1 Corinthians 7 Devotion
1 Corinthians chapter seven is Paul’s marriage chapter. There is a shift that takes place in the beginning of chapter seven. In the first six chapters of the book, Paul has been addressing specific sins that have been reported to him most likely from the household of Chloe (1:11). With the beginning of chapter seven, Paul now begins to address the concerns of the Corinthians believers. We see that in verse 1, “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me.” It is no wonder that Paul begins with marriage, because it was under attack in his day and it certainly is under attack today. The devil knows that if you want to take down and entire nation and society, attack it at its most basic element which is the family. And so it is no surprise that he would attack marriages and families. This chapter can be broken down into a few sections.
The first section Paul writes about deals with one reason for getting married. The reason Paul begins to talk about here is sexual intimacy. We must realize that the gift of sexual intimacy is a gift from God. Since it is from God we know that it is good (Gen. 1:31; James 1:17). However, we must understand that it is to be enjoyed within the confines of how God originally designed it. This was something that was a struggle in Corinth and certainly a struggle here in America as well. We can see from Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5, and Ephesians 5:31 that sexual intimacy should only take place within the context of a marriage between a man and a woman. God gave mankind sexual intimacy for two primary reasons. According to Genesis 2, one of the reasons is for procreation. However, we can see another reason as well in Genesis 2, Song of Solomon, and here in 1 Corinthians 7 that sexual intimacy is also for enjoyment between a man and his wife. In the first five verses of the chapter we learn that sexual intimacy between a man and his wife is an act of voluntary submission to each other. The gift of intimacy is to keep us from falling victim to sexual sin, which is any form of sex outside of marriage. But it is also so that the wife can meet the needs of her husband, and the husband can meet the needs of his wife. Submitting ourselves to God’s plan for marriage is submitting ourselves to God which is what we are to do. In verse 5 there is the permission for a time of abstention from sexual intimacy, but it must be mutually agreed up, there must be a time frame set, and it must be for the purpose of prayer together as husband and wife. Paul urges it not to be a long time, because in verse five he says we lack self control. Without being too blunt or crude I must say this to both husbands and wives, we must meet our spouses needs or they will find someone who will. I am not excusing or giving an excuse for adultery, but we were created as relational creatures that need intimacy (physical and emotional). We crave it and will find it one way or another. So my marriage advice to have a successful marriage would be this, spend your life fulfilling your spouse’s needs instead of trying to fulfill yours and you will have a happy marriage.
The second section of the chapter is found in verses six and seven. This is an often misunderstood couple of Scriptures. Some have used it to say that Paul was against marriage. That isn’t true for two reasons. First of all, Paul was obedient to the Bible and the Bible clearly tells us that God created and blessed marriage between a man and a woman. Secondly we know that Paul was a member of the religious establishment in Israel. We learn from Jewish history that a Pharisee was someone who was married. Therefore, we can say with some confidence that Paul at one point would have been married. One of the greatest mysteries in the Bible is what happened to Paul’s wife. The answer, we don’t know and it really doesn’t matter. Verses six and seven really introduce Paul’s thoughts beginning in verse 17 about being faithful to God in whatever state you are in, whether you are married, divorced, widowed, etc.
The third section is covered in verses eight and nine. This is advice to the unmarried and the widows. Again Paul is not dogging marriage, but rather saying if you can remain single or a widow and not fall into sexual sin, then you would be better off remaining as you are so you can be fully devoted to the Lord. However, if sexual temptation is going to be a problem, then you are better off to be married.
The next section is to those who are already married. Paul here deals with the issue of divorce. Another prominent issue in our culture today. Paul plainly says, if you are married stay the way. If you get divorced, stay divorced or go be reconciled to your spouse. One man, one woman for one lifetime is God’s design for marriage. We see that clearly in Genesis and beyond. Many people will say, but in the book of Deuteronomy that God permitted divorce. To that we must say, God permitting something and God sanctioning it are two different things. God granted it because Israel whined that they wanted to be like other nations. This is clearly an example of where man’s free will has created a lot of trouble for us. There is a biblical reason for divorce, for space sake I will not deal with it here, but if you would like to talk about it please feel free to contact me and I am more than willing to discuss it.
The final section of the chapter that I will deal with is from verses 12-16. This is instruction to all people. This section talks about a believer being married to an unbeliever. Paul is talking specifically about when two people get married and they are both unbelievers at the time of the marriage, but then one of them becomes a Christian. In that case, they should remain married. Paul is not saying it is ok for a believer to marry an unbeliever. In fact Paul argues against that in 2 Corinthians 6:14. The goal of this section is to remind the new believer, that we are to be winsome in our attitude and affections toward our spouse, because God may use us to reach our still unbelieving spouse with the Gospel.
I want to close this long post by saying this, marriage is not easy. In fact it is hard work. But I am blessed to be happily married, not because Diana or I are perfect, but because before we got married we gave our marriage over to God. There are many people in our church that have been married for many years and they serve as a testimony to the faithfulness of God. That if we build our lives around the principles taught in the Bible, we will be blessed and live a happy life. Marriage isn’t easy, but it is worth fighting for. Remember this, at the end of the day, you are on the same team. Work together to grow closer to God and to each other!
By His grace and through His strength may we live for Him