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"The Safety Zone"
1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Wednesday AM Bible Study
July 11, 2007

Theme: God commands that His people marry as protection against sexual lusts.

Apparently, a wide variety of negative influences from the culture had impacted the Corinthians. In 6:12-20, Paul had to deal with too lax an attitude toward sexuality within the church. Now, he has to deal with too restrictive an attitude toward sexuality—particularly within marriage. Here, we see his words concerning . . .


A. This portion of Paul's letter deals with matters about which the Corinthians had written to him (v. 1a); and among them were questions about marriage. The Corinthians had apparently written to him asking the question of whether or not it was good for a man not to even touch a woman (obviously in the context of sexuality). It may have been that the influences of philosophic asceticism had caused some of the believers to wonder if sexuality was wrong altogether. They may have even drawn some of the same conclusions that the apostles drew from Jesus' teaching in Matthew 19:10-12.

B. Paul affirms that it is good for a man not to touch a woman. But clearly, the context of this passage recognizes that the sexual drive is a part of our design by God; and that not all have the "gift" of being able to live without the satisfaction of their sexual needs (see v. 7). And so, he says that, because of the reality of sexual immorality in the world— perhaps both externally in that the culture in which sexual lust is celebrated at every turn; and internally in that we are given this natural, normal drive as a part of our humanity—"let every man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband" (v. 2).

C. Note that, in this, Paul—under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—is affirming heterosexual monogamy. Each man is to have his own (literally) "woman" (not another man; nor many women); and each woman is to have her own (literally) "man" (not another woman; nor many men). And note that Paul asserts marriage as the only solution to the needs of our sexuality. If an unmarried man or woman has struggles with keeping pure, the solution that God has provided is that they get married.


A. The husband is to provide for the sexual needs of his wife (v. 3). The original language does not say "the affection due" (NKJV); although the expression of sexuality should be affectionate (1 Peter 3:7). Rather, it says that the husband is to render to her what is due her. And likewise the wife is to render what is due to her husband. Sexuality in marriage, according to God's design, is a matter of obeying Philippians 2:4 toward one another. Paul puts this in the form of a command; and many troubles in marriages can be traced to a failure to obey this command.

B. The reason that each one is obligated to render what is due to one another is because, in marriage, "the wife does not have authority over her own body but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does" (v. 4). This is because of the fact that marriage is a picture of the relationship that Jesus Christ has with His church. "For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones" (Eph. 5:29-30; see also Gen. 2:24). The husband and the wife are called upon by God—both by command and by His example—to serve one another as if each other's body were their own. Sexuality becomes a beautiful thing in marriage when it becomes a matter of mutual service in love.

C. By contrast, Paul orders the married believers to stop depriving one another (v. 6); which apparently they had been doing. The grammar of Paul's command suggests the cessation of a practice that was then going on—that is, they had been depriving one another; and they were to stop doing so. Paul recognizes only one exception; and that is in the case of a mutual agreement between the couple so that they can give themselves in an undestracted way to prayer. No other allowance is given; and even in the one allowance made, they were to keep it brief and rejoin together soon so as not to become tempted by the devil because of their lack of self-control. Many have fallen into sexual sin because of a misguided "abstinence". The Bible is realistic about life!


A. Paul speaks these words as a matter of concession (v. 7). He isn't commanding that all get married; because he recognizes that not all need to. He himself, as some Bible teachers argue, had been married but had apparently become widowed; and he wished that all could be as he himself was (v. 8; see also vv. 32-35). But he recognizes that each person has his own gift in this area. No doubt, he intends that everyone be honest about what they can or cannot do.

B. He says that if someone is no longer married—that is divorced (unmarried) or widowed— that it would be best if they remain as even he is (v. 8; see also vv. 17-24). But if the legitimately divorced or the widowed cannot excersise self-control, they should marry. "For it is better to marry than to burn" (v. 9).

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