Today we had a very rousing discussion on I Cor. 7, which we're currently at in our Bible reading. Here are some of the questions we had; I'm curious as to your feedback.
1 Corinthians 7
1Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
A man? A woman? Under what circumstances? Any? "Man" in this case is gender neutral; woman is inclusive of any woman's state whether unmarried, married, widowed, or divorced. When does the "It is good for a man not to touch a woman" stop applying? After marriage? If so, by what justification? What does "touch" mean? It is generally interpreted by mainstream Christianity to be along the lines of carnal knowledge, but is that unsubstantiated? The words must have some other meaning than their literal one, because Jesus himself (a man) touched (the same word "touch") a woman and obviously it was not disallowed.
2Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.
To avoid fornication......is that an extension of the previous verse? And is the opposite of a man having a wife and a woman having a husband assumed to be fornication?
3Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.
4The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.
5Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.
These words are rather self-explanatory, although I do have some opinions on them that are rather unique.
6But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.
He seems to have a great grasp on God's permission or lack thereof. Did he specifically ask God about this subject?
7For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.
8I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I.
So does verse 2 still apply?
9But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.
Is the inability to contain one's self ever an attribute of a godly person? It would seem that if the solution to the problem of control is marriage, it would suggest that it isn't necessarily a bad thing. In other words, if "burning" was an ungodly state to be in, the answer would be to gain control, not to enter a marriage without it.
10And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:
How did the Lord give permission for this? Was permission given because the principles to follow were red-letter?
11But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.
12a But to the rest speak I, not the Lord:
Does this phrase mean that he is speaking without divine authority? Is it an opinion? If so, is it inspired? Is it of greater, less or equal authority as words written without any sort of disclaimer regarding doctrine or practical Christianity?
If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
13And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.
14For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
Whoa......this verse has some serious implications. Does this contribute to generational covenant, and, if so, why isn't the principle of inherited sanctification represented elsewhere in scripture?
15But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.
16For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?
17But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.
18Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised.
19Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
20Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.
21Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.
22For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant.
23Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.
What were you when you were saved? Free? Stay that way. Slave? Stay that way. But if you don't, don't. And if you can, do change.
24Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.
25Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.
Is this a cross between biblical permission and independence?
26I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.
What present distress?
Basically, without the added words, the sentence says thus-- "Now concerning virgins.......I say that it is good for a man so to be." (Yes, the word "virgin" there, Strongs 3933, can apply to a male.)
27Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.
Loosed? Bound? Those must be defined. They are different;
First loosed -- basically means divorce. (3080)
Second loosed -- in this context (3089) applies to a single man who has either been married before or has never been married.
Hmph. It's hard to reconcile with my theology.
28But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.
Here again---one of those catch-22's. It seems like the chapter is contradictory; Let Every Man Have His Own Wife. If A Man Marries, He Will Have Trouble In The Flesh. Trouble in the flesh? Is that something wicked? If so, how can you marry and yet not sin?
29But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;
When and how?
30And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not;
31And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.
The fashion of the world......does that mean marriage?
32But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:
33But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.
34There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.
35And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.
If he were to sanction marriage fully, would he be responsible for "distracting" them? Is marriage a distraction?
36But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.
37Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.
Is a father stronger to require his daughter to remain unmarried than he would be to let her marry?
38So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.
39The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.
40But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.
Doesn't Paul encourage widowed women elsewhere to remarry?
Anyway, the questions are all very ominous. What a huge chapter. I have definite thoughts........one of the most interesting factors here, as far as I'm concerned, is the fact that Paul's frequent (4x) disclaimers regarding who is speaking (God, Paul with permission, Paul without permission, etc.) are so significantly absent elsewhere. If the "permission" from God comes from a red-letter status as many people believe, why isn't every doctrinal issue that didn't proceed from Christ's mouth during His earthly ministry (or from God through audibly spoken words) accompanied by a similar label about its authenticity and/or origination?
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.