1 Corinthians 6:12-7:40, pt.1

This week we are reading through 1 Corinthians 6:12-7:40.  The topics this week are prostitution, celibacy, and marriage.  Within the reading, Paul takes a very practical approach to sexuality. Paul had previously taught that “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” He confirms that this is the ideal, to be celibate and unmarried, but then says that celibacy is a gift.  Therefore, if you don’t have the gift of celibacy, Paul says to get married in order to domesticate your sexuality and prevent fornication.  Paul goes on to warn that a spouse isn’t to withhold sex from the other because then the other will naturally go looking for sex somewhere else. This may be the reason for the discussion of prostitution at the end of chapter 6.  Paul concludes this passage by reiterating that if you are unmarried, it is better to stay that way, but if you don’t have the gift to remain celibate, then get married.  What is interesting is that Paul doesn’t say if you are unmarried, remain that way and pray that God will give you the gift of celibacy nor does Paul chide them by saying that a person could remain celibate if only they were holy enough or in Christ enough or had sufficient faith. Paul sets forth the ideal but makes a practical exception to his ideal of celibacy by holding up marriage as the appropriate vehicle to control and direct sexuality.

In modern times, we see the working out of this practical sexual ethic in the area of divorce.  For most of the history of Western Christianity, remarriage after a divorce was prohibited because Jesus said so. Mark 10:1-12.  That is the ideal. But in practice, what occurred was that a couple obtained a civil divorce, could not get remarried to others, didn’t possess the gift of celibacy, and so necessarily engaged in sexual relationships outside of marriage.  Therefore over the last century, the Anglican church has allowed remarriage after divorce, for although it is not the ideal, it is better to get married than to burn with passion.  As Paul recognizes, requiring adherence to an ideal doesn’t always work in practice.

Dinner is at 6. The menu is fried chicken. Hope to see you here.

That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?” Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.

Matthew 22:23-30

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