These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. They will be in outline form, so if you have any questions or need more details, please feel free to leave a comment below.
Click here for last week’s lesson.
Godly Womanhood – Sex, Marriage, Singleness, and Divorce
1 Corinthians 7
Background on 1 Corinthians:
Written by Paul to the church in Corinth (in southern Greece) circa A.D. 55. Aphrodite (Greek goddess of love) worship was the major religion. Gross immorality and drunken debauchery included: fornication, adultery, homosexuality, polygamy, concubinage, prostitution, and incest. Ch. 7 was in response to a previous letter from the church to Paul asking questions about marriage/sex.
7:1-2- What is the Corinthians’ question? Why would they ask this? How did Paul answer?
v. 1- Paul is restating a quote from their letter, not giving instruction himself. Because of the extent of the sexual corruption in Corinth (most in the church had grown up in this environment and didn’t know any differently), the baby Corinthian church has a skewed, confused understanding of sex and thinks maybe Christians should stay away from it altogether (even inside marriage). Paul has to hit the “reset button” on their theology of sex and show them it is a good gift of God in its proper context.
7:2-5- Parameters for a biblical theology of sex:
1. Sex is only to take place between a man and a woman who are married to each other. (2ff)
V. 2- “Each man his own wife/woman her own husband.” V.3ff all continue to assume sex inside heterosexual marriage as evidenced by the terms “husband”/”wife”. This automatically precludes homosexuality, prostitution, adultery, fornication, etc.
2. Both husband and wife have a right to reasonably expect regular sex in their marriage (3). (Assuming the health and capability of both.)
Notice that the husband is mentioned first- emphasizing that the husband should fulfill the wife’s sexual needs, not just his own. As in all other aspects of marriage, we serve each other unselfishly, and don’t use each other for our own gratification.
3. Sex is a gift that both spouses should give generously, and as an act of love and service, to one another (4).
This is the other side of the coin to #2. There should be a healthy and mutually agreeable balance, but we are not to be stingy in responding to requests for sex. Sex shouldn’t be dependent on the whims of “mood”. God gave us our bodies to serve in all aspects of our marriages, including sex.
Think about it: there are a lot of times we don’t especially feel like doing the dishes, cleaning up after the kids, etc., but we do it anyway and with a good attitude. What does it say to our husbands when they see us doing all those things because they’re important, but constantly turning down sex because we’re “not in the mood”? What if he constantly wasn’t “in the mood” to say “I love you,” or listen to you when you need to talk?
Notice that the wife is mentioned first here for emphasis as this can be an area more in need of improvement for women than men.
4. Do not deprive one another (5).
Sex, as in #3, is a gift we freely and lovingly give to one another. It is not a weapon, a reward, a bribe, or a bargaining chip. Would we use food as a reward, bribe, weapon, etc? Any break in normal sexual activity must be by mutual agreement, and even then only for a short time for SPIRITUAL PURPOSES. (Again, assuming the health of both. This particular verse doesn’t address the incapacitation of a spouse.)
5. A godly sex life inside of marriage is a safeguard against temptation to sexual immorality (2, 5-9).
Yes, there is sexual temptation even in the best of marriages, but how much more would there be without a godly sexual relationship in marriage? We are not just serving a physical need, but also a spiritual one- helping each other avoid temptation.
Being single is a good gift of God, and there are advantages to it (later in chapter), but if the temptation to immorality is too great, it is better to get married and have that sexual outlet in place.
7:10-11- We are not to desire and seek out divorce. Related passages: Matthew 5:31-32; 19:3-9, Genesis 2:24, Malachi 2:16
“Not, I but the Lord” Paul is reiterating what God has already spoken. Repentance and reconciliation is God’s desire, not divorce.
7:12-14, 16- What if one spouse isn’t saved? Related passage: 1 Peter 3:1-2
“I, not the Lord”: New revelation. God had not previously spoken on this. New Corinthian believers were confused and thought perhaps they should divorce unsaved spouses to marry saved ones. Just as 1 Pet. 3 says, spouses and children can be won to Christ through the testimony/behavior of the saved spouse.
“Made holy” doesn’t equal “vicariously saved.” It means God will be working in lost spouse’s/children’s lives toward salvation through the testimony of the saved spouse. They will also benefit from the blessings that go along with being married to someone who is saved (having a spouse who is faithful, kind, forgiving, etc.) and constant exposure to the gospel.
7:15- God does not hold divorce against a Christian (as sin) in this situation.
There are only two instances for “biblical divorce”: Infidelity (see Matthew passages above) and an unbelieving spouse leaving. In this situation, it is not the Christian seeking divorce, but the lost spouse. The Christian is a victim of divorce, not the initiator. The Christian spouse should be living in obedience to the Lord and doing everything he/she can to keep the marriage together, but notice: “God has called you to peace” Every situation is different, but a point comes when continuing to fight for the marriage can violate the peace God calls you to, and you have to let go and leave things in God’s hands.
7:17-24- God saves people “where they’re at” for a reason.
God knows the situation/time of your life you’re in when He saves you. One reason for this is so that people in your life (spouse, co-workers, friends, etc.) can see the results of Christ saving you, which can open the door for you to share the gospel with them. God doesn’t save you just to save you- He saves you to save the people around you. One of those people could be your lost spouse.
Unless your hobbies/job/friends are inherently sinful (you’re a hit man who likes to hang out with dope dealers at the strip club), you don’t necessarily have to dump everything in your life when you get saved. You don’t have to quit your job to become a missionary or dump all your old friends and replace them with church friends. You could be how God saves them.
7:6-9, 25-40- Singleness and marriage are both good gifts given to different people for God’s sovereign purposes.
Marriage is a good gift for protecting from temptation and for raising Godly children. Singleness has the wonderful advantage of allowing one to concentrate more time on prayer, study, and ministry.
What Are Biblical Grounds for Divorce? from GotQuestions.org
The Best Thing Out There on Singleness from CBMW
For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn