What does the Bible say concerning marriage?
I Corinthians 7:1
“Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.”
So the question must have been, “Is it right for men and women to marry?” And you might ask the question, “How in the world could they come up with a question like that?” Well you must again realize the situation. You know I’ve always taught from day one that when you read a portion of scripture the first thing you determine is who wrote it, and to whom was it written, and the third part is, what are the circumstances. Well here we have Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, writing to the congregation in the wicked city of Corinth who have come out of abject immoral, idolatrous background, and they are all hung up on this marriage relationship that now is Biblical compared to what it is in paganism. Now you want to remember that in paganism under idolatry, the marriage relationship didn’t amount to that much. It was really just a place to propagate the family, but so far as any moral integrity, or fidelity of the marriage relationship, the pagans knew nothing of that.
And so now they are going off the deep end. “Is it right for us to marry?” Now don’t misinterpret the last half of verse 1 when Paul says that it is good for a man not to touch a woman. He’s not saying that they shouldn’t get involved and get married. But he is saying in the light of these verses in Chapter 6 that as believers now men as well as women, have to be careful in their contact with people of the opposite sex in their everyday experience. And when Paul says, “That it’s good for a man not to touch a woman,” and if I under stand the Greek at all, what he’s talking about is that a man should not get physically involved with a woman to excite the sexual sense. He is certainly not bringing in the shaking of the hands with women. Even in the early Church they granted the “Holy Kiss” where they would embrace much like our middle easterners still do, and that also caused problems in the early Church, and so that was finally pushed out the back door.
So Paul is answering their questions, “It is not good for a man to touch a woman, not to embrace her, or get involved with her enough to excite the basic instinct of her or him.” But he is not saying that they can’t get married. And I know that a lot of people take this verse to mean that Paul is anti-marriage. No, he is not anti-marriage. In fact before we go any further let me show you some verses to back that up. Let’s go to the Book of Hebrews for a moment. We’ve already seen what God said back there in Genesis concerning the marriage relationship, and that they were to replenish the earth, they were to have children, and they were to enjoy the marriage relationship. Now look what Paul writes in the Book of Hebrews, Chapter 13, and verse 4. And he’s not going to utterly contradict this with his statement in I Corinthians Chapter 7, so you have to put the two of them together.
“Marriage (As we understand it) is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled:…”
Now you know we’ve come mercifully away from Victorianism, which was the extreme in the other direction. Sex in Victorianism, was such a dirty word that it couldn’t be mentioned in public, and it was almost taboo except for the purpose of child bearing. Well that certainly wasn’t right, but now on the other hand we’ve gone too far the other way. Now completing verse 4 we find the other side of the coin opposite marriage being honourable, and the bed undefiled.
“… but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”
God is not going to wink at that. They’re not going to get away with it, and they’re going to face up with it some day. The Great White Throne Judgment is waiting for the lost, and they’re going to come up before God with all this on their record. Now if you will come back again to I Corinthians Chapter 7 again.
I Corinthians 7:2
“Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, (or falling into the trap of immoral activity) let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.”
Now we have to be careful. Is the sole reason for getting married, not to be tempted to go out and be promiscuous? Well of course not, but it does have that redeeming effect, that if I have my wife, and she has me, then we’re not tempted then to go out into the world, and be promiscuous with those we have no business being with. And so this is what Paul is saying. Also I’ve got to bring you back to that situation at Corinth with all their rampant prostitution, and for a young man it was a constant temptation. So Paul says, “rather than being tempted with that, have your own wife.” Now verse 3:
I Corinthians 7:3
“Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: (we’re living in a day where you see so much wife beating, and wife abuse. Well why is that? Well again it’s because these people have not been taught plain, simple Biblical principals. And that is that a husband is to treat his wife as something that he would die for, and not as something that he can beat around the house. That was not God’s intention of the marriage relationship.) and likewise also the wife unto the husband.”
I had a letter recently asking why God condoned slavery? Why did He ever permit it to happen? Well, when you analyze the greatest period of time of human history, what percentage of the people were actually educated enough to carry on and be an entrepreneur, or be a good enough business person to make a good living. Not very many. The vast majority was totally illiterate, were totally incapable of decision making, and we saw that in Russia, after 70 years of communism. So under those kinds of circumstances a benevolent master was the best thing those people could have.
I think that most of you are aware that when slavery was holding forth in the South, there were masters like that. And those slaves loved them, didn’t they? They had it better than they could have ever hoped to have it out there on their own. But you see man has totally again adulterated God’s purposes, and instead of masters being benevolent they became bestial, and less than merciful, and then slavery became awful, and God never intended it to be that way. Well it’s the same way here. The husband and wife relationship, if it’s as God intended to be, should be a happy situation 365 days a year. There is absolutely no reason for husband and wives to be on a constant battle ground. I can say from experience, Iris and I have been married for 43 years and I think our kids will tell you that they have never heard us raise our voice at one another. It’s not because we’re so perfect, but rather because we know that The Lord is in control of our home. And this is way He wants it.
God has created man, as we saw last week, as the crowning act of His creation. Man is the epitome of His perfection. We are created in His image and given a will in order to be able to make choices of obedience or disobedience to God.
The whole concept of this thing compares to the very attitude of marriage in the human relationship. God has always had myriads of angels, but they were never created to have this special kind of love and fellowship relationship with God as mankind was. But in Adam, God deliberately created a will, and had Adam chosen to be obedient to God, He would have had someone with whom He could share this special love and fellowship throughout eternity. As I see Scriptures, this is the primary reason for man’s creation in the first place – that God wants a creature that He can love and who will return that love to Him.
In a moment we’re going to turn to Ephesians 5:22. I want to use this verse for a two-fold purpose:
1. To help our attitude concerning marriage and the home and the husband-wife relationship, and
2. To establish that this is the reason man was put here in the first place; because the relationship is so much the same.
I am of the conviction that if a home survives or doesn’t survive, I blame the man. I know that there may be alternatives to that, but for the most part, I believe that the success or failure of a home and marriage is primarily the man’s responsibility.
Ephesians 5:22-25: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore, as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it;”
The passage starts “Wives, submit … unto your own husbands,” and it means not that the wife is meant to be a slave or a “go-fer,” but rather that God has ordained the man to be the head of the home. The husband is not to be a taskmaster nor slave master, but rather he has been given the place of authority in the home. The very key to this verse is “as unto the Lord.”
Verse 23 says: “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the Savior of the body.”
Notice He is the Savior not only of the soul (as so many churches teach), but also of the body. Don’t miss that God is just as concerned with the body as with the soul; He is vitally concerned with our entire being – spirit, soul and body.
Verse 24: “Therefore, as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.”
So when we tie the husband-wife relationship to that of Christ and the Church, as this verse says we should, we find that there’s no room for abuse in either the authority of the husband or in the submission of the wife. Everything is just so perfectly ordained if we will do it God’s way! Verse 25 is the one I use for putting the responsibility for a successful marriage on the husbands.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it;”
This is a COMMANDMENT! And interestingly, nowhere in the Scripture is the wife commended to love her husband. I know that Peter says mothers are to instruct their daughters in how to love their husbands, but that’s a far cry from commanding it (in the husband-wife relationship). The reason that I tie this Scripture in with Genesis 1 is that God put man on the scene with a will so that when God would extend His love and grace and blessings on this creature, God expected love returned.
It’s the same way in the marriage relationship, and I still maintain that (with rare exceptions) if the husband will truly love his wife Scripturally as Christ loves us, the Church, then it automatically follows that the wife is going to respond to that love. If a woman doesn’t, then there’s something wrong with her because God has created within her that responsiveness, so that when the man extends his love, she’s going to respond, and you have a happy relationship.