As some of you know I am taking remote classes to become a Chaplain at Christian Leaders Institute.
I am presently taking a course entitled Ministry Care Conversations featuring the lectures of Dr. Mark Gungor which has been covering some of the dynamics of Marriage and I wanted to share some of my thoughts as I have been studying the subject.
The verse that inspired this post is from 1 Corinthians 7:2-6,
“… let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.”
From what I am learning in my classes Men & Women have 2 totally different concepts as to what “Due Benevolence” means.
Most Men think that “Due Benevolence” refers to intimacy, and that it is defrauding for the woman to not allow him access to her body(& person), (after all they are “married”).
Most Women think of “Due Benevolence” is random acts of kindness or at the very least getting things done that need to get done, and that it is defrauding for the man to not allow access to his body(muscles & person), (after all they are “married”).
The Men and the Women are both correct in feeling defrauded if they are not receiving this “Due Benevolence” and “Due Benevolence” is part of motivating them to be Christ like (selfless) and to represent Christ to each other and to the world around them.
Except for the marriage contract including it’s vows there is no reason for the man and the woman to feel entitled to the other in this way, but the marriage contract including it’s vows is a promise to give of your body for the other’s betterment, and if you are not fulfilling that contract, it would seam that you are defrauding your partner.
Now be reasonable and do not raise your expectations too high, but if you want your partner to like you as a spouse you have to fulfill their “Due Benevolence” need. You don’t determine the fulfillment level of their need, they do. Both of you are required to be BENEVOLENT.
BENEVOLENCE is a gift given out of generosity. It cannot be an obligation. The man wants the woman to just want to give intimacy and the woman just wants the man to want to give random acts of kindness or at the very least get things done that need to get done. If you don’t want to give, then it is an obligation or a business transaction, and it is not unreasonable for the other to feel defrauded if all the other does is take.
It is not enough for the man to be intimate in exchange for intimacy. That should come naturally to the man.
It is not enough for the woman to do random acts of kindness or at the very least get things done. That should come naturally to her.
[Now in the event that the roles are in any way reversed, just do what is best for the other and for the kingdom of God, remember that marriage is a picture of Christ and the church.]
Both must give what the other needs. This is all about becoming one. It is about becoming like Christ.
Let’s look at Philippians 2:2-11
“Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Marriage is the training ground to help you become like Jesus. It is where you die to your own desires for the sake of the other.
Now having said this it is important that the man gently teach the woman how to love him (she doesn’t automatically know what he wants). The woman also has to gently teach the man how to love her (he doesn’t automatically know what he wants). Don’t sell yourself cheap but also do not defraud the other. You are gently helping them to die to themself as much as you are making it bearable. Be merciful and always give more than you take. And remember that the man is the stronger one. He should always be giving a larger quantity of benevolence than the woman.
This is the grown up version of groaning up. Learn to take any defrauding patiently and still give with a good attitude, don’t miss an opportunity, it is helping you grow in Christ.
1 Corinthians 6:7-8
“Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, … Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.”
Now keep in mind that defrauding and abuse are two totally different things.
Defrauding is unintentional selfishness. This can happen whenever someone is just clueless and or having a ruff day. To this Jesus’s response is. “Father forgive them they know not what they do.” And turning the other cheek in a situation. (Note that if a man strikes a woman it is always abuse).
Abuse is intentional/malicious selfishness. It is knowing what one is doing and choosing to do what they want just because they feel like it regardless of what discomfort it causes to the other. It is anything from an intentional unkind word to physical ruff treatment.
Let’s look at Ephesians 5:25-33
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”
Now it is important to note that the way to the man’s heart is through intimacy and the way to the woman’s heart is through random acts of kindness or at the very least getting things done. God designed the Man to need to get to the woman’s heart through random acts of kindness or at the very least getting things done before she is motivated to desire intimacy and for the Woman to need to get to the man’s heart through intimacy in order to motivate him to want to do random acts of kindness or at the very least getting things done. Both the Man and the Woman subconsciously think that the other should provide what they want before they should give but that is not so.
If you are not providing this most basic desire, in a sense, you are not loving your partner the way that they subconsciously expect to be loved. This is why “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part!” is part the marriage vow. Because sometimes you aren’t able to provide what the other wants and/or subconsciously expects even if you really want to, but you are promising to provide your end of the agreement to the best of your ability regardless of what the other does, and you swear this vow in order to assure the other that you do love them. So don’t swear it if you don’t mean it.
Man, realize that you are promising to the best of your ability to provide random acts of kindness or at the very least getting things done regardless of if she is ever able to provide intimacy.
Woman, realize that you are promising to the best of your ability to provide intimacy regardless of if he is ever able to provide random acts of kindness or at the very least getting things done.
So you better really love them regardless of their shortcomings before you make your vows to them, and don’t give intimacy to them before you get their vow because God created intimacy to cause you to overlook their imperfections. It temporarily erases their imperfections from your mind in order to bond you to them. In other words it makes you both stupid. This is why if you start with intimacy and then make your vow you feel cheated later when you don’t get what you subconsciously expected.
This is why Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7 that he wished that people would not marry because of the additional trouble that they would face. He also indicated that if you don’t provide “Due Benevolence” to the other, that you are actually leaving the door open for them to be tempted by Satan, and yet note Paul’s qualification for deacons & bishops in 1 Timothy 3. They have been married and raised children first.
A Solomon said, “Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.” & “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.”
Marriage is not about getting, it is about giving and marriage is one of the best training grounds for making one into a godly leader.