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The theology of 1 Cor 7

How does God fit into our sex lives?
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sd595
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The theology of 1 Cor 7

Post by sd595 »

I think we were going off course in the other thread regarding the original question, so I’m going to start a question about 1 Cor 7.

What does 1 Cor 7 mean to you theologically?  How does it define how a couple should operate with each other sexually?

To reply to some of the discussion in the other thread:  (None of this has anything to personally do with the other thread - it is a discussion about 1 Cor 7 specifically)

This can be framed in different ways.  To me, the idea of defaulting to the HD spouse does not sound harsh, but another way to say it is “both spouses are having their needs met”.  Now it is harsh if somebody is leaving somebody in need, right?  This is what 1 Cor 7 specifically says and teaches and we know that it is backed up with 2 Tim 3:16.

When I replied to the YouTube woman question who basically said the same thing, it was great, but when I replied to the previous thread about this, it was taken badly.  Why is this?  It can’t be true in one situation and false in the next.

If I didn’t want to meet my wife’s need, that would be on me, right?

Additionally if I did meet the need, but didn’t do it with the right heart, that would also be on me, right?

Would it be right for me to meet her need 50% or 75% because “compromise is needed” when this is not at all what scripture teaches?  Or should I render to her what is due her just like 1 Cor 7 teaches?

If I am keeping track of orgasms, who gets more, who gets less, would that be right?  Does that align with scripture?

If 1 Cor 7 has shifted its meaning here, that disappoints me greatly.  It was the one place in scripture that many here would accept what it plainly says because they lived the disappointment of not doing what it says.

I am a believer of doing what God instructs leads to blessing.

Here are all the English translations of 1 Cor 7:5

https://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/1%20Corinthians%207:5

 
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Re: The theology of 1 Cor 7

Post by Deleted User 499 »

The Christian life I know does what it says plainly. What it doesn’t do is clobber a spouse over the head with it so that they can get their way. I will never deny my wife her marital rights. Turn it around, she will deny me at times. But there can still be joy if we keep a Phillipians 2 mindset of humility and servanthood. Let our interests not be focused on ourselves but on others. Can we love as Christ loves? Yes, to a degree if we depend on Him, daily in His Word and prayer. This is part of the humility of the Christian. We tend to view independence as virtuous, but we must depend on God and realize our need to be spirit filled. Without His work in us, we will quickly chase after the flesh and selfishness.

It’s important to communicate about unmatched drives, but at the end of the day, we do better to read and lead by example. I have tried read and force feed from the Bible and it isn’t productive and likely doesn’t come from a pure motive.
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Re: The theology of 1 Cor 7

Post by sd595 »

I respect your points Hungry.

My concern is not that grace is offered when it should be, but rather that biblical instruction is changed into something that it isn't.  I find that when two people understand clearly what the instruction is, then they can live in truth and offer each other grace for human sinfulness.
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Re: The theology of 1 Cor 7

Post by SeekingChange »

@sd595,  Sorry, I'm not positive what you are speaking of when you mention " the other thread", maybe comments have been missed.

Would you also clarify what you are speaking of when you say "need(s)"?
God can change what people do, behavioral patterns that have been in play for decades. He can change what we do to cope, to find comfort, to survive conflict, to count. Rahab had done a same old thing for years... and then she did something new.
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Re: The theology of 1 Cor 7

Post by sd595 »

The thread you started about more or less - it was taking a 1 Cor 7 turn and I don't want that to take your thread off course.  It keeps coming up in multiple questions, so I also figured that a theology of 1 Cor 7 thread would be a good discussion.

When I say need, I mean desire.  If either spouse has a desire for sex, then I think it should be rendered according to what 1 Cor 7 teaches.
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Re: The theology of 1 Cor 7

Post by SeekingChange »

Thanks for the clarification.
God can change what people do, behavioral patterns that have been in play for decades. He can change what we do to cope, to find comfort, to survive conflict, to count. Rahab had done a same old thing for years... and then she did something new.
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Re: The theology of 1 Cor 7

Post by SeekingChange »

I am going to apologize in advance for how long this is going to be, but I want to make sure to let Scripture speak...

 

First, this Scripture has to be interpreted by other Scripture.  I still firmly stand on the fact that we are children of God first, then we are husbands and wives.  That means all those Scriptures that guide us and teach us on how to fulfill "Love one another as I [Jesus] have loved you." have to be taken into account and has to be used to interpret 1 Cor 7 and how we are to live as a believer in Christ, who also might be husbands and wives.  That means a husband or wife can't neglect those other commands or guidelines and only use certain Scriptures to push their own sexual agenda.

 

First Corinthians 7:1-7 shows each carry a duty and each have mutual authority. Then I must ask, what is "depriving"? It means to "defraud, rob, despoil".  Is a spouse truly "robbing" the other when there is an occasional "no" or "not tonight"?  Is a man truly being "robbed" when he doesn't get sex twice a day, or even once a day?     It also gives a reason, "because of your lack of self-control", hopefully, as each person grows in their maturity of their spiritual walk, they will manifest more of the fruit of the Spirit, which in part is "self-control", and they will learn to how to stand against Satan and temptation in the times their spouse cannot physically or emotionally fulfill their spouses "needs".

 

Paul seems to really be speaking to the immaturity of the Corinthians, which if we go back to 1 Cor. 3:1-3, we see how Paul has to speak to them, "as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ,"  If a husband, or wife, fall into the immature Christian, who has yet not learned self-control, or isn't walking by the Spirit, so that His fruit is evident, then 1 Corinthians 7 is definitely speaking to them.   Galatians 5: 19, 22-25, ought to speak to how we actually should be walking and evidence of what we should (or shouldn't) look like, " 19 Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), .........22 But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites.  25 If we [claim to] live by the [Holy] Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit [with personal integrity, godly character, and moral courage—our conduct empowered by the Holy Spirit]. "

 

I also have to ask, Why does the higher drive have greater authority over the lower drives body?  To lay a blanket statement that a marriage must default to the higher drives sexual "needs", totally negates the authority and the needs of the lower-drive spouse.

 

Rather than focus on the words said "by way of concession, not of command."  We should look at what we are called to do to "one another", aka our spouse.  We should each ask ourselves, as children of God, Am I....
  • loving my spouse? (Jn 13:34,35; 15:12,17; Rom 13:8; 1 Thes 3:12; 4:9; 1 Pt 1:22; 4:8;  1 Jn 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11, 12; 2 Jn 1:5)
  • at peace with my spouse? (Mk 9:50; 1 Thes 5:13)
  • devoted to by spouse in brotherly love? (Rom 12:10)
  • giving preference to my spouse in honor? (Rom 12:10)
  • not putting an obstacle or stumbling block in my spouses way? (Rom 14:13)
  • pursuing the things that make for peace and the building up of my spouse? (Rom 14:19)
  • of the same mind with my spouse according to Christ Jesus? (Rom 15:5)
  • accepting my spouse? (Rom 15:7)
  • full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to admonish my spouse? (Rom 15:14; Col 3:16)
  • through love serving my spouse? (Gal 5:13)
  • not biting nor devouring my spouse? (Gal 5:15)
  • not becoming boastful, challenging, nor envying my spouse? (Gal 5:26)
  • bearing my spouses burden? (Gal 6:2; Col 3:13)
  • with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for my spouse in love? (Eph 4:2)
  • being kind to my spouse? (Eph 4:32)
  • being tender-hearted, forgiving my spouse, just as God in Christ also has forgiven me? (Eph 4:32; Col 3:13)
  • speaking to my spouse in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with my heart to the Lord?  (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16)
  • being subject to my spouse in the fear of Christ?  (Eph 5:21)
  • not doing anything from selfishness or empty conceit? (Phil 2:3)
  • regarding my spouse as more important than myself, with humility of mind? (Phil 2:3)
  • not lying to my spouse? (Col  3:9; Eph 4:25)
  • comforting my spouse? (1 Thes 4:18)
  • encouraging my spouse? (1 Thes 5:11; Heb 3:13; 10:25)
  • building up my spouse? (1 Thes 5:11)
  • always seeking after that which is good for my spouse? (1 Thes 5:15)
  • considering how to stimulate my spouse to love and good deeds?  (Heb 10:24)

 

Those are just a start.    If we can answer "yes" to all of those questions, then I will make the confident declaration that our interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7 really won't matter.

God can change what people do, behavioral patterns that have been in play for decades. He can change what we do to cope, to find comfort, to survive conflict, to count. Rahab had done a same old thing for years... and then she did something new.
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Re: The theology of 1 Cor 7

Post by one_woman_man »

But if we can't say a "yes" to all of those questions, then our interpretation of 1 Corinthians really does matter? Shouldn't it matter either way?
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Re: The theology of 1 Cor 7

Post by sd595 »

Thank you for a detailed answer.  Clearly we see things differently and that is okay, though I am going to respond to some things you posted here, I respect your position even if I disagree with it.
First, this Scripture has to be interpreted by other Scripture.

This I agree with, but with a caveat.  Obviously an interpretation can be affected by a translation between two languages, but truly understanding what some verses say may also require looking at other verses in the Word that are talking about the same thing (if they exist).   More specific scripture obviously speaks much more strongly and less specific scripture starts to make assumptions that may or may not be true.  Clearly the bible does not contradict itself, so if there are specific verses about something, we should assume that that speaks directly to the issue more than less generic scripture does.
That means a husband or wife can’t neglect those other commands or guidelines
and only use certain Scriptures to push their own sexual agenda.

Why does the higher drive have greater authority over the lower drives body?

Look at the way 1 Cor 7 is written.  It is not instructions for not having sex, but addressing people who were wrongfully not having sex!  Also note that it addresses the drives/needs/desires independently.  This is critical to understanding what it is saying.

               the husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife

               and likewise the wife to her husband

                 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband

               In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.

Note that they are NOT connected.  If she has a need, her husband should fulfill it.  She has authority over his body for the purpose of sex.  Then it is repeated for the husband.  This is entirely different than "if she has a need AND he has a need.".

Then it does address the situation of not having sex, and is also very specifically:

                Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer

Getting lost in the meaning of need and deprive is not looking at the entire context of all these verses.  Basically now it is saying there is one exclusion to what was just said, that exclusion is valid only when (1) BOTH agree, (2) it is only for a time, and (3) only for the purpose of devotion to prayer.  Not much of an exclusion at all if you ask me! (which I think is also a point)

These verses detail with absolute certainly what sexual responsibility is in marriage.  There are no other verses that specifically speak to this issue the way these do.  This IS what the bible says about THIS subject.

Does a husband or wife not wish to give their body sometimes?  We all know that is true.  Can they get their spouse to mutually agree to hold off?  That doesn't even make it right if they do, they would have to also be doing it for the purpose of prayer for it to be right according to the Word technically.  That is how serious the bible is about this.  It minces no words laying out what is right and what the responsibility is.  It wouldn't be written this way if God feels differently.

Does that mean a spouse should be demanding?  I don't think so.  I think if both know the truth and their responsibilities there is no reason or need to demand.  Each should do what is right with a giving heart!  I think that if a spouse has a need or desire, the other spouse should do the right thing and meet it.  Do I think they are in the right if they don't want to?  Not according to scripture.  We have to ask ourselves, why is scripture so firm about this?  It didn't have to be written this way, but yet it is.
We should look at what we are called to do to “one another”, aka our spouse.

Nearly all of these scripture references are not specifically in the context of marriage and I believe are talking at a relational level that is less specific (which would include ones spouse, but also generically everyone who isn't).  For this reason, you have to assume that what they say is more applied to the less specific group of "one another" though that doesn't mean it doesn't also apply to your spouse.  They certainly can't outweigh scripture that is more specific about interpersonal relationship within the family or between husband and wife.  This is exactly why Eph 5:21 does not give a wife headship over her husband; it would be completely illogical.

I do agree that we should be patient and loving with our spouse, but I disagree strongly that these less specific to both sex and marriage verses in any way means the interpretation of 1 Cor 7 won't matter.  1 Cor 7 matters because it is God's Word, and it is there for a reason.

So, my summary about sexual responsibility in marriage is basically what 1 Cor 7 teaches:

If he has a need, his wife should give her body.  If she has a need, her husband should give his body.  To abstain, they must mutually agree, but even that isn't right unless it is for the purpose of prayer.  It should be easy to get a mutual agreement if everyone is doing what is right, but even then it isn't ideal (or even correct by scripture unless it is for prayer), but certainly the abstinence should be very short lived.
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Re: The theology of 1 Cor 7

Post by SeekingChange »

The point is if we are treating our spouse as we are called to generically treat others, I don't believe there would be any deprivation to worry about. Ya'll are making it harder than it needs to be.
God can change what people do, behavioral patterns that have been in play for decades. He can change what we do to cope, to find comfort, to survive conflict, to count. Rahab had done a same old thing for years... and then she did something new.
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