The other day I was on the phone with one of my married friends discussing the insignificant dealings of our day when all of a sudden she became irate. Her husband had failed to perform a household task, and that sent her into a rage. She was pissed…incensed…infuriated. She wanted no parts of that man…at all.

I don’t know all the details about what set her off, so I can’t speak on whether her fury was justified. However, I was slightly disturbed by what came out of her mouth next. “I was going to give him some, but I’m not even going to do that now!”

Pause. Time out. Flag on the freaking play!!! What?!?!?

Being single as a crisp dollar bill in an ugly stripper’s G-string, I didn’t say anything. I learned a long time ago not to give my married, engaged, in a relationship, it’s complicated, single, gay, bi, try or “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing” friends any type of unsolicited relationship advice. But a string of thoughts did run through my mind. This can’t be life. Is marriage really about putting your husband on punishment? He can’t even touch the cookie jar. REALLY?!?!? I am not abstaining til marriage only to get married and not get any because hubby doesn’t “know how to act.” No ma’am, this can’t be life. This WON’T be life!!!

As I sat distraught that my fantasy marriage may never be a reality, I found a letter from my good friend Paul that reassured me:

Now, getting down to the questions you asked in your letter to me. First, Is it a good thing to have sexual relations? Certainly-but only within a certain context. It’s good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality-the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out. Abstaining from sex is permissible for a period of time if you both agree to it, and if it’s for the purposes of prayer and fasting-but only for such times. Then come back together again. Satan has an ingenious way of tempting us when we least expect it.

–1 Corinthians 7:1-5 (MSG)

There were a couple of things in this passage that leaped off the page:

1)      Sex is a good thing! So often church folks try to make sex into this dirty nasty thing. But that’s not how God characterizes sex. Sex is the purest form of showing love to another person.

2)      Sex is powerful. “Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them.” Sex isn’t designed to be causal. When two people have sex they connect physically AND spiritually. That’s not to be taken lightly. People are not designed to casually connect with any and everyone.

3)      Sex is about satisfying your partner. Sex, and love for that matter, is like pouring a glass of water. If I’m constantly pouring water into your glass and you’re constantly pouring water into my glass, we both stay full and eventually overflow. But if I’m doing all the pouring and you’re doing all the drinking, I will soon become empty and you will become bloated. Seeking to please is beautiful, but only when it is a mutual attribute.

4)      Marriage is about service, not about individual rights. This goes back to the glass metaphor. If I’m serving you and you’re serving me, everyone’s happy. You don’t have to worry about standing up for your rights because your partner understands and respects your rights. However, if one is doing all the serving, there’s a problem.  Someone is being mistreated and put in a predicament that they need to stand up for their rights. This reminds me to be very careful who I enter into the covenant of marriage with. I want to be able to give and serve without considering “my rights” because my partner cares so much about my needs that he considers my rights without me having to remind him.

5)      Don’t keep the cookies away from your spouse. *Praise dances* I knew God wasn’t anywhere near banning your husband from the cookie jar. Unless the two of you agree to abstain to seek Him, don’t go on a cookie diet. Enjoy all the cookies you can eat. Let me add that there are too many diseases that you can NOT get rid of to be sexing a man who isn’t faithful. God doesn’t expect you to put your life at risks. Remember, mutuality. If things are not mutual, this formula falls apart.

So after reading my letter from Paul, I was reassured. Sex should never be used as a bargaining chip or be revoked as punishment. That’s just not God. So, ladies, stop playing around with your husbands. Sex is an integral part of marriage and should be treated as such. Stop making it seem like a privilege or gift.