The Air We Breathe – Consent

Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. 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.

  • 1 Corinthians 7:1-6

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

  • 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

  • Ephesians 5:21-33

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

  • Galatians 3:26-28

“Within the church none are ‘lords’ except Christ, and all are one. Regardless of race, rank or gender, all belong to the family of God. And as family, the beating heart of the church’s ethic is love—a trait that floods the New Testament and early Christian writing, yet is barely mentioned in the classical virtue lists. Philosophers such as Plato or Cicero considered the foundational virtues to be wisdom, justice, courage, and moderation—traits well suited to the army barracks. In fact, the word ‘virtue’ is closely related to the word ‘virile’. Both come from the Latin word vir, meaning ‘man’. Virtue was ‘manliness’.
But Christ revealed a different kind of God and a different kind of man. He taught that the highest good was to love—to love God and neighbour, and even to love our enemies. And what is love? Paul penned one of the Bible’s—indeed literature’s—most famous passages: … (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)
“These are not the slogans of the drill sergeant but the atmosphere of the healthy family home. And so, to bring this chapter full circle, we should consider one particular aspect of the church’s family life: its treatment of children.
“In the ancient world sex with boys and girls was not merely tolerated; it was celebrated by writers like Juvenal, Petronius, Horace, Strato, Lucian, and Philostratus. The word they used was
pederasty: love of children. Christians were uniformly disgusted by the practice and called it by a different name—paidophthoros: destruction of children.
“What the classical world called love, Christians called abuse, ‘thereby construing all sexual contact with the young as an act of corruption’. In the reign of the Christian emperor Justinian (527-565), pederasty was outlawed and could be prosecuted well after the abuse took place. Here church and state—preaching and legislation—worked together as a one—two punch against the sexualisation of children.
“Today, as ‘children of the revolution’, we take for granted this revolution in our regard for children. The evil of child sexual abuse represents perhaps the moral certainty of our day. But our day needs setting in historical context. We view things on this side of the Jesus movement: ‘the single greatest breakthrough against child abuse’. Before and without Jesus, it is not always clear to people ‘what a little girl is worth’.

  • Glen Scrivener, The Air We Breathe

Rev. Scrivener has “consent” as his third concept that we feel is like the Air that We Breathe.  His point is that in the beginning, before the fall, there was always mutual consent.  Everything was perfect.  Then the fallen world lost the concept of consent.  Often, a woman was taken, abused, and in some cases discarded.  Rev. Scrivener paints that picture, especially with conquering armies as the Romans were in Jesus’ day.  Then Jesus taught the concept of consent.

But Jesus did so without using the word “consent”.  The word “consent” is used eight times in the NIV and only in the 1 Corinthians 7 quote above is it in reference to mutual consent between a man and woman.  Even then, the man and woman are husband and wife, and they are mutually consenting to NOT have sex for a short while, not mutual consent to have sexual relations, since that is part of the bond of marriage.

But note that the Apostle Paul does not make the sexual relations of marriage or the mutual consent in not having sex as a command, but rather a concession due to a man’s desires to be with a woman and how either spouse may look elsewhere if there was not that union in marriage, thus introducing sin into the relationship.  I hope that makes sense.  Paul would prefer celibacy, but he understood such urges, thus a concession in that regard.

But the entire idea of consent is that you give value to the other person, whether the male or the female in the relationship.  And when Rev. Scrivener goes off on a tangent toward child molestation, the child is too young to understand what is happening and “consent” should not be the controlling concept.  While the secular world is trying to rid us of the concept of an age to understand, Christians may be the only ones that understand the concept of protecting children from sexual predators.

And too often I have heard that the boy heard her say “no” but she was enjoying it, or asking for it, and he ignored her pleas.  Of course, it usually ends with his word against hers unless there is a rape kit used.

But then, we get back to the 1 Corinthians 7 “concession” of Paul.  If one party in the relationship decides that sexual activity is off the table and there has been no mutual consent to ever stop that activity, then if one desires and the other does not, we get back into the reason for marriage that Paul considers a concession.  Even if the desire is not consummated, you have the lust to consider, the penned-up frustration that could lead to violence, even if only angry words, and the possibility of infidelity.  I do not think that the Apostle Paul is asking too much when he says the decision must be of mutual consent.

Lord, guide me.  In maintaining a healthy relationship with my wife, we need to make more than sexual mutual consent decisions.  We need to expand that to more than the physical aspects of marriage.  If I am to honor and love her and she is to subject herself to me, everything that we do should be to the glory of You, Lord, and done with mutual consent between both partners.  In Thy Name I pray.  Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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