Whose Body?

Question:  “In connection with NAU  1 Corinthians 7:4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” – Is it ever acceptable for one spouse to say to the other, “I’m really exhausted; not tonight”? Can the two agree to come together at a later time – very soon – when both will be better prepared to enjoy the experience?”


Of course this is acceptable to say, “not tonight.” Here are some thoughts: 

1. Hopefully what you are saying is “I am not prepared to give you pleasure as I know I should and as I desire to do.” In other words, begging off must not be primarily self-centered. 

2. You may remember that I spoke of “other” reasons for temporary abstinence not mentioned in v 4-5. It is fairly obvious that the statement in chapter 7 is not intended to be exhaustive. I consider physical or emotional exhaustion to be in an “other” category. There undoubtedly are unique items for each couple that fall into this category as well. 

3. Ideally, spouses should be attuned to each other’s physical, emotional, and spiritual disposition so that they can sense where the other person is and thus know it would not be in the either’s best interest to suggest a rousing roll in the hay.

4. This could be symptomatic of larger problems if begging off becomes frequent. The one begging off may have the wrong perspective and the one asking may be insensitive. Either way self- centeredness is probably an issue if not outright disobedience.

5. I would also note that this whole issue may vary depending on the couple’s stage of life, such as rearing several rug rats or everyone off to college. Also, it is fairly well documented that we experience physiological changes over our lifetime as well.