Summary: Addressing the confusions of the Corinthian Church regarding marriage, sex, divorce, and remarriage and it’s applications to us today.
SERIES: PRESCRIPTIONS FOR A HEALTHY & HOLY CHURCH:
A Study in 1 Corinthians Applied To The Church Today
III. MAINTAINING PROPER DIET & EXERCISE
A.) FIT MARRIAGES, FIT SINGLENESS
(1 Cor. 7:1-40)
Rev. Todd G. Leupold, Perth Bible Church, March 15, 2009 AM
One look at what I intend to cover this morning, and there will be no remaining doubt that I am indeed insane! Both the nature and extent of the material is intimidating. However, there is a common motif and frame throughout this section as it deals with aspects of marriage, divorce, remarriage and singleness. To show and maintain this singular thread, we will be looking at this with a focus on the main points rather than all the nuances.
As such, this will be a look at the issues of marriage, divorce, remarriage and singleness that were most relevant to the situation in the early Corinthian church. Please understand that neither this morning’s text nor my treatment are intended to be an exhaustive analysis of all that Scripture teaches about these subjects. Another time, we will walk through a series that deals with these issues more exhaustively across the Word.
What, then, is the situation being addressed to the early Corinthian church? First, we must remember that Corinth was a pagan mega-city known for its immorality and sexual freedom. Second, the Corinthian Church was comprised of young Christians most of whom were gentile converts from the pagan religions. Third, many of the Corinthian Christians have embraced the false view that the body belongs to the world, but the spirit to God. Fourth, they further embraced the false view that they had already achieved full spiritual completion and had already been made (at least in spirit) what they would be in heaven – ’like the angels.’ As a result, some of them began to develop, teach and pressure others toward views of marriage, sex, divorce and singleness that the Holy Spirit used the apostle Paul to correct. Let us ask the Lord to guide us as we take a closer look at these issues and what we may learn and apply to our own situations today.
The first issue that is addressed is . . .
1.) MARITAL SEX (vv. 1-5)
Now that I at least have the men’s attention . . .
This phrase, “It is good for a man not to have relations with a woman,” is the Corinthian slogan that Paul is correcting in the following verses. Apparently, those in the Corinthian Church who considered themselves to have been already re-made in perfection – ’like the angels’ – interpreted this to mean that as the angels were sex-less so should they be. Therefore, for a man (even a married man) to have sexual relations with a woman (even his wife) was something they sought to forbid as inappropriate for a ’transformed Christian.’
By the way, reading these same verses, mistaking the Corinthian slogan as the words of God and therefore misinterpreting Paul’s response is the basis of the Catholic Church’s requirement of celibate priests and condemnation of any sexual relations between husband and wife that is not specifically for the purpose of procreation.
a.) Husband & Wife
By strong contrast, Paul (inspired by the Holy Spirit) makes it clear that husbands and wives should be engaged in an active sex life.
To do otherwise, is to ’play with fire’ and risk your spouse’s falling into extra-marital temptations.
b.) Love & Pleasure
Further, we see that Scripture acknowledges and even encourages intimate relations between a husband and wife that is simply for the purpose of expressing love and for one another’s pleasure.
c.) A Mutual Offering
Please note some important points here:
1.) The ’authority over his/her body’ principle is given to both spouses.
2.) The ’do not deprive’ principle is spoken to both spouses equally.
3.) The ’giving in’ to one another is to be as a willful love offering, not a commanded obligation.
4.) The only exception is for a focused period of devotion to God, but even that should not be long lest temptation overtakes.
2.) TO BE MARRIED OR SINGLE (vv. 6-9)
This had become a HUGE question and point of contention in the Corinthian Church.
The argument was that as ’completed Christians’ who were ’to live as the angels live’ there should be no marriage.
In defending this perspective, it seems the Corinthians pointed to Paul’s own single status as evidence.
Paul, however, defends and honors both marriage and celibate singleness.
Do keep in mind, however, that while Paul was apparently single, he was most likely previously married. Before his conversation, he was a Sanhedrin and it was required to be married in order to be a Sanhedrin. What happened to his wife? Scripture is silent, but this mention here seems to imply that Paul is a widower who chose not to remarry and was gifted by God to live in such a way while maintaining celibacy. The phrase ’unmarried and widows’ is connected together. Because it was so uncommon for men to remain so for long, there was not a word in the Koine Greek Paul is using to refer to a ’widower.’ It is reasonable, based on context, that he is here referring not to all unmarrieds but to widowers and widows.