1 Corinthians 7:1 “…the things of which you wrote…”
From what Paul says in both of the letters we have, he had been writing to and receiving letters from Corinth. We only have two, but there are indications that there were at least four.
3-5 “…husband render to his wife…also the wife to her husband…wife does not have authority over her own body…husband does not have authority over his own body…Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time…come together again…”
Paul wasn’t the most romantic person, but he was clear on the mechanics of physical intimacy in marriage, which I believe we have severely missed today. Reasons are varied, but I think much has to do with the rise in a misunderstanding of feminism and the inherent selfishness of society as a whole. There is an idea that both sexes must be equal in all aspects, that a marriage has to be a 50/50 give and take relationship. That is incorrect. Men and women are totally different and therefore aren’t always equal. Marriage must be 100/100 give and give. This is what Paul is saying here. Each person doesn’t have control over their own body, their spouse does. And to keep outside temptations from gaining access, couples should not deprive each other of physical and sexual intimacy.
9 “…if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
As I said before, Paul isn’t known for being a romantic. He thought it was best for folks to remain single so they could devote all their time to Christ. There are certainly other reasons to marry besides burning with passion. And I believe it is possible to be married and be in the will of God, able to be totally devoted to Him. In some cases, couples will do a better job than either could do as singles.
10-11 “…wife is not to depart from her husband…husband is not to divorce his wife”
Reflects what Jesus said in the gospels. Couples should not divorce except in times of infidelity, and even then it is not required, only allowed. And if a couple splits for any other reason, each should remain single or be reconciled to their spouse. This is why the disciples said it was better to not marry at all.
12-16 Paul addresses those believers who are married to non-believers. They should remain married if possible as their Christian behavior could lead their spouses to believe. But if the non-believing spouse refuses to stay, for the sake of peace, the believer is not under bondage to stay in the marriage. We tend to focus on the reasons to get out of relationships, the exceptions to staying together. But Paul stresses that couples should stay together if at all possible. God intended marriage to last as long as both spouses were living. Doing so has many benefits not seen in the single life. And God uses the marriage relationship as an example of His relationship to us.
17-24 Interesting section. Would be very easy to draw wrong conclusions from what Paul says. I think the point is for us to be more concerned with our relationship with Christ than our earthly standing in society or our vocational calling. New Christians don’t have to surrender to the ministry and preach or sing to follow Christ. He can use them where they are. Certainly, if He moves us to follow a different path, we should move, but only at His leading.
25 “…I have no commandment from the Lord…one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy”
I like the fact that Paul doesn’t try to speak for Christ unless he has something directly from Him. But that doesn’t mean that God hasn’t given him insight and good judgment to pass on.
26-40 Paul gives several examples and reasons for his point in this section. Appears he was asked a question at some earlier point regarding those who had never married. He considered service to the Lord as the primary objective, and He seems to have believed that it would not be very long before the Lord returned. As far as he was concerned, it was better that a person remained single so as to serve the Lord as much as possible without the hindrance of family life, as we wouldn’t be here long. Obviously, if no one ever married and reproduced, the human race would not have lasted beyond the current generations. But I think Paul’s point is valid. We should have our relationship with and service to God as our primary objectives whether we are single or married. I believe it is possible to do so in both situations. He will work out all our other relationships if we stay focused on Him.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.