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Nov 27, 2023

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 7:1-9

1 Corinthians 7 begins a new section of the letter in which Paul answers some specific concerns the Corinthians had written him about.  These issues are marked out by the words "now concerning" (cf. 1 Cor 7:1,25; 8:1; 12:1; 161;1).  The first issue concerns a range of matters pertaining to marriage … sexual relations, widowhood, divorce, remarriage, singleness.

Apparently, some people in the church were trumpeting celibacy as a preferable spiritual state, even for married folks (1 Cor 7:1).  Paul corrects this confusion by saying that celibacy is for single people, but not for married folks.  He heralds sexual expression in marriage as an important safeguard against immorality as well as a necessary obligation to one's partner (1 Cor 7:2-5).  In marriage sexual intimacy is a demonstration not only of love and pleasure, but also of selflessness.  Such expression must not be neglected, except in unusual circumstances in which a couple is seeking the Lord in some special way (1 Cor 7:5) … and even then, only temporarily.

There are some benefits to singleness, which Paul will write about later (1 Cor 7:7,8, 32-35), but in this paragraph he calls on married people to rejoice in the grace God has given them … delighting in the gift of sexual union with selflessness and gratitude.