The Book of 1 CORINTHIANS
James J. Barker
GOD'S VIEW OF MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE
- First Corinthians 7 is a continuation of chapter 6, which deals with purity (6:18). The marriage relationship has a direct bearing on purity (7:1, 2, 9).
- The marriage relationship occupies a large place in the Bible, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament.
- Proverbs 5:15 says, “Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well…Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love” (Pro. 5:15, 18, 19).
- Malachi 2:14, 15 says, “The LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.”
- In the New Testament, marriage is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church (cf. Ephesians 5:23-33). That picture is ruined by divorce.
- The Biblical teachings on marriage are much, much different from the pagan world, where wives are treated as property.
- I recently read an article about Muslim marriage. In Islam, a man is allowed to have four wives, but a woman may only have one husband.
- A man can divorce his wife by making a declaration in front of an Islamic judge regardless of the woman's consent. Even her presence is not required. But for a woman to divorce a man, his consent is required.
- In Islamic countries, wife beating is permitted.
- There is no joint property; the man owns all property.
- There is no specific minimum age for marriage, and marriage for girls as young as 12 or 13 is not uncommon in Muslim countries. In Yemen, in 2013, there was a highly-publicized case of an eight-year-old girl who died of internal injuries suffered on her wedding night.
- “Temporary marriage” is allowed in Muslim countries, and this practice has now become widespread among Muslims in Great Britain. It is sometimes referred to as "short-term marriage" or “pleasure marriage” or "traveler's marriage." Sometimes these so-called temporary marriages are for less than a half an hour.
- This so-called “temporary marriage” is nothing but a euphemism for religiously sanctioned prostitution. The "wives" in these temporary unions are not counted toward the maximum of four wives, and the offspring, if any, are often the exclusive responsibility of the woman.
- This practice is sanctioned by the Koran, and was established by the Muslim prophet Mohammed himself as a way to reward his jihadists for services rendered to Allah.
- It is easy for us to be critical of Islam and other pagan religions, but we must recognize that America is becoming increasingly paganistic. Watch television for just a few minutes and you can see that.
- THE PERSONS IN MARRIAGE
- THE PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE
- THE PERMANENCE OF MARRIAGE
THE PERSONS IN MARRIAGE.
- In chapter 6, Paul warned about the dangers of immorality, and here in I Corinthians 7:1 he says, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman.”
- “To touch” is a euphemism for sexual intimacy. You may recall that when Abraham lied and told Abimelech that Sarah was his sister, Abimelech took Sarah and added her to his harem. But God intervened (cf. Genesis 20:1-6).
- Notice verse 6 – “for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.”
- So, “to touch” here is a euphemism for sexual intimacy. Therefore, it is good for a man not to touch a woman, unless she is his wife (7:1, 2).
- “Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.”
- For the sake of purity, and to avoid the evils of sexual immorality, it is proper that men and women get married.
- Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”
- Albert Barnes said, “The world is the witness of the evils which flow from the neglect of his advice. Every community where the marriage tie has been lax and feeble, or where it has been disregarded or dishonored, has been full of pollution, and it ever will be. Society is pure and virtuous, just as marriage is deemed honourable, and as its vows are adhered to and preserved” (Barnes’ Notes).
- A few weeks ago, I was driving in my car and listening to the radio. The radio host (an unsaved man) asked his listeners to call up the radio station and say what they thought about so-called gay marriage and transgenerism. A man called up and said, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27).
- I thought, “Praise God! Maybe there is still hope for America!”
- Our Lord said in Mark 10:6, “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.” Not male and male. Not female and female.
- Not male and multiple females, etc.
- “Let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband” (I Cor. 7:2) is the bedrock of a civilized society.
- But our country is becoming increasingly pagan and uncivilized. I saw a report on the Internet about a recent demonstration against President-elect Donald Trump. These rude and nasty young people were cursing and screaming, and most of the women were taking their shirts off.
- “Let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband” (7:2). The Bible teaches monogamy, not polygamy.
- Polygamy is referred to in the Old Testament, but polygamous relationships are never mentioned in a positive light (King Solomon is a vivid example).
- The Bible does not sanction polygamy, and the New Testament stresses that God’s standard for marriage is defined as one man and one woman till death.
- The wedding vow, “till death do us part,” is Biblical.
- Commentators have noted the delicate manner in which the apostle Paul handles this sensitive subject (7:3-5). Barnes says, “his expression is removed as far as possible from the grossness of heathen writers. His meaning is plain; but instead of using a word to express it which would be indelicate and offensive, he uses one which is not indelicate in the slightest degree.”
- The word “benevolence” (7:3) means “affection” and “loving kindness.” Some refer to this as “conjugal rights” or “marital duty.”
- By adding the word "due," Paul is emphasizing the sacredness of their wedding vows. The world uses crude and coarse language to describe the marital relationship, but the Bible never does.
THE PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE.
- Way back in the Garden of Eden, God said that marriage was for procreation, and for companionship.
- Procreation – Genesis 1:28, “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it…”
- Companionship – Genesis 2:18, “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”
- Here in I Corinthians 7:2 we see a very practical purpose for marriage – “to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband” (cf. 7:9).
- The Corinthian church had sent Paul a letter asking him about sex, and marriage, and divorce, and so on (7:1). We do not know the original question, but we do have Paul’s response (7:1ff).
- Some have assumed that Paul either never married, or was a widower (cf. 7:7-9). Verse 8 seems to imply that he may have been a widower.
- Paul may have been married at one time because he had been a member of the Sanhedrin (cf. Acts 26:10), and one of their requirements was that a man be married.
- Celibacy is good for certain people (7:7, 8), however, it is clear from Scripture that marriage is the rule, and celibacy is the exception.
- When Paul wrote this letter, Corinth was a very wicked city. Paul told the Christians in Corinth not to live like their immoral neighbors.
- Referring to verse 26, Matthew Henry said, “Considering the distress of those times, the unmarried state was best. Notwithstanding, the apostle does not condemn marriage.”
- During the dangerous and tumultuous days of the Babylonian captivity, the LORD said to the prophet Jeremiah, “Thou shalt not take thee a wife, neither shalt thou have sons or daughters in this place” (Jer. 16:2).
- Revelation 14:4 says that during the tribulation period, the hundred forty and four thousand witnesses will be men that were never married. “These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins.”
- In I Corinthians 7:5, Paul warns, “Defraud ye not one the other…” This means, “Do not deprive one another…” (cf. verses 3, 4).
- Barnes says it means, “Withdraw not from the society of each other. Except it be with consent. With a mutual understanding,” that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer (7:5).
- We see an Old Testament precedent in Exodus 19:14, 15.
- After this brief separation, the husband and wife should “come together again” (7:5).
- Barnes said that, “the apostle would not have this separation to be perpetual; since it would expose them to many of the evils which the marriage relation was designed to avoid.”
- Otherwise, Satan could take advantage of the situation and tempt them for their “incontinency” (lack of self-control), and fill them with “thoughts and passions which the marriage compact was designed to remedy” (Barnes’ Notes).
- To “defraud” means to “rob” (7:5; cf. 6:7, 8). When husbands and wives “defraud” each other they are robbing them of their “due benevolence” (7:3).
- This defrauding often leads to temptation and “incontinency,” and even adultery as the defrauded mate is put into an unbearable position.
THE PERMANENCE OF MARRIAGE (7:10, 11).
- These verses teach the permanence of marriage. This was not the apostle Paul’s personal opinion – “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord…” (7:10).
- Paul says that these instructions were already given by the Lord (cf. Mark 10:1-12).
- Marriage is permanent – “till death do us part.”
- Jesus said, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mark 10:9). H.A. Ironside said, “I have heard people try to get around that by subterfuge and say, ‘I don’t believe the Lord joined us together; I think the Devil did it; and therefore, I think we are free to get a divorce and marry somebody else.’”
- But is God, and not the devil, who joins people together, and therefore they should not attempt to sever the marriage bond.
- H.A. Ironside: “God pronounced the words in the garden of Eden, ‘Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh’ (Genesis 2:24). It is He who joins people together in the marriage relationship, and once joined in that relationship they should never break it” (I Corinthians).
- Sometimes people get saved after they are married, and their mates do not want anything to do with the Christian faith. This can be a very difficult situation, but the believing wife is not to depart from her husband (7:10).
- And the believing husband is not to put away his wife (7:11).
- Sometimes, separation is unavoidable. In that case, the Bible says the wife who leaves her husband should “remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband” (7:11).
- If there is a separation, remarriage would be wrong. This means divorce would be wrong because people get divorced in order to remarry.
- Separation leaves the door open for reconciliation, but divorce does not.
- A husband and wife were going through a bitter divorce, and the husband asked his lawyer, “Do you think I will win?”
- The lawyer answered, “Of course not. In a divorce, nobody wins.”
- Especially when there are children involved, because it is an undisputed fact that divorce can be very traumatic for children.
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