If you think 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 is a command for women to have sex on demand with their husbands, you’ve lost the plot.
And not just that, but you have no business leading an SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) seminary where future SBC pastors are trained.
But that’s exactly what Daniel Akin did. (For reference, Daniel Akin is also on the board of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.)
Let’s take a quick look at 1 Corinthians 7:3-7 for a moment–and yes, I’m going to add in the later two verses that we often forget about. These are the famous “do not deprive” verses:
The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.
This is advice to BOTH the husband and the wife, and the key theme in this passage is utter mutuality. Nothing is given to the husband that was not also given to the wife. In fact, this is the only time in Scripture that authority in marriage is explicitly talked about, and when it is, it’s completely mutual.
But Daniel Akin–again, a president of an SBC seminary–wrote an article called “The Bible and Sexuality” which appears in the Holman Christian Standard Bible, where he weaponized these verses against women.
I created a Fixed It For You of that this week:
Think about the mental twisting and total bias you have to bring to that passage to phrase it as only a command to wives–and specifically a command to be “sexually available.”
Does he not know how icky a phrase “sexually available” is?
It turns her into a prostitute. She’s available for sex on demand. She must be ready to let him use her whenever he wants.
And it’s totally passive, too. Sex isn’t something that she participates in; sex is something that is done to her. She’s just a receptacle. And somehow he got that from a passage which was completely and utterly mutual.
Seriously, the only way that you can translate it that way is if you think that women are meant to serve men, and you interpret absolutely everything through that lens. Oh, and if you totally misunderstand sex too!
But Daniel Akin isn’t the only one to do this. As we said in The Great Sex Rescue:
Too often, though, books portray that verse and the surrounding ones as applying only to men. Fred and Brenda Stoeker’s Every Heart Restored even says this: “Sure, men are promised regular sexual release by Scripture. But by the same token, women are promised that their husbands will treat them with honor and tenderness (1 Pet. 3:7).” Let’s look more closely though. Notice something interesting about that passage they referred to about men’s needs? They forgot to mention that it’s directed at both spouses. If they use that verse to show women they need to give their husbands “sexual release” (i.e., orgasm), then by their own logic, they should have charged men with the same responsibility to bring their wives release too.
When people hear 1 Corinthians 7 quoted, for some inexplicable reason they think it promises men that wives will give “release” and make themselves “sexually available”, and completely ignore the mutuality of it.
That’s a big thing we talk about in The Great Sex Rescue, in our section on how it’s actually women who are most likely to be deprived!
What if you’re NOT the problem with your sex life?
What if the messages that you’ve been taught have messed things up–and what if there’s a way to escape these toxic teachings?
It’s time for a Great Sex Rescue.
Why would so many authors and seminary professors and pastors teach on 1 Corinthians 7 this way?
I actually think the root of it goes to completely not understanding sex, let alone women’s sexuality.
Think about it: You can’t possibly make such a glaringly bad, biased, and inaccurate translation of 1 Corinthians 7 if you believe that:
- Wives want orgasm
- Wives CAN orgasm, and SHOULD orgasm
- Women want sex sometimes too
- Sex is about more than just a man’s physical release, since it’s also be an intimate experience
- Women can be active participants in sex
- Men should do foreplay and spend time pleasing their wives
- Women have the right to say no when they are not interested, since sex is to be totally mutual
You simply could never read 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 and summarize that passage by saying “God commands women be sexually available to their husbands” if you believe any of the above things. Even if you SAY you believe some of these things, and even write some of these things down, if you still summarize the passage saying that it’s a command to women to be sexually available, you can’t really believe them. It’s like when you say things because you know, in the political climate, you have to say them, even if you don’t believe them.
Thinking that this is a command JUST TO WIVES to be “sexually available” negates everything else. Anyone who actually believed these things could never summarize the passage that way.
That means that Daniel Akin, Fred and Brenda Stoeker and Steve Arterburn, and many others, must actually believe:
- Women don’t really orgasm
- Orgasm is not important to women
- Women don’t want sex
- Sex is only focused on a man’s physical release, and true intimacy and closeness isn’t a part of sex
- Women aren’t really active during sex, but mostly just let him use her
- Foreplay isn’t a thing
- Women have no right to say no
We dealt with all of those terrible beliefs in The Great Sex Rescue, by the way. And I wish Daniel Akin could at least read our chapter on when obligation becomes coercion, since he apparently doesn’t think women can say no.
If anyone wants any more reason to not attend an SBC seminary, I think that’s a pretty good list. And remember: SBC pastors are being trained in an environment where this is how sex is seen. This is how women are seen.
All I can say is, “how dare they!”
Is it any wonder that the SBC been so reticent to do anything at all about sexual abuse?
They see sex as a male entitlement and a female obligation. So why would they treat abuse any differently?
Lord, have mercy.
What do you think? Let’s talk in the comments!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
What if sex doesn't start in the kitchen--but her libido can die there? Rebecca here on the blog...
What if there's something super simple you could do that could improve your mood and your...
God created life with natural rhythms. But I feel like much of the effort of modern life is to...
Let's talk obligation sex--and how it's a terrible libido and marriage killer! This July I'm...
For every guy who has ever thought, "my wife hates sex," or, even worse, "my wife hates ME," I...
It's the wrap up podcast for our What's Killing Women's Libido series! At the end of the month we...
How do women’s hormone levels affect libido throughout the month? What role does contraception and menopause have in libido? Let’s look!
Our survey results have completely changed how we talk about sex. And that likely surprises...