Sermons

Summary: What scripture has to say about sex and the single life.

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1 Corinthians 7:6-9 Sex and the Single

9/14/03 D. Marion Clark

Introduction

I feel like a person wading through swampy water. Each step further feels like I am sinking into territory I don’t want to be in. I would like to turn around, but now that I have started I must go on. That is how I feel with chapter 7. Going back to the two sermons that completed chapter 6, this will be my fourth sermon in a row on sexual issues. I’m only glad I took a break in the summer. But what lies before me are some of the most difficult passages to understand. One reason has to do with textual issues: What do certain words mean? What is going on in Corinth that Paul is addressing? What is his train of thought? Is he bouncing from one subject to another? Is there a common thread running through the verses?

The other reason it is difficult to reach a consensus of what is being said is the emotion that the issues engender. Sex is a difficult issue to discuss, not merely because it can be embarrassing. It is one thing to admonish couples to “do their duty”; it is another for a spouse to hear such instruction when he or she is in a bad marriage. I am about to teach a passage that speaks of sex and the single. I will try to be sensitive, but undoubtedly some things said will stir up bad memories or present struggles. For the next two weeks our subjects will cover divorce and remarriage, and unequal marriages, i.e. in which one spouse is a Christian and the other is not.

Now would be a good time to make a disclaimer. I do not preach to individuals; I preach to a congregation. What I mean by that is I do not prepare my messages as a retort to any individual person. And I never single out a person while preaching. While preparing sermons, I will at times think of individuals and how certain subjects may apply to what I know about them. I may even mold what I say to be applicable for a person or anticipate what questions someone may raise. But I will not alter the direction I think the scripture text is going, nor devote a lot of time to the concerns of one individual. For one thing, the person may not even be in the service that Sunday, which would waste a lot of effort. But my responsibility is to pastor the whole flock on Sunday morning and not use valuable time to focus on an individual.

Having said that, I know I have done my job (or I should say, the Holy Spirit is doing his job) when each of you asks, “Is he thinking about me?” You ought to be suspicious! I will let you in on a secret. If a particular person is on my mind when I make a statement, I never look at the person while making it. If my eyes fell on you, you are safe. Let’s take our next step now in the murky water.

Text

Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. Say what? In verse 5 he gave couples permission to abstain from sexual relations for prayer. That, he notes, is a concession and not to be taken as a command for couples to abstain. He wants to be careful here, because it is easy to be misunderstood. For married couples, sex is good and natural; even engaging in a spiritual discipline should not be treated as an excuse to abstain.


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