Why is it that in our society we have plenty of sex before marriage and rather little in marriage ?
And I think Christians are no exception. Maybe the problem is even as old as mankind. Paul didn't write his letter for no reason. So the questions must have come up. Lets see what Ray Stedman has to say:
Having said that marriage is a way of relieving sexual pressures, Paul now says something else very significant. He says sex in marriage is designed of God to teach us something about ourselves, and to fulfill a missing need in our partners. You see this in Verses 3-5:
The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does. Do not refuse one another[or to put it more bluntly, as the Greek actually does and as we read in the King James Version, "Defraud ye not one the other"] except perhaps by agreement for a season, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, lest Satan tempt you through lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:3-5 RSV)
I say this by way of concession, not of command. I wish that all were as l myself am. But each has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. (1 Corinthians 7:6-7 RSV)
The major thrust of that paragraph is telling us that sex in marriage is designed for the fulfillment of each partner. This is what the Song of Solomon so beautifully captures. We read a paragraph together from that this morning just to catch the flavor of that beautiful book, written to describe the exquisite ecstasy of sexual love within marriage. That is what that book is about. Unfortunately, Victorian squeamishness has so prevailed in the Church that most people do not know that. They think it is a book written to be an allegory about Christ and the Church. Well now, since marriage is that kind of an allegory, that is a legitimate use of that book, but it is not what it was written about. It was written to describe the courtship and wedding and subsequent married life of a young couple who before God were seeking to explore and discover all the beautiful relationships that God intended when he made our bodies different from one another, when he made our psyches different from one another, even our spiritual hungers different in male and female and brought the two together. ... Paul does not say to the husband and the wife, "Demand your own sexual rights." He never puts it in that way, and yet as a marriage counselor I can say that I have been involved in scores of cases where one of the major problems of the marriage was that one partner, usually the man, demanded his sexual rights from his wife. Nothing, perhaps, is more destructive to marital happiness than that .......giving license to the husband to demand sex whenever he wants it is to destroy the whole beauty of sex in marriage. ......you have the right to ...give him or her, as a gift from you, the fulfillment of these sexual desires -- and the responsibility you have is not to your mate, but to the Lord to do so. It is a matter that Paul puts on the basis of the relationship that a believer has with his or her Lord, and it is the Lord who asks us to give this gift to our mates in marriage, and thus to make it a basis of mutual fulfillment and satisfaction.
In other words, sex in marriage is a gift that you are to freely offer to each other. It is not a selfish, self-centered satisfying of your own desire. If we understand that it is going to make a big difference in many marriages, and, if you reflect on it a moment, you will see why. I suggested last week that physical sex is given to us to teach us how to relate to one another psychologically, and how to relate to God spiritually, and this is true in this area. Sex is so designed that we have no control over it ourselves within marriage. We need another to minister to us, and that is designed of God in order to teach us how to relate and fulfill the basic law of life which Jesus put in these terms when he said, "If you attempt to save your life you will lose it," (Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 17:33, John 12:25). If you try to meet your own need, if you put that first in your life -- "I am going to have my needs met" -- the result will be that you will lose the joy of life and you will lose everything you are trying to gain. Instead of finding fulfillment you will find emptiness, and you will end your years looking back upon a wasted experience. You cannot get fulfillment that way.
That is not merely good advice -- that is a law of life, as inviolable as the law of gravity. You cannot beat it any way you try. The only way to find your needs met and yourself fulfilled is to fulfill another's needs. Throw your life away, Jesus said, and you will find it. That is what sex is all about. It is designed not to have your needs met, but to meet another's needs. Thus, in marriage, you have a beautiful reciprocity. In the process of devoting yourself to the enjoyment of your mate, and to giving him or her the most exquisite sense of pleasure that you can, you find your own needs met. That is what is meant by Verse 4, "For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does," (1 Corinthians 7:4 RSV). That is not saying that you are slaves of one another. It is saying that the power to give fulfillment to your mate lies with you. He or she cannot fulfill himself or herself in this area. It is impossible. That is why sex with yourself, solo sex, is a drag. It does not go anywhere. It is a dead-end street. It is a momentary, mechanical fulfillment that leaves you psychologically unfulfilled. The only way those psychological fulfillments can be met is by your partner giving you the gift of fulfillment and you giving him or her the same gift.