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God's Design for Marriage: 1 Corinthians 7:1-7

April 23, 2023 Preacher: Bob DeWaay Series: 1 Corinthians

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 7:107

As we expound this difficult section of Scripture, we explain how getting one passage wrong has profoundly influenced church history in very damaging way. The interpretation hinges on the statement in verse 1 which says, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” This is in response to a letter they had written Paul which we do not have. For centuries this was taken as Paul’s statement, which led to the idea that marriage is a concession and a lesser way of living as Christians than celibacy. In this sermon we show that this is not Paul’s statement but his citation of their slogan which he corrects. Marriage is ordained by God and we show this by citing Genesis 2:18 and 2:24-25. Marriage is good and was not instituted as a concession to immorality. Paul strongly teaches regular sexual relations between husband and wife, with both partners’ needs and concerns equally emphasized. The men in the pagan Roman society did as they pleased as wives had little standing. Paul rebukes those in the Corinthian church who had a wrong view of this (as seen by their slogan) and said “stop depriving one another.” In regard to celibacy outside of marriage, Paul sees that as a gift (charisma) as well. In the bigger picture, one gift from God is not to be regarded as superior to another. Many teachers in church history claimed that sexual relationships in marriage were a lesser way of living and less spiritual. They created hierarchies which gave special status to those who rejected marriage. This serves to show how the traditions of men harm the church and ignore God’s gifts. We also strongly reject the ways of pagans, ancient and contemporary, who live wickedly and do great harm to human beings created in the image of God. Christians must not allow the pagan culture to influence our beliefs and practices.