Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the famous English poet, once commented that “selection is the hardest part of creation.” In other words, the hardest part of creating something is deciding what not to include. There’s always an overabundance of good or important material that simply won’t fit.
In the case of this sermon series, there was only so much we could cover in nine weeks. We were able to cover A LOT, but not everything. We were able to lay foundations (identity in Christ and a loving approach founded in grace) and able address a lot of topics (purity culture, celibacy, the nature of God’s design for marriage, various violations of that design, and much more). Despite all of that, there are still more passages that we could have looked at. That being the case, I want to use this post to point out a few passages that we either didn’t cover or didn’t fully cover. Here’s goes:
1 Corinthians 6:9-20
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
When it comes to relationships and human sexuality, this is a key passage! We didn’t get to it, but I hope you take some time to dwell in it. Here are a few things I find noteworthy:
(1) The Greek words pornos and porneia. These words are often translated as “sexual immorality” or “fornicator.” They are words used to refer to the whole gamut of sexual acts that are outside of God’s design: adultery, fornication (sex out of wedlock), homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals, incest, etc. And yes, it also contains the idea of selling sex, instead of it being freely given and enjoyed within the love of marriage. So yes, that’s where we get the word porn. Flee from porn!
(2) This is also a good passage about union with Christ (see vv. 16-19). Your body is a temple for Christ’s Spirit — the Holy Spirit. So, why would you combine it with impurities? There is a striking parallel between this passage and a passage a few chapters later in 1 Corinthians 10 (link). Union with Christ—just like marital love—requires exclusive allegiance, a self-offering in worship to the Lord rather than to other gods. In 1 Corinthians 10, one either becomes united with demons & idols or with the body & blood of Christ (and by correlation, all those who partake of the body and blood of Christ). In general, I tend to embrace nuance and eschew either/or thinking. But not here. Our allegiance to Christ is whole-hearted or it’s headed in the wrong direction!
The same day some Sadducees came to him, saying there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question, saying, 24 “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies childless, his brother shall marry the widow, and raise up children for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers among us; the first married, and died childless, leaving the widow to his brother. 26 The second did the same, so also the third, down to the seventh. 27 Last of all, the woman herself died. 28 In the resurrection, then, whose wife of the seven will she be? For all of them had married her.” 29 Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is God not of the dead, but of the living.” 33 And when the crowd heard it, they were astounded at his teaching.
This might have been a good passage to end the series with. Why? Because it holds the potential to help bring everything full circle back to singleness. It testifies that marriage is a temporary, earthly good. In the world to come, our union with Christ will be the most important relationship in our lives. That’s difficult to think about because many of us spend the vast majority of our lives in marriage (maybe 60 out of 85 years?). That being the case, it’s difficult to think of not being married in the next life. But if we trust Christ in this, we can be reminded of the union that is supposed to be #1 in our lives—our union with Christ!
It also holds the potential to help bring everything full circle because it’s about the eschaton (i.e., the end of all things). If Genesis 2 points to origins, this passage points to the consummation. The original creation has a certain design and the new creation has an even greater and different design. It’s all very mysterious! I wonder it looks like to embrace that mystery in all its fullness?
1 Corinthians 7:1-16
Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is well for a man not to touch a woman.” 2 But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 This I say by way of concession, not of command. 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind. 8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. 9 But if they are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion. 10 To the married I give this command—not I but the Lord—that the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does separate, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife. 12 To the rest I say—I and not the Lord—that if any believer has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 And if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. It is to peace that God has called you. 16 Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife.
In the sermon from October 3 on singleness, we briefly addresses verses 7-9 of this passage because Paul addresses those who are unmarried. But this part of 1 Corinthians 7 has so much more to say (as you can tell!). Here are a few highlights:
First, Paul writes some interesting things about being married to an unbeliever. He says that believers should stay with unbelievers if the unbeliever wants to stay together. He makes the case that the unbelieving person (and the couple’s children) are made holy through the believing spouse. That’s so interesting! In the process, he also makes an allowance for divorce. Although both Jesus and Paul affirm God’s design for marriage by strongly advocating for fidelity and permanence, they also create allowances for divorce. For Jesus, it’s unchastity (i.e., cheating). For Paul here in 1 Corinthians 7, it’s if your unbelieving spouse separates from you. According to this scripture, you are not bound to that marriage if your unbelieving partner walks away.
Second, Paul writes that the husband and wife should give each other their conjugal rights. i.e., neither one should restrict the other from sex. You may wonder why Paul’s bringing this up?? It’s because there’s a lot of sexual sin in Corinth and he wants to make sure they are exercising their sexual desires within marriage. He doesn’t want to see a marital partner seek sexual satisfaction outside of marriage, so he urges spouses to give it up to each other rather than withhold. Please note that this is not permission to take it from your spouse. In some marriages, certain sex acts might as well be considered rape. Instead, spouses should see sex as love-making that is done consensually, out of love for each other.