God’s Provision for Singleness and Marriage

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1 CORINTHIANS  7:1-16 (ESV)

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For 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. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.10 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.

12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you  to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

TRUTH IN FOCUS

God’s provision against sexual temptation is clearly seen in the institution of Christian marriage. Within the confines and protection of Christian marriage, a man and a woman work together for the mutual benefit and satisfaction of one another, protecting one another from the pitfalls of sexual sin.

The gift of remaining single is also a valid expression of God’s provision over sexual temptation, as God enables the individual to live and serve God while remaining in that state.  Those who are widowed or those who have never married may choose to remain single with God’s blessing.

Believers who are married to an unbeliever have no right to depart from them as long as the unbeliever agrees to remain in the marriage relationship. The marriage is sanctified by God for the sake of the believing spouse and children.

Whether married or single, God provides His people the tools necessary to flee temptation and serve the Lord with gladness.

OUTLINE

VV 2,3 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

A. Some of the Corinthians wrote Paul and explained their view that marriage was somehow inferior to single life, stating, “it is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.”

B. The Apostle Paul replies, stating each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband for the following reasons:

        1. To ensure a reasonable protection against sexual immorality
        2. To grace both the husband and wife as the wife rights to another under God

V.3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.

A. The husband is responsible to his wife

B. The wife is responsible to her husband

C. Mutual rights are afforded both parties. In Christian marriage, no one is the property of another. Rather, each person surrenders part of themselves as they also gain responsibility for another.

V.4  For 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.

A. The husband and wife surrender one to the other bodily authority concerning sexual expression

B. Likewise, the husband gains authority over the wife, the wife over the husband, as both parties agree to a life-long mutually exclusive sexual relationship.

C. Marriage protects the parties by establishing accountability, with each spouse checking and balancing the other.

V. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

A Neither party may use sexual intimacy as a weapon against the other – no deprivation as this would short circuit one of the important reasons marriage exists (to counter sexual immorality)

B. Both parties may agree to forego the marriage bed for a season, especially for seasons of prayer, provided it is for a limited time.

C. Marital intimacy must be the norm for every married relationship capable of such intimacy, if it is to safeguard the couple from the temptation to sin.

VV. 6,7 Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

A. Paul concedes that his preference is for those who can to stay single just as he.

B. God gifts each of us differently, some equipped for a life of singleness, others gifted for marriage.

C. The church has no business compelling either singlehood or marriage on her members. This is God’s call, not ours.

VV. 8,9 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Paul’s advice to the single and widowed:

A. If possible, stay single

B. If you can not stand the temptation of sexual sin, get married

C. The long-term consequences of sexual immorality are a much worse fate than cultivating a happy marriage in which to express sexual desire.

VV. 10,11  To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.

Paul argues for the permanence of marriage.

A. The wife is expected to stay married

B. The husband is expected to stay married

VV. 12-14 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

A. Paul sheds additional light on Christ’s teaching, explaining that if a believer is married to an unbeliever who is willing to remain with her – then no divorce is permitted.

B. A marriage relationship is sanctified in the sight of God for the sake of the believer in the relationship.

VV. 15,16 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

A. If an unbeliever departs – let them leave. Follow peace with the believing spouse as God may use your relationship as a means to reach them with the Gospel

B. To follow peace means to appreciate the sanctity of marriage as well. Believers should seek restoration as a first means of action when a marriage is facing difficulty.

CONCLUSION

God provides for His people. In singlehood or in marriage, the Lord has gifted us with the tools necessary to serve Him while facing down sexual temptation. In a strong marriage relationship, human sexuality can be celebrated in a God-honoring way. Likewise, God gifts others with a gift of singlehood. No matter our station in life, our calling is to glorify God in our bodies.


Jason K. Boothe serves as Pastor of Horizons Baptist Church of Piketon, Ohio. For more information concerning the ministries of the church, please visit www.HorizonsBaptist.org.

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