Summary: A comparison between the U2 song, "With or Without You" and Paul’s teaching on marriage and our relationship with Christ.

-As we’ve discussed in the past, in this first letter to the Corinthians, Paul is basically responding to their questions

-Even though Paul spent considerable time in Corinth (in Acts 18, Luke tells us that Paul stayed there for a year and a half), they still had some major theological and very practical issues to work through.

-Corinth’s history is long and interesting. It dates back to some of the earliest recorded history.

-The Romans following a siege in 145 B. C. destroyed the city. All the men were put to death, the women and children sold into slavery and the city was torched.

-Julius Caesar refounded the city in 44 B. C. shortly before his assassination

-It was noted for its wealth, and for the luxurious, immoral and vicious habits of the people that lived there.

-In Paul’s day, corinthian was a synonym for immoral.

-I know that we probably think of it today for the “pure Corinthian leather”. {PAUSE}

-Looking specifically at our text, in the larger section of chapter 7, the Apostle Paul is responding to questions about marriage.

-We don’t know what the exact question was but apparently the members of the church in Corinth were wondering what the relationship between sex, marriage, and being a Christian was.

-You can imagine some of the questions they probably had, can’t you since they were all idol worshippers.

-Imagine the husband or wife, who now has become a Christian, but their spouse is not. What questions do you think would enter their minds? {Wait for some answers}

-After Paul’s earlier teaching that a Christian is not to engage in sex with a prostitute, which was commonplace in the former situation, they probably thought that they should not engage in sex with their unbelieving spouse.

-Remember Paul wrote sex is God’s glue (my words) that binds a husband and wife together like in no other relationship.

-So when a Christian has sex with someone other than their spouse, they not only sin against their own body but they sin against Christ.

-Paul says that Christ and a prostitute are incompatible.

-One might think, therefore, by extension that joining together with someone who is not a Christian would be incompatible as well.

-Apparently, some Christians were considering, or maybe had already, left their unbelieving spouses to rid themselves of their spouse’s unforgiven sins.

-You could imagine the problems that would ensue.

-For example, how was the wife to support herself?

-Was the church to take care of her as if she was a widow?

-What happens to the children?

-Is the church under compulsion to care for them?

-How would the culture view a religion that advocated leaving one’s spouse?

-Christianity already had enough hurdles to overcome in that its founder was raised from the dead but no longer present on this earth than to cause upheaval in a society but undermining its families.

-Remember, the Corinthians were steeped in Greek philosophy, whose influence would later almost rip the world-wide church apart.

-Plato made a stark contrast between the physical and the spiritual. He thought that all things physical were bad and all things spiritual were good. This led to many controversies about how to explain how God (who is spirit which means good) could become human (which is physical which means bad) in the person of Jesus.

-If that was their base framework, you could see how they could easily see that marriage and sex could be seen in a very negative light especially considering that Jesus, the founder of Christianity never married.

-Maybe the whole marriage thing isn’t so good after all. {PAUSE}

-There’s a song I really like by U2 that came out in 1987 called “With or Without You”

-Because three out of the four members of U2 are Catholics, there is a definite Christian flavor to their music, sometimes even questioning where God is in the midst of the chaos that we see around us

-I think some of their music asks the question, “How do we relate to things in this world as Christians?”

-“With or Without You” has three main interpretations that people have offered for its meaning and two have to do with this topic.

-Some people believe that it has to do with someone who is caught between two people that they care about and they don’t know which one to continue their relationship with.

-The second verse kind of points in the direction. The lyrics go:

-Sleight of hand and twist of fate

On a bed of nails she makes me wait

And I wait without you

With or without you

With or without you

-But that is kind of what the Corinthians were asking, wasn’t it?

-With or without your, or a, spouse?

-In staying or getting married, were they choosing between Christ and their spouse, in a way?

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