1 Corinthians 6-7 – Sex and the City of God
It would be good to recap
this letter so far. In the first 4
chapters, Paul explains that the Gospel is the idea that we are sinners: born
in natural rebellion, even treason, against our God. We earn death due to following our own hearts
and not the Lord. However, Jesus came to
take that death in our place on the cross, and then he rose from the dead to
show that while we still die even in his forgiveness, we will rise from the
The Corinthian church
believed this, but they were distracted by pleasing their culture. It seems that unless the Holy Spirit touches
a person’s heart, the Gospel will seem unintelligible before then. That is why some people act like they don’t
need Jesus to die for them because they’ve lived a good life. Or they act like they can achieve enough good
works to earn their way to heaven. Some
will even call the crucifixion a divine child abuse because they don’t
understand the Trinity, and they don’t understand that we cannot have a
relationship with God unless somebody dies for our sins, and nothing else can
erase the smallest error. We cannot
repay this gift.
And we cannot add to it by
being smarter people, having a more gifted ministry, having better music, or
doing signs and wonders. All people are
the same before our Lord.
Soon, Paul gets into large
discourses about sexuality and marriage.
Gnosticism had an influence in that society. It saw spirit as good and matter as
evil. A good God to them would not
create matter and all that we see. Some
people took this idea and considered the body unimportant, so they had lots of
sex in the temple of Aphrodite and ate all the feasts and had all the
drugs. Others saw the body as evil and
taught that sex was evil, even in the context of marriage. Even in the Christian church, the Roman
Catholics believed that it was holier to be celibate and forbid marriage and saw
sex as a necessary evil to have children.
This is not what God or Paul teaches in the Bible.
Paul shows in chapter
6:12-20 that sex outside of marriage reduces sex to a commodity. If somebody’s body doesn’t desire you
anymore, you can move on. And if that
person is a Christian and has sex outside of marriage, the Holy Spirit is
linked to that act, thus grieving our Lord.
However, in chapter 7,
Paul shows that God loves sex, but in the context of marriage. Marriage is supposed to reflect God’s relationship
to the church, one that will never end despite flaws or change. It’s supposed to be an expression of deepest
intimacy. When intimacy is defined as “knowing
and to be known,” a person can have that with anybody, but in marriage, a man
and woman who already knew each other spiritually can now know each other
physically. It is only in that context
where sex is a gift and not something that somebody takes from somebody else. In fact, within marriage, sex is an act of
So while a single person
has more freedom to serve the Lord without consulting her husband, and while celibacy
is good while single, not many people are called to celibacy. If you have that burning desire for sex, then
you should seek marriage. And although
Paul says in verse 9 that it is better to marry than to burn with passion, that
might be some exaggeration, because you should seek to know that person spiritually
and to see if he is a Christian who shares your interests before marrying and
knowing him in the flesh. No true
intimacy can occur without the Lord.
That is why in a marriage
where one person is a Christian and one isn’t, that marriage lacks because
Jesus is the glue that binds them together.
However, Paul commands the Christian in that relationship to not divorce
unless the nonbeliever leaves because it could lead them to Christ.
And how does this tie to
the Gospel? Because while we are still
enemies, Christ died for us and will never abandon us no matter how much our
minds and bodies wander into sin. My husband
and I will make sure to stay together no matter how much we age and fall
apart. And a single person will find
that person who will love them no matter what as he or she patiently waits on
the Lord. And if that person desires
intimacy before then, seek it in knowing Christ and his people because, as I
said, he ties all his church together as a forever family that time or space
will not rip apart.