We’re still in 1 Corinthians 6-7, so we are still talking about sex. On Sundays. In Church.
Awkward? Yup! And yet, this is what God says in his Word, and church is the place God says we need to talk about sex – together as a church family.
So this Sunday and next week in our Daily Worship Devotions, we’re considering 1 Corinthians 7:1-7 & 17 and what God has to say about sex and married Christian couples. God is pretty comprehensive about sex in Corinthians. Next week, we’ll consider a section that talks about sex and marriage with regard to singles, widows, and those married to people who are not Christians.
Corinth was a pretty messed up place sexually. One of the main reasons Corinth existed – and was thriving! – was that Corinth was where you went to worship the gods and have sex with Temple Prostitutes. Also, we need to remember that Christianity is new in Corinth. Sure, like everywhere in that part of the world, there had been a small Jewish presence and community in Corinth. Some of those Jews converted to Christianity, but the majority of converts to Christianity in Corinth (the majority of the members of the church in Corinth) did not grow up in “a Christian home.” Neither did they grow up in a context/country where thoughts and practices about marriage and sex had been heavily formed by Christianity.
Generally speaking, in Roman culture, marital sex was basically simply for procreation. Passionate sex was what you had with people who were not your spouse. Having affairs or having sex with one of your household servants/slaves was not frowned upon and was regarded as normal – especially for men. Then there’s the whole “Temple prostitution” thing in addition.
So, becoming a Christian and submitting your life – including your “sex life” – to God was quite disruptive. This led to a lot of confusion and questions – as we see in the book of Corinthians. From what we can tell from the letter and the questions addressed, it looks like people in the church were struggling sexually as they were growing in their faith and submitting their sex lives to God and his Word. Husbands and wives had stopped having sex with other people. That’s good. But they were not in the habit or practice of having regular (healthy and good) sex with each other. That’s bad. Sexual temptation increased leading to sexual sin. Also, in grasping that sexual immorality was wrong, some married people in the Corinthian church had concluded that all sex and all sexual desire was just bad and unspiritual. So, they were not having sex regularly with each other. That was bad.
So, take some time to read and reflect on what God has to say about sex and marriage in 1 Corinthians 7:1-7 & 17. If you are not married, you might be tempted to check out, thinking, “This doesn’t apply to me.” But it does. Chances are you grew up in a home with adults/parents who were married to each other and their marriage and intimacy (or lack of it) certainly has had an impact on you.
Last week, we considered the fundamental principal and exhortation that God gives to us with regard to our sexual desires, wants, needs, etc., which is “You are not your own!” If you missed that, I very much encourage you to read last week’s Pastor Weekly and watch the live stream of last Sunday’s service. In the passage we are considering this Sunday, 1 Corinthians 7:1-7 & 17, God applies the “You are not your own!” principal to married couples. He also warns husbands and wives that they need to be having (good and healthy) sexual relations with each other regularly. As you read and reflect on the text, consider why God commands this.
Just like I did last week, I want to speak a word to a specific group in our family who might be feeling especially anxious and ambivalent about this topic and this Sunday: Parents. During this time, we will have “Children’s Church” downstairs for our Elementary Children during the worship service. I imagine that will be a relief for many of you. But our Middle & High School Youth will be with us upstairs in the sanctuary the whole time. That might be anxiety-inducing for some parents given we are talking about you and your sex life in front of your kids! However, I want to appeal to you that, as awkward as this is (and, yup, it IS going to be awkward), it is vitally important, necessary, and also GOOD that we broach these things as a church family together. Our world does not hesitate to teach and indoctrinate us with all sorts of wrong, unhealthy, and destructive views about sexuality and sex. That’s especially and tragically true when it comes to our culture’s aggressive influence and destructive sexual agenda for our children and youth.
This is one of the reasons that I, your elders, and your church staff agree that it is time for us all to do more with regard to discipling each other and, especially, our children and youth. We need to grow more in our faith, deepen our life-together as a church family, and invest more in our own discipleship and our discipleship of each other. As COVID-19 (hopefully) continues to come to an end here in Atlanta, as we face the ongoing decline of faithful Christianity in our country, and as we exit this blessed and brutal season of isolation, reflection, and re-evaluation, it’s a good and necessary time and opportunity for us to reassess our lives and priorities in light of God’s Word, his commands, his expectations, and his hopes and longings for us as Christ followers and a local church family.
So, here we go. Take a deep breath and read and reflect on 1 Corinthians 7:1-7 & 17. This Sunday, and next week in our Daily Worship Devotions, we are just focusing on 1 Corinthians 7:1-7 & 17, but I encourage you to read all of 1 Corinthians 6:12-7:16 in preparation. As you do that, let’s ask ourselves and reflect and meditate on the following: “With regard to me, sex, and my sexuality, what does it mean that ‘I am not my own’?”
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
Yours in Christ,