As we’ve been considering 1 Corinthians 7, we have seen that both singleness and marriage are gifts from God. As God’s good gifts, He also supplies the necessary means of the success and enjoyment of each calling. Paul Gardner wrote,
‘Singleness and marriage are not simply down to an individual’s choice or preference. Grace-gifts of God enable men and women to live as God has called them to live…The Lord assigns a life of marriage or singleness, but then by his grace provides grace-gifts that enable that life. (Gardner, Paul)
However, this does not mean that marriage or singleness will always be easy. Marriage, specifically, will have seasons of dryness and storms when we may be tempted to leave our spouse and end the marriage. Paul writes,
‘To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.’ (1 Corinthians 7:10-11)
In Corinth, divorce was very common and very easy to attain and some in this church were taking on this culture of easy divorce. Paul applies Jesus’ teaching to their situation. Jesus had taught,
‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Mark 10:7-9)
Christians are not to initiate divorce. What God has joined, we are not too separate. This can be complex and the behaviour of a spouse can lead to the break up of a marriage; each case requires the support of church elders. However, the principle is simple - We are to do all that we can in our power to build a healthy marriage and do all we can to restore a broken marriage. We are to forgive as we have been forgiven. Our marriages are to be built on the gospel of grace, which tells us that God never gives up on His covenant with us. If you have the gift of marriage, God will give you the grace that is required for its resurrection and flourishing.
(Note: I’m aware that the contents of the messages and studies over the last few weeks could be challenging for some. Please do talk to a pastor in the church if you need support or have concerns).
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
Do you have any encouragements to share from how God has been speaking to you from His word recently?
3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group
On Sunday, we continued with our series 'Becoming Love' from the book of 1 Corinthians. This church has been infected by false teachers who are teaching that sexual sin is okay. Some, are also teaching that to refrain from sex in marriage is a good thing. Some are teaching that divorce is also fine.
Paul corrects them. He urges them to embrace and invest in the gift of marriage or singleness that God has given.
i) PURSUE YOUR GIFT OF MARRIAGE
'The husband should fulfil his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.' (1 Corinthians 7:3)
He corrects those who are wrongly withholding sex from their spouse. He tells them that sex is a vital part of a healthy marriage (That's not to say that sickness and other good reasons may hamper our sex lives).
ii) PURSUE YOUR GIFT OF SINGLENESS
'I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.' (1 Corinthians 7:7)
He tells them that being single is a good thing and is a gift from God.
ii) FIGHT FOR YOUR MARRIAGE
'To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.' (1 Corinthians 7:10-11)