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The Scriptorium

The Gift of Marriage

A true gift of God. 1 Corinthians 7.1-9

1 Corinthians 7 (1)

Pray Psalm 45.13-17.
The royal daughter is all glorious within the palace;
Her clothing is woven with gold.
She shall be brought to the King in robes of many colors;
The virgins, her companions who follow her, shall be brought to You.
With gladness and rejoicing they shall be brought;
They shall enter the King’s palace.
Instead of Your fathers shall be Your sons,
Whom You shall make princes in all the earth.
I will make Your name to be remembered in all generations;
Therefore the people shall praise You forever and ever.

Sing Psalm 45.13-17.
(Manoah: When All Your Mercies, O My God)
The Church in robes of woven gold assembles to the King.
With joy complete and gladness bold His praise she e’er shall sing.

When we at last Your palace gain, and others take our place,
then let our children with You reign, a legacy of grace!

Read and meditate on 1 Corinthians 7.1-9.

1. How did Paul counsel married couples?

2. What “gifts” from God did Paul mention in these verses?

We need to read back to front to understand this passage as Paul intends. Marriage, Paul insisted, is a gift from God (v. 7). God gives men and women to each other as part of His perfect plan for their lives. At the same time, celibacy—refraining from marriage—is also a gift of God, given to those He has called according to His secret counsel. Both estates are good and useful for the Lord’s glory.

Paul stated a clear preference for celibacy (vv. 7, 8). He did not command this nor even encourage it as better than marriage. He simply stated a preference from within the context of his own gift and calling from the Lord.

Married and celibate alike must “flee sexual immorality” (1 Cor. 6.18; 7.1, 9). Marriage is the proper setting for sexual enjoyment and fulfillment, and husbands and wives must consider each other’s needs in this area, but always as unto the Lord, not merely for fleshly indulgence (vv. 2-5). Satan can use sexual relations to overpower the unwary and wreak havoc within the community of faith (v. 5; cf. 1 Cor. 5). We must always guard against this.

Paul elsewhere used marriage to illustrate the relationship between Christ and His Church. He concluded Ephesians 5.22-33 with sound marital advice: “Nevertheless, let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and the let wife see that she respects her husband.” Our marriages can be a witness to Jesus and a precious gift from God if we love one another with His unbreakable love.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.
This Scripture is one of the most misquoted, then poorly understood passages of all time, in the hands of judgmental Christian readers, and non-believers alike.

Men have wrongly used it to put themselves in authority over everybody—not just their wives—but of all creatures great and small; conveniently missing the part about wives having authority over husbands, as well. And women’s libbers have had a large scream over the unfairness of it all, again, missing the words including both husbands and wives.

A common sense reading of this passage gives everyone their due, and everyone gets equal warning about sexual misconduct in all its ugly forms.

Paul is not the boogey-man some folks like to make him out to be. He is a good thinker and covers all the bases in his teachings, which need to be taken as a whole and not picked apart willy-nilly.

This is the same writer who said, “Love never fails” (1 Cor. 13.8); who loved Jesus pre-eminently and longed for his readers to have a broader grasp of what a fully focused life in Christ should entail. He wrote: “And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to our mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Rom. 8.10-14).

As Jesus so beautifully said, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing” (Lk. 12.22, 23).

And it is certainly about more than sex. We must get over it. Look beyond it.

Truly, it is a joy when experienced righteously. But experienced unrighteously? It is a snare and trap that Satan uses over and over ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

Catch on to his wiles and flee (1 Cor. 6.18)!

For “Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him” (Mal. 3.18).

For reflection
1. What does Paul mean by saying that both men and women have “authority” in a marriage?

2. How can they be sure they are exercising that authority properly?

3. What is the most important thing for making a marriage work as God intends?

The Corinthians were asking Paul whether it was right for lawfully married Christians, once they were baptized, to enjoy sexual relations with each other. Paul answered by praising chastity, condemning fornication and allowing conjugal relations.
Theodoret of Cyr (393-466), Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians 200

Pray Psalm 45.1-7.
In prayer, meditate on the beauty of Jesus, exalted in glory and coming soon to take us, His Bride, unto Himself. Meditate on the marriage feast He is preparing for us—an eternal feeding on His beauty, goodness, grace, and power. Give thanks and praise to our Husband and King.

Sing Psalm 45.1-7.
(Manoah: When All Your Mercies, O My God)
O my heart, let now a pleasing theme overflow to praise the LORD.
My song I pledge to You, my King, and dedicate my words.

You of all men are the fairest, LORD, and Your lips are flush with grace;
thus God has blessed You evermore before His holy face.

Your sword gird on Your thigh, O LORD, in splendid majesty;
ride out, resplendent in Your Word, to glorious victory.

For meekness and for righteousness Your Right Hand shall prevail.
Your foes shall come to deep distress when You their souls assail.

Your throne, O God, is evermore, and upright is Your reign;
though wicked men Your Name abhor, Your righteousness must gain.

T. M. and Susie Moore

The Church in Corinth was in need of revival. But there was much to be done before that would happen. The Church today is in need of revival, and the same is true for us. Our book, Revived!, can help us to discern our need for revival and lead us in getting there. Order your copy by clicking here.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter, available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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