‘Now Concerning…’ is how the NASB, ESV, & KJV translate the first words of this chapter. Paul uses that same phrase several more times in the last half of this letter. So why not use it as a sermon series? These things concern us as well!
What is being asked here is: should Christians have sex? Which I will answer now, Yes! But, let me qualify that, within the covenant of marriage! With all of what Paul could have wrote in the first letter (5:9) about sexual immorality I am sure there were those thought that sex was a necessary evil intended for procreation. But sex is to be enjoyed in the context of the husband/wife relationship. There, specifically, it is a gift from God.
Keep in mind what scandalous things were happening within the congregations of Corinth: a man sleeping with his father’s wife, the use of prostitutes, and the general sexual immorality that was taking place. The culture back then was a lot like today’s but we have the internet, giving easy access to pornography and just about any tv show or commercial showing us that sexual immorality is common place. All that being said, what we are being told here in these first 7 verses is that it is recognized that there is a strong but normal sexual drive in human beings. But, as is pointed out, it can be used wrongly to displease God.
The world tells us that on can have sex with no strings attached, but it turns out that those strings tie us to the other person and are our only chance for true joy in marriage, “And the two will become one flesh…” (Mark 10:8, also see Genesis 2:24). Take note that this is ongoing… husbands and wives become one flesh not only through sex but also through communication, commitment, and in sharing their lives and giving themselves to one another together. In marriage, selflessness is needed, sacrifice is a constant theme, and emotional and spiritual commitment are required. True intimacy is loss of self and devotion to the other.
“Physical reproduction is one wonderful and miraculous by-product of something wonderful and miraculous already: The true fulfillment of a lasting love relationship.”“Love, Marriage, and Sex” by Pastor David Jeremiah
“If we pick a wild flower and take it from its natural environment, it wilts quickly. So too, the satisfaction of sex is short lived when it is torn from the setting for which God designed it.”“The Myth of Romance” by Dennis McCallum
Vs. 4 – Being told that the wife/women has rights to the husband/man….also this is telling us that monogamy, not polygamy, is the norm.
“Monogamy reflects the equal value of women and men in God’s eyes. While polygamy tends to deflate the of each value each wife while inflating the value of the husband,”Wesleyan Bible Commentary, Kenneth Schenck
Vs. 5 – Husbands and wives are warned not to deprive one another. We know that the enemy will tempt us in any way that he can, in any area that he can. In this area many fall.
Vs. 6 – the concession that is being made here is the temporary abstinence for prayer…as he wishes that all people were like him. Paul is unmarried, celibate, but Paul is not pushing for martial celibacy. And he is not pushing for anyone to remain single. He is answering a question given to him.
Vs. 7 – Paul is gifted with the gift of celibacy and we are not all gifted the same. There are different gifts, but the same Spirit. In Romans 12:4 we are told that we have different gifts according to the grace given us.
Vs. 8 – to those who are not married now, he says that it is best to remain as he is… keep in mind he has been gifted with celibacy… God’s grace sustains him. Some have that gift, some of us do not!
In no way are we being told not to marry. In fact Paul says that is demonic!
What Paul is saying is that celibacy is a good, maybe even better, option than marriage. But he recognizes that it’s not for everyone. It is a less complicated life. It gives you more opportunity to serve. But like with marriage, the last reason we should choose singleness is for our own benefit. The greatest happiness is always found in answering God’s call on your life: service, not selfishness.
God’s Word calls us to discipline, to deny our natural desires, and to conform our lives to the gospel. It reminds us that satisfaction will never be found in being married or single, but in laying down our lives to love others and to serve Christ. When we lose our lives, Jesus said, we find them (Matthew 10:39). Our lives are to be lost in God’s love; if He is our focus then everything else falls into place.
Love the Lord Your God… neighbor… Who is your neighbor in marriage? I am sure you can figure that out…
Your relationship with God ought to bring you more joy, satisfaction, and pleasure than any other relationship, activity, or material possession you have.
We need to recapture the beauty of marriage and also the beauty of singleness. But, most of all, I’d argue today that we need to recapture the beauty of living life in such a way that it’s not about us. The greatest model and the greatest power for how to do this is Jesus himself, who joyfully lived His life to serve others. Most powerfully, He gave up his life so that we could be rescued, and so that we could have the power to live and serve Him and others.
- How are you serving God in your marriage or singleness?
- Where is your focus?
- What can you do to improve the relationship you are in?