Bible Study for House Church – May 29, 2022
SERIES – A HEALTHY CHURCH – PRELUDE TO GOD’S GIFTINGS
MARRIAGE IN THE BIBLE
We would like to encourage you to take some time to read and look at the following scriptures and study points with your group during your time together.
Though we are intentionally meeting in separate homes, we are one in Christ; looking into His Word together, fellowshipping together, and lifting one another up in prayer. Feel free to incorporate some form of worship time, and consider taking communion together.
HOUSE CHURCH BIBLE STUDY
Read the following passages together, discussing among yourselves the teaching points either as you read the scripture, or following the reading of the scripture. These points are offered to assist in starting conversation amongst yourselves; use them however you choose to.
CONVERSATION STARTER STUDY POINTS
1 Corinthians 7 outlines for us guidelines for marriage. Though some may consider these teachings impractical and irrelevant for the times we live in, understanding their inherent purpose offers instruction for maintaining healthy marriages and being faithful to the Lord.
Read 1 Corinthians 7:1-16
Some of the phrases spoken in these scriptures are contradictory to current social beliefs; phrases like marital duty to our [spouse], and yielding the authority over our bodies to our [spouse]. Concepts seem foreign to us, like verse five, where a couple mutually consents to not come together sexually for a time, so that they can devote themselves to prayer.
Question: What feelings emerge in you when you read phrases like ‘The wife does not have authority over her own body…’, ‘the husband does not have authority over his own body…’?
Question: What is the stated purpose of yielding oneself to their spouse?
In verse eight, Paul says it is better to be, or stay, unmarried. Then he says, “as I do.” In verse six and seven, Paul recognizes that his ability to remain unmarried is a gift that he has received from the Lord. Not all have that gift.
Question: Why does Paul consider being unmarried better than being married? Is it ‘better’ in your opinion? Or just different?
Question: Have you ever witnessed this ‘gift’ in someone?
In verse eleven, Paul lays down one of the most difficult and contested commands in the bible for modern North American society to hear: A wife/husband must not separate/divorce, and if they do, they must remain unmarried.
Question: Laying aside any personal thoughts, personal experience, or ‘exceptions/allowances’ regarding this command, what do you think the ‘Biblical’ reason is for this instruction?
Read 1 Corinthians 7:17-24
In this passage, Paul uses the images of circumcision and slavery to illustrate what he says in verse 29, “Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.” These need to be read in historical context. It rightfully shocks us to hear someone advise others that they should remain in slavery. But historically, though many slaves were abused and mistreated, some ‘slaves’ lived very good lives with status and means they would not be able to achieve on their own. But this passage is NOT about slavery.
Question: What IS this passage talking about in context with Paul’s previous teaching on marriage?
Question: Does this feel unfair? Why do those who have not responded to God’s call seem to get off scot free? Why would followers of Christ be held to a higher standard?
(unrelated interesting fact: ‘scot free’ – A ‘scot’ was a medieval tax that some people were able to avoid paying; thus they were scot-free)
Read 1 Corinthians 7:25-40
In these verses, Paul gives reason to some of his earlier commands. It is revealing that he starts verse twenty-six with, “Because of the present crisis…”
Question: What would a crisis have to do with his earlier instructions to remain unmarried if not married? Does the last half of verse twenty-eight shed any light? “…those who marry will face many troubles in this life.”
Verse twenty-nine to thirty says that ‘time is short’, and ‘this world in its present form is passing away’. In verse thirty -two, Paul says, “An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs,” while a married man is divided between being concerned about the Lord’s affairs and the needs of his wife and family.
Question: Are we all to live ‘unmarried’ or live ‘as if unmarried’ because of the present crisis? Because the world in its present form is passing away? What is your understanding and thoughts on this after reading through 1 Corinthians 7?
Considering the purpose behind these ‘standards’ given to the church in Corinth is crucial to understanding ‘why’ God instituted them, and why they must be upheld. There is a tidal wave of cultural and societal ‘opinions’ that rage against these values; In order to see whether these standards are outdated and irrelevant, simply consider what our marriages and societies would look like if they were abandoned; marriages without submission to one another, immorality, no commitment to marriages, broken families, division and judgement over whether or not one should be married, and with that, failure to recognize the value of someone fully committed to the work of the Lord.
Yes, there are circumstances and biblical exceptions to the rule, but we must not lose sight of the bigger picture and purposes ‘behind’ the rule. They are worthy to be upheld.
Lord, these are tough scriptures in today’s culture. Many of us have had to face them in our personal lives, or the lives of our loved ones. We fall on your grace Lord. We have made such a mess of things, or others have made a mess of our lives. We pray for mercy. We pray for healing. We pray for restoration if it is to be had. At the end of the day, we pray for a fresh start. I choose today to live according to your standards to the best of my ability in the power of Your Holy Spirit. Amen.