1 Corinthians 7:3 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 7:3, NIV: The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.

1 Corinthians 7:3, ESV: The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.

1 Corinthians 7:3, KJV: Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

1 Corinthians 7:3, NASB: The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise the wife also to her husband.

1 Corinthians 7:3, NLT: The husband should fulfill his wife's sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband's needs.

1 Corinthians 7:3, CSB: A husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise a wife to her husband.

What does 1 Corinthians 7:3 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul has rejected an idea, perhaps held by some of the Corinthians, that even married Christians should not have sex with each other. The statement made in verse 1 of this chapter seems to be a quote from the people of Corinth as posed to Paul: "It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman."

Instead, Scripture declares the exact opposite. Married people should have sex with their spouses because of the ongoing temptation to engage in sexual immorality.

Here, Paul makes this point more directly. Both spouses should fulfill the sexual rights that are due the other, the husband to his wife and the wife to her husband. As emphasized in verse 4, Christian marriage is to be understood as mutual surrender of oneself to meet the needs of the other person. Paul's teaching here shows that God intends this surrender to include meeting the sexual needs of one's spouse.

It's important to note a few things. First, properly-functioning marriage is defined by the self-sacrificing love described in 1 Corinthians 13:4–7. The command here is to act in love to meet the sexual needs of one's husband or wife. Though Paul does not address it here, that same sacrificial approach may require not insisting that one's "conjugal rights" be honored. In other words, the command to be sacrificially loving also encourages spouses not to be demanding or unkind in their sexual relationship.

Second, Paul avoids setting up any parameters. Scripture provides no list, description, or timeframe regarding how a spouse's marital rights are to be honored. This teaching simply forbids a blanket refusal to participate in sex on some kind of regular basis. Christlike love should be the motive in all things. A spouse should neither withhold themselves sexually nor try to coerce sex from the other.

Finally, in great contrast to the standards of his culture, Paul does not distinguish between men and women here. Both sexes are understood to face sexual temptation. Both are commanded to honor the rights of the other. Although the statement in verse 1, apparently posed by the Corinthians, focuses only on men, Paul makes it perfectly clear in his answer that both husband and wife have sexual rights and both husband and wife must submit to each other in this area of marriage. Once more, Christlike love should be the motive in all things.