1 Corinthians 7:5 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.
I’ll say this for Paul: he’s not afraid to discuss really intimate questions when it comes to Christians and sex. He’s no Dr. Ruth, but he does take time to address marital issues that still affect couples today. In this passage, 1 Corinthians 7:1-7, he’s describing the spiritual benefits to a celibate partnership, or what’s commonly known as a ‘sexless marriage’ today. About 20% of married couples live like this, especially as they grow older together. Intimacy evolves into a unique companionship, where love is expressed in terms of friendship and care. Sex is no longer important and is gradually replaced with faithful support. To be cherished and respected, cared for and understood are what most long term partners seek from one another.
This is not easy to achieve, but with time and patience it can be accomplished. Most marriages go through rough patches and rocky times, but if two people are willing to trust one another, to forgive their failures, and even let go of past mistakes, the blessings of a long term relationship can be realized. And even though Paul may have had his own personal philosophy about Christian people remaining unmarried in order to fully serve the Lord, he also must have encountered Christian couples whose years of forgiveness and devotion to one another were a great gift from God and a blessing to the faith community.
Questions for personal reflection
What is Christian marriage? What can churches do to support married people?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You call all of us to be Your servants, whether we are single, married, divorced, or widowed. Bless our relationships with other people and if we become partnered to another person, let Your love be known in our faithfulness and forgiveness to one another. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s image is one of John’s Psalm Project drawings. It features a verse from Psalm 45 which is also known as the Wedding Psalm. If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3585/3337212336_69281c9a8d_b.jpg