IF I Were to Guess, Most of Us Here This Morning, Have Probably Never Been to a Marriage

IF I Were to Guess, Most of Us Here This Morning, Have Probably Never Been to a Marriage


1 Cor. 7:1-9

Marriage Counseling

1Cor. 7: 1-9

If I were to guess, most of us here this morning have probably never been to a marriage counselor.

  • Well, this morning, we as an assembly, are going to a marriage counselor.
  • That is basically what God does in these first 9 verses.
  • God gives us some instructions on marriage and how to make it succeed.

But that is not all…he also gives us some instructions about staying unmarried…or celibate.

  • We often think that if some one stays unmarried there must be something wrong with them.
  • Paul says other wise!

But then there are those who stay unmarried…but are not celibate.

  • Well, Paul is going to address that also.

Let’s begin in verse1:

"Now concerning things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman."

  • Paul apparently had received a letter from these brethren at Corinth, asking him some questions.
  • And Paul's response to at least part of their inquiries is, "it is good for a man not to touch a woman."

What is Paul talking about when he makes that statement?

  • Well, a pretty good commentary on what he means is found in verse 2.
  • In verse 2 Paul says, "But because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband."

When Paul says, in verse 1, "It is good for a man not to touch a woman", Paul is talking about "marriage”…more specifically being celibate.

  • And Paul is saying, there is nothing wrong for a man to remain "unmarried”; to remain "celibate."
  • For whatever reason he chooses to be "celibate"…there is nothing wrong with that.
  • In fact, Paul says in the verse that it is "good"….

Look down at verse 8. Paul says,"But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I am."

  • Again, Paul says it is "good."
  • And that word "good" means honorable….or excellent.

But it could also mean "advantageous" because down in verse 26 there is apparently some kind of "distress" taking place…

  • So, not only is it "honorable" to remain celibate….sometimes it is "advantageous."
  • All through this chapter Paul mentions the "advantages" for remaining unmarried.
  • In fact, this chapter seems to deal more with being "unmarried" than it does with being married.
  • And we could go through all of those advantages.
  • But the point is…..there is nothing wrong with a man or a woman, if they choose, to remain unmarried….or celibate.

Here is what has been happening:

The Jews, at the time that Paul wrote this, thought that if a man had not married by the age of 20 that he had transgressed the law.

  • To them, marriage was a divine ordinance.
  • After all, God did tell the man and woman to "be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth." in Genesis 1.
  • And, it was God, Himself who said in Genesis 2 that "it was not good for man to be alone."
  • To the Jews marriage was a divine ordinance.
  • And if a man wasn't married by the time he turned 20, there was something wrong with him.

So, do you know what they did?

  • They married off their children as early as they could.
  • Young ladies were usually married by the time they were 12 or 13.
  • And for the men, by the time they were 18.

Is it any wonder that divorce was commonplace among the Jews.

  • Deuteronomy 24 indicates that divorce for any reason was readily practiced.
  • In Matt. 19 Christ speaks of the "hardness of their hearts" in reference to divorce.
  • With them being so determined to "marry off" their children at such a young age, no wonder they were having problems with divorce.
  • All because they felt like it was a shame and a disgrace for a man or a woman to be unmarried…or celibate.

Today, I don't know that we, as a society, are as bad as the Jews were back then about "marrying off" our kids.

  • I do think that we do sometimes, and whether it is intentional or unintentional, I don't know….but we do sometimes "push" our kids into marriage.
  • We start at a young age telling them…."When you get married this…and when you get married that", almost like it is a foregone conclusion that they will get married and that is what is expected.
  • So, some of our young people grow up thinking that "IF I don't get married, I'll be a disappointment to mom and dad."
  • Maybe we ought to tell them, "Someday, when you decide to get married….if you do decide to get married."
  • And reassure them that "being unmarried is honorable and acceptable."

Sometimes, we are like the Jews because we think that if someone never gets married, "there must be something wrong with them."

  • Let me tell you, it would be better for a young man or woman to be unmarried and remain that way….than to be pushed into a marriage at a young age….or a marriage that they really don't want to be in…and for that marriage to wind up in a divorce.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a man or a woman choosing to remain celibate or unmarried.

  • I've seen young ladies here in town who are allowed and sometimes encouraged to wear certain types of clothing….and to wear their make-up a certain way…in order to attract the boys, hoping to catch a husband.
  • Pushing a young lady and "trapping " a young man into marriage at an early age, may be a bad thing to do.
  • IT could have disastrous consequences.
  • According to Paul, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a person remaining "unmarried" or "celibate"….at least until the time is right…and the right person comes along.
  • Don't get in a hurry to push your children into marriage.
  • What you want may not be what they want.

Look at verse 2 again.

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

  • In this verse Paul says that singleness is fine….but so too is marriage.
  • What was happening was some Gnostics said that marriage was wrong…anything that satisfies the flesh is wrong.
  • But then there were those who practiced rampant fornication.

So Paul says: "But because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife and let each woman have her own husband."

  • Every one of us has been given certain sexual urges and desires.
  • They are God given.
  • Now, if you can't control those urges…if you can't remain celibate, instead of satisfying those urges and desires in a immoral way like Paul talked about in chapter 6 by committing adultery or fornication…or even homosexual acts.
  • Satisfy them in a right….a God authorized and ordained way…satisfy them in marriage.
  • Marriage is honorable…and it too is good.
  • Immorality is never right.
  • IF you can't control those desires and passions and urges.
  • Then get married!
  • A marriage without fornication beats celibacy with fornication every time.

Now, let me say this.

  • Some claim…. that sex was given to us only for procreation purposes…or simply put, to have children.
  • This passage makes it clear that, that is not the only reason that sex was given to us.
  • Sex within marriage was also given to us to relieve pressures.
  • Not only sexual pressures…but it relieves emotional pressures such as tension…and stress.
  • Nothing compares to it….nothing can take it's place….God designed it that way.
  • But sex is to be “in the marriage relationship.”

Look at verse 3.

  • Vs. 3-5 are parenthetical…they explain what Paul says in verse 2.

"Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband."

  • In short, meet their needs.
  • Satisfy their desires…their passions…and their urges.
  • The best way to keep your mate out of an immoral relationship is to meet their needs at home.
  • You got married to satisfy the urges…it doesn’t make sense to refuse to fulfill those needs now that you are married.

Look at verse 4.

"The wife does not have authority over her own body; but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does."

  • Let me make this point immediately.
  • Paul is not referring to unhealthy marriages where perversions exist or where violence or dominance is forced upon a mate.
  • To women who find themselves in an abusive situation, this statement taken out of context is a terrifying thing.

And Paul isn't saying here that you are to "Demand your sexual rights."

  • He never says it that way, and yet in counseling sessions I have heard, usually the men, "demand their rights."
  • Nothing, perhaps, is more damaging to marital happiness, than for the male to come and demand that his wife submit to him in this area, whenever he feels like it.
  • That is not what Paul is talking about here.

What Paul is doing here is offering counsel to couples who have healthy physical desires, but who are self-centered and selfish in their sexual expression.

  • And he is saying fulfill your obligation.
  • Stop focussing on yourself and meet the needs and desires of your mate.
  • You have the right to give him or her your body.
  • Sex is a marriage gift to your partner…therefore go ahead and give it to them.

This is so important in your marriage relationship that Paul says there is only one reason to not fulfill your obligation…Look at verse 5.

"Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self control.

Paul is pretty wise.

  • He knows that some may use this as an excuse to forego their marital relations.
  • That is why he says that this decision to deprive one another be done by "mutual consent."
  • That way a spouse doesn't suddenly become spiritually minded and push away their mate.
  • That would be to take a spiritual directive and make it an excuse for wrong behavior. .

And notice Paul says, "Lest Satan tempt you beyond your lack of control."

  • Paul isn't only referring to sexual temptations.
  • But temptations to bitterness, anger and resentment as well.
  • As days, perhaps weeks and months go by, feelings of rejection can lead to such temptations where by Satan can gain a foothold and do much more damage.
  • That is why Paul tells couples, after a time, "to come together again."

Look at verse 6. Paul says in verse 6 that it is by "concession, not command", that he shares these things.

  • Here again Paul is conceding that all people are not called to be married.

He says in verse 7,

"Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that. But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn."

Paul says in this verse that singleness, like marriage is a gift from God.

  • Both are perfectly legitimate options.

What needs work though is the condition of being single and being unhappy because of it.

  • Paul will point out just a little bit later here in the chapter that there are several advantages to being single.
  • But, if they don't "have self control"….if they are unhappy….if they are miserable…if they are giving in to temptation, Paul says, "Let them marry."

"For it is better to marry than to burn."

  • And the word "burn" there has reference to their "passions…desires….urges…or temptations."


In this passage, Paul gives us all some wise counsel on marriage….as well as being single.

  • How I wish that more people would turn to God…and to the word of God to help them in their marriages?
  • Perhaps we would save ourselves a lot of hurt and heartache.

IN this passage, Paul has said that "if a person is single….and has self-control", then being single is perfectly legitimate…it is good…honorable.

  • But if you are single….and you are burning with desires…passions….urges…or temptations….then instead of being miserable….get married.
  • Because marriage is God's authorized way of satisfying those urges.
  • Not immoralities…not adultery….not fornication….not homosexuality..none of those things that man says is ok.
  • But marriage….that is God's approved way for satisfying your needs.

To the married people, Paul has given us instructions on how to have a fulfilling relationship.

  • Heed his words carefully.
  • Obey them.
  • If you will, you will eliminate many of the potential problems that can arise.