Healthy Church: Temple Bodies – Part 3

April 25, 2023

Series: Healthy Church

Bible Passage: 1 Corinthians 7:1-24

This morning we are going to see God’s Word speak to marriage, so I need to tell you on the front end I didn’t grow up with a healthy view toward marriage.

My parents divorced when I was 3.  I saw my mom go in and out of multiple marriages, multiple relationships, so as a young person I had zero interest in marriage or starting a family of any kind.

When I was 18 years I come to faith in Jesus.  I didn’t grow around church.  I didn’t grow up around the Bible, so I was completely confused as to my faith in Jesus intersected with my relationship with the opposite sex.

Early on my relationship with Jesus and my dating life didn’t really intersect.  I had this private faith in Jesus, continued to live the same way until the Holy Spirit started to press into my life with questions like, “Michael, what are you doing?  Why are you with this girl?  Why are you pursing these things?  Do you not know you belong to Me?”

It wasn’t an audible voice but over months and years these were the types of conversations I would have with the Lord. Eventually I concluded that a person can’t walk with the Lord and be in a relationship with someone else.  Jesus was single, Paul was single / widow, Jeremiah was single, so I guess that’s what it means to be a man of faith, that will be my story and I honestly thought, “It’s probably better that I am not in a relationship with someone else.  It’s too complicated.  It’s too messy.”

Then, one day I was working at Chili’s, my manager’s wife had just left him, he was moping around work and I said to my manager, “Let’s hang out!”  He said that would be great.  The next day he said, “Let’s go to a concert together.”  I said that would be great.  The next day he said, “Let’s do something really fun, let’s go on a double date together.”  I said, “Okay?”

At that point I started to pray, “Lord, what girl would want to go on a double date with me and this random guy who is recovering from a broken marriage?”  The Lord brought me to a girl named, “Holly.”  It took every ounce of courage to ask her out.  She said, “Yes.” and this June we will have been married 24 years!

I wanted to share my story on marriage at the front because it’s possible you might have a negative view toward marriage.  Our culture is trying to dismantle and devalue marriage, so it makes sense that you might be skeptical toward marriage.

It’s possible, like myself, you saw horrible examples in marriage?  Maybe you’ve been in or are in a marriage right now that is difficult, but my push back would be, “Maybe you’ve never seen a biblical view of marriage?”  Let’s look at verse 1:

1 Corinthians 7:1, “1 Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman.”

How’s that for an introductory verse?  It’s possible some of us are jumping into 1 Corinthians with us for the first time, so you need to know in the first 4 chapters the primary theme is quarrels and conflicts in their church family.

In chapter 5 we see quarrels and conflicts because someone is in an open sexual relationship with their father’s wife.  In chapter 6 they are taking one another to court.  At the end of chapter 6 they are in sexual relationships with prostitutes.  And, in chapter 7, there is a group of people who think married people shouldn’t have sex.  Did you catch that?

In this local church there are non-married groups of people having sex with everyone (Chapter 6) and married groups of people not having sex with their spouse, so that verse 1 isn’t God’s Word teaching men not to touch women, but the Apostle Paul is quoting a question from a previous letter.  Does that make sense?

Can you imagine when the Apostle Paul read’s the Corinthians letter?  Paul is in Ephesus.  Risking his life to proclaim the name of Jesus.  Finally, a letter arrives from the Corinthian church with questions about sex with his father’s wife, taking one another to court, sex with prostitutes and married couples avoiding sex.  Look at verse 2:

1 Corinthians 7:2, “2 But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.”

Do you see the confusion?  Men and women in the Corinthian culture were all over the place sexually, so the Apostle Paul is trying to keep it really simple, “One man, one woman, keep it simple.”

Remember, the culture of the Corinthian city was off the charts with sexual exploration.  There were temples with 1000’s of sexual prostitutes, so that the predominant view was eat, drink, tomorrow we die.

When these men and women come to faith in Jesus they are turning from the sexual values of their day and turning to a biblical understanding of sex and marriage, so that it was a little confusing, so that in verse 2 the Apostle Paul is trying to make it as simple as possible, “Sex is good.  God just created sex to take place in the commitment of marriage between one man, one woman.”  Look at verses 3-4:

1 Corinthians 7:3-4, “3 The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise, also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”

This is one of the most important verses a married couple can look at in marriage in north Austin, because there is so much to dig out of these two verses.  Our culture today will teach us that as long as there is consent, as long as there is mutual agreement then human beings are free to pursue sexual gratification of those desires.  Does that make sense?

This is why the “hook up” culture is so popular with apps like Grinder because technology has made it easy for two people to find one another and as long as there is mutual consent then these two people can essentially “use” one another to meet their own sexual desires, and our culture applauds this accomplishment like this is progress.  People using one another.

But in verse 3 we see how God designed our sexual desires to take place in marriage.  It isn’t “using” one another to meet our sexual desires but instead “serving one another” to meet their sexual desires.  Did you see that in verse 3?

The husband doesn’t use his wife to meet his needs but instead the husband “must fulfill his duty to his wife.”  The word “duty” in the original language means “act of service” so that the husband isn’t thinking about himself, his needs, his desires, but his wife.

And, likewise, the wife doesn’t focus on putting her needs and desires first but instead a biblical understanding of marriage in Austin is the wife thinking about her husband, serving her husband, and putting his needs first.

Listen to me, it’s possible this is uncomfortable.  It’s possible this is incredibly personal and maybe there is even a part of us that is defensive but God’s Word is presenting a completely different approach toward marriage than what we learn in our culture.

The wisdom in verses 3 and 4 is that for verses 3 and 4 to happen in marriage then it means the husband and wife have to communicate very intimate things with one another.  Did you notice that?

If you are single this morning then you might check out on our passage this morning but you might be married one day, you likely know married people you can encourage with God’s Word, and verses 3 and 4 is the level of communication we are working toward in marriage in Austin.

It isn’t just two people using one another for sexual gratification.  It isn’t two people lost in romance.  It is two people who are so committed to one another they are working toward a depth of communication around the most intimate of areas of life so that we might serve one another more fully.

Listen to me, don’t get discouraged if you’re not there.  I am sure we all wish our spouses were just intuitive so we can avoid these conversations, but that’s not realistic.  We have to grow toward intimate communication.

We don’t start there on our wedding day.  You’re not going to arrive there after a sermon.  But God’s Word is casting a vision for what biblical marriage in Austin can look like in His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  So good!

Especially, when you consider the context of when in history this is being written.  The voice of a woman would have had very little influence in the culture of its day but in God’s Word the voice of the wife is incredibly important, even in matters of the bedroom.  Isn’t that amazing?  Look at verses 5-7:

1 Corinthians 7:5-7, “5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 But this I say by way of concession, not of command. 7 Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.”

The word “deprive” means to steal, so that again, in the Corinthian church there were married couples who saw abstaining from sex as a statement of their spiritual maturity, so that they would “deny” themselves sexually in marriage.

At first, we might think that doesn’t apply to our day but it isn’t uncommon for sexual intimacy to decline in marriage.  It’s possible someone has experienced trauma in this area in their past so that it makes sex difficult?  It’s possible someone has grown up with a view that sexual desires are dirty and to be avoided?

It’s possible that there are practical reasons like after a wife gives birth?  In verse 5 it might be because of a time for commitment in prayer, so that a married couple might focus on an area of growth for a season?

It might be because someone is traveling, in the military or physically ill for a season but don’t miss the challenge, God’s Word is encouraging the married couple not to forsake sexual intimacy with one another.

We covered this before, but there are chemicals in our brain that are released when we are sexually intimate with one another, and those chemicals create and strengthen relational bonds with one another, so that we don’t want to withhold sexual intimacy from our spouse, but instead we want to obey God’s Word (vs. 4) that the wives body belongs to the husband and the husbands body belongs to the wife, so that in Christ, we don’t get to close the door on this area of our marriage.

A spouse doesn’t get to say, “This topic is unapproachable forever.”  The husband and wife need to be patient with one another, gentle with one another, seek biblical counseling with necessary, medical attention when necessary, but the heart attitude is always an act of service toward one another for the health of their marriage.  Look at verses 8-9:

1 Corinthians 7:8-9, “8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. 9 But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”

Up to this point God’s Word has elevated marriage and now God’s Word is elevating those who aren’t married, so you can exhale now because we won’t talk about sex as much.

In verses 8 and 9 we see that marriage is a gift to enjoy but as a follower of Jesus but we need to be clear that marriage isn’t the goal.  Marriage is a gift but marriage isn’t the goal.  Our culture might NOT love marriage but our culture loves weddings, engagements, bridal parties and sometimes there can be this pressure, “Aren’t you getting married?”

And sometimes that cultural value can trickles into our faith as a follower of Jesus, so that sometimes we can put this pressure on other followers of Jesus, “Aren’t you getting married?”  But we don’t see that kind of pressure from God’s Word.

God’s Word will touch on this at the end of chapter 7, but whether you are married or single, do so for God’s glory.  If you are married, then be married.  Stop looking over the fence to your life when you are single.  You’re married!  Praise God.

If you are single then be single to God’s glory.  It’s great if you want to get married but please know you have everything you need in Christ, His Word, and His people, so that marriage is not the goal in life as a follower of Jesus.  Look at verses 10-11:

1 Corinthians 7:10-11, “10 But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband 11 (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.”

In context of the passage the Corinthian church had married people abstaining from sex in marriage, drifting apart in marriage and then concluding, because we have drifted apart we shouldn’t be married, so they were getting a divorce.  Does that make sense?

Therefore, the Apostle Paul presses in, “Not so fast.”  In verse 10 the Apostle Paul uses this language “not I, but the Lord” to bring clarity that he is simply repeating words Jesus has already spoken in Matthew 5 and Matthew 19 that married people should stay married.

It doesn’t mean divorce can never happen but the assumption is that the Lord has brought this man and woman together as husband and wife, so that when that husband and wife encounter difficulty, which we all will, the answer isn’t to walk away but to work through the difficulty to preserve the marriage.  Look at verses 12-13:

1 Corinthians 7:12-13, “12 But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away.”

It’s possible these verses are confusing for us but we need to remember the context of 1 Corinthians.  The Apostle Paul shows up in the Corinthian city, proclaims the name of Jesus, and one spouse comes to faith in Jesus, so that these new believers in Jesus were assuming, “Should I walk away from my unbelieving spouse?”

The assumption was for the new follower of Jesus, “Couldn’t I be more faithful to Jesus if I wasn’t in this marriage with an unbelieving spouse?”  Couldn’t I pray more?  Couldn’t I serve the Lord more?  But God’s Word isn’t going to call someone to faith in Jesus so that it destroys their marriage just because a spouse doesn’t believe in Jesus.  Look at verses 14-16:

1 Corinthians 7:14-16, “14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. 15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?”

Isn’t that good?  Listen to me, we don’t want to seek out marriage with someone who doesn’t know Jesus but if you find yourself in a marriage where a spouse comes to faith in Jesus, begins to grow in Jesus, we want to celebrate that life change in Jesus.  Praise God!

The hope of God’s Word, listen to me, not the promise, but the hope is that the Lord will move through the life of this one spouse in Christ, so that the other spouse and the children will come to faith in Jesus as well.  That’s the gift of marriage to the church in Austin, TX and to the culture!

A biblical marriage in Austin, TX will bring stability to the home and multiple biblical marriages will bring stability to a culture, so that if you are skeptical toward marriage or see marriage is unnecessary then God’s Word is leaning in so as to say, “It’s possible you haven’t seen a biblical view of marriage?”

I have personally benefited from a biblical understanding of marriage in north Austin.  It wasn’t because of my background.  It wasn’t because I am good at marriage.  It’s because, by God’s grace, I have applied God’s Word to my life and if God’s Word can bear fruit in my life then God’s Word can bear fruit in anyone’s life.

I want to ask our worship team to come to the stage and give us a chance to respond to God’s Word this morning.  I hope when you read about the Corinthian church we see a people who were just normal people following Jesus.

They were easily confused in conversations around sex, easily caught up in arguments and conflict with one another, easily struggling with what it looks like to follow Jesus, easily struggling to understand the gift of marriage, so that if you look at your life, your family, our non-denominational church in Austin, TX and see confusion in this area it means we are human beings learning what it looks like to live in Jesus’ Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

We’re not supposed to know, we’re not supposed to just get it, we’re all learning what life is supposed to look like in Jesus.  That’s the gospel.  Jesus is inviting us to turn to Him.  Jesus knows the decisions we have made in the past.  Jesus knows the areas where we get confused.  Jesus knows where we have fallen short and He has come to call you His.

Jesus takes our sin at the cross.  Jesus conquers our sin in the resurrection.  Jesus calls out for you to believe in Him and marry Him.  Did you know that?

In Christ we are called the bride of Christ and He is the groom who has come to wed Himself to thee by grace through faith in Jesus, so it doesn’t matter if you are married or single, black or white, rich or poor, short or tall; Jesus has come to call you His.  Won’t you respond?

Jesus has come to bring forgiveness.  Jesus has come to bring healing.  Jesus has come to bring eternal hope of His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven and it starts today!  Won’t you turn to Jesus?