Since we don’t know the exact questions that the Corinthians had asked Paul, it makes it harder to understand his answer. There are two things we can know from the history of the church at that date. One thing is that some of the Corinthians had taken Paul’s teaching on sexual immorality to the extremes. Husbands and wives were using the teachings to completely deny each other. Some were even using it as an excuse to divorce unbelieving mates. The second thing is that about this time in history, Stoics were teaching complete celibacy for everyone. But, either way, Paul says that because this was causing a great deal of sexual immorality, it was better for a couple to stay married and fulfill their conjugal duties to each other rather than commit sin by having sex outside of marriage. Inside the marriage, each spouse should always consider the needs and desires of the other spouse to be more important than their own desires. Everything concerning the sexual relations of a married couple should be by common consent with no pressures or demands made by either. It’s not about the husband nor the wife, it’s about the couple being obedient to God.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
Considering all that is going on in this country and around the world, this is a very timely message. Every day we see the wasteful results of those that choose to express their anger with violence and illegal acts. God gave us our emotions and one of those is anger. There is an anger that comes from righteous indignation when we see the evil being done to others in our cities across the world. But that anger must be controlled and pointed in the right direction. Our response must be to hate the sin and love the sinner. Unless we are expressing our feelings about sin and evil actions, we should never use the word “hate”. Jesus has set the standard. We are not allowed to pick what we will love or hate, He has already shown us the right way. We are all guilty of allowing our anger to control us at times, so we need to learn to pray before we react to any situation.
We must pray for those that have been deceived into thinking that violence is a solution to their issues. Each of us needs to set aside a few minutes of each day to pray about this issue and for praying especially for the cities that we call home.
50 Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit.51 At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart,52 and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.53 They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people. — Matt. 27:50-53 NLT (Read The Whole Story)
After the Lord’s Supper was completed, Jesus and the disciples went to Gethsemane. Jesus took His three closest friends and went a little further into the Garden. Leaving them there, He went a stone’s throw further and began to pray. In our darkest hours, we are sometimes separated from those who love us, left alone with just us and our Father. It is then that we can pray effectively and fervently. Jesus prayed so fervently that He sweat great drops of blood. Then Judas came with the religious leaders and soldiers. He came to betray Jesus with a kiss. A kiss, not of affection but of deceit and deception. What had begun as a farewell celebration for Jesus ended in a long night and day of sorrows for Jesus.
A night and day of being denied by His friends, a night and day of being persecuted and falsely accused, a night and day of being mocked, beaten and spat upon. The culmination was HIs being hanged on a cross until He gave up His spirit. Nothing short of God’s love could cause a person to submit to such indignation and punishment. Especially when that person was innocent of any sin. So, why would He do it? He did it for you and for me. We weren’t there physically, but every sin we ever committed or ever will commit was there separating Jesus from HIs Father for that short space of time. Unthinkable! Unimaginable! That anyone could love others so much that they would agree to suffer a death that was so horrible it defies imagination.
36 If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married.37 But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing. 38 So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does better. 39 A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.40 In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is—and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.—1 Cor. 7:36-40 NIV
This is Paul’s warning against sex outside of marriage. In those times, most marriages were pre-arranged, so the person knew who they would be marrying. Therefore, Paul could make this warning specific to a particular person. In today’s world of dating, the warning would have to be generalized to mean any person with whom you are in any sort of social relationship. The couple, if they are unable to control themselves physically, should either stop the relationship or agree to get married and do so before the physical relationship leads both of them to sin. Either decision will keep us from doing the wrong thing. That does not mean that we rush into marriage just so we can have sex. There are “good” things and then there are “God” things. Search for and do the “God” thing, not the thing that feels good. Experience teaches us that if our marriage choices are not soaked in prayer, the end result can be disastrous. Once the marriage is consummated, praying together will keep the marriage together. Less than 1% of marriages where the couple pray together daily end in divorce.
If you make the decision to marry, then you are bound to each other “until death do us part”. Jesus set the example for us since He will never forsake the church
31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.—Eph. 5:31-33 NIV