Summary: 1 Cor. 7 is Paul’s theology of singleness. He speaks to the sexual needs that marriage answers and to the relationships that complicate devotion to the Lord.
There are few things that can hurt people like broken marriages. In fact, there are few things that can hurt a church like broken marriages. On the other hand, few things bring joy like a warm loving home built on God’s Word, and few things give strength to the church like warm loving homes built on God’s Word.
We have heard a lot about marriage here in the past few months. Ken Snell started our summer series talking about helping divorced people. Then Steve Lusk gave us four lessons on building marriage God’s way. Recently in Dalton, GA several of us went to the Bracheen and Falkner Marriage Enrichment Seminar.
Speaking of marriages, lots of marriages have occurred in our family in the past few months and I’m performing another one in about 2 weeks. Jenny’s sister Becky is getting married. Marriage is all around us. It is one of the basic God designed institutions in the world. Home and church are two biggies in the Bible.
Sadly, today we hear of nearly as many divorces as we do marriages. A wedding is easy, a marriage is not. God’s word has a lot to say about marriage. It also speaks about divorce, though not nearly as much. I like that. God focuses a whole lot more on what he wants us to have in a marriage that on how to handle a divorce. When God speaks about divorce, it is always a negative matter. No one ever celebrates a divorce in the Bible. Weddings on the other hand are big celebrations.
When we come to the seventh chapter of 1 Corinthians we find what someone has called the most negative chapter on marriage in the Bible. Actually, it is a chapter not against marriage, but for singleness. This chapter could be called a theology of the single life in a world where most people get married. There are at least eight sentences in this chapter that argue for the benefits of the single life and that see marriage as a concession. The statements in verses 26 and 29 seem key to understanding this. The present distress makes marriage difficult.
I wonder what that distress was? One faint possibility could have been the high divorce rate of Corinth. That was a reality, you know. One writing that was discovered from the New Testament period from Corinth is from a woman who counted her age by the number of husbands she had had. We see in chapter 5 and 6 that the church has terrible sexual sin problems. Do you think divorce is a problem today? Corinth had it much worse. Perhaps Paul is thinking about these things when he writes this. Paul knew that marriage in such an environment would be difficult at best, and he never speaks negatively about marriage in other letters.
Someone once told me that the number one cause of divorce is marriage. When we look at the reasons some people get married, it is easy to understand how divorce is so common.
Notice some of the reasons for marriage in this chapter.
Verse 2 because of fornication
Verse 8 because of lack of self control
Verse 8 because it is better to marry than to burn with passion
Verse 36 to keep from acting unbecomingly
It almost sounds like these Corinthians have been watching too much T.V.
But does marriage solve the problems of fornication, lack of self control and burning with passion? Not if one keeps feeding those flames outside of their marriage. God’s word indicates that marriage can help, but it also warns those who are married to keep themselves pure. (i.e. Heb. 13: 4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.)
So what can be done to help us have better marriages? Paul addresses adults here in Corinth, but to really help marriages, we need to start instructing our children in the ways and will of God for Christian homes. A great place to start is in the Old Testament.
Proverbs 5-7 records the words of a father to his son about sexual purity and delighting in his own wife and avoiding the adulteress. Moms and Dads, you would do well to take your sons and daughters and read these chapters together and discuss the will of God for your children’s sexual purity. Pray together about these things. Don’t you think that God knows what is going on here? Talk to him about it in prayer with your kids. Dads may need more help in this than moms. Dads, be careful that you speak positively about this with your children. Be gentle and honest. Take your lead from the Word of God in Proverbs. Kids today get their sexual information from all the wrong sources. God has plenty to say about the blessings and dangers of sexual experience. And any parent today who is not praying with their children and sharing God’s perspective on the subject of sex is doing their child a terrible spiritual disservice. Preteen and teen kids have a wealth of information today on these things, but many are terribly ignorant of God’s word on the subject! Dads particularly, listen to me now. You are responsible before God to train up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Eph. 6:4. Don’t dump this job on Mom. Dads need to pray with their kids and share their faith with them. Mom can coach you if you need it. In fact, my wife, Jenny has been my best reference for help in this matter. She has always been able to communicate better than me. I’ve been very blessed to have such a wonderful Christian wife and mother for my kids and I praise God for her.