I Corinthians 7 – Next Sunday in Ammon, Idaho

We begin tackling I Corinthians 7 next Sunday morning.

My initial questions

Should a man get married? Should it be more than one companion?  What rights does the man have in a marriage?  What rights does a woman have?  When is it possible for a husband and wife to withhold physical intimacy from one another?  Should men and women stay single?  How is it good for unmarried and widows to remain single?  Are there any concessions for a divorce in marriage?  Are there any concessions for remarriage?  What about marriages where one of the spouses is an unbeliever?  What is the calling of God in your life?  How does the Lord want you to serve Him?  Concerning what Paul writes in I Corinthians 7, what is binding commandment and what is human advice?

Alan Johnson’s questions

Should I get married, especially if I want to wholeheartedly serve the Lord, perhaps as a missionary?  Can Christians marry nonChristians?  Does God approve of divorce under certain circumstances?  What are these circumstances?  If I divorce for a biblical reason, can I be remarried with God’s blessing?  Isn’t remaining single less than God’s best for us?  Can I marry with God’s blessing if my spouse has died?  If I have been divorced or widowed, would it be better for me remain unmarried?

Robert Gromacki’s questions 

1) Does the rise in Christian marriage seminars and in the publication of Bible-oriented marital books indicate that Christian marriages are failing?  2) Why have many Christians looked upon sex (its discussion and practice) as a taboo?  What can be done to overcome these prejudices? 3) Should the single life be promoted as much as the marital union?  In what circumstances would it be preferred?  In what circumstances would it prove awkward? 4) Have divorced and separated partners been discriminated against in evangelical churches?  Can they have an effective ministry?  5) Is remarriage after divorce Biblical?  Give a Biblical basis for your answer.  Since the evangelical world is divided on the question, how dogmatic should a person be? 6) Have single men and single women been forced out of strategic opportunities for Christian service?  Would it be preferable for a pastor to be single or married? 7) What present situations would correspond to the cause of the Corinthian distress?

7 comments

  1. I’m only going to speak to one thing, since the text itself really doesn’t, and this is based on 2,000 years of Christian experience which obviously St. Paul could not draw upon in writing this.

    When it comes lifestyle, there are basically two callings, one to marriage, and the other to monasticism. The latter means that one is living in a community of other persons (of the same sex as themselves) who have “become eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of God”. If, after living in a such a community for an extended period of time, such a person senses a calling to live as a hermit, this calling will be discerned by this person’s spiritual father or mother within the community, perhaps with input from other members of the community.

    There is no place, as far as I can tell, for someone living a single life in the world as a permanent vocation and status, although I might be wrong. In any event, it would certainly be, I think, pretty uncommon. I think this has been a big part of the problems that have occurred among RC clergy. Before the priest shortage, it was normal for several priests to live together in community in the context of their service to a parish. When the RCC started experiencing a lack of priests, more and more priests were living by themselves. In the East, it has always been the norm that parish priests and deacons are married.

  2. Sure, Todd, but St. Paul, Jerome, et. al., even Jesus, none of them lived alone. They all lived in community (even St. Paul, who is constantly surrounded by companions and “fellow-workers” even if the members of his community fluctuate occasionally).

    Author Mark doesn’t even acknowledge this, let alone address it.

    IMHO, the normal paradigm for a single person dong ministry would have to be Anthony the Great (in the link below, note all the stages of his life – his formation – before he started “ministering”, including 20 years living as a hermit):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_the_Great

  3. Hi Greg and Todd,

    May I commend for your examplar Titus. Consider his most challenging ministry on Crete, single as he obviously was.

    He was commanded by Paul to bring all the Christians in every town under one set of elders (Titus 1:5), regardless of how many different churches they were in. And when opposed he was given specific instructions for dealing with rebels (Titus 1:10, 3:10-11).

    No, he doesn’t perfectly represent a single pastor, but he does uphold the qualfications as mandatory which all church leaders must meet. He does real ministry where real people are.

    So Titus brought the first reformation (about 64 AD), since Cretans had been saved 30 years earlier (Acts 2:11). For more thoughts on the power of a single man doing genuine ministry under apostolic leadrship, check out http://www.TheTitusMandate.org.

  4. Ted, I see no evidence in the NT indicating that Titus was either single or married, and I am not aware of any, either, in later sources.

    He well have initiated a renewal on Crete. However, this was not a “Reformation” as we understand that word today. He did not throw the baby out with the bathwater (or, in many cases, throw out the baby and keep the dirty bathwater: PSA is a good example of this) as did the 16th Century “reformers”.

  5. Okay, Todd and Ted, but here’s the deal: let’s take a lesson from Jesus himself, a lesson that the LDS has learned in its missionary activities: send people out two-by-two (at least).

    Why? To support each other and to be accountable to each other. For us mere mortals (unlike St. Anthony after spending 20+ years fighting demons), there is nothing like isolation to precipitate temptation. If one is blessed to live an eremetic life, that is one thing, but such a life, by definition, does not involve ministry with others, except perhaps after a long period of time, after the temptations and the demons have been vanquished.

    We really have no information with regard to Titus’ situation, but you can bet that if St. Paul surrounded himself with “fellow-workers,” Titus did so as well.

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