Questions of Marriage

#11 in the 1Corinthians series. An exposition of 1 Corinthians 7:1-16. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, January 23, 2011.

Everyone in the church would agree that marriages are in trouble.  The church cries out again Hollywood and it’s very unbiblical portrayal of marriage.  We note the degrading of woman in music and film as sex objects.  The lower of standards in our culture is appalling.  We would say, “We need to return to biblical standards.”  And we would be right to demand such but we also need to take an honest look at ourselves.  According to a Barna research project, which was confirmed by an Associate Press follow up study, born again Christians had a higher divorce rate than atheist and agnostics (born again christians 27%, atheists 21%)!  The data showed that the highest divorce rates were found in the Bible Belt. Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama and Oklahoma round out the Top Five in frequency of divorce…the divorce rates in these conservative states are roughly 50 percent above the national average (  So maybe we shouldn’t just point our finger at others, maybe we should look ourselves as partially to blame.  Maybe we should recognize the need for us to return to biblical standards.

It is hard to expect nonbelievers to follow biblical standards if we are not willing to follow them. Of course it is hard in our “no fault” culture to blame anyone let alone ourselves but facts are facts.  We profess to higher standards than we are willing to live by.  I’m not so naive as to believe we can, without fault, achieve biblical standards but we ought to aim for them.  We ought to strive toward them and continually hold them out as the standard.  With that in mind let’s turn our attention to Paul’s teaching on the subject as it is found in his first letter to the church at Corinth.  Our text this evening is found in 1 Corinthians chapter 7.

Text: 1 Corinthians 7:1-16

Paul says again and again in this letter – “You are saints, act like it!”
You are set apart for God’s glory – your lives should reflect that fact.
We, as the people of God, are to be markedly different from nonbelievers.
I’m not talking about a “holier than thou” attitude.
I’m talking about living according to different rules.
We are to be held to a higher standard.
The Spirit of God within us ought to make us different.

As we explore the opening verses of chapter 7 it becomes clear that…
Thesis: In a morally confused and secularly dominated culture marital health demands biblical insight.

Obviously that statement makes some major assumptions.  First I assume our culture is morally confused.  Does anyone seriously doubt this?  It has been debated on the floor of the U.S. Congress as well as numerous state houses whether marriage is between a man and a woman.  We cannot even agree on a definition of family.  More than that we can’t even agree on the number of genders.  You and I would say there are 2 – male and female.  Others are arguing for as many as 5!  So I think it is safe to say we are morally confused.  Second I’m saying the Christian worldview no longer dominates our culture.  We are living in a post-Christian world.  Third I’m assuming we are still concern with marital health.  This may be my weakest assumption but remember I am talking to the church.

There are two things I want us to note from this text.

  1. Marital health demands a solid grasp of the basic truths regarding the nature of biblical marriage.  (7:1-7)
    a. The single life is good (commendable) if that is God’s gift to you.  (1, 6-7)
    b. Marriage is good and it is to be monogamous.  (2)
    c. Marriage has its physical obligations.  (3-5)
  2. Marital health demands that all related matters be decided after careful consideration and based on biblical principle.  (7:8-16)
    a. Should I marry?  (7:8-9)
    b. Should I divorce?  (7:10-16)

3 cases

  1. When both are believers – 7:10-11
  2. When spouse is an unbeliever but is willing to stay in the marriage – 7:12-14
  3. When a spouse is an unbeliever and wants to leave/divorce – 7:15-16
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