To Marry or Not to Marry, 1 Corinthians 7, Pastor Steve

TO MARRY OR NOT TO MARRY           1 Corinthians 7 – Pastor Steve 

35 I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.

We start this morning our study of this seventh chapter in our continuing look at 1 Corinthians,   Living Out Our Faith…Together!!  and we are coming to a very important chapter.  The book of 1 Corinthians as you already know by now is intensely practical. 

It deals basically with the subject of marriage and marriage is, let’s face it, a very hot item today.  There are more books being written on that subject I think than any other one subject.  The Bible has a lot to say about marriage.  But before we open 1 Corinthians 7, I would like to see what Jesus taught about marriage as preparation…

I. Our Lord Jesus Taught much about Marriage – He referred to marriage many times in the Gospel, see Matthew 19

  1. Made for Each Other – Man and Woman were Created for each other by God. “God made them male and female” Matt 19:4
  2. New Family – They are a new family, “a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife.” Matthew 19:5a
  3. Monogamous – Marriage was to be one partner for life, “the two are united into one” Matthew 19:5b
  4. Unbroken – Marriage is forever and forever unbroken  let no one split apart what God has joined together.” Matthew 19:6

II. Corinthian Jews and Pagans Taught much about Marriage

1 Now regarding the questions you asked in your letter…

  1. The Corinthians wrote a letter to Paul – Delivered by Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus (v16:17).  The letter had four major questions they were asking Paul.  Were looking at Question 1 today…
  2. What’s the problem? The Jews taught you weren’t saved until your married and the Pagans taught your more holy if your Celibate.
  • That idea of celibacy being a high level of spiritual devotion is still with us in the Roman Catholic Church.  The idea that a truly, godly, holy person can’t be married is still in the Catholic Church and priests and nuns don’t marry for that reason.  They wear a wedding ring very often as a symbol of their marriage to Jesus Christ.  That’s a high level devotion.  They say that makes them superior spiritually to the rest of us who are married. Hummmm.  Not in the Bible!!
  • So Corinthians had a lot of questions and they wrote and asked him, “Help us with the problem of marriage.”  So in this middle section of 1 Corinthians he stops to help them about this subject of what to do about marriage and being single. 

I want you to look at four key ideas that appear in the chapter and they deal with the whole problem of whether to be single or married.  

III. Four key ideas about being Single Or married. 


1 Now regarding the questions you asked in your letter.  Yes, it is good to abstain from sexual relations.

  • I remember when I was in high school it was advertised that my church group was going on a hay ride and there was this only one leader who was going to be the chaperone.  Whew Hew!!!  All my friends were notified, we arrived at the Nunes ready for a Hay Ride with the girls…However, the One leader was really, really a prudish person.  So we had a hay ride with two trailers, boys on one trailer, girls on the other trailer.  I will never forget that.  I mean talk about a bummer.  That’s it. Okay back to the Scripture!!
  • He’s simply saying it is good to be single.  It is good for a man or woman not to be married.  It is good.  And you say, “Whoa Steve, how can you say that” – that’s what it says in the Bible.  Now notice something, folks, before you all panic.  He does not say it is the only good.  It is also good to married. 

He is simply saying it isn’t evil to be Single:  32 1 want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried   man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. 33 But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities   and how to please his wife.

  • That’s a problem today because so many people think if you’re not married something is wrong with you…And it just not right.  Me and my best friend Garrett were single until we were 28.  During the time from after college to 28 we were free to serve in churches, do missions around the world and serve God in a whole bunch of ways without concern for wife or kids.  The sad thing about its a couple people thought we were gay because we were single so long!! 
  • But Paul says, “Look it is a good thing not to be married.”  Now he doesn’t say it’s bad to get married and he doesn’t say it’s better to be single.  He just says it’s kalos in Greek, it’s profitable, it’s beneficial, it’s good to be unmarried.
  • Pressure was coming from the Jewish members and what the Bible…

Genesis 2:18“It is not good for the man to be alone.”

Ephesians 5:25-33: “Husbands, love your wives…”

  •   Well you can be single and still not be alone.  You can have friends.  Psalm 68:6 says, “God sets the solitary in families.”  Maybe your family is Impact Christian Church.  Maybe your family is somebody else’s family.  Maybe your family is your friends but God will give you somebody to fulfill the need for other friends.  But it’s good to be single.  If you’re single it’s good.  It’s not bad.  It’s not evil.  It’s not wrong.  It’s good.


This is usually the complaint of single people.  “Yeah, I understand that it’s good.  It’s just really hard to be single.  Very difficult.”  Verse two,

But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have      his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.

14 For the believing wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the believing husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy.

  1. Now notice the command.  each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.”  Those are commands.  He says, “Everybody get married.  It’s good to be single but everybody get married?” 
  2. Why?  On account of what?  Immorality.  Listen, being single is good but it’s tempting.  The gross style of Corinthian life made it harder for the unmarried to be pure just like it does in our day!

14 For the believing wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the believing husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy.

3. So many unmarried people have problems today because of the constant barrage of sexual temptation being thrown at them. They are missing the Holiness marriage brings…

6 Biblical Reasons for Marriage, all start with a ‘P’

  1. Marriage is for Procreation. Genesis 1:28 says to be fruitful and multiply and you’re supposed to have children.  That’s one reason to get married, to have children.  That’s a good reason to get married.  God wants to reproduce especially godly people.
  2. Marriage is for Pleasure.  Another reason to get married is pleasure.  Did you know that God designed marriage just for physical pleasure, just to enjoy?  Hebrews 13:4, “The bed is undefiled.”  In other words, it’s an enjoyable experience.  Marriage is honorable.  Marriage is enjoyable. 
  • Proverbs 5 talks about the satisfaction that a husband finds in the physical body of his wife and vice versa. 
  • Song of Solomon from beginning to end all it is is physical satisfaction, isn’t it?  Pleasure. 

3. Marriage is Provision.  God wants the man to provide for the woman, to nourish her Ephesians 5 says, to cherish her, to strengthen her, to give her something to lean on, to fortify her.  So it’s procreation, it’s pleasure, it’s provision.

4. Marriage is for Partnership.  In the Old Testament God says, “You need a helpmeet,” right?  You need a helper.  You don’t need to do things alone.  You need a helper.  So it is for partnership.  God gives us a friend and I think really the key ingredient in marriage is friendship.  A partner.

  • Marriage is a Picture.  Marriage is given as a picture.  Ephesians 5 says, “It is a symbol to the world of God’s relationship to his church.”  The same way that we love each other is the way the Jesus loves the church!!
  • Marriage is for Purity, to keep us from committing sexual sin.  So marriage is for procreation, pleasure, provision, partnership, picture and purity.  Those are the reasons the Bible gives.  Paul isn’t simplifying everything to this.  He’s just dealing with one aspect. 
  • So we are to get married then because if we don’t we’re going to put ourselves in a terrible place of temptation.  But that doesn’t mean that you run out without really considering what you’re doing and marry the first available person just so you don’t get in trouble.
  •  You’ll be more trouble than then you ever thought you were in.  But that’s just one of the reasons.  Don’t just marry for the sake of purity if you’re not also marrying for the sake of pleasure, if you’re not also marrying for sake of the picture of Christ and His church and you’re intending on nourishing and cherishing her, et cetera, et cetera.  So marriage is the norm.  Celibacy is good but let’s face it, celibacy is also tempting.


3 The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs.

  1. You say, “Well that’s obvious.”  Well I don’t know how obvious it was to Corinthians or to us.  What happens is here’s these Corinthians, they get saved and immediately they say,

“Well in order for us to be totally set apart unto God we’re going to stop all of our physical relationships.” 

  • Devotion to God – Some overzealous husband decides he’s going to give all of his devotion to God and says, “I’m not going to do anything physical with you dear,” or some overzealous wife says, “I’m now totally committed to Jesus Christ.”

2. I can’t have anything to do with you especially since you’re not a Christian. I don’t want a thing to do with you physically.”  That’s what was happening in Corinth.  So how are you going to deal with it? Fulfill each other’s needs!!  

3. Marriage Should be About Meeting Needs.  You are to pay your debts to one another, fulfilling your duty to one another, pay what you owe.  Present imperative in the Greek continuous rendering to the wife the debt and likewise the wife continuously rendering to the husband the debt. 

So Paul is saying, “Look, you have an obligation to one another, to fulfill the physical desire and the physical love and the physical need that each other has.”  Mutual sex through love and marriage is God’s design and it’s your duty and devotion to one another.  It’s a vehicle for the expression of that love.  The very act of sex itself strengthens that love. 

4 The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives                               authority over his body to his wife. 

  1. Now two imperatives in the proceeding verses are followed by two indicatives here that state facts. 
  2. Why give Authority?…To enjoy marriage and stop temptation
  3. The wife has not exousiazei, authority over her own body but the husband.  Ladies, your body belongs to him.  Men, your body belongs to her.  That’s right.  For whatever particular expression she has in mind or you have in mind.  That sharing is the thing that God designed.  It’s a present tense incidentally here, lifelong. 
  4. The wife continually lifelong does not have authority over her own body.  So when you say to your wife, “Dear, you’re mine,” and she says to you, “Honey, you’re mine,” that is the truest thing in the purest sense that you could say right out of the Word of God. 

5 Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

  1. If you’re going to not enter in sexual activity, here are the guidelines:

Number one: except it be with consent.  You have to have a mutual agreement.  The word with consent is the Greek word that is the source of our word symphony. 

Number two: for a time, not for a long time but for a set time.  Not indefinitely but a prescribed time. 

Number three: temporary, “Come together again.”  Let it be only for that time of prayer, temporary.  Why?  Simply because of this that Satan tempt you not for your lack of self-control.

  • Now this is practical stuff.  This gets right down to where we live, right where we’re at but that’s the way the Word of God is.  If I say I love my wife, if you say you love your husband, if that’s really true then you would never willfully, openly put that person in a place where Satan begins to tempt them.  Sometimes we deal with people in the church and friends and we wonder why they have so much trouble walking in the Spirit. 
  • Maybe the reason is because they are so frustrated physically in their own marriage that they are constantly being bombarded with thoughts of this.  That’s not fair.  You’re not only robbing that person, you’re putting them in a place of temptation and you become an agent of Satan.  Celibacy is good if your single but it’s tempting and wrong for married people. Now 4th…

3. CELIBACY AND BEING SINGLE IS A GIFT.  It is a gift, definitely.  Some have it and some don’t and the ones that don’t find it very frustrating.  Notice verse,  6 I say this as a concession, not as a command.

  1. Paul is saying, “I’m saying what I’m saying because I am aware of your human needs, not as a commandment.” 
  2. In other words, “When I said let everybody get married I don’t mean that I am commanding you all to get married.  I’m simply laying this out as the norm because I’m aware of your human needs. 
  3. The only reason you should not get married and fulfill that is verse:

7 But I wish everyone were single, just as I am. Yet each person has a special gift from God, of one kind or another.” 

“Well let’s face it – “ he says “ – I wish you could all be like me and not have to be married but this is a gift.  I happen to have it.  You may not.” 

Now here’s a beautiful thought, people… 

  1. While marriage is not a command it is stressed as the norm because of the problem of staying pure.  Within marriage the physical should be continually dealt with and fulfilled in order to keep that purity.  

Paul says the same thing in these verses, Paul also adds,

8 So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows—it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am. 9 But if they can’t control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It’s better to marry than to burn with lust. 

And in…

Next time you see a single person don’t assume in their mind that there’s something warped about them.  Don’t assume poor soul must have bad breath or socially unacceptable personality traits. 

If you’re married, let’s face it, you’ve got certain things you have to care about.  You’ve got to prepare and you’ve got to take care of and you’ve got to give time to your kids and time to your spouse.  Man, if you’re single sometimes I think, “Wouldn’t it be amazing.  You would just move and just be free.”  God has given some people this marvelous, marvelous gift.

You know to be single means you can do certain things that you otherwise couldn’t do and God needs single people.  Thank God if you’re single and have no desire for marriage.  That’s a gift of God.  Use it.  If you’re married you’ve got the gravy on life.  Live it up.  Enjoy it.  One has one, one has another.

So he says to the Corinthian church, “Listen, every person has their gift.  Most of you be married, stay married and fulfill the physical part of marriage.  Don’t abstain from each other except for a brief time of prayer.  You that are single, if it’s single and without desire for fulfillment in marriage, single and totally given over to the Lord and loving it then thank God for the beautiful gift that He’s given.”  So he lays the principle. 

Celibacy is good.  Marriage is good.  It just depends on which God designs for you.