1Cor 7:5 (NKJ) Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time...So, it is a sin to refuse sex to your spouse. More to the point are the verses just before:
1Cor 7:5 (Wey) Do not refuse one another, unless perhaps it is just for a time and by mutual consent...
1Cor 7:3-4 (NRS) The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.As to frequency, I suppose people differ. But it is not for an outsider to say in any case. If one partner wants sex, then God's command for marriage is clear enough: "no refusal" is permitted unless mutually agreed to for a time of prayer. That is the command of scripture. Your body belongs to her, and vice versa.
First, search your own heart and see if you have not "destroyed your own household" (Pv 14:1) in terms of normal sexual response and desire. We deal with this in another posting, but for our purposes here you must honestly ask yourself the question if you have contributed to her frigidity. Have you brought pornography into your marriage bed, for example, or thoughts of another woman? Have you been a lover or just a user of your wife's body? In other words, if you have been sinning and are just reaping the harvest of your ways, then there is no time like the present to repent, ask for forgiveness, and seek God for healing. But if your conscience is clear, and she is sinning by "holding out", this is also a grievous sin that directly disobeys the word of God, and she must be confronted about it.
Some wives deprive their husbands as a form of not-so-subtle manipulation. To put it bluntly, these women are prostituting themselves within marriage. They contrive to have their husbands sex starved so they can blackmail them, control them, humiliate them, dole out the favors on their terms, get what they want, etc. They are prostitutes, in other words, who happened to be married. Husbands can do the same thing, and have, as a form of control; but it is more often women who fall into this pathology of sin. Of course, there are always the excuses and contingencies, as with any sin. But God looks to the heart of the matter, to what is really going on. Whenever sex is bartered, it is prostitution; and no money need change hands. Married people belong to each other. A wife in disobedience has become a married prostitute with a single customer. God is not mocked. Such is a great offense and thus the warnings of the scriptures above.
As a common-sense caveat here, I don’t think this command is a sanction for demanding sex in a moment, unless done with a sense of humor in a spirt of fun. If such a demand were seriously attempted it would be very unloving and likely make the problem worse. Holding out is sin, to be sure, but not the kind of sin that is likely to be effectively dealt with in-the-moment. An analogy would be dealing with a drunk family member; it makes little sense to confront an intoxicated person with appeal to repent … or even rebuke them the next morning when hung-over. The sin has to be dealt with, or else life will be continue to be miserable for all involved; but it must be confronted in a different moment than when it is occurring. When would be the best, most loving time to confront someone with a history of committing either sin? Put another way, only a fool would waste a sermon on a drunk; as they won’t remember it. And only a bully would demand sex from his spouse right-now; that’s just being a rapist with a scripture. Some problems require a longer term approach to truly help those we love. If the aim is “life, and that more abundantly,” then patience and empathy are the way to go. This takes nothing away from the searing clarity that holding out is a sin; but does show common sense about when to deal with it.
Practically, this needs to be worked out some other way than ad-hoc. But the law has its "ministry" (of condemnation (2Cor 3:9) of the sin nature) in the right timing as a call to repentance. The law won't change her, in other words, but will serve to bring proper conviction into her life. (Rom 8:3-11) Then, with the help of the Spirit, there can be legitimate hope for new life.
1 Cor 7:5 (Phi) Do not cheat each other of normal sexual intercourse, unless of course you both decide to abstain temporarily to make special opportunity for fasting and prayer. But afterwards you should resume relations as before, or you will expose yourselves to the obvious temptation of the devil.God has told us what to do if we find a brother (or sister, in this case) in sin in Mt 18:15-17. Confront her with the word, in private. If this does not work, then bring two or three as Jesus commanded. Hopefully, with such escallation, she will see her sin and repent. Perhaps the shame of having her secret sin exposed will goad her to take seriously her covenantal responsibilities. Go to her, just the two of you, and confront her in private with a view to helping her repent. If she refuses, then go with two or three. This is the God has instructed us to handle sins that people will not repent of.
Luke 6:46 (NAS) "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?"
There is not much that scripture says to married couples, and this is something very clear. It is a sin to deny the partner in marriage. This must be confronted and repented of.
Eph 5:3-17 (NIV) But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people... Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient... Find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible... Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.