Is it allowed to have sexual relations with your wife or husband before the Lord’s Supper?

Yesterday I received a question from a reader of the portal Moldova Creștină

Brother Vasile, I see that you are a priest who speaks and answers questions that other priests don’t talk about. And I think this is a good thing, because there is a vacuum of information about sexuality, sexual life among Christians. God bless you, I have got a question too that bothers me for some time: As I know, the Bible says that the husband and wife may have a pause upon their sexual life only when they fast and pray. But others say that you DO NOT have to have sexual relations before the Lord’s Supper (and they give references to the Old Testament). What is the real meaning, because on one hand it is self-control before the Lord’s Supper, and on the other hand, if it happened that the wife/husband hadn’t had sexual relations for a longer time, then they are tempted in their minds by what they see. I thank you for the answer.

God did not give such a commandment in the Bible

When God speaks about the duty of the husband/wife to have sexual relation with his/her partner of marriage, He says:

The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. But this I say by way of concession, not of command. (1 Corinthians 7:3–6)(NASB)

When Apostle Paul says that this is a concession, not a command, he means the decisons to stop the sexual relations for a time determined by both spouses to devote themselves to prayer and fast. Beware, this is a concession, not a command. If the husband and the wife agree and want to abstain from sexual relations during the period of fast and prayer, they can do it, but if at least one of them is not comfortable to make this decision, the other one can not impose it, but has to fulfill the duty of a spouse even during the period of fast and prayer. How it is well seen, this list mentions only fast and prayer, but the Lord’s Supper is not included.

The Old Testament does not speak about the Lord’s Supper

No one can give any reference to the Old Testament to command people something concerning the Lord’s Supper, because the Old Testament doesn’t mention anyhting about this practice. The Lord Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper in the evening before His arrest and let it as a memory sign of the New Covenant that the disciples and then, all Christians entered. Here is how Apostle Paul describes this event:

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.“ In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. (1 Corinhians 11:23–26)(NASB)

Self-control and the spouse duty are different things

I understand that people who abstain from sexual relations with their wife or husband say that in this way they control themselves before the Lord’s Supper. Abstinence from sexual relations with your husband or wife is not self-control, because having healthy sexual relations with your husband or wife is a duty let by God on the pages of the Holy Scripture, as I cited before. But self-control has to be a part of a Christian’s life not only before the Lord’s Supper, but always, if one says he has the Holy Spirit and is led by Him.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22–23)(NASB)

Before the Lord’s Supper you have to examine yourself how you perform your duty for your spuse

The Lord Jesus let the Lord’s Supper to be a time when we remember the New Covenant we entered by faith in Him and examine ourselves concerning the way we perform the conditions of this covenant in our lives. Here is what Apostle Paul writes about this:

But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. (1 Corinthians 11:28–29)(NASB)

The way we perform our spouse duty is a part of the New Covenant too. That’s why, when the Lord Supper comes, each Christians has to examine himself and evaluate the way he/she fulfills the emotional and physical needs of the wife or husband and if he/she gives the necessary affection and caress. He/she has to repent if he/she doesn’t fulfill this duty, or manipulates with the sexual relation, or disconsiders it and doesn’t care about its quality, doesn’t keep it romantic, but changed it into a boring routine.

God lays a great stress upon the quality of the sexual relation between a husband and his wife, because this cements their unity. Here is the commandemnt given by God in the Old Testament concerning sexual life of the spouses.:

When a man takes a new wife, he shall not go out with the army nor be charged with any duty; he shall be free at home one year and shall give happiness to his wife whom he has taken. (Deuteronomy 24:5)(NASB)

The first year of marriage is the time when the relation between the two is strengthened and God places this thing above every public service, so that the spouses may have a beautiful relation for the rest of their life and be an image that reflects tha marriage between Christ and His Church. May God help each of us reflect this through our marriages and live in obedience to the Word of God, so that we may not realize once that we have set our own righteousness instead of the righteousness of God.

Translated by Felicia Djugostran