God’s Instruction for Marriage Includes Intimacy Between a Husband and Wife

Glorify God in your body by not withholding what is rightfully your spouse's.

We tend to live as if our physical bodies belong to us. For the true follower of Jesus Christ, this is never true. Like the silver in Jean Valjean’s life, a price has been paid for us.

Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost . . . and that you are not your own? You have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Corinthians 6:19,20.

Not being your own is doubly so for those married. According to God, your spouse has access rights to your physical body. Your body isn’t yours because Jesus bought it at the cross and, it isn’t yours because it belongs to your spouse. As God said, “The two will become one flesh.”

Question – Do you ever withhold physical intimacy from your spouse? Withholding yourself from your spouse is a sin in and of itself, but the Word also says doing so will lead to more sin.

Anyone who ignores his/her spouse’s needs for physical touch and sexual intimacy is walking in sin.

Put so starkly, this may sound harsh but the Bible isn’t an ice-cream shop where Christians can pick and choose what flavor (verse) they like best. So, what does the Bible say, specifically?

If men and women do not get married and remain physically intimate on a regular basis, they are setting themselves up for sin. If they withhold themselves from each other, they are setting up their spouse for sin.

“. . . to avoid engaging in illicit sex of any kind, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. The husband should ensure his wife’s sexual needs are met and the wife should make sure her husband’s sexual needs are met. The wife does not have power (exclusive authority/the right to deny her husband) over her own body and neither does the husband. And, don’t defraud each other (withhold sex from each other), unless you both agree for a time so you can fast and pray about a particular issue. Then, be sure to commence having sex so Satan doesn’t have an opportunity to tempt you to have sex with someone else.” In 1 Corinthians 7:2-5 (MLJV)

We will all stand before God, one day, to give an account of our lives. Some will have to answer the question, “Why did you withhold physical touch and intimacy from the wife/husband I gave you?”

In a happy, fulfilling, God-honoring marriage, you won’t find two perfect people. But, you will find two people who seek to be obedient to God’s instructions for marriage.

Are you a married Christian? Then glorify God in your body by not withholding what God says is rightfully your spouse’s.

Matthew L. Jacobson

For the men: You don’t have a porn problem. You have a sin problem. 

*Check out my NEW ebook: 100 Ways to Love Your Wife


  • Jessica

    I hate to say this but this article was pointless. We all know what the bible says about the issue. But what do we do about the issue?? Sometimes it’s not so easy and simply going off about how that makes us sinners is not helpful in any way. This article just chastised.

    • Matthew L. Jacobson

      Thank you for your comment and questions. I’m not sure why the photo is blocking some of the words here, it’s never done that before. But I hope you can read this anyway? I will try to get that fixed, but in the meanwhile, here is my reply.
      Here it is, again: That everyone knows what the Bible says about this issue has not been my experience as a pastor/elder, over the course of ten years. Rather, I’ve counseled many Christian men and women who have not walked according to the Scriptures regarding sex within marriage but have used this gift as a weapon. Generally speaking, what to do about the issue is to recognize what the Scriptures teach (you are one with your spouse and you don’t have the right to withhold sex and intimacy from each other . . . and, it flows both ways. Men can be just as guilty of this as women). Having mentioned the general teaching, I would hasten to say that there are many situations where a spouse should, indeed, withhold him/herself physically but, those are the exceptions to the general teaching. For instance, a wife recently wrote that her husband was being unfaithful. No woman is obligated under this situation. And, of course, there are others but, in a Christian marriage, the Scripture speaks with clarity on this issue that is all too common in the Church. If the Scriptures chastise us for our behaviour, we would do well to heed its instructions and warnings.

  • Renae

    What about lust within marriage? If we are lusting after our spouse, we are not in union within them let alone God. Yes, sexual intimacy is of God within Marriage, but only when it is love not lust and many get those two mixed up. I know I get the two mixed up often. Someone once told me that lust is self serving and love is self giving. So if we lust after our spouse we should be saying no to our spouse while communicating with them about our situation. Fasting from sexual intimacy when agreed on by both spouses is actually a good way to become closer to each other and bring God to the center of the relationship. Yes, it is not the only way to achieve that, but what does everyone else think?

  • Tara

    I don’t agree with Jessica. This article is a great reminder that in fact our body does not belong to us. And what can happen if we do withhold. And to keep us focused on our role as a wife. If there are challenges in the intimacy area of your marriage, is it something as simple as both reading this article? Or do you need a little more help? Of which there are many great resources on the web. God bless.

  • Amanda

    Lets include everything which isnt good for your body since it is not yours and has been bought for a price. Overweight Christians? SIN! You better all start eating healthy and working out, put out for your spouse whenever he/she wants (nomatter how you feel) and I’m sure there are many “shoulds” and “does” to add to the list…Thats also a form of legalism, having to perform and abide to “the rules”…seriously, we all sin all day long, how silly to point out some sins and say “oh, you shouldnt do this”. How is God glorified if a woman lies there, letting herself be used and feels dirty and shamed afterwards because she “shouldnt withhold herself”? Is that what we want to teach our daughters? That they are objects for their husbands gratification? THAT is not Gods will!

    • Matthew L. Jacobson

      Thank you for your comment and questions. I’m not sure why the photo is blocking some of the words here, it’s never done that before. But I hope you can read this anyway? I will try to get that fixed, but in the meanwhile, here is my reply.

      Amanda, I fear you have not carefully read the article which dealt with a specific issue spoken of directly in Scripture. There is nothing dirty or shameful about sex withing Christian marriage. Not that sin within marriage cannot take a couple to the place of shamefulness and a lack of love but, that is a different issue, not covered in this article. Here is outlined the general teahing on the subject of withholding one’s self from that which rightfully belongs to one’s spouse, whether man or wife. The admonition in Scripture goes to both spouses. There are many situations that can qualify this teaching, such as unfaithfulness in a spouse, but again, that is another issue for another article. In a Christian marriage, God does not want us to keep ourselves from our spouses. If one is an exception to the rule is for each indivitual to decide before God.

  • Amanda

    I think its actually quite abusive to scare people here by saying they will have to give an account for not letting themselves be used. Do you even now how much that can destroy an insecure person? We live under grace, not under legalism. God loves me nomatter what. All He requires of me is faith. Thats it. I dont have to follow any rules, Jesus tried to tell the Pharisees the same thing but thats the hardest thing right? Admitting that there is NOTHING I can do for God. All He wants is for me to believe. Like a child. Do you love your children because they obay your rules? Or because they are your children, NOMATTER WHAT? My heart bleeds for all the women out there who feel abused and lonely and forsaken by God because they are scared into letting themselves be abused. By their pastors and teachers who should know better and who, by the way, have a much larger responsibilty when it comes to giving an account to God one day. This is just pure hypocracy, none of us can live up to Gods standards. Why pick out one thing and condemn people because of it? Straining out gnats but swallowing camels! Dont you see that Jesus condemned this kind of behaviour?

    • Audi

      No rules? What about loving The Lord with all of you and your neighbor as yourself? Would you want someone saying what you wrote to you? Especially the gnats and camel saying…it makes me think about looking in the mirror. Maybe you should try it too. So harsh sounding.

    • Matthew L. Jacobson

      Thank you for your comment and questions. I’m not sure why the photo is blocking some of the words here, it’s never done that before. But I hope you can read this anyway? I will try to get that fixed, but in the meanwhile, here is my reply.

      Clearly you have had life experience that has affected the way you see this clear teaching of Scripture. Please understand that there is no call for anyone, pastor or otherwise, to sanction the abuse of any other person. That subject is not covered in this article. I’m sorry you see this in what was written. If you are curious about my message to men who are unfaithful, you might enjoy reading

      May God give us all grace to follow His instructions, not out of rule-keeping or compulsion but because He is our good heavenly Father and we love to delight His heart and to live according to His will.

  • mickey

    And what if you know your spouse may be cheating on you (or has done that but doesn’t show a true sorrow over it) and it hasn’t come out into the open yet? Or even if he has a wandering eye no matter if you’ve been giving of yourself? A man that does those things doesn’t make his wife feel like he’s her own and how then is she supposed to “get into the mood” under those kinds of circumstances? Not only that but puts herself at risk for a sexual disease? I think these things go both ways. If a husband isn’t loving his wife exclusively or showing her by his wandering eye that she isn’t cherished how in the world can she even begin to let him have his way with her. I would like to read an article from women that have gone through hard trials in this area.

    • Matthew L. Jacobson

      Thank you for your comment and questions. I’m not sure why the photo is blocking some of the words here, it’s never done that before. But I hope you can read this anyway? I will try to get that fixed, but in the meanwhile, here is my reply.

      Mickey, Lisa and I are so sorry for your circumstances. Our hearts go out to you. The Bible does not require anyone to have sex with an unfaithful spouse. In fact, Jesus, Himself, said in the book of Matthew that even though God hates divorce, spouses are allowed to divorce in cases of adultry. I can tell you without reservation that Lisa would never stay with me if I was unfaithful to her. Even so, in some cases, women decide to stay and others decide to divorce. May God give you the grace to hear His voice and understand His leading in your personal circumstances.

  • Megan

    Ladies. There is an outlet to people who have no sexual desire. It’s called celibacy. In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul makes it clear that it is better to be single than married. If you are single you only have to worry about what you can do to please God. If you are married you need to worry about pleasing God and your husband. He states that the only reason to get married is if you are burning with desire, marriage being the only appropriate place to have that desire. Also, the Bible does not say that lust is a sin. It says that lusting for someone who is not your spouse is a sin. I know that this is the LAST thing that Christians want to hear. I’m sure that’s why most churches dont address it. However, I believe it is one of the biggest problems we face. It is hard to hear but very much needed.

  • Cassie

    I was married to a man who was not unfaithful, but rebellious to living God’s way. It killed our marriage. It killed our relationship. We divorced. By God ‘s goodness I married my love this year after dating for a year (to the day). I understand women reading this and feeling appalled because of the circumstances they have known. But please believe me when I say to give your life in every way to your husband WHEN HE IS DOING THE SAME FOR YOU changes everything. This article isn’t about sex it’s about INTIMACY. It’s the being lonely, having physical feelings we can’t share with the one person we are supposed to share everything with, that leads to adultery so many times. Of course if there is sin and hurt tearing a marriage apart, it tears it apart in every way. What this gentleman is saying though, is we are not to purposefully hurt our spouse by withholding actions of love. Especially for men being rejected in their own home by the one person they are fully vulnerable with is CRUSHING. Not every man is bad, not every physical relationship is ugly. God does not give us directives to hurt us. His will is for us to be closer. I want my daughters to know what God says a marriage should be. I want them to have happy fulfilling marriages when they grow up. I wish I had really understood what a Godly marriage was when I married the first time. I’m just thankful He worked on my heart so I understand now.

  • DJ

    I am struggling in this area. I have a spouse who complains about a lot of various things, is angry, hurtful to our children with their words, and sometimes is just not a good person. It is hard to find this person attractive and desirable when I see so many unattractive behaviors . Isn’t there a level of self respect? I’m not comfortable giving myself to someone simply because the bible says my body belongs to them.

  • Keri

    As with many other “controversial” topics (such as wives being submissive), this is something that needs to go both ways. In a godly marriage, if one partner isn’t feeling “up to it,” the other should respect that. It doesn’t mean sex is being withheld, but that there is a mutual respect. It’s about loving one another by doing things that are in the best interest of both (which may inadvertently get the other spouse “in the mood”). Intimacy is so much more than just the act of sex alone (and there’s an article on my blog on that topic).

  • Angela

    In principle I agree with this article- our bodies belonging to one another in marriage, and not with-holding sexual intimacy from the other. In practice I can no longer live it. I came to the Lord as a child, and He is the most important part of my life. I married my husband for love, and he is a good man who also follows the Lord. For 21 years our marriage was sexually normal. But since the birth of our oldest child 25 years ago I have struggled with depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. As I grow older, the OCD has become increasing devastating- to the extent that some days I don’t even want to use the bathroom, and now sleep in another room away from my husband. I feel tremendous guilt and utter despair over the fact that I am not what I should be. At times I have felt it would be better for our marriage to end so that my husband could be free of me, and at times I have wanted to end my life. What advice do you have for someone like me? Am I just sinning? Or am I just sick? I would have compassion on someone else who lived with this- but I have no compassion for me. Just despair over my failure.

    • Darlene Schacht

      Angela, you are dealing with a situation that is not the norm or typical situation. It’s like telling a woman without arms to pick up her crying child. When we vow to love someone we love them through sickness and in health. You are loved by an almighty God who has purchased you, redeemed you, and set you free. We’ll never be perfect in this world. None of us will. We all struggle and deal with human failure and but we are perfected through faith. Walk in His grace. See who you are through His eyes. You matter in this world–immensely–even when you might not feel like you do.

  • Angela

    Further to my comments above, I should add that I definitely realise I have a medical condition, and take medication for it. However, nothing takes it away.

  • pj

    every comment who is giving excuses and justifications is in rebellion and self focused, looking for a loophole to get out of godliness. if this were not true, then they would be able to cite Scripture which affirms their position. whatever makes one squirm the most is the point at which they are willing to forsake their beliefs in God and embrace their idol of self.

  • Carol

    I underwent several surgeries nearly 10 years ago for severe endometriosis. The final surgery removed uterus, ovaries and cervix. 3 months after that surgery, once given the green light from the doctor, my spouse & I attempted to resume intimacy. It was painful, so we stopped. Since that time, despite overtures on my part, my husband withholds himself. The excuses range from I don’t want to hurt you since it hurt the one time we tried it (yes I bought products to assist that), to you are no longer attractive since you put on weight (truth is, we both have). I exercise regularly and have lost a good third of the weight gained while he puts on more weight and drinks alcohol on a frighteningly more regular basis and passes out in his recliner by 9 every evening. I pray faithfully for my spouse and my marriage, that He would renew my husbands desire for me, and strengthen and comfort me as I live a life of silent loneliness. I am hurt and confused and just plain tired of living this way. Every time I bring it up, the excuses flip flop depending on his mood. It doesn’t occur to him to try a different method (more gentle, more patient), he simply says he is scared it will hurt, which I see as a cop out. To add insult to injury, we’ve read and done a study on the Love Languages. His primary is acts of service, mine is physical touch. The only time he makes an effort to touch me is holding my hand into and out of church devices every week (posturing). I don’t read a lot of cases where the wife is the one longing for intimacy while the husband withholds, and my pastor simply advises me to pray for him and our marriage. Our 13th anniversary is this year, and we haven’t had intimacy for nearly ten of those years. I work FT outside our home, then come home to be housekeeper and maid. Heart heavy.

    • Darlene Schacht

      Carol, this line really stood out to me, “you are no longer attractive since you put on weight.” Ouch. There are so many women who are beautiful with extra pounds, and a lot of men who are very much attracted to them. And in fact women with extra pounds used to be more desirable than skinny women. It sounds to me like your husband is dealing with something internally that needs to be resolved. You are wise to keep praying for him. And remember YOU are loved by an almighty God. You’re created by the hands of a master sculptor and there isn’t a single woman on this planet that owns the recipe you are. Embrace that.

    • Greg

      Carol, I doubt you will ever see this since it has been a 4 year span of time since you made your above post but I understand what you are going thru. I’m one of many men that are going thru the same frustration. Actually going on 16 years of emotional torture in that arena of a sexless marriage. It’s been painful to say the least! I have prayed and prayed and prayed but it has been to no avail. I have tried so many things too. I’ve been more loving. I’ve been more kind. I’ve been more patient and understanding. I’ve tried being romantic. I’ve tried being everything that a Christian husband should be but it has not changed her attitude sexually for me. Even though I have thought of cheating, I have not. I have been faithful. Even if she will not be faithful in her intimate obligations to me I shall remain faithful to our marriage. I once read an old saying that said, “for the unsaved this old world is their heaven and for the true believer this old world is their hell”. This part of my marriage has indeed been .a living hell for me. Other than NO sex ever between us every other part is not too bad. I have no idea why the Lord has not lifted me from this but the best we can do is to . continue holding onto him. I certainly pray that others may not have to go thru this but it appears to be much more common than it should be . God bless and take care!