OH DEAR, I was half asleep last night when I posted this and put it in the wrong blog. Yikes. NOT ONE WORD ABOUT QUILTING! My apologies! I am reposting it where it is supposed to go.
Given current attitudes in North America toward sex and marriage, many people would say that the Bible is irrelevant, particularly the multiple wives thing in the Old Testament and the submission stuff in the New Testament. Yet as I read it, the practices of people in those days as now tends toward selfish desires. Doing things my own way instead of God’s way has always been called sin. Perhaps that is the real reason for pushing the Word of God away. In our sinful ways, we reject what God says in favor of what we want.
For those who believe in Jesus Christ and want to follow Him, questions come up and Christians want answers that make sense. Some want God to agree with their ideas yet the NT believers in Corinth realized this was not the way of faith. They wrote a letter to Paul and bluntly asked him their questions about sex.
Somewhere along their life, they got the idea that all sex was sinful. Maybe it was because there is no mention of it until after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Maybe it was because they wondered how anything so pleasurable to the flesh could be okay with God. Whatever their reasons, these early Christians wanted to know God’s take on sexual relationships and Paul answered them.
Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:1–5)
The problem was not sex itself but sexual immorality. The Bible defines this in two ways. One is sex before marriage called fornication and associated with promiscuity. The other is sex with someone other than your spouse called adultery. In both cases, those involved have lost self-control. Since self-control is a result of being filled with the Holy Spirit, then those who do not have it are following the desires of the flesh. Christian or not, this is sin.
This passage warns married couples not to misuse their sexuality by withholding it from their partner. Doing so is okay for a short time to devote one’s self to prayer, otherwise the desire leads to lack of self-control and giving the devil opportunity to lead you astray.
Paul also addresses this problem to those without a spouse. He says . . .
To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him . . . (1 Corinthians 7:8–16)
Again, the issue is self-control (being filled with the Holy Spirit) rather than letting the flesh dictate behavior. If anyone is particularly troubled by their physical desires, they should be married, not fighting temptation all the time. Simple solution? For many, it may not seem like it, but this is what God gave Paul.
He also addresses issues about divorce (verses not included) that stress how marriage is where God can bless and build faith in God.
On a personal note, I was married twice. The first time was before Christ and a divorce was part of how He got through to my selfish heart. From personal experience in too many situations to describe, God showed me that everything He says about sex and marriage is not only right, but following His ways brings incredible blessing. It is not always easy to obey God but striving to be filled with the Spirit does produce the self-control necessary to do it.
Lord Jesus, what can I say but thank You for the life lessons and for the firm belief that You know what is best for Your creation, back then and right up to this day. The mess the world has made of the purity and faithfulness You want in marriage has caused so much heartache and problems. Just as in ancient Corinth, we need salvation from our sins and Your Spirit to help us live in ways that not only honor You but give us great joy.