“The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.” (1 Cor. 7:4 NIV84)
So far, in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he has made it clear that what we have is not ours, but rather blessings given by a gracious heavenly Father. We are stewards of what He has given to us. Paul has also made it clear that we aren’t even ours. We are not autonomous individuals, but rather we are accountable in word and deed to our God and Creator. Today, Paul reaches into the marriage relationship and declares once again that individualism and autonomy don’t fit into the Biblical view of marriage. Paul, speaking directly to the physical aspect of the marriage relationship, reminds us all that we belong to the one we are united to. Having become one with that person, his/her body becomes ours. It becomes ours not in ownership, but in responsibility. We are accountable for the care of the other person — no different from the care for ourselves.
I don’t think Paul would mind if I extrapolate and say that this principle goes beyond just the physical body. As God makes two into one, all aspects of their beings become shared responsibilities. A marriage becomes most beautiful when the clear distinction between the two individuals becomes blurred a bit because of God uniting them together. Anyone who has witnessed a marriage of 40, 50 or more years has witnessed what I’m talking about. It’s as though they have become so much like one that they anticipate each others’ needs. They can even finish the other’s sentences. In this relationship we become responsible for the spiritual, psychological, emotional and physical needs of the one we love and have become one with. To care for them is to care for ourselves.
May we honor this most sacred, divine, created relationship.