The Good Gift of Marriage

This passage teaches us about the goodness of marriage. In particular, marriage is good because it is intimate and it is permanent.

Sermon Notes:

  1. Chapters 5 and 6 of Paul’s letter are about the wrong view of sex; in chapter 7 he switches to the right understanding.
  2. The Corinthians had misunderstood Paul’s previous teaching, prompting them to write to him asking for clarification.
  3. The view emerged in the early church that true Christianity meant a life of celibacy.
  4. This view persisted throughout the history of the church and even influenced the reformers.
  5. It was the Puritans who began to reclaim the goodness of sexual intimacy in marriage.
  6. In the 1960s the Sexual Revolution again exalted the single life over marriage, though without celibacy.
  7. Paul does not here give us a comprehensive teaching on marriage and sex; we need to recognize the limits of this passage’s scope as general teaching, but teaching which is authoritative on the issue.
  8. Paul describes the married life and the unmarried life as gifts for the common good and the building up of the church (vv. 7-9).
  9. The unmarried life is a gift and a calling, not something to choose based on preference, convenience, career opportunities, or otherwise.
  10. Paul does not use the term “single,” but “unmarried.” Singleness implies being alone, which is never the case for a member of the body of Christ.
  11. We are not to think of marriage merely as an outlet for sexual passion; sex is for marriage, marriage is not for sex.
  12. We need to teach our children the right way to understand what the Bible says about sex and marriage (vv. 2-4).
  13. The marriage covenant is the covenantal, mutual giving of husband and wife. Sex is the deepest, most intimate expression of the covenant.
  14. Sexual intimacy is cultivated by fulfilling your marriage vows to love, honor and cherish your spouse throughout the day, not only in the bedroom.
  15. There may be times when both spouses agree to abstain from sexual intimacy for the purpose of prayer, but this is to be the exception, not the norm, in order to give no opportunity to the devil. Godly sexual intimacy is a form of spiritual warfare.
  16. Religion in Corinth was a public matter. Conversion entailed a serious social and economic impact on the status of the family.
  17. Paul refers to Jesus’ teaching that if an unbelieving spouse is willing to remain in the marriage, the believer should not separate from them (cf. Matt. 19:3-6).
  18. When Paul gives his word as from “I, not the Lord,” he is not saying that his statement is less authoritative, but that he is addressing something that was not specifically addressed by the Lord (v. 12).
  19. The believer has a sanctifying presence in the family, and those blessings overflow to the spouse and children.
  20. Paul does not guarantee, but nevertheless offers hope, that our faithful witness will win over the unbelieving spouse.
  21. Marriage is a sacrament of the covenant between Christ and the church, a permanent, and intimate communion.

Application Questions:

  1. What is the difference suggested by the saying that sex is for marriage, marriage is not for sex?
  2. How can we cultivate godly intimacy throughout the day?
  3. What does it mean when a marriage vow speaks of “taking” someone to be your husband or wife?