In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul answers questions he received on marriage, divorce, and singleness. We don’t know the exact questions, but we do have his answers. Looking at the beginning of this chapter, we see:
The Plan of Marriage
In verses 1-2, Paul says, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.” There is so much in just these two verses about God’s plan for marriage! The word “touch” here means to have sexual relations. Some translations will use the word “use” in its place. We are not to use or abuse people. If she is your girlfriend, she is not your wife. If he is your boyfriend, he is not your husband. Marriage is God’s plan. Notice the phrases “his own” and “her own.” It’s clear that God’s plan for marriage is not polygamy, same-sex partners, adultery, or an open marriage. Genesis 2:24-25 says, “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh. Both the man and his wife were naked, yet felt no shame.” Two become ONE. A great definition of marriage is one man, one woman, worshipping one God, in one church, living in one house, sleeping in one bed, sharing one bank account, loving each other for one lifetime.
The Purpose of Marriage
Looking at verses 3-4, we see that a husband’s body belongs also to his wife and that a wife’s body belongs also to her husband. It does not say their body does not belong to them, but that it does not belong to them alone. This is not to be used as leverage to demand your spouse do anything. In marriage ME becomes WE. We give up the exclusive right to ourselves when we get married. Paul has a high view of marriage. Read Ephesians 5. What’s the purpose? Why be married? Procreation (Gen. 1:28), pleasure (Prov. 5:15-19), partnership (Gen. 2:18), it’s a picture of Christ and the Church (Eph. 5), and purity (1 Cor. 7:2).
The Protection of Marriage
In verses 5-9, we see that there is protection in marriage. Celibacy has certain dangers and temptations. If you are unmarried you will face strong sexual temptations. God made us with the urge to merge! Marriage has certain rights and responsibilities. You do not get married to be single. The problem in our society is singles are living like they are married and married couples are living like they are single! The devil does everything he can to get you to have sex before you get married then he does everything he can to keep you from having sex after you get married! Sexual satisfaction is to be fulfilled in marriage. This is a very challenging word to Christian couples. Tiredness, resentment, disinterest, or boredom are not excuses for long periods of separation. I have talked to married couples who have not been together for years! Verse 5 is clear that it has to be mutual consent for a limited short time. Don’t tell me you have been praying and fasting for 5 years! In 35 years of ministry, I have never heard of deprivation for prayer or fasting. Affection and intimacy are not weapons. Your body is not a bargaining chip. Years of no physical relations is a clear violation of the scripture. I’ve heard people say, “I don’t feel like it.” This is not optional. In fact, he says it is a scheme of Satan or you will fall into temptation. Come together again! That is your homework assignment.
Paul says this all as a “concession” (v. 6). He does not say that you must marry, but you may if you want to. Singleness is not a second-class state. Both marriage and singleness are gift from God. Do not abuse your gift. If you are married, don’t let the fire go out. Keep the fire burning! Don’t give your best to work, hobbies, and other people. Don’t put your kids ahead of your spouse. Love is a verb! Just like Jesus proved his love for us and forgives us, we can love our spouse! We love because He first loved us!