Have you ever wondered how bad things could get without you doing anything to cause the “crisis” in your life, home and relationships? I want to share a sad story with you today. Jen and I spent time Skyping friends who are extremely distraught. They have been intentional Christians for the past 28 years. They have a son and daughter. The son married even though he was unsure whether he was doing the right thing. The marriage lasted a few months and failed. They separated and are still to divorce. Money seems to be the reason for the divorce stalling. This son is now in a relationship with another lady, who herself is going through a divorce. Because of lock down in their country, they are living together in a rented home. The daughter married and had a baby. All seemed well when they were churched, but the marriage fell apart from the daughter’s side as soon as church went out of the door! She meddled around with female friends until she met another man. This was shortly before lockdown in their country. Because they would not be able to see each other during the lock down, he moved in with her … and she now finds herself pregnant. Her divorce has not even started yet. What a tragic mess! Their parents, our friends, are extremely disappointed, unset, angry and ashamed … and I can’t blame them. They tried, they taught, they set the example … they demonstrated their intentional Christianity. Yet, their son and daughter refused to follow Jesus Christ and both find themselves in a mess … a mess that has far reaching effects between the parents (our friends) and their children … and their children and their present spouses coupled to their lives … and the baby on the way.
This complicated environment is not a one-off situation. This seems to be a trend throughout the world today. In fact, it has found its way into the visible church! It is difficult to speak to the people outside of the visible church because they do not identify with God and His Word … but we need to speak to those inside the visible church … to young people and to single people such as those widowed and divorced … plus we need to speak to parents with children growing up refusing to attend the church or even listen to the Gospel message. Plus, we need to speak to all married people within the visible church. What do we need to say to these people?
About 20 years ago I was asked to preach at a church outside of Pretoria. I used Genesis 1 and 2 as my text which included topics like “man created in the image of God; equality and sexuality”. The pastor of the church said that in all of his ministry he never ever spoke about sex from the pulpit. Now although that message had nothing to do with sex, one problem in the pulpit today is that it never or seldom addresses the issue of sex. Strange is it not … the Bible speaks about sex almost more than any other topic. Do you wonder why this is so? Surely God knows that “sex” is a major issue amongst human beings … especially when it is not practiced within the Biblical confines of a monogamous relationship (one man and one woman, legally married in faithful love). I have tried over the years to teach what the text says without skipping over words because it might be offensive. Naturally, it needs to be dealt with graciously and tenderly. I have one full session in my Pre-Marriage Counseling Manual devoted to this topic.
Some marry as non-Christians. Some are Christian when they marry. At times one becomes a Christian and the other not. Some are Christian and single and affected by great temptations. Where do we find Biblical help? Please read the following passage carefully and prayerfully think through it.
1Co 7:1 Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. 2 But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5 do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7 I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.
8 now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. 9 but if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
10 to the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.
12 to the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 and if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 for the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
17 Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. 18 was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. 20 each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him.
21 were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. 22 for he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave. 23 you were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to.
25 now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for you to remain as you are. 27 Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
29 what I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; 1Co 7:30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.
32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.
36 If anyone thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting along in years and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. 37 But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing. 38 so then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does even better.
39 A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.
Lord Jesus, help me to be intentional as I relate to You and those around me with reference to marriage, sex, temptation and relationships between persons of the opposite sex. Amen.