Practical Doctrine on Marriage 1 Cor 7: 1-40 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Paul explained some very practical doctrine on marriage for us in 1 Cor 7. He dealt with:
Sexual relations – 1 Cor 7:1-5 – It is important in marriage for husbands and wives to keep themselves for each other [1 Cor 7:2]. Therefore, they need to avoid fornication. To do this:
- Men should avoid physical contact with women – 1 Cor 7:1
- Husbands and wives should render “due benevolence” to each other. That is, they should give generously to each other and do acts of kindness for each other – 1 Cor 7:3
- They should yield the power over their own bodies to each other. That is, they don’t seek pleasure except from each other and at times mutually beneficial – 1 Cor 7:4
- They should not withhold themselves from each other. There are times when they may consent to abstain from sexual relations for the purpose of fasting and praying. But then they are to “come together again” so that Satan doesn’t tempt them for their “incontinency” (their inability to control their lust) – 1 Cor 7:5 – it is fraud to do otherwise.
The unmarried and widows – 1 Cor 7:6-9 – Paul’s recommendation to the unmarried and widows is to remain single, like he was. Those who are gifted to handle not being married should remain unmarried [1 Cor 7:7-8]. And those can’t handle remaining single should marry [1 Cor 7:9]. “It is better to marry than to burn.”
The married – 1 Cor 7:10-11 – the Lord’s command to the married is “Let not the wife depart from her husband.” See Matt 19:3-9. They are supposed to stay together. If she departs, though, she has two options. She can remain unmarried or she can be reconciled to her husband. During this separation, the husband is not to put away his wife. That is, he shouldn’t divorce her or have relations with another woman.
The “rest” – 1 Cor 7:12-16 – these are the folks who are married to a lost person. This passage does not support a saved person marrying a lost person. Paul addressed marriages where one spouse gets saved and the other one doesn’t. In those cases, the saved spouse should not put away the lost spouse, if the lost spouse wants to stay [1 Cor 7:12-13]. The saved spouse sanctifies the lost spouse and their children are clean [1 Cor 7:14]. Refer to Heb 13:4 and Lev 15:16-18. The marriage bed of saved people is undefiled, even if only one spouse gets saved.
However, if the lost spouse decides to leave, then he or she is free to go and “a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases.” That is, he or she is permitted to remarry. They are no longer husband and wife [1 Cor 7:15].
The reason that the saved spouse shouldn’t put away the lost spouse is that the saved spouse might be able to lead the lost spouse to the Lord [1 Cor 7:16].
An illustration to those he addressed – 1 Cor 7:17-24 – abide in whatever state you were in when Christ saved you, whether single, married or widowed. Paul preached in all the churches that Jews shouldn’t become “uncircumcised” (Gentiles) and Gentiles shouldn’t become “circumcised” (Jews) [1 Cor 7:17-20; Gal 2:11-18; Acts 15:6-20]. Likewise, servants shouldn’t seek to be free, since they are free in Christ, and free men should realize that they are not free, but are servants to Christ [1 Cor 7:21-24; Eph 6:5-9; Col 3:22-4:1; 1 Tim 6:1-5].
Virgins – 1 Cor 7:25-26 – Paul had not received a “commandment of the Lord” concerning his view on marriage. However, he strongly suggested that, because he had “obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful,” others should consider remaining single, particularly during “the present distress.” Of course, they aren’t sinning if they decide to marry instead [1 Cor 7:28].
Remarriage – 1 Cor 7:27-28, 39-40 – Paul reiterated that a married man shouldn’t seek to be “loosed” from his wife. Yet, a man who is “loosed” shouldn’t seek a wife [1 Cor 7:27]. A spouse can be loosed by the other spouse’s departing [1 Cor 7:15], by his or her death [1 Cor 7:39], or by his or her fornication [Matt 19:9]. A spouse who remarries after any of these events “hast not sinned,” [1 Cor 7:28]. Nevertheless, “such shall have trouble in the flesh.”
A widow is free to marry whom she will as long as he is “in the Lord (saved),” [1 Cor 7:39]. However, Paul believed, and believed that the Holy Spirit affirmed, that she would be happier remaining a widow [1 Cor 7:40].
The distractions of marriage – 1 Cor 7:29-35 – Paul lived like the Lord was coming in his lifetime. He said, “the time is short,” [1 Cor 7:29]. He stressed that we shouldn’t get tied up with the world because “the fashion of this world passeth away,” [1 Cor 7:31]. Therefore, nothing should come between us and the Lord, whether it be a spouse, or something that has made us weep, or something that has made us rejoice, or something that we have purchased, or anything else that we use in this world [1 Cor 7:29-31].
Paul wanted us to be “without carefulness,” [1 Cor 7:32]. An unmarried man can devote his full attention to the Lord, while a married man must also “please his wife,” [1 Cor 7:32-33]. An unmarried woman can devote her full attention to the Lord, while a married woman must also “please her husband,” [1 Cor 7:34]. Married people, of necessity therefore, end up caring “for the things of the world.” And Paul’s desire was that we “may attend upon the Lord without distraction,” [1 Cor 7:35].
The decision whether to marry – 1 Cor 7:36-38 – at the conclusion of this chapter, Paul dealt with whether two people who want to marry should now go through with their wedding. If they “need so require,” [1 Cor 7:36], then they should marry. They haven’t sinned. But if a man “standeth steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will,” then he shouldn’t marry. He “doeth well,” [1 Cor 7:37]. According to 1 Cor 7:38, he that marries “doeth well” but he that remains unmarried “doeth better.”