1 Cor. 7:1-9 Sex, Celibacy & Singleness
Intro: Up to this point, in our study Paul has been dealing with the sins reported to be known in the Corinthian congregation.
A) But Here in Ch. 7 Paul switches gears a bit and directs his attention toward some questions that they had written to him: several subjects.
B) marriage & Singleness (1 Cor. 7:), food offered to idols (1 Cor. 8-10), spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:), the resurrection of the dead (1 Cor. 15:),
1) and the missionary offering for the Jews (1 Cor. 16:).
C) Tonight begin looking at the subject of Sex, marriage, singleness & Celibacy!
D) As we study 1 Corinthians 7, it is important to keep in mind that Paul is replying to definite questions here that were asked of him.
1) 1 Cor. 7 is not meant to be a complete “theology of marriage” in one
chapter. But it is meant to compliment - the rest of scripture
E) We will focus on The first part of this Ch. tonight which deals w/ Sex, Celibacy & Singleness.
Some people get a little uncomfortable about this subject being discussed in Church.
A) Part of that is because our culture has affected us to view sex as something that is dirty
B) The other reason is that there is a certain intimacy & privacy that goes along w/ this subject.
C) But because the Bible deals w/ it - we shouldn’t shy away from it especially since we desire to give the whole counsel of the word.
1)And also because many of the problems in marriage have to do w/
this issue right here!!!
D) Now we have noted in our study of 1 Cor. That Corinth was a very sexually immoral place - marriage was practiced but not sacred!
1) Divorce was common & It was possible for men & women to have
been married 20 times or more.
E) An active and vocal feminist movement had also developed.
1) Some wives competed with their husbands in business and even in feats of physical strength.
F) Many were not interested in being housewives and mothers, and by the end of the first century childless marriages were common.
1)Both men and women were determined to live their own lives,
regardless of marriage vows or commitments.
As a result of The Corinthian Church had people in it who had had multiple marriages and divorces on one hand
A) And on the other hand there were believers had gotten the idea that being
single and celibate was more spiritual than being married,
1) and they disregarded marriage entirely.
B) There is also an indication that some were teaching that sex was “unspiritual” and should be altogether forsaken - even in marriage.
1)Kind of a extreme reaction to the sexual immorality going on in their city
D) All of this made for a situation that was difficult and perplexing even for mature Christians & for immature Christians it was especially confusing.
1) So Paul deals w/ these issues here in Ch.7
7:1 Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
2 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.
Now Paul begins here by putting his stamp of approval on singleness & Celibacy
A) The phrase to touch a woman was a common Jewish euphemism for sexual intercourse Used this way in Gen. 20:6/ Prov. 6;29 / Ruth 2:9
B) Paul uses it to state that it is a good thing for Christians not to have sexual intercourse, another way of saying good, to be single, unmarried.
C) Understand Paul does not say, that singleness is the only good condition or that marriage is in any way wrong or inferior to singleness.
1)What he is saying is that singleness, as long as it is celibate, can be good.
D) But he goes on to say that there can be a problem -
1) See God has built into us as human being sex drive & w/ that sex
drive can come temptations for those who are single
d) especially for those living in such a sexually oriented society like Cor.
E) So For that reason Paul says, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.
1) Now we must not interpret this to mean that Paul is saying that marriage is to be viewed as God’s escape valve for the sex drive.
F) Paul is not suggesting that Christians go out and find another Christian to marry only to keep from getting into sexual sin.
1) He had a much higher view of marriage than that (seen in Eph. 5:22–23 Marriage series )
His purpose here is to stress the reality of the sexual temptations of singleness & to acknowledge that they have a legitimate outlet in marriage.
A) Scripture gives numerous reasons for marriage beside sexual fulfillment
B) marriage is for procreation. God commanded Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28).
1) God intends for mankind to reproduce itself.
C) Marriage is also for pleasure. Proverbs speaks of a man’s being “exhilarated always” with the wife of his youth (5:18–19),
1) and the Song of Solomon centers around the physical attractions and pleasures of marital love.
D) Marriage is a partnership. Woman was created for man to be “a helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2:18). Speaks of Friendship
E)Marriage is a picture of Christ & the church.
F) And marriage is for purity. It protects from sexual immorality by meeting
the need for physical fulfillment.
At this point Paul begins to discuss the sexual relationship between a Husband & a wife 3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.
Notice things here
1st Marriage is a place where affection is to abound
A) Affection is to be a vital part of every marriage & part of that affection is what takes place in the sexual relationships
The 2nd thing that we need to see is the sexual relationship involves a mutual giving & seeking to bless / enrich / satisfy our spouse.
A) We see this in the wording that Paul uses here that the sexual relationship
is a matter of giving & not taking or receiving .
1) Paul says to the men - Render or give to your wife the affection that is due her.
B) In other words the man is not to view the sexual relationship as a way to
get his sexual needs met - but to meet that need in his wife.
C) One of the main things that Jesus taught was that we are to put others first
If you attempt to save your life you will lose it
This principle applies to every area of our Christian life & especially in the marriage relationship & in the area of sex in marriage.
A) if you try to meet your own need, if you put that first in your life – if you say "I am going to have my needs met" You are missing it !!
B) Not only will you not be satisfied but you will be unfulfilled in this area
1) Instead of finding fulfillment you will find emptiness,.
C) The only way to find your needs met and yourself fulfilled is to fulfill another's needs. Give your life away, Jesus said, and you will find it
1) This is a Principle for the Christian life That is what sex is all about.
D) It is designed not to have your needs met, but to meet the needs of your spouse . ( Society has it all back words )
1) In order to bless your wife or husband you are going to need to talk & communicate w/ each other ( Likes & dislikes)
E) Paul is describing a relationship where both people are taking the initiative - where both are desire to bless each other w/ this gift
F) And In the process of devoting yourself to the enjoyment of your mate you find your own needs met. That is what is meant by Verse 4,
1) The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
This is not saying that you are slaves of one another. It is saying that the power to give true fulfillment to your mate lies with you. / you alone!
A) He or she cannot fulfill himself or herself in this area. It is impossible.
B)God made us with that quality of needing someone else to fulfill us
C) Sex w/ in the marriage is another aspect where by we learn the importance of dying to self - for the goal of serving another.
1) Sex outside of marriage is the ultimate act of serving self & it is the defilement of ones temple & God’s plan.
Heb. 13:4 4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
D) It is only w/ in the parameters of the marriage bed & relationship that this
aspect of God’s design can be truly fulfilled.
1) experience that oneness that God ordained - for marriage uniting of the spirit / emotions / the soul - in accordance w/ God’s design
For that reason Paul says 5 Do not deprive one another in this area
A) This can be such a big problem - however - sex becomes the great bartering tool to get our own way /
B) So wrong. It is Failure to live for the Lord. it an act of selfishness & not the selfless kind of love that God intends us to exemplify in our Christian lives & especially in our marriages
Now Is there ever a place for Celibacy in marriage - Answer is yes - but Paul gives specific guidelines v.5
1st purpose - that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer;
A) Form of fasting - for the purpose of seeking the Lord.
B) 2ndly it has to be mutual except with consent for a time
C) 3rd it shouldn’t be long - so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
TEMPTATION : Different between men & women.
A Survey why men & women enter into adultery / Reasons were different.
A)Most men - Passion of it . attempt to experience some sexual fulfillment / fulfill sexual fantasy / ( Lust Oriented )
B) Women it was different 10% said looking for love / 10% looking for lust/ rest saying looking for the thrill of Romance.
1) Tells us that men & women are very different & what women are looking for Romance
C) Most men our visually oriented - Lingerie for women.
D) Women Romance - talk / cuddle / be romanced
So Paul explains why the sexual relationship is so important in the marriage -
Then he goes back to discussing the benefits of being single/ Celibate
6 But I say this as a concession,( Awareness) in other words I am saying this to make you aware not as a commandment that everyone should get married
7 For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.
Now this brings us to an interesting question was Paul ever married ?
A) Many scholars think so because - Paul was a member of the Sanhedrin prior to his conversion - marriage was requirement
B)And Rom. 16:13 seems to indicate that Rufus’s mother was quite possibly Paul’s mother in law.
1) If that is the case - What happened to Paul’s wife
C) Two theories : One is that Paul was a widower - 2nd was that Paul’s wife divorced him when he was converted .
1) So it seems that something happened / either death or divorce & Paul chose to remain single in order to more effectively serve the Lord.
D) Paul wished there were more like him. He knew that the harvest was ripe & the laborers were few ! - Needed more people who could devote themselves entirely to the Lord’s work
E) Something that is impossible for those who are married / Paul discusses the benefits of being single in serving the Lord in v. 32,33
32 But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord; how he may please the Lord. 33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world; how he may please his wife.
F) Singleness provides you w/ a unique opportunity to serve the Lord
A) Anna was a prophetess who was a widow. She had only been married for seven yrs. & since people in that culture married young
1) She probably became a widow at a young age.
B) And having gone through a tragedy like that she could have become bitter - but instead of becoming bitter she became better & blessed.
1) Rather than becoming old, fatigued & frustrated she kept about her a vitality & a spirituality about her.
C) And she ended up being blessed w/ the opportunity to see the Messiah
Why was this woman so special ? Luke gives us some hints Some insights into some things she made priorities in her life.
1st after her husband died we read that she gave herself to fasting & prayer night & day in the temple.
A) She didn’t give into the temptation to get caught up in self pity.
B) Nor did she result in turning to worldliness.
1) She wasn’t hanging out at the Jerusalem Disco - she wasn’t a member of the Jerusalem singles club.
C) But She gave herself whole heartily to the Lord! Prayer & Fasting
1) There was now a void in her life & she turned to the Lord to fill that void & not to man.
D) She just sought the Lord & served the Lord .
Isaiah 54:5 "For your Maker is your husband--the Lord Almighty is his name." It seems that Anna was content to live in that reality
E) She gave herself wholeheartedly to the Lord - great advantage in serving the
Lord for single people. ( Less distractions )
2nd thing we see about Anna is she Looked for the Lord . Anna was waiting & watching Looking for Messiah.
A) She wasn’t looking for a new mate - she was looking for the Lord - his will / His purpose / His coming.
B) SO Paul & Anna are good examples
Another thing to note here in v. 7 is that Paul is indicating that Celibacy is a gift
A) Jesus taught the same thing in speaking about Eunuchs in Matt. 19
So Paul points out is that celibacy is a gift !!!! Not for everyone
So Paul continues in v. 8
8 But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am;
9 but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
The unmarried and widows are two categories of single people mentioned here, but there is a third category of single people (“virgins”) indicated in verse 25.
A) Understanding the distinctions in regard to these three groups is essential. “Virgins” clearly refers to single people who have never been married.
B) Widows are single people who formerly were married who became single by the death of the spouse.
1) That leaves the matter of the unmarried. Who are they?
C) The term unmarried is used only four times in the New Testament, and all four are in this chapter.
D) Verse 32 uses it in a way that gives little hint as to its specific meaning;
it simply refers to a person who is not married.
E) But Verse 34 uses it more definitively: when Paul refers to “the woman who is unmarried, and the virgin.”
1) It seems that Paul has two distinct groups in mind: so whoever the unmarried are, they are not virgins.
F) Verse 8 speaks of “the unmarried and the widows,” so we can conclude that the “unmarried” are not widows.
G) The clearest insight comes in the use of the term in verses 10 and 11: “the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, let her remain unmarried. …).”
So The term unmarried indicates those who were previously married, but are not widows; people who are now single, but are not virgins.
A) The unmarried woman, therefore, is a divorced woman.
B) Paul is speaking to people who were divorced before coming to Christ. They wanted to know if they had the right to marry.
1) His word to them is that it is good for them who are now free of marriage to remain even as I. ( Divorced )
C) But if they couldn’t deal w/ the pressure of sexual temptation Paul says it would be better for them to marry again than to burn w/ lust .
Now v. 9 is one of the most often misquoted verses in the Bible - misquoted out of context too often.
A) This scripture has been greatly misunderstood to mean that if you are involved in a relationship w/ someone and you are having trouble staying pure sexually that you should just get married for it is better to marry than to burn.
B) Guys that is not what Paul is saying here at All!!!!! Wrong for several reasons
1st it is a contradiction to what Paul taught in 1 Thess. 4 : TURN
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified.
7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.
HERE Paul is teaching that God has called us to live holy lives in the area of sexual immorality
A) That each person is to exercise self control in abstaining from sexual immorality
B) Ken - No 7-11 or mini markets
C) That we are to Know how to posses our own vessel in Sanctification & honor - not in passion & lust like the unbelievers
1) And we are to know how to treat each other in a pure way - not taking advantage of someone in this way.
ANOTHER REASON WHY THAT INTERPETAION IS WRONG IS THAT ALTHOUGH SEX IS IMPORTANT IT IS NOT THE FOCUS
A) Marriage series - 4 things seen indirectly throughout passage in Eph. As being successful to a healthy marriage
B) 1st Foundation- Christ - centers around Him
2nd - Communication / 3rd self sacrificing Love / 4th Power
C) When sex is the focus in getting married - these 4 things are missing
1) Christ is not the foundation
D) Communication is not happening / couples in get involved sexually before marriage usually have communication problems
1) Because time that should have been spent building communication & learning about each other was taken up by the physical relationship
There is no self-sacrificing love going on - instead lust is the focus
A) Self sacrificing love says I won’t do this / I won’t go there because I love you and I do not want to hurt your walk w/ Jesus / by defiling your temple
B) For that reason I am going to exercise self control -
C) But sex before marriage is purely a selfish love - seeking to fulfill my needs and wants
D) And there is no walking in the Spirit present - only a fulfilling of the desires of the flesh!!!!
3rd REASON THAT IS CLEARLY NOT WHAT PAUL MENT IS THE CONTEXT ITSELF
A) Paul is speaking to those who are divorced & saying it would be better for you to just remain like me - & serve the Lord
B) But if you cannot do that - if that is too hard & you don’t have that gift than by all means start praying for a spouse
1) For it would be much better to marry than to burn. - be frustrated
CLOSING NOTES - 1st married / then to single
It is clear as you look at this passage, where Paul has dealt so frankly with these matters, that the essence of marital happiness, sexually, is made up of three ingredients:
1.First, of ALL love to God. The body is made for the Lord. We learned that last week, and,
A) therefore, what the Lord wants you to do with your body should be all-compelling. It should govern what your decisions are.
B) The second ingredient in sexual happiness is a discipline of self & a dying of self
1) that is seen a willingness to put your own needs second to those of your spouse in this area,
C) 3rd ingredient, is mutual respect for one another. A good marriage, has a husband and wife giving gifts to one another to show affection
1) That is a way of saying to your mate, "I'm thinking of you. You are important to me. I love you."
D) The greatest gift along that line is sex if it is given with that same spirit of joy and thanksgiving and gratitude and willingness to give pleasure
So Love to God, discipline for self, and a mutual respect for one another. This constitutes two lives learning to unite in the Lord.
Now to those who are single
A) Deciding about marriage obviously is more difficult for the person who has strong sexual desires but who has no immediate prospect for a spouse
B) But It is never God’s will for Christians to marry unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14),
1) but neither is it right just to marry the first believer who shows any interest - we should be careful.
There are several things that Christians in this dilemma ought to do.
A) First, they need to seek the Lord - Adam - sleep /
B) seek the Lord and let Him work in your life understanding that the best way to find the right person is to be the right person.
C) If believers are right with God and it is His will for them to be married He
will send the right person—and never too late.
2nd until the fight person is found, our energy should be redirected in ways that will be the most helpful in keeping our minds off the temptation.
A) Two of the best ways are spiritual service and physical activity.
B) Note Paul’s instruction in Philippians: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things” (4:8).
C) 3rd we should realize that, until God gives us the right person, He will provide strength to resist temptation.
“God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13),