The Bible has a lot to say about marriage, intimacy and singleness. From the very first book of the Bible, Genesis, marriage is celebrated and described as a union between one man and one woman, living in a covenant relationship with one another for life. Moses is given instructions concerning marriage, intimacy and singleness by the Lord on Mt Sinai and he delivered those instructions to us. We read about them in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy. The book of Song of Songs (aka, Song of Solomon) is a beautiful picture of the physically intimate relationship that a husband and wife are to share with one another.
The New Testament upholds the instructions concerning marriage that we read about in the Old Testament. Jesus himself in his teaching affirmed the beauty of the marriage relationship between one man and one woman. In Acts we see couples serving together as church leaders and serving the Lord in other ways. In the letters of Paul, we read specifics of how husbands and wives are to relate to one another, and we see in Paul’s life and Jesus’ life two examples of God-honoring singleness on display.
The entire Bible discusses marriage, intimacy and singleness in various ways. The Bible is incredibly relevant for our day today.
In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul writes in response to some specific questions that must have been asked to him by the church in Corinth. By answering their questions, he gives us some very practical insights into living for Christ whether married or single.
To be clear: the Bible affirms both marriage and singleness as blessings from the Lord. Each has its own unique blessings and challenges. So whether you are single or married, the Lord can use you as you serve him and point people to Jesus.
Here are some of the insights we see in 1 Corinthians 7 concerning marriage, intimacy and singleness:
- Men should not just use women for sex (or vice versa)
- A husband and wife should reserve sexual relations for one another
- A husband and wife should know the intimate needs and desires of each another, and seek to meet those needs and desires
- A husband and wife should not deprive one another from intimacy unless you agree about it for a time in order to devote more time to prayer, and then you should come back together so that you won’t be tempted by Satan, who knows you may battle self-control
- Marriage is a gift from God, and should be seen as such
- Singleness is a gift from God, and should be seen as such
- If you are single and you can see yourself remaining single, then celebrate your singleness and the blessings that come with being single
- A single adult should remain sexually pure. Those who feel they are burning with passion for intimacy should remain pure until the time they are married.
- Although there are challenges of singleness, one blessing is to be have more time to focus on serving the Lord
- If a married person becomes a follower of Jesus but their spouse is not yet a believer, they should remain married to pray for their spouse, live for Jesus, and share the gospel with their spouse, praying that their spouse will come to faith in Christ and that their kids will come to faith in Christ
- If an unbelieving spouse abandons the family and absolutely refuses to reconcile, the believing spouse is allowed to get divorced, even thought this grieves the heart of God and will have negative consequences on everyone involved (husband, wife, kids, extended family, friends, church, community)
- No matter if a person is married or single, they should live their lives with eternity in mind, realizing that the return of Christ could be at any moment
- We should seek God and his will, no matter our marriage situation (single, married, widowed)
- Husbands and wives should spend time meeting each others needs in all ways, not just in intimate ways
- A husband and wife should see that their marriage covenant is a lifelong covenant. When one spouse dies, the other spouse is free to remarry if that is the desire of their heart
- To remain a widow or widower is a gift from God, and should be seen as such
Read the text of 1 Corinthians 7 HERE. As you read the text, you may discover other insights that are not listed above. In the world in which we live, where getting a divorce is cheaper than buying a new television and sexually immorality is celebrated as normal, may we as followers of Jesus hold fast to the timeless teachings of God’s Holy Word.