I Cor. 7:1-9 - Biblical Principles of Sex

Dr. Steve Viars October 29, 1991 1 Corinthians 7:1-9

- we're continuing our study of the book of I Cor.
- tonight we're going to move into I Cor.7 and talk about
some biblical principles of sex

Introductory Questions:
- I'd like us to think about three questions tonight to help
our minds be ready to study these verses

1) INPUT - Should a church teach on this subject and if so, why?

2) INPUT - (closely related to that) - What are some of the
sources of information on this subject that we are
bombarded with on a daily basis?

- point - whether we like it or not - our world brings
this subject up every day, and we have to, as a
church, teach what the Word of God has to say on
this subject.
- cf. Doc Smith's former church - you can teach on
anything here but that.

- the third question we need to talk about will require us
to read the verses before we answer. But let me give the
question first.

3) What is unique about this passage (in terms of the kind of
literature it is) and what does that mean to the way we
interpret and apply the verses?

- READ 7:1-9

- point is - these verses are a response to some questions
that the Corinthians had written to Paul in a former
- what's challenging about this is that we don't have a
copy of the original questions. (I think we can make
some pretty educated guesses - but no one could say
for sure that they know exactly what those questions
- but we do know this - Paul was not attempting to give
a thorough discussion of marriage or sexual
relations in this passage
- he is simply answering some questions that the
Corinthians asked

- that is a very important issue
- we're talking about one of our principles of Bible study
- that is - determine what kind of literature it is that
you've studying

- in this case - it's critical to remember that Paul is not
seeking to give us everything we need to know about
marriage, or about sexual relations.
- see, the danger is this--to draw general conclusions from
the answers to specific questions that the writer never
intended us to draw

- that happened at the Wilds last week
- we were having a Q and A time and a person asked Doc Smith
a question about a specific medical issue

- he answered the question very thoroughly as it related to
that particular issue
- someone over on the other side of the room took that answer
and applied to a completely different issue, and came up
with a wrong conclusion

- that could happen with this passage
- a person could study this passage and conclude (wrongly)
- that being single is more spiritual than being married
- that marriage is simply an escape valve for the sexual

- what will help us prevent that is remembering the kind of
literature this is
- Paul answering questions - not giving us a definitive
treatment of the subject

- now that’s where another principle of hermeneutics comes in
- INPUT - what will help us stay on track in our
understanding and application of these verses so that
we don't fall into some of the extreme positions I
mentioned earlier?
- the unity principle - where we don't make our
understanding of these verses fight the rest of the

- in fact the title we gave these verses - "Biblical
Principles of Sex" might be a little misleading
- what we're saying is - these are very, very important
principles about sex and marriage that Paul chose to
give us in I Cor. 7
- but we can't let our understanding of them fight
against other places in the Bible that discuss sex
and marriage

- with that in mind, let's look at four principles that will
help us please the Lord in sexual relations

I. Singleness is OK

- I've chosen that wording very carefully and I'll explain
why I chose it in a minute but first let me say that
folks have said a lot of different things about these

- "if you're really spiritual - you'll stay single -
that's what's good - singleness is best"
- some groups that believe that even make that a
requirement for the ministry

- others have used this verse in teaching teens not to get
involved in petting before marriage

- I definitely agree that that’s wrong
- I Thes. 4:6 warns against defrauding - stirring
passions that cannot be righteously satisfied
- but some folks come back to I Cor. 7:1 - and say -
see, you shouldn't touch

- obviously, the point about defrauding is true, but that's
not what this passage is about

(A. Meaning of the phrase "touch a woman")

- when Paul uses the phrase "touch a woman", he's
speaking "euphemistically" (using a euphemism)
- that's a big word some English teacher came up with
to describe a word or phrase that is less
expressive or direct but is considered less
distasteful or offensive

- that’s just a part of the way we talk
- the phrase "touch a woman" in the Bible means
"having sexual relations"

- in Gen. 20 - Abraham lied about his wife Sarah and
said she was his sister. So Abimilech, the king
of Gerar, took her into his house.
- Gen. 20:6 tells us that God came to Abimilech in a
dream and said - I kept you from sinning because I
allowed thee not to touch her (to do what you
would have normally done in your pagan society)

- the word is also used that way in Ruth. 2:9 and
Prov. 6:29

- so Paul is saying - it's good for a person to remain
unmarried and not have sexual relations

- now at that point we all ought to say - wait a minute - Is
Paul saying that remaining single and abstaining from
sexual relations is good - and by implication then that
getting married and having sexual relations is bad?

- If we took that position - we would be violating a direct
statement of Scripture
- INPUT? (Gen. 2:18 - it is not good that man should be

B. This can't mean that singleness is good and marriage
is bad

- so we still have the question - what was Paul telling us?
- the answer to that comes from understanding the:

C. meaning of the word "good"

- good in this passage isn't morally good (that would
have been a different word in the original)
- the word Paul uses here is the same word we would
use today as OK
- it's not especially good, it's not especially
bad - it's OK

- now you might ask - why would Paul have to say that?
- here's why, while you've got some folks who thought being
single was especially spiritual, you also had some rabbi's
teaching this:

D. Some rabbis taught - "marriage is the unqualified duty
of man."

- in other words - some people said - everyone should
be married

- obviously, the Corinthians are going to have
questions about all this
- should we all get married like the rabbis say
- should we all stay single like the ascetics say
- what's most spiritual and therefore pleasing to

- Paul's answer is - neither
- singleness is OK - and if God has given a person the gift
of celibacy - fine
- pursue that gift and learn to serve and function with
joy in that position
- there's nothing inherently wrong with that
- there's nothing inherently spiritual about that
- it's OK

- now Paul's going to say later on:

E. you may especially want to consider this in light of
the present distress

- verse 26 alludes to some of the rising persecution
of the church
- in that sense - singleness might be preferred
- its OK to do that if that’s the gift God has

- but if you choose that path:

F. Singles must maintain moral purity

- only OK if you "don't touch a woman"
- only OK if you don't "defraud" - I Thess. 4:6 -
don't stir passions that can't be righteously

- let me ask you quickly - what are some implications
of this passage to the way we relate to those in
our church who are single?
1) shouldn't push them into marriage
2) should pray for their purity

- Paul goes on in verse 2 to make a statement that has to be
understood using the principles we discussed earlier

- READ verse 2

II. In Most Cases, Marriage Is To Be Preferred

A. Reason

- INPUT- what is the reason given in verse 2 for most
of us marrying (because of the immoralities)
- the porneias - the rampant sexual sin and
temptation that existed in their society and
exists in our society

- Paul makes the same kind of statement in verse
9 when he says - "it's better to marry than to

- now we have to be careful here - the point Paul is
making is very, very important
- but if its not balanced with the rest of the
Scripture, a person could really go to seed on

- now let me give the principle - and then we'll back off and
put some balance on it
"one of the purposes for marriage is to help the other
person maintain moral purity"

- now I did not say that that is the only purpose for
- for sake of time, let me give an outline John McArthur uses
for the purposes of marriage:

1) Partnership - It is not good that man should be alone
Gen. 2:18
2) Procreation - God commanded Adam and eve to be
fruitful and fill the earth - need to be married,
to have a spouse to fulfill that command biblically
3) Pleasure - Prov. 5:18-19 speaks of being "exhilarated
always" with the wife of your youth
4) Picture - Christ's love for the church - Eph. 5:25

- all of those are important and we talk about those
often and in many settings
- but its right and it's accurate to add this one from
I Cor. 7:2

- that is that marriage helps the partners maintain moral

- now, it would be wrong for someone to go out and say -
Pastor Viars says that the primary purpose of marriage is
a release valve for sex

- that’s not what we're saying - but helping our spouses
maintain moral purity is clearly one of the purposes for
which God ordained marriage

- now, I realize you might say - I just don't like that

- maybe it will help by thinking about this
there are clearly different levels of motivation in the Bible

B. "Levels" of motivation in the Bible

- for example, there are different reasons why we
ought to love and serve God

- at the highest level, we ought to do so in response to
his great love for us
- the goodness of God leads to repentance
- if we lived right every moment of the day, that's
all we'd need
- we'd serve and love God the way we should
simply in response to His great love for us

- see, if we lived right every minute of the day....but what?
- we don't live right every moment of the day

- so the Lord gives us some other "level of motivation"

- like this - love God and serve Him because the
Bible says so
- maybe not as high a motivation, but we need
to hear that

- unfortunately, on some days even that’s not enough
- so the Bible has verses like this - "the way of the
transgressor is hard"
- if my love won't motivate you, and obedience to my
word won't motivate you - be motivated by thinking
about what's going to happen to you if you don't

- I like to think of it this way
- like having a series of safety nets under the high wire
at the circus

- the first one has pretty big holes, but if the person
is careful and falls correctly - that net will catch
- but picture a second net under the first - with
smaller holes
- so if the person gets through the first net - the
one with the smaller holes should catch him
- it might put a few more scratches on - but at
least it will work
- then picture under that - the third net with even
smaller holes - where the person couldn't possibly
fall through unless he just took a pair of scissors
and foolishly cut the net

- the Lord does that with His truth
- there's different kinds of motivations for obeying God

- some are pretty high and lofty - others are pretty base and
- our response to those base ones ought not to be disgust or
- we ought to view those motivations as a gift from a
gracious God who has designed all kinds of reasons why
we shouldn't sin

- the point is - I Cor. 7:2 isn't the only thing the Bible
says about sex in marriage - but we ought not to fail to
factor this truth in with everything else we think about
this subject
- one of the purposes for marriage is to help my spouse
maintain moral purity

- now, once Paul has laid this groundwork, he makes what is
probably the major point of this section

III. Stop Depriving One Another

- see, for those married couples that understand the
implications of the first two verses
- there's nothing especially spiritual about the
single life
- one of the purposes of marriage is to help your
marriage partner maintain moral purity

- then we must, as verse 5 says, stop depriving one
another if that indeed is happening

- now, let me ask you a question (and I realize that this
isn't the easiest topic to get a discussion going on)
but, INPUT - what are some reasons why a spouse would
deprive his/her spouse in this area?

- now, let's look at some of the principles Paul gives

A. sexual relations is a mutual obligation

- Paul describes sexual relations here as a duty
- in the previous chapter, he had pointed out that in
marriage , two become one -- as a result in verse 4
he could say
"wife has rights over her husband"
"husband has rights over his wife"

- it's a mutual obligation

- failing to participate aggressively, passionately,
wholeheartedly is sin

- these verses also mean that:

B. The goal of sex is giving, providing satisfaction for
your spouse

- this has got to be one of the most critical points
of the passage especially in light of the society
in which we live

- this is a selfish society and that selfishness is
no more evident than when sexual issues are being
addressed or discussed

- we need to recognize - those selfish habits start
early when it comes to this subject
- I've purposely stayed away from illustrations that
come right from the garbage can of our world on
this subject
- but let me use one

- many of us can remember growing up in schools as
unbelievers and hearing the question asked after
someone had been on a date as "what did you get?"

- that’s the mentality of the world
- sex is getting
- sex is pleasing self

- our world has spun off entire industries devoted to that
- pornography in every form
- masturbation
- rape
- date rape
- and on and on - all forms of the selfishness that
exists in our world when it comes to this subject

- cf. Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas - sexual harassment
- should never be true of a Christian
- please don't say - "go after those men, pastor
Viars" - women guilty too (chicken factory)

- and I think we need to say- its not just a problem in our
- its a problem in our hearts

- the goal of sex is giving - to provide sexual satisfaction
for our spouses

C. To deny sexual relations is a forceful robbery

- the word deprive or defraud is verse 5 is often
used to talk about a forceful theft

- spouses who don't make time for this area
- bargain with this area
- manipulate with this area
- are behaving like thieves, because they are
taking something from another person that is
rightfully theirs

- we need to ask some very important questions tonight

- for those who are single - am I satisfied in the state
I'm currently and am I looking for ways to serve with
that extra time
- am I taking precautions to stay morally pure

- for those who are married
- do I have a selfish view of this area of life, and if
so, how is that manifested
- have I been a "thief in my own home" in that I've
defrauded my spouse?

Paul finishes up by saying:

D. Temporary exceptions may be made by mutual consent

- there may be a spiritual issue that you're involved
in that would be best addressed if sexual relations
are mutually suspended, but:

E. Undelayed resumption of the relationship is mandatory

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and five grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video