Summary: Exposition of 1 Corinthians 7:1-6 regarding sex and marriage and celibacy
Text: 1 Corinthians 7:1-6, Title: Love and Marriage, Date/Place: NRBC, 10.24.10, AM
A. Opening illustration: The Worship leader of First Church Big was having a problem. He never had a problem of putting together a worship service together to match the Pastor’s sermon but this Sunday he had met his match. He couldn’t decide what to do. All week he prayed and thought about all the courses and hymns he knew and could not find one to go along with the Pastor’s sermon. Finally in desperation in the choir room he began asking the assembled choir. I need your help. I try to match the worship music with the Pastor’s message and I have been stumped this week. Can you help me? The Pastor’s message this week is on the Biblical view of sex in a marriage and for the life of me I cannot come up with even one hymn or chorus to go with his message. Any suggestions? It was quiet for a couple of minutes and then a small, elderly man in the back of the choir said we could sing, "Precious Memories!" Quote p. 131 bottom SYM
B. Background to passage: Paul is now done with his introduction, and bringing up most of the things that he wants to. Now he begins to address, more calmly I might add, some specific questions that were asked of him by the Corinthians in a previous letter that they had sent to him. And the first set of questions seemed to flow from his previous topic, possibly giving us the reason that prostitutes were being used. It seemed that the clash of the Gentile/Roman culture had caused the pendulum of sexual morals to swing too far in the other direction. For there were certainly those in the church who had been married and divorced (up to 20 times was not unheard of), many whom had been cohabitating (and probably still were), those that were single (and self-righteous), and those that were relatively unchanged from the culture. This was a whole church full of sexually broken people, so note that Paul did not show disdain for any of the previously mentioned groups, nor ask them to leave; neither should we! But it seems that in their quest to be more spiritual, some were saying that sexual relations altogether were a necessary evil for procreation, and not a blessing. So Paul taught them… Going to the marriage conference on sex “with the pastor,” Sex good b/c God is good.
C. Main thought: Marital relations have a rightful place in marriage, but celibacy is fine too
A. Abstinence/Celibacy are Good (v. 1)
1. In the first verse it sounds like he again is quoting their letter about “touching a woman.” It was a phrase that always meant intercourse, not simply touching. He said that it was “good” if a man didn’t touch a woman. There were those in the church who were advocating permanent celibacy, divorce so that one could be celibate, and/or refraining from sex in a marriage, all these in order to attain some super spiritual state. They wanted him to say that celibacy was superior to normal marital relationships. But he used a mild word for good that meant good as opposed to not good rather than good like better than. He basically said that it’s fine. There is nothing inherently wrong with marital relations in a marriage. Refraining doesn’t make you more holy. Next week we will deal with singleness more fully, but note that the Gen 2 truth still applies, “it is not good that man should be alone.” But Paul’s message throughout the next couple of paragraphs is “live/stay where you are called to live.”
2. Matt 19:10-11,
3. Illustration: if you want to remain unlicensed to drive, so you can’t drive, so you won’t hit someone else and kill them in an accident; that is OK. If you don’t want to own a TV so that you won’t let TV influence your mind; that’s OK. WHEN IS IT OK TO KISS SOMEONE? (Jim, 10) “You should never kiss a girl unless you have enough bucks to buy her a ring and her own VCR, ‘cause she’ll want to have videos of the wedding.”
4. Outside of marriage this is the only option biblically, BTW. God is most concerned about your heart, behavior too, but heart is priority. However, many behaviors affect your heart’s desires, and that concerns God. And as we mentioned last week, sexual encounters altar our lives/beings at the deepest level, and so you can understand their reasoning. So practically, ask yourself which of your behaviors changes your affections for eternal things? Another practical application is that there are no magic keys or secret knowledge that will propel you to another spiritual level. Your spirituality is a comprehensive, complicated thing, and no one silver bullet will do it. And this applies to prayer, fasting, scripture memory, abstinence from fleshly desires, etc. All of these things are good in and of themselves, but no tricks to a higher plane. Having said all of that, it is majorly important to keep your sexual desires in check—married, engaged, single, divorced. All these backgrounds and situations have challenges, but they all have commonalities too. You must decide where your convictions are (obviously excluding expressly biblical prohibitions), and live accordingly. If there were a key to spirituality, it would be constant obedience to the promptings of the Spirit. If you want to remain unmarried, thus celibate, that’s OK, it’s your call. But let’s not cross the line into legalism, and apply your convictions to all.