A common argument from those who are not providing their spouse with the sex they want, need, and deserve, is that “sex is different”. This is supposed to nullify any reason, logic, or analogy used to show why sex is important, or why withholding sex is wrong.
I happen to agree that sex is different, but in my mind it is different because it is relationally more important to our marriages, emotionally deeper, very intimate, should be treated as special, and made a high priority. In other words, I see it as different in a way that makes sexual refusal far worse than most of the other things we can do in the way of refusing, denying, or wronging our spouse. I’m not saying it’s the worst thing a spouse can do, it’s not. However, it’s the worst one many folks do for long periods of time, and the worst one that is commonly excused or ignored by those who are (rightly) quick to jump on other marital problems.
Does the Bible back me up on this? I think is does, and rather strongly if you understand the culture at the time the Bible was written.
“If he takes another wife, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, and her marriage rights.” [Ex 21:10 NKJV]
“Marriage rights” means sex here (no question on this). The woman spoken of here was a slave taken as a wife. So, we have a slave woman, about as low as one could be short of livestock in that time and culture, and men were not allowed to reduce the amount of food, clothing or SEX that they provided for her – even if they took a hot, young, new wife. God saw sex to be so important in marriage that He listed it along with food and clothing as what could not be refused to a slave wife.
“Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.” [1 Cor 7:3 NKJV]
Again, there is no doubt that what is being discussed here is sex. What is amazing here is that the passage does not just command women to “put out” for their husbands – it also commands men to meet their bride’s sexual wants. While the situation for women was better at this point in history, it was still not great, and for God to put in a command that a man meet his wife’s sexual needs is thus significant. Again, God is showing us that sex in marriage is very important – at least in His mind.
In my mind, there is no question that God sees sex as different – and different in a positive and important way. Sex is supposed to be sacred, and is supposed to be something that only occurs within the marriage relationship. We all understand that sex outside of marriage is wrong, but how many of us realise that God has told us a lack of sex in a marriage is also wrong. Sex is supposed to make two people one, and when sex is lacking a marriage is not what God intended – and not as strong as it should be. In one study, 22% of divorced men said they divorced because of sex. Certainly it’s more complicated than “there was not enough sex so I divorce her” but clearly a lack of sex does deep harm to marriages.
Okay, I’m off this issue now, on to other things.