The Marital Rights of the Wife

The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. (1 Corinthians 7:3 ESV)

Husbands Encouraged

Conjugal rights, or sexual rights, are a protection for the benefit of the wife as well as the husband. Paul encourages husbands to make sure they fulfill their conjugal responsibilities to their wives first and then, secondly, encourages wives similarly.

Every word, and the placement of every word, in the Bible is strategic. Young’s Literal Translation puts it like this, “To the wife let the husband the due benevolence render,” (emphasis added). The sentence starts “To the wife” suggesting that husbands were neglecting their wives in this area in Corinth.

This verse makes it clear that the conjugal rights of a wife are not to be neglected by her husband. She is to receive the attention she deserves from her husband.

Not Just for the Husband

Yes, the husband usually has the stronger sex drive although not always. But his sexual aggression should not be mistaken for needing sex more than his wife.

The sex drive per se has nothing to do with sexual need and fulfillment. Sex fulfills many things and we make a mistake of thinking that it’s physical only. When we think this way then we wrongly conclude that sex is primarily for the man since he has the greater sex drive.

But sex is more than physical. It involves the body, soul, and spirit. Sex is a renewal of a spiritual covenant commitment, brings order to the chaos of the day, reconnects the disconnected husband and wife, fulfills an intense emotional need in both, and re-establishes an exclusive relationship – and so much more.

The problem is when wives don’t generally think of sex as a need or at least as a need like their husband. God’s Word suggests sexual intimacy is a need of the wife as well as if the husband.

God’s Moral Law and Conjugal Rights

Let’s look at a curious passage in Exodus. This is God’s moral law concerning the conjugal rights of the wife. It is not binding now of course but clearly expresses what God considers right and just about a wife’s conjugal rights.

If he marries another woman, she retains all her full rights to meals, clothing, and marital relations. If he won’t do any of these three things for her, she goes free, for nothing. (Exodus 21:7-11 for context MSG emphasis added)

In summary, if a man bought a Hebrew woman as a slave to be his wife and then decided to marry again, he could not diminish her conjugal rights but would have to maintain the same frequency of sex as before he took a second wife.

For example, if the first wife was used to sex twice a week then he was obligated to continue the same frequency. If he didn’t maintain the same frequency, she could go to the authorities with her complaint.

This is the Old Covenant, of course, but it points out God’s concern for the wife’s conjugal rights.

Bible Thought: God is very concerned about the conjugal rights of wives.

Prayer: Father, help me to see sex from a biblical perspective instead of from the perspective of today’s culture. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Just do it,

Rene & Gloria