Self-Control — A Word Study — Day 3

Self-Control n.
control or restraint of oneself or one’s actions, feelings, etc.
syn. self-discipline, self-restraint, willpower, levelheadedness

Today’s Verse: 1 Corinthians 7:5

  • So don’t refuse sex to each other, unless you agree not to have sex for a little while, in order to spend time in prayer. Then Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. [CEV]
  • Do not deprive each other except 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. [NIV]
  • It’s good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out. Abstaining from sex is permissible for a period of time if you both agree to it, and if it’s for the purposes of prayer and fasting—but only for such times. Then come back together again. Satan has an ingenious way of tempting us when we least expect it. I’m not, understand, commanding these periods of abstinence—only providing my best counsel if you should choose them. [1Corinthians 7:2b-6 — The Message]
  • 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. [KJV]

In Context: Paul is writing about marriage and martial relationships. He begins by saying that it is much preferable to remain single and celibate, but if one cannot do that, then it is best to marry. Then he says, the wife’s body does not belong to the wife alone, but also the husband; and that the husband’s body does not belong to the husband alone but also the wife and the two of them need to share those bodies regularly — giving pleasure to one another — in order to prevent the temptations of the flesh from leading them into sin (sex outside of marriage).

Biblical & Contemporary Connotations:  I think this one is pretty self-explanatory and even though social values have changed over the years, the organized church, for the most part, still preaches monogamous sex.  This is not just for the purpose of procreation and raising Godly children, though that is a very important aspect of Biblical teaching, but monogamy is also the best way to insure solidarity in extended families, communities, and other social organization — and to control the spread of diseases.  The mose sexual partners one has, the greater one’s risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease.

Journal : Marriage — commitment and fidelity — were dying a radical death just as I was coming of age.  Despite that fact, or maybe because of it, I was bound and determined that divorce was never going to be part of my marriage.  My determination to never divorce was so strong that when I could finally no longer safely remain with the alcoholic I married, I removed myself from the relationship, but did not file for divorce.  I resigned myself to being single and celibate the remainder of my life.  It wasn’t a happy resignation.

Several years later a pastor explained to me that marriage is a covenant — a promise between two people and, hopefully, God, that their union would florish and prosper and they would always work together as a unit.  Pastor explained to me that my husband broke the covenant long before I left him.  Marriage, he told me, is not just about sexual fidelity, but about looking after one another’s physical, mental and emotional needs and maintaining one another’s welfare.  Pastor said my husband had probably broken that covenant long before he left me deathly ill and unconscious on the bathroom floor and went out drinking.   Because the covenant was already broken in God’s eyes, all that remained of the marriage was the legal tie of man-made law.

I was raised to believe the Bible forbid divorce no matter what.  Apparently that is not true.  While it was much more difficult in Biblical times to get a divorce, it was not unheard of and one certain way to break the covenant was to fail to provide for the health and welfare of your mate.  In Biblical times it was generally the man who sought divorce  and the wife was returned to her family in disgrace.  If the husband was not caring for his wife as he should, he lost stature and respect in the community, so — at least in outward appearances — most men obeyed the letter of the covenant (thought not always the spirit) in taking care of their wives.

So, what does this have to do with self-control?  Someone one can control him or herself too rigidly and adhere to impossible and unfair strictures.  A knowledge of why one is exercising restraint is just as important as the restraint itself.  Blind obedience is slavery, not service.


Heavenly Father, help me to understand the promises and commitments I make and to live them in a manner that honors you.  I Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 at 5:09 pm and is filed under Bible Study, Word Study. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses to “Self-Control — A Word Study — Day 3”

  1. September 17th, 2009 at 5:46 am

    Hannah says:

    You have been through a lot and come through as a wise and encouraging woman. Your writing encouraged me a lot.

    Thanks and may God bless you today.

  2. September 17th, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Charlene says:

    Hannah — I am pleased that you found comfort in my words. I believe God gets all the credit for that. This seems to me a very disjointed post!