Sex and divorce

1 Corinthians 7:10-16
The world doesn’t always offer healthy perspectives about sex. And Christianity hasn’t always nurtured a healthy understanding of it either.

Early on, Christians discouraged the practice. Some of that related to their anticipation of Jesus returning soon. Why mess around and have children if everything was coming to an end?

Well, Jesus didn’t return.

Later, the church enforced restrictions surrounding when and how sex was appropriate. Yea, imagine your priest checking in on that department. Compare that to a 2017 Public Religion Research Institute poll. It indicated that a mere 11 percent of millennials seek information about sex from a religious leader. That to say, we aren’t the first people to get weird when it comes to the subject. All the sex talk in the Bible confirms, too, that sex has been a mixed topic for a long time. Why are there ordinances and stories that involve the misuse of sex? Because we’ve always wrestled with how to approach the matter.

It seems the Corinthian Christians had their struggles, too.

Apparently, some of them thought it was best to forgo sex altogether. They may have sought to remain pure and wanted to avoid the temptations around them. The matter troubled them so much they had written to Paul to ask his advice. It’s in that context that the apostle offers his advice about divorce.

I take Paul’s statements to mean that some Christians, in their pursuit of holiness, thought it would be best to divorce. They wanted to remain faithful to their understanding of holiness. So, that meant avoiding sex. Outside of marriage, of course. But also divorcing their spouse to do so.

While there were some, like Paul, who had the gift of celibacy, he encouraged spouses to stay married. Even if your spouse was not a believer, divorce would cause unnecessary chaos. Let the overzealous believer take that into consideration. You can’t be pure by separating what God has brought together.

Now, we should be careful about putting a blanket ban on divorce. if only for the fact that too many people have used that as an excuse to endure abuse and violence within a marriage.

Besides that, Paul’s advice is pretty straightforward. 

What I appreciate about this whole conversation is the pursuit of holiness. The question is, Can we take it too far? If our ideals fracture the good God has given us, apparently so.

Our pursuit of holiness often disrupts different parts of our lives. We were living one way. Now, we’re living another. Our sanctification helps put into perspective what our lives should be in light of God’s goodness. We learn how much we didn’t know and understand before.

After a few years of staying married, did some of the Corinthian Christians laugh at themselves for thinking divorce might honor God?

Sex and marriage are just two things we have to be willing to make godly decisions about because they are a part of life. Two big parts of life, of course. Our faith informs the decisions we make about those things. Still, we need not twist them into anything else. They’re gifts from God.

And it seems, when it comes to our relationships and well-being, peace is the high calling.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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