Monday, August 08, 2016

What Biblical writer really says about sex, marriage, & divorce

The apostle Paul is often portrayed as a rigid sexist. You can isolate passages from Paul's New Testament writings to force such a message on him. But that's eisegesis, imposing our own constructs onto a piece of Scripture, rather than exegesis, deriving its clear meaning from the actual words and context of the passage.

Paul views marriage as a covenant of mutual submission and service which wives and husbands enter under the lordship of the God we know in Christ.

This morning for my quiet time with God, I read Paul's inspired words in 1 Corinthians 7. In the chapter, Paul talks about marriage. I found that Eugene Peterson's rendering of the chapter refreshed my understanding of Paul's words, written to a congregation among whom sexual escapades were on the loose, just as some devout believers wondered if they should even be married.

A sampling:
Now, getting down to the questions you asked in your letter to me. First, Is it a good thing to have sexual relations?

Certainly—but only within a certain context. It’s good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out...

...if you are married, stay married. This is the Master’s command, not mine. If a wife should leave her husband, she must either remain single or else come back and make things right with him. And a husband has no right to get rid of his wife...

And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life.
Important things to pay attention to in the twenty-first century.

[Blogger Mark Daniels is pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]

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