1 Corinthians chapter 7

Spouses are authorize to give sexual pleasure. Abstinence during marriage. Singleness is simpler. The Pauline privilege. Devotion to God. [UPDATED]

 


 

Like this chapter of the Bible,
our comments are sexually explicit.

 


 

AUTHORIZED TO GIVE SEXUAL PLEASURE

SUMMARY: A wife can grant her husband the authority to sexually pleasure her. When granted, he “owes” her sexual pleasuring. He is to “give,” not invade or control or dominate.

 

VERSE 1. Now concerning the things about which you wrote to me: it is good for a man not to touch a woman.

it is good for a man not to touch a woman. That is, it is better to be single than to be married.

 

VERSE 2. But, because of sexual immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.

because of sexual immoralities. Since most people have a fairly strong sexual appetite, they should consider getting married.

let each man have his own wife. The Christian faith does not prohibit a man from getting married.

let each woman have her own husband. Similarly, the Christian faith does not prohibit a woman from getting married.

 

VERSE 3. Let the husband give his wife the affection owed her, and likewise also the wife her husband.

Let the husband give his wife the affection owed her. A husband “owes” his wife sexual pleasuring.

Many Christians assume this is speaking of vaginal intercourse. However, as we see in our studies of biblical sexuality, that is rarely the case.

likewise also the wife her husband. Similarly, a wife “owes” her husband sexual pleasuring

 

VERSE 4. The wife doesn’t have authority over her own body, but the husband. Likewise also the husband doesn’t have authority over his own body, but the wife.

This could easily be twisted into something sinister. So we need to explore it further.

authority over … her own body … his own body. This indicates mutual authority. The couple shares sexual authority over each other’s bodies.

Many Christians assume that a man has authority over a woman’s body, and that her responsibility is to “submit” to his sexual whims, and that he can “take” her at any moment he wants.

However, this verse shows us that sexual authority is mutual. Neither one dominates the other.

authority. The Greek word is ἐξουσιάζω (“exousiazó”). It means to exercise authority over. More specifically, having authority to act. One is empowered only because they are authorized. It is a delegated power.

The “receiving” spouse “authorizes” the other to act. It is an authority that is delegated on a case-by-case basis.

A spouse having “authority” over the others’ body means the authority to bless. It is an authority to “give” pleasure, not “take” it. Think: invitation, not invasion.

In our study of Deuteronomy 24:5, we learned that a new husband has a God-given “duty” to bring his wife to orgasm. His authority to act is delegated from her on a case-by-case basis.

So if either spouse didn’t want it, the other would need to respect that decision.

That is consistent with the nature of God. He always respects our free will, and does not act without our consent. He does not force or nag or badger us.

 

TEMPORARY ABSTINENCE FROM SEX DURING MARRIAGE

SUMMARY: Godly couples may not deprive one another of sexual pleasuring. However, they can agree to temporarily abstain for times of focused prayer. Then they need to restore their active sexual relationship.

 

VERSE 5. Don’t deprive one another, unless it is by consent for a season, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer, and may be together again, that Satan doesn’t tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Don’t deprive each other. If you’ve not read this text before, you might be surprised. Christians have earned a gloomy reputation for Christian sexuality.

However, the biblical teaching on sexuality is quite different. Paul the Apostle says couples are to NOT deprive one another, sexually.

unless it is by consent. Depriving each other can only happen if both parties agree to it.

for a season. Depriving each other can only be for a short period of time.

give yourselves to fasting and prayer. The purpose of depriving each other is to make time for focused prayer. Perhaps one is going to a retreat. Or perhaps one will observe some days of fasting and prayer.

be together again. The agreed-upon time of deprivation is not perpetual. Once it is over, the couple resumes their active sexual relationship.

that Satan doesn’t tempt you. Otherwise, the sexual appetites that burn within most of us will take over and we will fall into some sexual temptation.

In other words, couples should expect to have an active sexual life together, one that is beneficial for both of them.

 

SINGLENESS IS SIMPLER

SUMMARY: Due to their sexual appetites, most people need to get married. However, if you are capable of staying single, your life will be much more simple. Paul himself was single.

 

VERSE 6. But this I say by way of concession, not of commandment.

by way of concession. Paul sees singleness as the best choice, as compared with getting married.

However, Paul knows that the sexual appetites of most people is too strong for them to be single. So Paul’s concession is that they get married.

 

VERSE 7. Yet I wish that all men were like me. However each man has his own gift from God, one of this kind, and another of that kind.

like me. Paul the Apostle was not married. He was single.

I wish that all men were like me. To be single is a much simpler way to live.

each man has his own gift from God. Not all people are gifted to be single.

 

VERSE 8. But I say to the unmarried and to widows, it is good for them if they remain even as I am.

unmarried … widows. Now Paul offers insights for those who are not yet married.

it is a good thing for them to remain as they are. If you are single, it is a good thing to remain that way. That is, if you can be single without being on fire, sexually.

even as I am. Paul the Apostle was single.

Many people assume that the biblical norm is for people to get married. However, the Bible holds up singleness as a wonderful choice.

Saint Paul was single:

1 Corinthians 7:7. But I wish everyone were single, just as I am. Yet each person has a special gift from God, of one kind or another. (NLT translation)

Paul recommends that people remain unmarried, if possible:

1 Corinthians 7:8-9. So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows—it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am. 9 But if they can’t control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It’s better to marry than to burn with lust. (NLT translation)

The Lord Jesus Christ recommends singleness if possible:

Matthew 19:10-12. Jesus’ disciples then said to him, “If this is the case, it is better not to marry!” “Not everyone can accept this statement,” 11 Jesus said. “Only those whom God helps. 12 Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” (NAB translation)

And the prophet Jeremiah was single:

Jeremiah 16:2. The Lord gave me another message. He said, “Do not get married or have children in this place.” (NLT translation)

However, the Old Testament has a very dismal vision of singleness:

Sirach 36:25. A vineyard with no hedge will be overrun; a man with no wife becomes a homeless wanderer. (NAB translation)

 

VERSE 9. But if they don’t have self-control, let them marry. For it’s better to marry than to burn.

it’s better to marry than to burn. If you are burning with sexual desire, you should get married.

 

THE PAULINE PRIVILEGE

SUMMARY: Paul says if a non-Christian spouse wants to divorce their Christian spouse, the Christian is free to let it happen. In our day, that is called “The Pauline Privilege.”

 

VERSE 10. But to the married I command—not I, but the Lord—that the wife not leave her husband

the wife not leave her husband … the husband not leave his wife. Married couples should stay together if it is possible for them.

 

VERSE 11. (but if she departs, let her remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband not leave his wife.

if she departs. Paul does not forbid divorce between Christians.

That is widely misunderstood among Christian believers.

Christians fervently imagine that God absolutely forbids divorce. Divorced believers are often ostracized and told that they have committed a terrible sin and are condemned.

let her remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband. Once there is a divorce, the parties are not to have sexual relations with other people.

 

VERSE 12. But to the rest I—not the Lord—say, if any brother has an unbelieving wife, and she is content to live with him, let him not leave her.

let him not leave her. If a Christian man is married to a non-Christian woman, and the woman is content with their marriage relationship, the Christian man need not divorce her.

 

VERSE 13. The woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he is content to live with her, let her not leave her husband.

let her not leave her husband. Similarly, if a Christian woman is married to a non-Christian man, and the man is content with their marriage relationship, the Christian woman need not divorce him.

 

VERSE 14. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in the husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.

unbelieving … is sanctified. This seems to say a non-Christian spouse is automatically “saved” because they are married to a Christian believer.

If so, it would set up a second mechanism of eternal salvation. The primary mechanism is an individual’s conversion to faith in Jesus Christ. This second mechanism would be marriage to a Christian believer.

However, it could also mean that a believing spouse is a powerful avenue of God’s grace into the life of the non-believer. But that does not match with the meaning of the word “sanctified.”

sanctified. The Greek word is ἡγίασται (” hēgiastai”). It means made holy, consecrated, sanctified.

It means that something that is actually accomplished, and not merely that a new avenue has been opened up. The unbelieving spouse is actually made holy.

unclean. The Greek word is ἀκάθαρτά (“akathartos”). It means unclean, impure. The unbelieving children would have been tainted by sin. However:

now they are holy. The Greek word is ἅγιά (“hagia”). It means set apart, holy, sacred. Somehow, by having one Christian parent, non-Christian children are made holy.

On its own, this verse is a mystery. However, verse 16 below provides further insights.

 

VERSE 15. Yet if the unbeliever departs, let there be separation. The brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us in peace.

if the unbeliever departs. In our day, this is sometimes referred to as the Pauline Privilege. The scenario is that the non-Christian spouse initiates a divorce.

let there be separation. The Christian spouse is free to let it happen.

not under bondage in such cases. The Christian spouse is not required to remain in the marriage.

This is contrary to the mindset of the Christian subculture. Believers often imagine that God requires them to do anything whatsoever to remain in the marriage. But that assumption does not fit this passage.

God has called us in peace. When a couple is considering divorce, they are often at war with each other. If the believing spouse forces the marriage to persist, it probably means forcing a war to persist.

God has called us to peace. if the non-Christian spouse wants to end the marriage, let it end in peace. The battle for the marriage is already lost.

But the battle for peace can be won. Who knows? Perhaps the couple will have greater peace with ech other after they are divorced.

Matthew 19:9. I tell you that whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries her when she is divorced commits adultery.”

 

VERSE 16. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

how do you know. Verse 14 above seems to say the non-Christian spouse is automatically saved by virtue of being married to a Christian believer. But this verse says a very different thing.

whether you will save your husband … wife. The Christian believer does not know if their non-Christian spouse will be saved or not.

you will save. This is an odd expression.

Jesus Christ is the only one who saves. We do not merit our own salvation.

Nor do we merit the salvation of other people.

Perhaps it is referring to the Christian spouse leading the non-Christian to faith in Jesus Christ.

 

VERSE 17. Only, as the Lord has distributed to each man, as God has called each, so let him walk. So I command in all the assemblies.

 

VERSE 18. Was anyone called having been circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? Let him not be circumcised.

 

VERSE 19. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

 

VERSE 20. Let each man stay in that calling in which he was called.

 

VERSE 21. Were you called being a bondservant? Don’t let that bother you, but if you get an opportunity to become free, use it.

 

VERSE 22. For he who was called in the Lord being a bondservant is the Lord’s free man. Likewise he who was called being free is Christ’s bondservant.

 

VERSE 23. You were bought with a price. Don’t become bondservants of men.

 

VERSE 24. Brothers, let each man, in whatever condition he was called, stay in that condition with God.

 

VERSE 25. Now concerning virgins, I have no commandment from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who has obtained mercy from the Lord to be trustworthy.

 

VERSE 26. Therefore I think that because of the distress that is on us, that it’s good for a man to remain as he is.

 

VERSE 27. Are you bound to a wife? Don’t seek to be freed. Are you free from a wife? Don’t seek a wife.

 

VERSE 28. But if you marry, you have not sinned. If a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have oppression in the flesh, and I want to spare you.

 

VERSE 29. But I say this, brothers: the time is short, that from now on, both those who have wives may be as though they had none;

 

VERSE 30. and those who weep, as though they didn’t weep; and those who rejoice, as though they didn’t rejoice; and those who buy, as though they didn’t possess;

 

VERSE 31. and those who use the world, as not using it to the fullest. For the mode of this world passes away.

 

SINGLE PEOPLE CAN BE MORE DEVOTED TO GOD

SUMMARY: A person who is single can be more focused on the Lord than someone who is married. That is because the single person has fewer cares and distractions.

 

VERSE 32. But I desire to have you to be free from cares. He who is unmarried is concerned for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord;

I desire to have you to be free from cares. Paul’s concern is simply to minimize our worries.

He who is unmarried is concerned for the things of the Lord. This is the essence of the matter. It is possible for a single person to live a life that is more focused on the things of God.

 

VERSE 33. but he who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife.

he who is married is concerned about … how he may please his wife. It is the nature of a marital relationship that the spouses devote as much time for each other as possible.

That is wonderful and right. But it also means they have less time for the things of God.

 

VERSE 34. There is also 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.

unmarried woman. The single person has more availability for spiritual things than a married person. The single person can devote more time and energy to God.

she who is married. The married person has less availability than a single person. The married person has less time and energy for God.

 

VERSE 35. This I say for your own profit; not that I may ensnare you, but for that which is appropriate, and that you may attend to the Lord without distraction.

not that I may ensnare you. Paul does not wish to curtail our freedom.

attend to the Lord without distraction. This is Paul’s only point in this passage. A single person has fewer distractions than a married person.

 

VERSE 36. But if any man thinks that he is behaving inappropriately toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of her age, and if need so requires, let him do what he desires. He doesn’t sin. Let them marry.

 

VERSE 37. But he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no urgency, but has power over his own will, and has determined in his own heart to keep his own virgin, does well.

 

VERSE 38. So then both he who gives his own virgin in marriage does well, and he who doesn’t give her in marriage does better.

 

VERSE 39. A wife is bound by law for as long as her husband lives; but if the husband is dead, she is free to be married to whomever she desires, only in the Lord.

 

VERSE 40. But she is happier if she stays as she is, in my judgment, and I think that I also have God’s Spirit.

 


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1 CORINTHIANS

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