1 Corinthians 7:1-40
1 Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
2 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.
3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.
4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
6 But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment.
7 For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.
8 But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am;
9 but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
10 Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband.
11 But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.
12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her.
13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him.
14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.
15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace.
16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?
17 But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches.
18 Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised.
19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.
20 Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called.
21 Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it.
22 For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave.
23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.
24 Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.
25 Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy.
26 I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress—that it is good for a man to remain as he is:
27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife.
28 But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.
29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none,
30 those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess,
31 and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.
32 But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord.
33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife.
34 There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband.
35 And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.
36 But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry.
37 Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well.
38 So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better.
39 A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.
40 But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment—and I think I also have the Spirit of God.
It would seem that Paul has quite an aversion to marriage and the obligations that it necessitates. This, though, is coming from someone who’s life has been completely committed to a unique mission that has very little margin for diversions. He is also responding to an inquiry, rather than seeing this as the pressing need of humility he has already addressed on his own. So, coming right from having indicated that someone should be excommunicated with their flesh given over to destruction for sleeping with their father’s wife, he reveals that an approach to physical relationship should be given much less priority than what it likes to have. How does one get to the place that this kind of extreme perversion is accepted, and how does a society “progress” to the point that opposing sexually dominated activity is considered to be hate? It is where the sex drive and its supposed preferences are given priority and deference, as if they are some kind of universal law that must be accepted above the natural law of God. But, this doesn’t just happen immediately on a large scale. Each level that the body is served over a relationship with the Father becomes an opportunity for increased submission to its rule. This is the most utilized threat against our fulfilled kingdom purpose – the perception that the body’s needs must be met at all costs. Paul recognizes the need for a much more stoic approach to physical needs with an understanding that serving them comes with consequences, many good, but also many that are potentially perilous. Without marriage and a Godly relationship between marriage partners there can be no family that brings glory to God in its relationships. But the purpose for this, he indicates must be much more directed by obedience to God in every moment and even physical action. How dangerous it is for those who would find their life in Christ to somehow set this part of their life aside as if it’s just inevitable and “the way we’re made”, so whatever. This is how the smallest serving of sexual needs leads to marriage that is not even sanctioned by God and the killing of the precious lives that are one of the greatest purposes of marriage. This is understandable in a world that has given itself to ignoring God altogether, but its existence, even just a little bit, in a church body should not be accepted as each of us are part of a holy temple unto God, with a passion for His holy presence.
I don’t think Paul was anti-marriage as it first seems when reading through this chapter. I think he is pro living for God, without distraction or worldly cares. Unfortunately, we do not escape this life without having some worldly cares, but we are taught to cast those cared back onto the Father and continue to walk.
When Jesus taught about how a husband should treat his wife and vice versa, I believe that it is a reminder, that being married can reflect the kingdom of God just as much as it can reflect the world. As we are married, or are preparing for marriage, we need to remember that God is to be first in our life, above our spouse, or kids. Without that commitment in the right order, we are suseptible to reflecting the world’s way of doing things, even in our marriages.