Excerpt from An online Course: Where God puts two hearts in a home
“More bitter than death is the kind of woman who is like a hunter’s snare, her heart is like a Hunter’s net and her hands are like prison chains.”—Ecclesiastes 7:26
Sex, even with a stranger, is never casual. God says it is fully invested with meaning, whether the participants acknowledge it or not.
God intends that a husband and a wife give themselves fully to each other, body, soul, and spirit, so He designed all of these parts of being to come together in sexual love. In marriage, whole-self sex builds the relationship and deepens it so that the couple is uniquely and joyfully one flesh.
But what if it is trivialized or brought outside the holy place of marriage through premarital sex or adultery? Illicit sex at first gives a burst of pleasure (Heb 11:25). Eventually, though, the road leads to pain and grief for all not only the couple, but also the whole family, and ultimately the whole society becomes weakened.
Just like the flame of God, sexual passion is highly destructive when mishandled. In order to engage in sex with someone other than a spouse, you must disengage your soul from the physical pleasure and build walls and barriers between parts of your heart that should not be alienated from one another. You become less integrated…have less and less integrity.
Sometimes, just as it was for Nadab and Abihu who dashed into the temple with strange fire, death is the result. In Israel, God required the death penalty for both the man and the woman engaged in adultery (Lev 20:10). In the New Testament, when the woman was caught in the very act, it was a significant miscarriage of justice that the man was not dragged publicly to Jesus‘ feet along with her (Jn 8:4). As you know, Christ refused to condemn her to death as the Law required, but extended mercy and admonished her not to sin any more (Jn 8:11). Do you think that she learned chastity from her near-death experience?
Some people return to sexual sin over and over. It is a sin that easily ensnares. When they are caught, they repent and promise to be faithful, but keep getting involved in extramarital or premarital sexual relationships. Christ has the power to pull a repentant adulterer or fornicator back from the path of death and set him/her on the path of life (1 Cor 6:9-11), but God is not mocked. A Christian may not live in continual sin without consequences (Rom 6:1-2; Gal 6:7). Even though Christ can forgive sexual sin, it is an outrage to God and to a spouse (1 Cor 6:9; Heb 13:4). Paul turned one sexual sinner over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh…strong measures to help him control his unchastity before facing eternity (1 Cor 5:5). Can you imagine what the result of Paul‘s decree might have looked like to others or felt like to the man who was involved?
How hard is it to remain faithful? Chastity may be no problem when your marriage relationship is going well, when you are both physically healthy and attractive to each other, and when you have time and privacy to express your love to each other sexually. But real life has many challenges that make chastity more difficult. What do you do if your sexual desires go unmet? What if you know someone who is overwhelmingly more attractive than your spouse, and you know you could satisfy your sexual desire with that person? How can you remain faithful, when your body screams for satisfaction and your spouse does not seem to care?
Fueling the Flame of Chastity in Marriage
Note that 1 Corinthians 7 describes the main principle of regular sexual expression in marriage as a deterrent to fornication and adultery. But the dynamics are usually different for a man and for a woman.
A woman tends to see sex as an integral part of, or even the culmination of, a greater pattern of the couple’s relationship. A woman will typically only commit adultery when her emotional relationship with her husband is weak. Therefore, a man can help his wife to not be tempted by other men. He not only loves her regularly, as Paul admonishes, but he learns all of her heart languages and makes sure that he is the one speaking them most clearly in her life. The woman herself cultivates a positive mental picture of her husband‘s character and body. She does not entertain constant critical thoughts about him and avoids others who belittle him. She does not choose as friends women who are disrespectful of their own husbands.
A man may also be tempted into adultery because his relationship with his wife is not strong. However, a man may also be tempted purely for the experience of sex itself. A woman is often shocked to learn about her husband‘s unfaithfulness because their marriage seemed so happy, even their sex life. How could he seek out another woman when their relationship was so good? A wife needs to understand that a man‘s temptation often begins with his natural eye hunger. A husband and wife can work together to make sure that this hunger for the sight of a woman‘s body is satisfied at home. A single man must understand this natural instinct and work deliberately to remain pure until his eye hunger can be satisfied in marriage.