A man and a woman become one flesh by the bond of marriage (Math 19.5-6). Once married, the man is the husband and the woman, the wife. Marriage must be between one man and one woman (Gen 2.20-25). Marriage must not be between people of the same blood (Lev 18). The marriage bed must not be defiled (Mat 5.27-28). The marriage must not be dissolved except for sexual immorality or illegitimate marriages (Mat 5.32). The primary purpose of marriage is raising a family unto the glory of God.
1) Submission and Love in Marriage
Christians, both man and woman, must submit to one another (1 Peter 5.5) and love one another (John 15.12). In the body of Christ, we are all brethren and we submit to Christ, the head.
In Christ, man and woman should submit to one another. In Christ, the man should submit to the woman even if they are married. The body of Christ (Godís family) is bigger than the body of the man (manís family).
In Christ, man and woman should love one another. In Christ, the woman should love the man as Christ has loved us, even if they are married.
If we love and submit to one another, there will be no need for more laws. Love fulfills the law, even the laws of marriage. Love submits to and serves another. Love respects another. Love shows affection. Love is not selfish.
Due to the weakness of the human nature (little ability to love), emphasis must be made in the key areas of marriage:
As for you, let each one love his wife as himself, and let the wife respect her husband" (Ephesian 5.33).
The husband, because he is head, must be obeyed by the members of his household. The respect of obedience or submission is gained by oneís position, not by his deeds. Even bad husbands must be obeyed. A bad king must always be obeyed as king even if he is bad. In marriage, the wife submits to (obeys) the husband (Eph 5.22).
The husband, because he is the head, must love the members of his household. The elder serves the younger. He who is the greatest is the servant of all (Mat 23.11). Respect can be obedience or admiration. Obedience is earned by oneís position, but admiration is earned by love (sacrificial and affectionate love). The man wins the admiration of his household by love.
A couple that obeys the law of Christ, will satisfy the law of marriage. Both submits to one another as commanded by Christ and both love one another as commanded by Christ. Humility and selflessness is the garment of all Christians whether man or woman. The wife will always feel loved and respected and the husband too will feel respected and loved. The law of Christ is meant to bring all men (whether man or woman) to the complete image of Christ.
In the flesh, the woman is more inclined to receive love and the man more inclined to receive respect. However, our bond in Christ is higher than all fleshly bonds and we should let ourselves to be ruled by the bond we have in Christ. The life of the spirit should prevail above the flesh.
The Lord Jesus submits to the Father in all things. The church submits to the Lord in all things. The brethren in church (both man and woman) submits to one another in all things. In marriage, the wife should be quicker to submit to the husband because he is the head of the body. The entire church should submit to earthly authorities in all matters that do not contradict the will of God.
The Heavenly Father loves the son; the son loves his bride (church), the church must love another as Christ has loved us. In marriage, the husband should be quicker to love to his wife. The entire church should love their unbelieving neighbors.
2) The Curse of Adam and Eve in marriage
God punished Adam and Eve for their sin of disobedience in the garden of Eden. Adam would toil to get bread for his family. Eve would suffer birth pangs when bringing forth her children and she would still desire her husband. Do these curses affect our marriages? If they do, can we be set free?
Before the fall, the earth tilled and watered itself to bring forth food for man but after the fall, it stopped. Man began toil to get food. Man is the breadwinner of his home. He must till the soil and bring out food for his family. The curse was true and binding until the coming of the Lord Jesus, the last Adam. All who are in Christ are free from the curse.
It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep (Psalm 127.2).
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Mat 6.33).
Though the earth no longer tills itself, the LORD blesses the handwork of his children. They do not have to toil as much as the sinners do to get food.
If we pursue obedience and faith in God, he will meet our daily needs.
Eve was cursed with pain in childbearing. Can a woman be free from this pain?
Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth (Mat 9.23).
All things are possible to those who believe in the Son of God. You can have a pain free delivery if you believe without doubting in your heart.
3) Self-Control of the pleasures of Manhood
The church of Corinth faced carnal issues on sex and self-control. Apostle Paul gave his opinion (not Godís commandment) on how to tackle their problems (1 Corinth 7). He said;
1. Since the people have strong desire (lust)for sex
2. Since sexual immorality is rampant among them
3. Since they lack self-control
1. Marry than burn
2. They should not refuse one another in bed
3. They should not stay away apart from each other for a long time except for prayers.
They should do these so that the devil will not tempt them to sin because of their lack of self-control. Still, he would wish that all believers will remain unmarried as he were so that they can give themselves entirely to the Lord.
Paulís advice was directed to a carnal church. The church of God is not supposed to be carnal. There is no other word that can be given to a carnal church except that they stop being carnal. As the church, they must do away with their strong sexual desire and lack of self-control.
Apostle Paulís counsel is an opinion, not based on Godís word and thus, it is not the standard for the church to follow. The word of God on the matter was for them to stop being carnal. If they crucify their flesh, they will no longer be tempted by it. They should deal away with the lust and lack of self-control in their hearts. Marriage, frequent sex, not refusing your spouse in bed, as Paul suggested, will not treat the lust in their heart. People must not marry for sexual gratification, nor must they give themselves to sex nor burden their spouses with it. Unrestrained bodily desire is not a fruit of the spirit of Christ but of the flesh. The fruit of the spirit of Christ is self-control and selflessness. The life of the spirit of Christ can strengthen us to control our sexual desires.
God created air, food, water, sex, etc. for survival of humanity. He did not create only these things, but he also created human appetite for them. The primary purpose of the appetite was not for enjoyment but to enable us to do them. It is not easy to eat, drink or sex if you do not have the desire or appetite.
To the best of my knowledge, female animals, including the woman, go on heat during ovulation. Ovulation is a natural time where a female desires sex for pregnancy. During ovulation, the woman desires sex without any stimulation from the man. The female animal does not accept a male animal no matter the extent of his appeal except when she is on heat. Women were not created as sex objects to satisfy the men. They are created to bear forth children to the glory of God.
The manís sexual desire is usually stronger than that of the women because he is by nature created to ensure continuity of his lineage. However, both men and women should exercise self-control over all bodily appetites and watch against self-indulgence, lest we become slaves to our own human desires.
We cannot put a thump rule on how many times sex is appropriate, but we can say that we must keep in mind the purpose why God created sex and regulate ourselves accordingly.
He who loves the world makes himself an enemy of God (James 4.4). The things of the world (1 John 2.16) are:
The desires of the eyes
The desires of the flesh (the human nature)
The pride of life
It is a sin to live to self-pleasure rather than to live for God. Do not set your mind on enjoying sex, rather set your mind on things of heaven.
If you are in a marriage that is not very sexual, instead of working to increase the sexual satisfaction, drive your energy towards self-control, love for your spouse and the things of the Spirit of Christ.
If you are in a marriage that is not at all sexual, and your spouse will not respond to you, you must not think of divorce, but run to Christ for grace to deny self and to stay married. You are in a difficult marriage, and you are more vulnerable to temptation. The Lord Jesus can strengthen us to deny self and win over the flesh.
4) Self-control of the pleasures of Womanhood
We must watch over our hearts not to be overtaken by the pleasures or cares of womanhood (Luke 21.34). Women, by nature, desire attention, affection, romance, love & emotional intimacy from the male spouse. While we are aware of these natural tendencies, we must remember that we are to live after the spirit of Christ and not after the human nature. We must be careful not to live for these natural or carnal desires, rather pursue Godís desire. Women must be careful not to make their husbands slaves to their desires. In Christ, we are all free. A woman who pursues much intimacy with her husband will scarcely have her mind on God. We can enjoy these things, but we must be careful not to run after them. Our happiness must not depend on them. A true disciple of the Lord is one who carries a cross of self-denial. The woman should by the power of the spirit of Christ, bring her natural tendencies to control.
If you are in a marriage where your spouse does not give you time or attention, do not think of leaving the marriage. If your marriage is emotionally unsatisfactory, and your spouse will not repent, you cannot divorce, rather run to Christ, for the grace to deny self. The solution will not necessarily be for your spouse to spend more time with/on you, rather, you should deny self and redirect your heart to God. If much of your heart and mind is set on your marriage, you will never be available for God. By the power of the spirit, if you want, you can be an eunuch for the kingdom of God.