Teaching on Marriage:
(Read 1 Corinthians 7:1-7)
Paul addresses issues about marriage and sexuality that the Corinthians had raised in a letter to him (1 Corinthians 7:1). The Church always faced the issues of marriage and sexuality. A group within the church argued that celibacy is desirable if not obligatory on all Christians. So Christians should avoid marriage or at least avoid sexual activity within marriage. Paul corrects this over-spiritualized view of life in this chapter. Paul says, such practice is good and profitable if God has given the gift to remain happily unmarried. Paul never intends to teach that marriage is morally wrong as compared with celibacy (1 Corinthians 7:2, 9). To avoid immorality, Paul permits these believers to marry rather than fall into temptation. In fact, he is encouraging married couples to be sexually active with one another (1 Corinthians 7:4). A couple may choose to refrain from sexual activity for a limited time so that they can devote themselves to prayer (7:5). Paul does not support the view that remaining unmarried is a sin. God gives some the gift of marriage and to others the gift of singleness (1 Corinthians 7:7). Christ does not destroy sexuality but defines the boundaries for it. The marriage relationship provides sexual fulfillment and protects believers from temptations. God has saved us from sin and has given us his Spirit to live the life that pleases him. Paul says, it is better to stay unmarried just as he is (1 Corinthians 7:8). Scholars suggest that since Paul was a Pharisee, he was probably married. But when he became a Christians either his wife left him or she died. Do not rush into marriage. Take time to know one another. Before marriage, test the depth of love and commitment to one another. If the other person is not a believer, don’t even consider marriage (2 Corinthians 6:14). Before marriage, consider your commitment to Christ. Whether you marry or remain single, learn to be content in whatever situation the Lord has placed you. God's Word gives us understanding of the purpose and boundaries of marriage. Marriage relationship provides sexual fulfillment and protects the couple from satanic temptations.
The Permanence of Marriage:
(Read 1 Corinthians 7:8-16)
Here Paul gives instruction to unmarried and widows (1 Corinthians 7:8-9). Paul says it is better to marry than to burn with lust. God gives special gifts to some to remain single and others to marry. Some Corinthians considered singleness a spiritually superior option and considered divorcing their spouses. There was a false belief that husbands and wives who abstain from sexual activities are spiritual. These are misguided ideas and practices. Paul’s advice to married couples was that they should not divorce their unbelieving spouses. If a spouse decides to leave, he or she must remain single or be reconciled. The Bible does not approve divorce except on unrepentant adultery (Matthew 19:3-9). If an unbelieving husband is willing to continue to live with his believing wife, she must not divorce him (1 Corinthians 7:13). The unbelieving spouse is made holy because of the believing spouse. It is possible that she can influence the unbelieving husband and children to the saving grace of God (1 Corinthians 7:14). This does not mean they are automatically born into the family of God but more likely get saved. If an unbelieving spouse insists on leaving the believing spouse, he is not under bondage (1 Corinthians 7:15). Divine biblical standards can’t be imposed upon unbelievers. God has called us to peace. Being spiritual does not mean, out of touch with everyday life experiences. God uses our relationships to bring about his saving purposes in the family (1 Corinthians 7:16). Though warnings are not pleasant, they are very important in Christian life.
Live as You Are Called:
(Read 1 Corinthians 7:17-24)
Paul says that when a person gets saved he does not have to change his identity. All Christians have an equally valued spiritual status in Christ regardless of their relational position. The most significant thing about a believer is not his marital status, background or economic status but his identity with Christ who has bought him with his precious blood (1 Corinthians 7:21-22). When we become Christians, God does not ask us to withdraw from the activities and responsibilities of everyday life. Our vertical relationship is more important than horizontal relationship. It matters little whether he is free or a slave. He has been set free from the bondage of sin to serve the living God. There is no reason why a believer cannot remain faithful to God whether he is single, widowed or married to an unbeliever. So there is no need for a Gentile convert to be circumcised or put away the unbelieving spouse to serve Christ. The Lord has promised to give him new purpose and desire to serve him in whatever circumstance he is placed. In whatever condition each one is called, remain there to reveal Christ to others (1 Corinthians 7:24). How blessed to serve Christ as a family!
Paul’s Personal Advice:
(Read 1 Corinthians 7:25-40)
Paul advises that under the present circumstance of pressure and persecution, it is good for a person to remain as Paul is (1 Corinthians 7:26). This advice should be understood in light of the intense persecution anticipated (1 Corinthians 15:30-31; 2 Corinthians 11: 21-33). It is not a sin to marry or to remain single. If you are married, do not end the marriage. Paul was trying to spare them from the troubles that come with marriage (1 Corinthians 7:28). Paul wants us to know that the time is short, so nothing should keep us from serving God. Whatever relational status we have now, make use of them without becoming too attached to them for the glory of God. Whatever we see are temporary and they are passing away (1 Corinthians 7:31). Paul wants us to be free from anxieties. It is natural for a married man to be concerned about the welfare of his wife and family. But an unmarried man can spend his time serving Christ with undivided devotion. Likewise, the married woman is concerned about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband (1 Corinthians 7:32-34). Paul gives this advice for our benefit and to encourage us to do our best for the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:35). If a man has trouble controlling his passion, he should marry and it is not a sin. So the person who marries does well and the person who doesn't marry does even better (1 Corinthians 7:38). Marriage is for life and ends only by death. A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if husband dies, she is free to marry a believer in the Lord. In Paul’s judgment she is happier if she remains single. Paul considers that he gives this advice under the Holy Spirit. God’s Word is the true source of understanding the purposes and boundaries of sexual relationship and marriage. Pray that God would give you the wisdom to live for his glory.