Commentary by Walter Albritton

July 2, 2006


We Practice the Faith by Relating to Others with Grace


1 Corinthians 7:2-15


Key Verse: I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind.  – 1 Corinthians 7:7

Sex is the subject of this lesson. Though it is controversial, we need to understand what the Bible says about sex. The lust for sex, money, or power can be our downfall. The secret is to put all three of these basic human cravings under the Lordship of Christ. So we need to know what Paul can teach us.

First of all, we need to realize that Paul thought he was living not in the first century but in the last. He was wrong, but in his view, time was short. So he believed that Christians should concentrate on the main thing: sharing the good news. Christ was returning soon so there was no time for marriage or anything else that might divert attention from the work of Christ.

Paul did not in any way call marriage a sin. Indeed, he considered marriage divinely ordained by God, “an honorable estate instituted by God” as our ritual for marriage states. He makes it clear also that sexual intercourse should be reserved for the marriage relationship.

Sexual intercourse outside the bond of marriage was wrong. Paul called it immorality. It was then, and it still is, a sin, despite the demand of culture that it be viewed as nothing more than “pleasure.” 

In the first century, as in our own, there were those misguided people who believed that what a man did behind closed doors was his own business and had nothing to do with morality. The Bible makes it clear that to God such thinking is absolute foolishness. The body of a Christian man belongs to the Lord; what he does with his body should bring honor to Christ. To ignore the sanctity of marriage in the pursuit of one’s pleasure is to dishonor Christ.

Paul gives us a beautiful concept for sexual relations in marriage. The body of a husband belongs to his wife and the body of a wife belongs to her husband. Neither should deny the other sexual relations, except when mutually agreed upon for a spiritual objective. Men must have groaned to hear Paul say this for in his day the culture was male-dominated.

Paul insists that Kingdom living should give men a healthier respect for women and help them to see the need for mutual love and self-giving in marriage. For the apostle there was no place in marriage for selfishness. If grace works anywhere, it works beautifully within the bond of holy matrimony. A husband and wife truly practice the faith when they relate to each other with grace.

Though he was single, and satisfied with singleness, Paul was wise. He did not insist on singleness for others. Indeed he called both singleness and marriage a “gift” of God. Paul’s wisdom shows also in his recognition that he had no right to require others to follow his example. He simply says “I wish everyone could get along without marrying, just as I do.”

Then we observe that Paul understand well human nature. Speaking plainly he says, “If you cannot control yourself, then go ahead and get married. That is better than to burn with lust.” Notice that his solution for lust was marriage, not sexual relations simply for physical satisfaction. Here again his counsel challenged the prevailing cultural idea that “a wife is for children and a prostitute for pleasure.”

Today our culture is obsessed with sex. The use of sex in movies and television is flagrantly unchristian. Pornography is not simply a bad word; it is one of the biggest businesses in America. Like an octopus, pornography is reaching into every arena of life to ensnare people of all ages with its ungodly ideas. Constantly pornography is ruining marriages and robbing children and young people of their innocence. Yet our culture blindly endorses pornography with the label of “free speech.”

Christians had better wake up before it is too late. Our tolerance of pornography could well bring about the downfall of our nation. While it is day those who live under the Lordship of Jesus should stop being bashful about sex and begin with zeal to teach our children what the Bible says about sex.    We should teach them how to submit their own sexuality to Christ and to use sex within the boundaries God has prescribed. To do any less will be to leave the next generation powerless to deal with the sexual immorality that threatens to ruin their lives and rob their country of any right to be called “one nation under God.”  

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