Summary: Exposition of 1 Cor 7:7-9, 25-40 regarding singleness and Paul's five advantages it had over marriage
Text: 1 Corinthians 7:7-9, 25-40, Title: Single and Devoted, Date/Place: NRBC, 10/31/10, AM
A. Opening illustration: Second Class Brethren: read Kostenberger’s opening, G, M, and Family, p. 173-174
B. Background to passage: Paul is now into the section of the letter that deals with the questions and issues asked of him by the congregation. Marriage, sex, divorce, singleness was the first question that they asked. Asceticism and immorality were both running wild in the church, and they needed help. This week we will take up Paul’s thoughts on singleness, and how we should view it. He is also attempting to raise this state to and equal level with marriage, for their culture, like ours, expected marriage to be the norm; and had a list of reasons why. Paul says “not so” and gives us
C. Main thought: five reasons to exalt singleness and stay single, for he says these things to their “profit”
A. B/c it is a gift (v. 7)
1. In this verse Paul teaches that marriage and singleness are both gifts. The same word is used here for the gifts of the Spirit, but I don’t know if that necessarily indicates “gift” in the same way. Again, Paul is not arguing for superiority or inferiority, but saying that both are gifts given by an all-powerful, infinitely wise, and incomprehensibly good God.
3. Illustration: There are 104 million unmarried Americans over age 18, representing over 45% of the adult population. - U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey: 2008 Unmarried Americans head more than 51 million households. - U.S. Census Bureau. “America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2007.” In 2005, unmarried households became the majority of all U.S. households. - U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey: 2005. “Marriage is like flies buzzing around a screen door in the summer. All those on the outside want to get in and all those on the inside want to get out.”
4. Marriage and singleness can/are sometimes seen as curses, when Paul says just the opposite. Singleness is God’s gift to us all at one time or another. And it could be God’s gift to some in a more permanent fashion. Either way we are to embrace our gift—if singleness, don’t flee from it; if marriage, don’t degrade it. Paul says live where you are called. And if you want to stay single, that’s good. If you want to get married, that is fine too. Married, divorced, widowed, and single are gifts to the church, and have their place among the body of Christ. And we can mutually be strengthened together as we exercise our gifts in a proper fashion.
B. B/c of the present distress (v. 26)
1. The next reason that he offers as a reason to stay single, or an advantage to singleness is that trouble lurks for the church. During the first century, many early believers lost their lives, and suffered greatly because of their faith. Members of the Corinthian congregation are some of the first entries in the famous Foxe’s Book of the Martyrs. Paul knew that was coming, and that they would better endure suffering as singles like him.
2. Heb 11:36-40, 2 Cor 6:4-5, 11:23-28,
3. Illustration: “A man who is a hero by himself becomes a coward when he thinks of his widowed wife and orphaned children.” Adoniram Judson,
4. It would be incredibly hard to see your children ripped away from their mother; to go without seeing your spouse for months at a time; to live in poverty so that others might live at all; to lose a job b/c of your witness for Christ with mouths to feed; taking a bullet for Jesus; leaving all for Jesus; moving to another country. There are men who do it and have done it, but you understand the point. Know that whatever suffering you endure, God has allowed it, but from a practical standpoint, it’s easier to take risks and suffering loss if it only costs you.
C. B/c of the problem of sin (v. 28)
1. The next reason that he offers as a reason to stay single, or an advantage to singleness is that we are sinners. Paul is not against marriage, but he had seen enough to know that it is the most intimate clash of sinners. Marriage is not a place for sin to be concealed, but for sin to be exposed and magnified. Marriage is one of God’s ways for letting you see your sin (advantage married people). But you will also expose your spouse to your sin, and be exposed to your spouses sin, and probably aggravate both scenarios. The bottom line is that when you say “I do” you are inviting problems to come into your life. He is not saying therefore nobody should get married; just that it is a reality.