“Concerning the matters you wrote about…” - Paul now in chapters 7-11 begins to address questions that the Corinthian believers had. I’d like to say up front that no “devo” can do justice in covering one of the most misunderstood and controversial chapters in the New Testament. With that in mind, here’s my best shot…..
What I know for sure: Statistics sadly tell us that half of all marriages end in divorce. So every other one of you reading this has in some way been affected by divorce. My parents got divorced. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). I’m not divorcing Jean!
What I’m still learning: Everything else! Let’s walk thru this chapter…
1-7: Marriage is a gift from God to most people, but singleness (Celibacy) is a gift as well. To remain unmarried and abstain from sexual relations is good and honorable. But it is not better than marriage as some were thinking, and is not the norm for most people. As a matter of fact, so many in Corinth were involved in sexual sin that Paul encourages them to “have” their own wife = get married, be a one woman man and enjoy sex within your marriage!
8-9: To unmarried & widows: Ok to stay that way unless you can’t control your sexual desires. If you can’t, get married! That is better than burning with lust!
10—11: To married: Don’t divorce. But if you do, you can’t remarry.
12-40: To the rest:
12-14: Husbands don’t divorce unbelieving wife, wives, don’t divorce unbelieving husband. Why? Because they will reap benefits from your belief, one of which could be salvation!
15-16: BUT, if the unbeliever leaves (divorces you), can’t do much about that. But verse 11 still seems to come into play.
17-24: Remain as you are! 3 times we are told this. Apparently Corinthian believers were wanting “get out of marriage free” cards and making wholesale changes! Paul is saying that if you’re married, stay married. If you’re a slave, stay a slave, if you became a believer without circumcision, then don’t get circumcised and if you are free in Christ don’t use that to rationalize your sin!
25-28: Now about virgins: Basically Paul states that because persecution is coming, he’d suggest not marrying. It’s ok if you do, but there are going to be lots of troubles. Persecution is tough enough on a single person, let alone a married person with a family.
29-31: These verses are NOT saying marriage is over or that we are to toss out all emotion. Rather, Paul is describing the priority the Lord and eternal things should have in our lives. Truth is to guide us more than our emotions.
32-35: Paul here communicates the fact that single people can be more fully dedicated to the Lord than married people. I can attest this is true. When I came to Katy as a single guy out of college I was putting in 70-80 hours a week with students. I was single and had “no life.” But when I got married, I put in less time. And when we had Drew & Jessica even less time. Don’t get me wrong, next to Jesus, Jean, Drew & Jessica are the greatest things that God has ever given me. But it IS true that I have divided interests – God-given ones! This does NOT mean I can’t serve the Lord wholeheartedly though.
36-38: Apparently some dads had dedicated their daughters to the Lord as permanent virgins - and, you guessed it, these daughters wanted to marry. Paul’s point was if they want to marry let them, that’s ok, and it’s even better if they keep their father’s dedication.
39-40: This is the “till death do we part” statement in all the wedding we go to. Marriage is a lifetime commitment ‘til one dies, then the contract ends. A person who’s spouse dies is free to remarry, but they must be a believer. Then Paul again reiterates his bias of singleness.
Ok, whew…….hope this helps make a bit more sense of this chapter!
*Next to a person’s surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ, marriage is the most important decision you will ever make or have made! It’s a promise to God (& the other person) for a lifetime. That’s why I won’t do a wedding without the couple going through marriage counseling with me and doing all the homework. Yes, homework! Couple will spend hours, dollars, energy, etc…. to plan for a one day event (wedding) without even blinking to think about planning for their marriage. Are you single? If so, there is no greater time in your life to pour all your energies into serving the Lord and I hope you do! Are you married? If so, I hope you’ll take time today to thank God for your spouse, appreciate your spouse, help your spouse and date your spouse! You did that when you were dating, why stop now? I feel bad for marriages that have gone cold and boring because it doesn’t have to be that way!
*If you are single, make a promise to God TODAY that you will not get a divorce – then keep it! The only way you’ll be able to do that is if GOD is in the center of your marriage. If HE is what y’all are living for then your marriage will be about pleasing HIM and not yourselves, because at the root of all divorce is selfishness.
* Finally 2 Quotes: First, Mr Herb when asked how he and Peggy have stayed together for so long always says, “No Way Out” has been our mentality. Secondly, “It’s better to be single wishing you were married than to be married wishing you were single.” Marriage Rocks when God is at the center and both just keep their promises!