2020-09-20 – 1 Corinthians 7:1-16 – To Marry or Not – part 1 of 2
2020-09-20 – 1 Corinthians 7:1-16 – To Marry or Not
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us.
Today is the first part of a two-part message about our marital status from a Christian perspective. It all could be summed up by simply saying, it is good to be married and it is good to be single. Pastor Chuck Swindoll once wrote about a Four-year-old named Susie that had just been told the story of “Snow White” for the first time in her life. She could hardly wait to get home from nursery school to tell her mommy. With wide-eyed excitement, she retold the fairy tale to her mother that afternoon. After relating how Prince Charming had arrived on his beautiful white horse and kissed Snow White back to life, Suzie asked loudly: “And do you know what happened then?” “Yes,” said her mom, “They lived happily ever after.” “No,” responded Suzie, with a frown, “…they got married.”
Marriage isn’t necessarily something we should laugh at, as it is truly a serious consideration and it is also God’s gift to man and it is much worthy to address.
Please turn now to 1 Corinthians 7:1, page 1014 in your pew Bibles, which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. Prayer..
Our Lord Jesus taught much about the topic of marriage. He referred to marriage many times in His Gospel records. He stated in Matthew 19 that man and woman were made for each other, and when they marry they join themselves together and become one flesh. Jesus also emphasized that the marriage relationship was to be monogamous, something that was first stated by God in Genesis chapter 2. Jesus also taught as recorded in Matthew 22:30, Mark 12:25, and Luke 20:35, that the binding of a husband and wife togeather in marriage was intended to last for a lifetime, “till death do us part”, but also that it was a blessing only for this life, not for heaven. It is a precious union that should not be taken for granted.
In this 7th chapter of First Corinthians Paul gives us some practical applications of God’s teachings on the matter of marriage. This most informative but challanging chapter is one in which people after reading it have to decide to adhere to it, ignore it, or just rip it out of the spine. Like what we covered last week in chapter 6, this deals with some pretty sensitive issues which I will endeavor to convey in a loving manner. But I offer up to you further council as some may require to better understand all that it implies. Starting at verse 1, the Apostole wrote:
1 Now in response to the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But because sexual immorality is so common, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman should have sexual relations with her own husband. 3 A husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise a wife to her husband. 4 A wife does not have the right over her own body, but her husband does. In the same way, a husband does not have the right over his own body, but his wife does. [SLIDE] 5 Do not deprive one another—except when you agree for a time to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again; otherwise, Satan may tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7 I wish that all people were as I am. But each has his own gift from God, one person has this gift, another has that. 8 I say to the unmarried and to widows: It is good for them if they remain as I am. 9 But if they do not have self-control, they should marry, since it is better to marry than to burn with desire.
So Paul is addressing a concern that the Corinth church members had posed. Verse 1 says “Now in response to the matters you wrote about”. They wanted some instruction from Paul who was their church father, about sexual relations and marriage. This was a big problem for the new Corinthian believers as they were living in a culture which didn’t have many boundaries in this regard.
Marriage is a confusing issue these days as it was then. Who to marry, how to marry, when to marry, and should you marry are all challenging issues. And our culture has changed so much on this topic even during my few years on this earth. Back in the “olden days” here in America it was pretty much a standard that most everyone ascribed to; that you would marry your high-school sweetheart, have a lot of children, spend their life long together, then die and go to heaven. In today’s culture there are all kinds of different relationship formulas to consider. I kind of feel bad for our youth who now must wrestle with all this.
Even when I was a young lad growing up in Detroit, the environment which I was raised in didn’t have any boundaries for sexual relations. I recall a time when my brother and I were in the back seat of a car where my father and his buddy were in the front seat. Dad literally said to his buddy that his boys could do anything they wanted in that regard. I remember my brother and I looking at each other with surprise, and we didn’t have a clue what all that implied.
That is the moral standard that I lived under. And it is a wonder that I didn’t get into a whole lot of trouble as a result. That is why it is so important for us to know God’s will in this regard and teach that to our children. You might be thinking to yourself, “Well after all didn’t God say that we were to be fruitful and multiply?”. Yes He did, but in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, God has a lot to say about this matter, and we need to heed his instruction.
In these first verses today, Paul is saying that if you can stay single and be celibate then that is a good thing. You see, if you are not incombered by temptation, then you can better serve Christ with all you mind and all your body. A good example of this is when we see our youth start to get creative and energetic. In that season of life, they are such a blessing with their drive and energy to the church, to the community, to the school, to the families, etc. However, typically in their teen years, they get this little twinkle in their eye, and everything seems to change. All of a sudden they are not as much available. They are all of a sudden much more conscious about what they wear and even how they smell. I am not saying that is a bad thing, but I believe it is God’s will that we hold off those horses for a little while so that they can be more of a blessing. I don’t know about you, but I think we all could use a little more blessings, amen?
Then to the Wives and the Husbands, Paul has some very specific instructions here. We are not to deprive one another in this regard. It is our duty to take care of one another, especially in this area. Paul is trying to convey that if you must get married to take care of those desires, then you also need to maintain that relationship throughout the marriage. We are to avoid temptations if we are single and we are to help each other avoid temptations when we are married.
I offer to you now seven biblical reasons for marriage, and they all start with the letter P. Ready? Number one of course is Procreation. Genesis 1:28 says to be fruitful and multiply. God desires for us to married so that we can have children. And that’s a great reason to get married (and a great way to grow a church too).
Secondly, Pleasure. Did you know that God designed marriage for us to enjoy each other? Proverbs 5 written by King Solomon talks about the satisfaction that a husband and wife should find in the marriage relationship. The Bible book Song of Solomon, from beginning to end is all about physical satisfaction. Marriage is for pleasure indeed.
Another reason for marriage is for Provision. God wants a man to provide for the families needs. And according to Ephesians 5, it says the husband is to cherish his wife, to strengthen her, to give her someone to lean on, and to fortify her.
Of course that relationship is reciprocal. As the husband is providing for the family, the wife is also taking care of the home and is nurturing the children. Although this is the most ideal formula, these days there are many different models for providing for the family’s needs. The main thing is that the husband and wife are working in unison for the care and provision of their family.
So we have procreation; pleasure; and provision. It’s also a Partnership. Marriage is for partnership. In the Old Testament book of Genesis, God says to Adam, “You need a helpmeet.” So God gives us a friend and a companion. And I think really, the key ingredient in all good marriages is a loving friendship and a life partner.
Fifth, marriage is also for Protection. Protection from temptation, protection in a physical sense as we are to look after one another, and protection even from many diseases that plague our society today. Did you know that even most all STD’s could be eliminated from the face of the Earth if we just keep to the God’s design as laid out in His holy word. Wouldn’t that be an amazing blessing.
Sixth, marriage is given to us as a Picture. Ephesians 5 says marriage is a picture or symbol to the world, of God’s relationship to His Church. This church family is called the Bride of Christ. Jesus is the Husband and the Church is His bride. And our marriage too should be a picture of that same type of relationship. Jesus provided for Her and He died for the church; and husbands are to be willing to do the same for their bride as well.
And lastly, marriage is for Purity, to keep us from committing sin and to be an example of God’s intended design marriage and a healthy loving relationship.
So in summary, marriage is for procreation, pleasure, provision, partnership, protection, a picture, and purity. And those are just some of the reasons our Bible has to offers us in this regard. In these First Corinthians verses, the apostle Paul refuses to shirk his responsibility to address this sensitive subject, and neither do I 😊
In our last verses today, Paul addresses another related and sensitive issue. That is of divorce and separation. Starting at verse 10 he writes:
10 To the married I give this command—not I, but the Lord—a wife is not to leave her husband. 11 But if she does leave, she must remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband—and a husband is not to divorce his wife. 12 But I (not the Lord) say to the rest: If any brother has an unbelieving wife and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 Also, if any woman has an unbelieving husband and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce her husband. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy by the husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is they are holy. [SLIDE]
15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let him leave. A brother or a sister is not bound in such cases. God has called you to live in peace. 16 Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife.
I hope these verses make it clear that God does not want you to divorce. If that isn’t clear enough, then let me give you a couple more verses from Jesus Himself: Matthew 5:32 “But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
Marriage is designed by God to last a lifetime. Having said that we must also sadly recognize that half of the marriages today end in divorce. And that is where grace and mercy really come to bare. In Corinth, like our world today, sexual immorality and divorce was rampant. The Corinth believers wrote to Paul in hopes that he would provide some instruction for them and that is what probably fueled this letter on the matter.
In the Old Testament, the Jewish people begged Moses and God for the option of divorce. Jesus talks about that in Mark 10:5. He said “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,”.. 6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife 8 and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Through the years I have had several married Christian people come talk to me about divorce. It is a difficult discussion indeed. Some wonder if they could be biblically divorced because their spouse was an unbeliever. That was an issue also for the Corinth believers. Many of the first believers had divided households because of their religious beliefs. Paul makes it clear here that should not be considered. You see, the believer’s presence in the family unit has the opportunity to make an eternal difference to the rest of the family members.
The only legitimate divorces according to scripture is when adultery has taken place, or when an unbeliever chooses to divorce the believer (but not the other way around). But even in those circumstances, God’s will for you as a believer is that you exercise much grace and mercy, just like he showed you much grace and mercy. Having said all that, if you have been properly or improperly divorced, please know that it isn’t the unpardonable sin. It will be forgiven as all other sins are forgiven. God loves you so much that yes He will forgive that too.
We should all be seeking peace and love and grace and mercy in all our relationships. If you are a child of God; If you are a born-again believer, then you should want to please the Lord in this matter as well. Marriage is hard brothers and sisters, but it is well worth the effort. It is a blessed union that will fill you with joy and sadness, peace and strife, laughter and tears.
But as I suggested at the beginning, marriage isn’t necessarily something we should laugh at. It is truly a serious consideration and it is also God’s gift to man and worthy to address. Having said that, I have had the privilege of sharing many many laughs and much joy with my beautiful wife Amy over the past 27 years. My prayer is that you too will find much joy in marriage, but also in singleness if that is what God has for you. Enjoy life brothers and sisters. That is God’s will for you today.
Would you please rise as we prepare for our closing hymn.
Let us now close with prayer
“A FRIENDLY CHURCH IN A FRIENDLY TOWN”