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The “It’s just sex” mindset isn’t unique to our current culture. 2000 years ago, Corinth was a city with a warped view of sex. Every day, hundreds of priestesses from the temple of Aphrodite, at the top of the city, would come down into the streets and work their trade. Sex was offered as a way of worship.

Sexual immorality also made its way into the church. Many Corinth Christians changed what Paul had taught them, that God designed sex to be enjoyed in the context of a lifelong covenant of marriage. Just like today, they rationalized: “It’s okay if we fool around a little. We plan on getting married someday.” Or, “It’s only natural.”

How they could handle temptation had become such an issue that the church needed some direction. So, they asked Paul about sex, singleness, and marriage. In Chapter 7, Paul is answering specific questions the church had written and asked him.

Christians need to understand God’s plan for human sexuality and relationships. Even if our whole society falls apart in the divorce courts of the world, and immorality and living together are at epidemic proportions, Christians have to hold high the truth of God’s plan for marriage. This passage answers some very practical questions that confuse and cause problems for singles and married couples.

In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul is giving them and us marriage counseling.

Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.  1 Corinthians 7:1-5

  • Sex is for the purposes of Protection, Pleasure, and Procreation.
  • Sex in the covenant of marriage protects against sexual immorality and adultery.
  • God created marriage and sex. It is not a human idea. Marriage is sacred to God.
  • Marriage is a great blessing.

Paul says that for some people, it is better to not get married. But, for most people, it is better to be married.

He also says that married couples shouldn’t withhold sex from one another.

Prayer is so important to a marriage and family that it alone is the exception for abstinence, for a short time period.

When it comes to sex, our culture asks, “how can I get what I want, when I want it?”

Christian marriage is not about what can I get for myself, but it’s all about what can I give to my spouse and how I can I meet my spouse’s needs. This is a more satisfying, joyful way of life.

Because of the intense pressure of temptations all around them—the Corinthian Christians started searching for the best way to handle the situation. Some decided it was best to totally abstain from sex. They thought that if they never looked at or touched the opposite sex, they would be able to conquer the temptation. This idea became so popular that some people started to live that way. There is even evidence that some married men and women practiced celibacy in their marriage or left their spouses. They were denying each other and thinking that was spiritual.

Contrary to popular opinion, married couples statistically don’t have worse sex than singles, but better. In their groundbreaking study, The Case for MarriageLinda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher point out that 40 percent of married people have sex twice a week, compared to 20 percent of single and cohabitating men and women. Over 40 percent of married women said their sex life was emotionally and physically satisfying, compared to about 30 percent of single women. Fifty percent of married men are physically and emotionally content versus 38 percent of cohabitating men.

A survey of sexuality conducted jointly by researchers at State University of New York at Stony Brook and the University of Chicago—called the “most authoritative ever” by U.S. News & World Report—found that of all sexually active people the most physically pleased and emotionally satisfied were married couples. The myth of our culture is that the single life is a life of great sex and the height of pleasure, but that is a lie.

Waite and Gallagher conclude: “Promoting marriage will make for a lot more happy men and women. Sex in America reported that married sex beats all else.”

Our desires are good when we express them in a godly way. Not by denying our desires, but following Jesus and expressing them in the proper context.

  • 1. We don’t know as much as we think about each other, so you have to talk and open up to each other.
  • 2. You can’t read each other’s minds.

We need better information and better communication when it comes to intimacy. There are some great bible-based Christian books available to help in this area.

I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

Now to the unmarried[a] and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. 1 Corinthians 7:6-11

Paul says that, if you feel like you have to get involved in things that immoral, you should not stay single. You should find a godly spouse. Those desires are given by God for a purpose.

God has a perfect plan. Don’t separate from each other. But he says, “if you do.” We know that divorce is a reality. That doesn’t mean that is is a good solution. As for Pam and I, we have taken divorce off the table. We know that’s not God’s solution. Divorce is painful. Nobody gets married planning to get divorced. It’s the death of a dream. Still, God can heal and forgive if divorce happens.

12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 1 Corinthians 7:12-13

Paul says that Christians should not divorce because they are unequally yoked. At the same time, you can’t make someone else stay. Marriage takes two. Really, it takes 3, with God at the center!

Why is it important to Stay Married?

14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? 1 Corinthians 7:14-16

Principle: Children of believers are special, set apart: Holy!

You have an opportunity to lead them to Jesus. I have seen this happen many times.

Paul is saying there’s something deeper in your unity than you even know. The struggle is worth it! Mystery.

How many people does it take to make a blessed marriage? Just one! Your faith brings God’s blessing to your home and family. Their choice is needed, but God is present.

What if they leave?

Verse 15 gives the condition of abandonment for divorce. That means the unbelieving spouse walks out. In this case, the Christian partner is not held responsible. However, it doesn’t count if you actively drive them away!

Paul doesn’t even talk about two Christians divorcing. This is an unthinkable option to Paul. Because when two people are both living under the lordship of Jesus, divorce doesn’t happen. It is not just a trite saying, but true to say,

The couple that prays together, stays together!

This chapter touches on several important parts of Christian marriage. In the Corinthians’ culture, the temptation to deviate from biblical teaching on marriage faced believers on every side. In our current culture, the same thing is true. We must look carefully at God’s standards and principles to hold up God’s plan for marriage.

A Couple of Applications

         •        Married couples should maintain healthy sexual relationships.

         •        Sometimes marriage isn’t advised for every person, but barring such circumstances we should want to be married and build a strong Christian marriage.