February 17th, 2007
In today’s reading, Paul made some potentially controversial statements when he said, “Each person should accept the circumstances in which the Lord has placed him or her,” and “Each person should stay in the situation in which he or she was called.” This is not a justification of the rich in continuing to oppress the poor; it’s about living in the world and influencing it. Following Jesus is about living a life of daily reliance upon him wherever we are situated; it’s not about withdrawing from the world and adopting some ascetic lifestyle.
Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians — Chapter 7
7:1 Now concerning the things about which you wrote to me: it is good for a man not to touch a woman. 7:2 But, because of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. 7:3 The husband should give his wife the affection which is owed to her, and likewise the wife to her husband. 7:4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 7:5 Do not deprive each other, unless it is by consent for a period of time so that you can devote yourselves to fasting and prayer. Then come together again, so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
7:6 I say this by way of concession, not commandment. 7:7 I wish that all men were like me. However each man has his own gift from God, one has this gift, another that one. 7:8 To unmarried people and widows, I say that it is good for them if they remain single just as I am. 7:9 But if they do not have self-control, let them marry. It is better to marry than to burn. 7:10 To married people I command — not I, but the Lord — that the wife not leave her husband, 7:11 but if she does leave, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband, and that the husband not leave his wife.
7:12 To the rest I — not the Lord — say, if any brother has an unbelieving wife, he should not leave her if she is content to live with him. 7:13 The woman who has an unbelieving husband should not leave her husband if he is content to live with her. 7:14 The unbelieving husband is made holy by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy by the husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 7:15 If the unbeliever chooses to leave, let there be separation. The brother or the sister is not compelled in such cases. God has called you to peace. 7:16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
7:17 Each person should accept the circumstances in which the Lord has placed him or her. This is what I instruct in all the churches. 7:18 Was anyone circumcised before they were called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was anyone uncircumcised before he was called? Let him not be circumcised. 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing. The keeping of the commandments of God is what is important. 7:20 Each person should stay in the situation in which he or she was called. 7:21 Were you a slave when you were called? Do not let that bother you, but if you get an opportunity to become free, use it. 7:22 Someone who was a slave when called by the Lord is the Lord’s freed person. Similarly, soneone was free when called is Christ’s slave. 7:23 You were bought with a price. Do not become slaves of people. 7:24 Friends, whatever condition you were in when you were called, you should stay in that condition with God.
7:25 I have no commandment from the Lord concerning unmarried women, but I give my opinion as someone who is reliable by the mercy of the Lord. 7:26 I think that it is good, because of the crisis that is upon us, for you to remain as you are. 7:27 Are you tied to a wife? Do not seek to be freed. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 7:28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned. If an unmarried woman marries, she has not sinned. But people who marry will face suffering in this life, and I want to spare you. 7:29 I say this, friends: The time is short. From now on, those who have wives will have to live as though they had none. 7:30 Those who weep will have to live as though they did not weep. Those who rejoice will have to live as though they did not rejoice. Those who buy will have to live as though they wre not owners. 7:31 Those who use the world’s resources will have to live as if they did not use them. The world as we know it is passing away.
7:32 But I want you to avoid worries. A man who is unmarried worries about the Lord’s business, how to please the Lord, 7:33 but a man who is married worries about material things, how to please his wife. 7:34 There is also a difference between a married woman and an unmarried woman. The unmarried woman cares about the Lord’s business, how she can be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman cares about material things, how she can please her husband. 7:35 I say this to assist you and not to limit you, so that you can do what is right and serve the Lord without distraction. 7:36 If any man thinks that he is behaving inappropriately toward his fiancee, if she is past her prime and should be married, he should act as he wishes. He does not sin. Let them marry. 7:37 But the man who is determined in his heart, not being under compulsion but having control over his own heart, not to marry his fiancee, does well. 7:38 So someone who marries his fiancee does the right thing, and someone who does not marry his fiancee does even better. 7:39 A wife is obligated to her husband as long as he lives, but if the husband dies she is free to marry whoever she wants, only in the Lord. 7:40 But in my opinion she is happier if she stays as she is, and I think that I also have God’s Spirit.