In 7:1-40 Paul comes to the fifth problem dealt with in this Epistle—the matter of marriage. This is treated according to the principles established in the preceding section (6:12-20).
Many times those who are most cultured are the ones who have the most problems in married life. Those who are simple and uncultured may not have as many marriage problems. If you study the statistics related to divorces in this country, you will find that a large percentage of divorces is among those who are highly educated and among professional people. It seems that the more educated a person is, the greater is the possibility of divorce. Because the Corinthians were so devoted to their culture and philosophy, they had many questions about marriage. Paul answers these questions in chapter seven.
First Corinthians 7:1 begins in this way: “Now concerning the things of which you wrote.” This indicates that the Corinthians had written to Paul about various matters, including marriage. The believers at Corinth had many questions because they were philosophical. They philosophized about everything. It is dangerous, however, to philosophize about our married life, for this can lead to separation or even divorce. Brother Nee once advised us that after we get married, we should be blind regarding our spouse. If we do this, we shall enjoy married life. But if we are watchful over our husband or wife in a critical, philosophical way, we shall have serious problems. To analyze our married life is to philosophize concerning marriage. Instead of analyzing our married life, we should simply enjoy it, praising the Lord and thanking Him for the spouse He has given us. The more we praise the Lord in this way, the more we shall enjoy married life.
Probably all those who are married have spent some time analyzing their marriage. We may have said to ourselves, “Was it really of the Lord that I marry this one? Perhaps I was influenced too much by others. Maybe I should have waited a little longer.” If we are honest, we shall admit that we have asked questions such as these. These questions arise because, deep within, we are not wholly satisfied with our married life. Just as every Christian has had doubts concerning his salvation, so every married person has had doubts about married life. Of course, I do not encourage you to question your married life. I am simply pointing out the fact that questions seem to be unavoidable, especially among those who are educated and highly cultured.
The best way to approach Paul’s treatment of married life in this chapter is to consider the basic principles. I believe that this is the best way to understand the many points covered in chapter seven.
The first basic principle is found in verse 1. In this verse Paul says, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” This depends upon the gift from God (v. 7).
Speaking to married believers, Paul says in verse 5, “Do not deprive each other, except by agreement for a time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer and again be together, that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” The Greek word rendered devote literally means have leisure, be free for; hence, to give oneself to. Prayer requires that we be free from persons, matters, and things. Any prayer that requires staying away from the spouse for a time must be special and heavy.
Married life often distracts us from prayer and interferes with our prayer life. It may even keep us from praying altogether. However, there are unusual cases where a husband and wife help one another in the prayer life. But for the most part, marriage is a distraction from the prayer life.
In verse 5 Paul warns the married ones not to be tempted by Satan because of their lack of self-control. The tempter, Satan, is crouching to capture the believers. Their lack of self-control may give him the opportunity to do this.
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