Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage (Paul: 1 Corinthians 7, Part 1)

Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: 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… I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry.  For it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Corinthians 7:1-9).

Paul had received questions from the brethren at Corinth.  The words “now concerning” may highlight some of these questions (1 Corinthians 7:1; 7:25; 8:1; 12:1; 16:1-2; 16:12,  see also – 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 5:1).

“Paul, is celibacy the best course?  Should marriage be avoided?”  It seems that they asked something like this.  Why would they ask this?  Was it due to the influence of early gnostic type beliefs?  Was it due to some misunderstanding of something Paul had said (e.g. 1 Corinthians 7:26)?

Paul answered: (1) It is good to remain celibate and unmarried.  “It is good for a man not to touch a woman” (1 Corinthians 7:1).  The word “touch” is referring to sexual contact (cf. Genesis 20:6; Proverbs 6:29).  It is here used for marrying ( 1 Corinthians 7:1 cf. 7:8, 26-27), since the sexual relationship is a natural consequence of the marriage. “It is good for them to remain even as I am” (1 Corinthian 9:5).  (2) This advice was given due to the present distress (1 Corinthians 7:26).  They were facing an unusual wave of persecution.  The Bible does not frown on marriage.  It teaches, “It is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18).  “Marriage is honorable” (Hebrews 13:4).  Paul, himself, later wrote, “I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house” (1 Timothy 5:14).  (3) There is no sin in marrying.  “It is good for a man not to touch a woman.  Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality (fornication KJV), let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:12).  “It is good for them to remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry.  For it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Corinthians 7:8-9.  Note: The words “with passion” are supplied by the NKJV.  They are not in the original language.  However, such does seem to accurately express the thought).  “He does not sin; let them marry” (1 Corinthians 7:36 cf. 7:38).  It is better to marry than to be sexually immoral (commit fornication).  It is better to marry than to be consumed with lust.  (4) Those who are married should not cease from sexual intimacy (1 Corinthians 7:3-5).  They owed such to each other. Moreover, the effect of withholding of this part of the marriage relationship could be temptation. Let it be pointed out – Noah begot children even though he lived in violent and wicked times (Genesis 7:6 cf. 6:3 cf. 5:32).

Some have suggested that – since it says, “Nevertheless, because of sexuality immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2), and “It is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Corinthians 7:9) – all marriages are permitted.  However, this cannot be true.  Jesus said that some marriages result in adultery (Matthew 19:9).  Paul said that there are some who need to “remain unmarried or be reconciled” (1 Corinthians 7:11).

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
This entry was posted in Ethics, Marriage, Textual study and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s