.

    Last, a brief summation from the piece demonstrates how you have to run roughshod over the Greek to arrive at your position:
    One must completely ignore the imperative nature of “should” in verse 2 and 3, the language of duty in verse 3, the transfer of authority over one's body as it relates to sexual intimacy in verse 4 and the strength of the word “defraud” in verse 5 to come to the conclusion that Paul is merely making a friendly suggestion.


    Okay, I'll bite: yes, you're ranting. :)

    You say that you are looking for "worst case scenarios"; do you think Paul the Apostle was? Here's something I leave you with: in your reply, I see that what Paul calls an "obligation" you call "rape". Isn't it possible that you are letting your fallen "sensibilities" re-write the Bible to your own desired outcome?

    1. What I see is whether the debate to allow celibacy in marriage has turned into a modern-day rallying cry of "I am entitled to sex anytime anyway I want."
      The imperative to have sex in the marriage does not necessarily imply acquiescence to every demand from a spouse. Only "not deprive" and I guess "deprive" becomes the relative term. And I cannot honestly say that saying "no" on *any* single occasion constitutes "deprivation." Nor do I think this is what Paul meant, since the letter was addressing the tendency of Corinthians to practice celibacy in their marriages as "beneficial." I don't believe Paul, who advocated the celibate life, would promote the view of a wife becoming a pocket vagina to be pulled out at any opportunity convenient to the husband or vice-versa.

      Here are some "recent" sources I used, that support sex is required for a marriage, but is not necessarily the sex-on-demand relationship a no-right-to-refusal position enforces.
      Marriage not to be celibate--specific rules guided by love

      Marriage not to be celibate--but specific rules certain to debate because language is unclear

      This is an interesting one as well,d.dGY&cad=rjt

  4. Again, Curmudgeonly Librarian here, and a problem trying to comment under my own name.

    Um, the first two are actually the same, and it is a mater's thesis. The last one that you term "interesting" is unintelligible. I can't tell if you mixed up two urls, or what, but there is no link.

    So, in essence, you counter books that are the gold standard of biblical knowledge with just one master's thesis from South Africa. I cite BDAG Greek Lexicon, MacDonald's Greek Enchiridion and Wallace's Greek Grammar with a seminary student?

    That, and you rely on antiquated commentaries. Are you reading to support your biases or to find the truth?

    1. Sorry about that. Links got messed up.

      I figured the first link had enough modern references ( Fee (1987:279) , Lowery (1983:517) , Morris (1985:107), Conzelmann (1975:118)) to show no full concensus on the "MUST PUT OUT EVERY TIME" interpretation in support of my several "antiquated" references. And thesis tend to grow and become the "new" golden standards, no? Isn't that the point of all this continuous academic study?

      You asked for references, I provided.

      You didn't like them, I provided more.

      You still don't like them, not much more I can do.

      I stated my case, not unsubstantiated as you initially accused; you don't agree.

      You accuse me of "fallen sensibilities" and "rewriting scriptures" for believing a person has a God-given right to refuse rape.

      Yet, would it not be more "fallen sensibilities" to be showing the modern "me first, give me now, my way, what I want, your wishes don't matter" attitude? And "rewriting" scriptures to support that?

      You accuse me of bias and I honestly, in detail, even hotly, explained my position--more than once, that I believe God to be "love" as Apostle John mentions, and not some tyrannical spirit that wishes a person to become a Temple Prostitute to be offered up on the altar of marriage every time their spouse feels an itch in their trousers. And that in view of the lack of unanimous opinion, I am going to default to my bias. Because I will not believe that my loving God would *demand* a person to have unprotected sex with an AIDS infected spouse with open genital sores 20 times a day. And *LIKE IT*.

      And I am really hoping that is not your position on agape.


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