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Singleness, Life-stage and Contentment – 1 Corinthians 7:17-40

March 1st, 2010

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The apostle Paul wrote this letter to the church in Corinth, addressing (amongst other things) the issue that sex and marriage is somehow “unspiritual”, Paul rebukes the idea. This is relevant to us today because this thinking is still prevalent in modern Christianity – that somehow marriage, sex and physical pleasure is “wrong” and unspiritual and shouldn’t be enjoyed. However, everything created by God is good (Genesis 1) and is to be enjoyed as long as we enjoy it as a gift from God rather than as a god itself. Also, Paul teaches that to forbid marriage is demonic teaching (1 Tim. 4).

Paul does have a place for singleness though. He agrees to an extent with the Corinthians that singleness is good, but for completely different reasons.

For those who are married – it is important that they hear this message because they are part of the Body of Christ, and need to know what the Bible teaches about singleness.

Paul’s message to all is this: let each person lead the life he is in, the life God has called him to. We don’t necessarily need to change our situation in order to live for God, or alter our conditions in order to be more spiritual – we can be pleasing to God, glorifying and worshipping Him in our current circumstances (marital state, job, etc). Think about the example of Joseph – He served and glorified God when he was a slave, a prisoner, etc.

Why honour singleness?

1. Practical reasons (it’s a gift)

  • v.7 – it is a gift from God, a blessing – as is marriage.
  • The context of Paul’s letter – ‘in view of the present distress’ (v.26) – it made singleness a wise option.
  • Singleness is not a command from Paul, but a suggestion motivated by genuine compassion (v.25, v.40).
  • It does not mean that you will never be tempted, or that you will love every moment, or that you won’t struggle with loneliness – but God does give grace for every season, and He always knows what He is doing with our lives.
  • Singleness is a precious season where it gets to be just you and God – He cherishes that time He has with you.
  • It is not permanent.
  • It is a gift to be used for the Church. You are to use your gift (whether singleness or marriage) as a way of blessing the Body.

2. Spiritual/eternal reasons:

  • In the Old Testament, the emphasis was on marriage and child-bearing to maintain a legacy and be fruitful. Jesus changed all that – we now leave an eternal/spiritual legacy.
  • Isaiah 53 – Jesus is fruitful and has spiritual offspring, despite being single.
  • The spiritual family we are a part of is greater than any physical family.
  • Isaiah 56 – we have a name better than sons or daughters.
  • In Jesus Christ we possess all things.

1 Corinthians 7: 1-2, 6-9, 25-38. Singleness and Marriage

February 15th, 2010

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Parts of this passage are potentially confusing; ‘It’s good for a man not to have sexual relations with a women’. This seems to contradict Genesis 2 and other scriptures. However, Paul (the writer of this letter) is quoting their (the Corinthians) opinion back to them, this is obviously something they would have said. The bible teaches that sex is good and encourages it wholeheartedly within marriage.

But as well as promoting marriage Paul believes that there is a wonderful role for singleness and is
keen to honour it. Singleness is a unique calling and can bring a liberty to follow God. The bible elevates a certain kind of singleness; for some kind of callings of God singleness can be appropriate.

The church needs to look after and dignify singles and families should be hospitable to them and serve them.

In our culture marriage has a very bad reputation and this has led to people embracing singleness or avoiding marriage for the wrong reasons, even within the church.

People in the church are nervous about marriage and can stay single for some of the following wrong reasons;

  • Concerned that they are loving their prospective partner more than God. They feel they’ve developed a unhealthy devotion which deflects from their relationship with God. Don’t be hooked into false spirituality, If that isn’t a tension we are balancing in courtship perhaps we should question the relationship?
  • The ‘Who is the one mentality’ is also to be avoided. God restored you to sonship not to be a robot. We’ve been given ability to make decisions and choose our own partners.
  • Guys can be picky, they can have a picture of beauty that isn’t biblical. Obviously you need to be attracted to your bride but physical beauty is quite secondary.
  • For some women misinterpretations of what a spiritual man is can hold people back. Don’t look for the ‘platform gift’ or christian eloquence, look at the heart.
  • Fear can hold people back but we can be set free by knowing God. If we are fearful we are then not really enjoying God. If we are exposed to the love of God it will overwhelm fear.

We can make marriages our God and try and make them perfect, this is not possible. There has only ever been one perfect husband.

Story of the bible is one of a husband and a bride.God pursues us as a husband to a bride  He is perfectly faithful to us and utterly beautiful. To see proof of this look at the cross of Jesus Christ where the greatest husband in history died for his wife, the people of God. He is faithful enough to be tortured and murdered for us.