Summary: In the Seventh Commandment we are given a rational for how all relationships, including singleness, work.
We are up to the seventh commandment in our series; “You shall not commit adultery”.
The issue of adultery is one that comes with many emotions.
So today we are not going to start in the Old Testament … we will start in the New Testament and then come back to the commandment.
As we read the text let me say initially it is confusing … and even confronting.
Many people don’t like this passage. For them Paul becomes a person who hates women and that who hates marriage.
As we read through this passage you might have be thinking the same thing.
It is one of those passages where you go, “Well what was that all about?”
Let me say straight up … Paul does not hate women, and he doesn’t hate marriage. What What Paul is doing is getting people to understand the value that God has put into relationships so that these relationships can be enjoyed. So let’s have a closer look and see how Paul does that.
Saving Paul from a bad translator.
In 1973 the NT section of the NIV Bible was published. The NIV eventually became the most popular translation and the most commonly read Bible. So for many years people using the NIV have turned to 1 Cor 7:1 and read;
It is good for a man not to marry.
Apart from the practical reality that, if this advice was taken, eventually there would be no people the NIV has produced a bad translation at this point.
A very literal translation of what Paul says in the Greek is:-
good for a man a woman not to touch.
Paul doesn’t have an aversion to marriage.
He has an aversion to men who think it is ok to use women for one-night stands, or sexual conquests. Paul is addressing men who think women are there just to fulfil urges and passions – but who have no intention to make a commitment, or to build a relationship of trust and respect.
That is why Paul immediately goes on to say, “because of immorality – because urges and passion are such a strong desire – get a wife, get a husband.
In this situation Beyoncé has it right “If you liked it then you should've put a ring on it.”
In a culture where women were often seen as mere objects for pleasure Paul is making a very counter-culture stand for women.
It is not good to touch.
Maybe Paul is not the woman-hater many people make him out to be.
Having now started on the question of relationships Paul continues.
Make physical intimacy an essential part of your marriage.
Many people think that God is a prude – that somehow he is against physical intimacy.
But God designed marriage relationships to work that way … he even says of the relationship between a wife and a husband, “It is very good.”
Which is not how many people in the town of Corinth thought it worked.
For many in the culture at the time the physical relationship you had with your wife was for the purpose of having children – we call it procreation. Otherwise you were generally expected to fulfil your physical urges by meeting other women or having a mistress, or meeting with your female slave.
It was crazy really. Because you acted as if your own wife was a virtuous and chaste woman – and only met with her for the purpose of having children. But you would be special friends with another man’s wife, and another man would be special friends with your wife, and everyone pretended that none of this was happening.
And Paul comes along and steps into a place where this is normal says, “Why don’t we go back to the way God wanted it?”. God wants you to have a life of physical intimacy which is
Each man should have his own wife … each woman her own husband.
Neither body belongs to the other … do not deprive except by mutual consent.
Apart from anything Paul gives wives the equal right to be equally respected and equally given a say. In Corinth such respect was almost non-existent. Roman wives … Roman women … have no say in these sorts of issues.
But the elevation of women is not Paul’s main point.
The main reason Paul is doing this is to help people understand that God has a powerful plan for marriage. God wants to adultery proof and divorce proof marriage relationships.
One way God does this – it certainly isn’t the only way and by itself will not make a relationship adultery proof – but one way to do this is to mutually work together to have physical intimacy which is regular, passionate, exciting and mutually respectful.