|1 Peter 3:8 |
8 Finally, be all of one mind, having compassion on one another; love as brothers,3 be tenderhearted, be courteous;
3 love as brothers. When a man and wife are freed from lust, there is a love that does not depend on receiving pleasure. Peter is addressing a more advanced group of Christians than Paul was addressing in1 Cor 7:5-7: Do not deprive each other of your body, except by mutual consent for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to fasting and prayer; and then resume relations so that Satan cannot tempt you because of your lack of self-control. But I speak this as a concession, and not as a commandment. For I wish that all men were like I am myself. But every man has his proper gift from God, one in this manner, and another in a different manner. There is a gift from God to be freed from lust: there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it. Mat 19:12. To receive this gift from God, a person must hate their lust for bodies of others with a passion. When it is received, you are able to love your spouse like a brother in Christ, for in Christ there is neither male nor female, all are one, all are sons of God.
It is impossible to overcome one's sexual desires until one of the following happens: 1) a person, (married or unmarried), becomes painfully aware that their desires apply to attractive persons in general, and that awareness then leads to a strong desire to be rid of them; or 2) in sympathy for the weakness of a person's spouse who is committed to ridding his or her sexual desires for attractive persons in general, that he or she is a willing and enthusiastic supporter to their spouse's efforts, which support would include consent to withdrawal from relations according to Paul's instructions in 1 Corinthians 7:2,5-7.
Any decision to strive to live as brother and sister, has to be one of mutual consent. If either spouse desires to continue sexual relations, the other must comply, according to the tenet of love: love is not self-seeking; for marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled. Even if a seeker is married to a non-believer; or if a seeker is married to a believer that has no interest in overcoming their sexual desires; if that seeker truly desires to overcome his or her sexual desires, it is possible with the Lord's help, (for all things are possible with God). However, sexual relations with that uninterested spouse would not be withheld because that is firmly stated by Paul as requiring mutual consent; in that case the seeker's participation in sexual relations would be an act of submission or deferral to their spouse.
If you independently, (without mutual consent), withhold sexual relations with your spouse, you risk major alienation of your spouse. The devil would love to successfully order you to cease sexual relations independent of your spouse's desires in order to create a hostile relationship in your marriage, destroying your peace and confidence, possibly even your marriage. In my experience I never heard the Lord suggest I give up sexual relations; and I don't think you will either because He wants us to become so sick of our weakness that we ourselves decide to do something about it. My motivation was simple — the lust for most any attractive woman that I knew was adultery, and had to be overcome in order to enter the kingdom. (In heaven there is no marriage or giving in marriage, there is no male or female, all are sons of God, and all are like the angels of God). There were several times of abstinence with return to relations after a time. The final time my wife and I had agreed the time had come to cease sexual relations; and when that had begun, the Lord then encouraged me to continue that abstinence, and the sexual desires melted away within several months.
Whatever the motivation, the overcoming of sexual desires is a gift from the Lord, given over time to those who desperately want to be rid of them. From the word of the Lord within: "sexual desires can be overcome." This applies to both males and females, to both heterosexual and homosexual desires, providing there is a fervent commitment to become completely free of them — but, as Mat 19:11-12 states: "all men cannot receive this;" (because they cannot believe overcoming sexual desires is even possible).]