Heaven's Point of View

1 Corinthians 7: 1-7, Part 1

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: J. D. Quinn (Host), Tom Shepherd


Series Code: HPOV

Program Code: HPOV000037A

00:16 Welcome to Heaven's Point of View.
00:18 My name is J.D. Quinn
00:19 I'm co-hosting today with Dr. Tom Sheperd.
00:23 Our topic, our series is Love, Marriage,
00:27 Sex and Divorce according to the New Testament.
00:30 Dr. Sheperd, he specializes in New Testament interpretation
00:35 so this is good stuff and so,
00:38 I think that where we left off last time Dr. Sheperd
00:42 was that we were dealing with sex outside of marriage,
00:45 now we're going to be dealing with sex inside of marriage,
00:49 Yes, and the passage that we're going to look at is
00:51 in the book of 1st Corinthians chapter 7
00:54 some people might think that, "Well sex is so powerful
01:01 that... maybe it's too powerful,
01:03 maybe the risks are just too high,
01:06 maybe because we're living in the last days,
01:09 even married people shouldn't have sex,
01:11 isn't it connected with passions
01:14 that are inconsistent with Christian holiness,
01:17 these could be some of the kinds of questions
01:20 that people in Corinth were thinking about
01:24 and that they wrote to Paul about
01:26 so, let's turn to 1st Corinthians 7
01:28 and read verses 1 through 7,
01:33 1st Corinthians chapter 7 verses 1 to 7.
01:38 Good and I'm going to be reading from the New King James Version,
01:45 "Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me:
01:48 It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
01:51 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality,
01:55 let each man have his own wife,
01:57 and let each woman have her own husband.
01:59 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her,
02:03 and likewise also the wife to her husband.
02:06 The wife does not have authority over her own body,
02:10 but the husband does.
02:11 And likewise the husband does not have authority
02:15 over his own body, but the wife does. "
02:18 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time,
02:22 that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer;
02:25 and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you
02:29 because of your lack of self-control.
02:31 But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment.
02:36 For I wish that all men were even as I myself.
02:40 But each one has his own gift from God,
02:44 one in this manner and another in that. "
02:48 All right, Paul starts off here by saying,
02:52 "Now concerning the matters about which you wrote"
02:56 and so, it's obvious that the people in Corinth...
02:59 or some of the believers had written a letter to Paul
03:03 with a variety of questions, now unfortunately,
03:06 we don't have that letter anymore,
03:08 all we have is what Paul wrote
03:10 and so it's like listening to half of a telephone conversation
03:15 and trying to figure out exactly what the conversation was about,
03:19 and we've already seen that
03:23 there are some kinds of issues here
03:24 sometimes of deciding what...
03:26 is Paul talking or the people in Corinth talking?
03:30 So, that... we try to wind our way through that
03:34 and scholars think that carefully
03:35 and argue back and forth about what they find so
03:38 that's what we going to try and look at here,
03:41 to give some sort of background for this,
03:44 I want to give a sort of a rundown
03:48 on how the people in Paul's day thought of marriage,
03:52 how they thought of the family and things like that.
03:56 The Greeks had an axiom, now, you know,
03:58 an axiom is something you have... when you study math
04:02 and you're trying to figure out different things,
04:06 you have this axiom, it's like a principle,
04:11 that you're going to use, so their axiom was
04:14 marriage involved a man and weighty responsibilities,
04:18 that's a pretty good axiom actually,
04:21 you kind of wish more people thought about that today
04:23 but the Greeks thought, you know,
04:25 he's going to be a father, a householder, a citizen,
04:28 he's going to have an active social life, a political life,
04:31 an economical life so when you get married,
04:34 you've become a man, you've heard of this...
04:37 this is really...
04:38 It's a big step.
04:39 It's a big step, yeah,
04:41 now, there were different philosophical traditions
04:43 that looked at marriage in different ways,
04:45 one was called "Stoicism," we still, even today,
04:49 we speak of kind of... "he is stoical," you know
04:54 the "Stoics" were a group that was started
04:59 hundreds of years before Jesus, by a man named Zeno
05:02 and for them, they... virtue was the highest good
05:06 and they based their life on... this was based on knowledge
05:10 and you would live in harmony with divine reason or fate,
05:15 and you were supposed to be indifferent to pain or pleasure,
05:19 that's where we get the concept of "Stoical. "
05:23 Well basically, they just went forward, not complaining,
05:26 "This is the way it is... and this is...
05:28 and so live our life accordingly. "
05:30 There's a story that I've heard of somebody who grabbed a Stoic
05:34 and put his arm behind his back, you know,
05:36 because they're supposed to reject pain, you know,
05:38 and the guy was saying,
05:41 he wanted him to recognize the pain,
05:43 he said, "If you push too hard, it will break"
05:46 and the guy kept pushing and his arm broke
05:48 and he said, "I told you it would break. "
05:51 Oh my goodness...
05:54 Yeah, so they viewed marriage,
05:56 the Stoics viewed marriage positively
05:57 it contributed to the welfare and stability of Society,
06:00 on the other hand there were the Cynics,
06:03 and this was another philosophical school,
06:06 they also believed in life based on virtue
06:09 but rigor and "reject desires" was important to them
06:13 they lived a simple life without possessions.
06:15 So, they believed in strong individualism
06:20 and that marriage and the household, the city-state,
06:22 all had their origin in human convention
06:26 and so they denied the importance of these,
06:29 they accepted the Greek axiom that I mentioned
06:32 but they denied the importance of the city-state,
06:34 so Paul's statements in 1st Corinthians 7
06:37 come across to some of us as we read it
06:41 as rather negative on marriage,
06:44 rather negative on sex and people kind of get this feeling
06:46 but he has "if" and "but"
06:50 and concessions and things like that,
06:52 but actually if we see the this... what he says...
06:57 in the light of the debate that was going on
07:00 between the Stoics and the Cynics,
07:03 those debates among them had the same kind of pattern
07:06 of appeared ambivalence or qualified, positive attitudes
07:10 that was something that was going on
07:12 in the Hellenistic world so we ought not to judge Paul's
07:16 words too quickly... without recognizing the background
07:19 type of context.
07:21 Which I guess would lead us to think,
07:22 "What did the Romans think,
07:24 well, how did they look at the
07:26 expressions of love and marriage?"
07:27 Yeah, all right, so we want to think about
07:30 their structure of the family and the home.
07:32 The Roman system of marriage and the home,
07:35 was patriarchal in structure, the Roman family had...
07:40 the oldest male was called the "Pater familias"
07:43 and he was very powerful in the family,
07:47 his power over the family was extensive,
07:50 it was... and they had a name,
07:51 they called it, "Patria Potestas"
07:53 and this Potestas... this Patria Potestas did not end
07:58 when his children grew up nor even when they left home.
08:02 So... he was...
08:03 The Patriarch was the Patriarch for as long as he lived
08:07 and then, if he passes away,
08:10 then I'm assuming the eldest son...
08:12 The eldest son and other... will take on power.
08:14 And so this was a legal concept
08:17 which gave the head of the family
08:19 almost omnipotent position,
08:21 almost omnipotent power over the family,
08:23 he controlled finances, he controlled children,
08:26 even when they were grown,
08:29 they couldn't do financial transactions
08:30 without his approval,
08:32 they couldn't get married without his approval,
08:33 so, how do you suppose young men dealt with this issue?
08:36 Well, they would move farther away from Dad.
08:41 Go someplace... he's over the mountains, you know,
08:45 he's still the Pater familias,
08:47 sure, he's still got the Patria Potestas
08:49 but, you know, he's far away and so...
08:51 Now, do we assume that they had lots of children back then?
08:55 Yeah, that would probably be common to have lots of children.
08:59 So, it's like, they probably need workers
09:01 and several like that in the family.
09:02 Yeah, a large family would be...
09:05 And so, there are certainly going to be those that
09:08 there were disagreements
09:09 and so they would even move farther and farther away,
09:11 they wanted their independence.
09:13 Yeah, and I imagined that
09:15 quite a few people lived closer to home and so forth,
09:18 but the other thing to remember is that life expectancy
09:22 was not what it is today, and so, most men,
09:25 if they've judged over the age of 30,
09:29 probably didn't have a living father,
09:32 so, if you got to 30 years of age,
09:35 you were more... on your own.
09:37 So, that was kind of some of the experience there,
09:40 now, the role of women in this kind of a situation,
09:44 as you can probably imagine was not very easy,
09:48 they were subordinate,
09:52 interestingly in this System,
09:54 they were not subordinate to their own husbands,
09:56 they were subordinate to the Pater familias
09:59 and so, there would be a linkage there,
10:02 of course, if you moved away, if your father had died,
10:05 then, there'd be some other kinds of issues,
10:09 there is actually an interesting situation where
10:13 when the Pater familias, a lady's father just died,
10:18 she would become, they call it, "Sui juris"
10:21 she would be on her own right
10:23 and she could undertake financial transactions,
10:26 she could be pretty much financially independent,
10:28 and, in fact, some women, controlled large fortunes
10:31 and it's interesting when we read...
10:34 when we think of that idea,
10:36 and we compare it with the stories of Jesus,
10:39 because if you read, particularly the gospel of Luke,
10:42 you find that there are certain women
10:45 that would travel with Jesus' group of disciples,
10:49 but also, who supported Jesus
10:51 and his disciples from their wealth
10:53 and so, I mean, Jesus had to live somehow,
10:58 He had to be able to...
10:59 they had to have some food, somehow,
11:01 and so, there were, probably
11:03 some of these wealthy women,
11:05 were involved with supporting the mission of Jesus
11:08 and his disciples... by linking others...
11:11 so, when you learn some of the background information
11:14 it just kind of throws a little more light
11:17 on the sacred page and helps you to see things
11:20 in a little different... you know,
11:22 a little better light.
11:23 The Stoic by the name of Musonius,
11:27 argued that sexual and erotic desire
11:31 could be justified within marriage,
11:35 only for the purpose of begetting children.
11:37 So, this was kind of an idea of sex is only... in marriage...
11:42 is only for having children. Mr. Quinn: No pleasure.
11:46 Yeah, the... Ovid, the Latin poet,
11:49 believed that there... this is interesting,
11:51 he believed there could be no erotic pleasure
11:53 between husband and wife
11:55 because it was a relationship of duty,
11:58 so, these people would have sex outside of marriage,
12:03 they would have prostitutes, or they'd go to...
12:07 they would have a... someone else that they would go to,
12:12 they have slaves they might sleep with,
12:13 but, for the wife,
12:15 the big principle for the wife was...
12:18 she was the bearer of legitimate children
12:20 that would be his heirs,
12:21 so their whole view of sex and of its use
12:26 and of the role of the family and sex within marriage
12:30 was quite different from what we read in Scripture,
12:34 what we read from Paul.
12:35 Paul, interestingly, in this whole passage here,
12:39 he does not mention procreation at all
12:42 when he talks about sex, all right, so,
12:45 he talks about people participating
12:47 in sexual relations,
12:49 but he doesn't describe it in terms of procreation.
12:52 So, that's a contrast from some of these other people
12:56 and what they were saying, "it's only for having children,"
12:58 now, Paul is not, of course, opposed to having children
13:02 or anything like that but he doesn't focus on that,
13:05 so, it's interesting that he says
13:08 that you should have sexual relations in marriage
13:11 and we'll have more to say about that
13:13 as we go on into looking at this passage,
13:16 but, the whole idea that sex was only for procreation,
13:20 no, and... there's also an interesting thing that
13:23 what we've already studied about 1st Corinthians 6,
13:26 and what we studied about here in 1st Corinthians 7,
13:29 is in sharp contrast, one to the other,
13:33 and so we'll unpack that some more.
13:36 One seems like it's more from a "strictly pleasure seeking"
13:42 to "mutuality between husband and wife. "
13:46 Right, the way Paul describes it in chapter 6,
13:50 you have more of that
13:51 pleasure-seeking kind of libertine, anything goes,
13:54 actually, in chapter 7, as we will see,
13:57 there seem to be people who were Ascetics,
14:00 that is, people who lived in a very...
14:02 they believed in a very tough, harsh lifestyle
14:05 and maybe to the point where there would say,
14:09 "You know, you shouldn't even have sex at all
14:12 even if you're married," because, like we said,
14:15 "it's just too dangerous, too powerful
14:17 and you should stay away from it
14:18 and after all, we're living in the last days,"
14:20 kind of an idea.
14:21 And so, obviously that would bring up
14:23 maybe there was some...
14:24 in their thinking there was some distress signals
14:27 or something like that, that they...
14:28 Yeah, and Paul refers to that, if we read in the same chapter
14:32 just read verse 26,
14:34 1st Corinthians chapter 7 verse 26,
14:37 Verse 26, okay,
14:42 "But this I say, brethren,
14:43 the time is short: so that from now on
14:46 even those who have wives
14:48 should be as though they had none. "
14:49 Interesting, okay.
14:51 That was verse 29... Oh, that was verse 29...
14:53 Yeah, "I suppose, therefore,
14:55 that this is good because of the present distress
14:58 that it is good for a man to remain as he is. "
15:01 You know, it's interesting that you had read verse 29 as well
15:04 because verse 29 has kind of a eschatological feel to it,
15:07 but verse 26 talks about the present distress
15:10 and people wonder,
15:12 so, what is this present distress, anyway?
15:16 Well, we have some historical evidence
15:20 that during the reign of Claudius the Emperor,
15:23 he was the Emperor from 41 to 54 AD
15:27 that there were various famines in Greece,
15:30 you know, of course, Corinth is in Greece,
15:32 and so Paul is writing to them.
15:34 One of the famines can actually be dated to 51 AD,
15:39 and it's alluded to by one of the Roman historians
15:43 they were food shortages and these would have
15:47 a serious effect on the population,
15:49 you know, you could kind of make a parallel for us today
15:53 with the great recession in the United States in 2008,
15:57 and it became very difficult for people,
16:01 we know that young people were having difficulty
16:04 in getting on their own, living with their parents still,
16:08 and so, getting married becomes more challenging
16:11 and if there was a famine going on,
16:13 Paul's reticence about them getting married,
16:17 may be related to this issue of present distress going on now.
16:23 So it could be a valid point.
16:24 Yeah, oh yeah, oh sure,
16:27 that he wants to keep them from trouble and so forth,
16:31 it could also be eschatological linkages that you've mentioned
16:34 that were down in verse... down in verse 29.
16:38 "Troubled times ahead," Yes, yeah... right... yeah...
16:42 Well, now, let's look at, this is really interesting to me
16:49 in chapter 7 verse 1, okay,
16:54 "It is good for a man not to touch a woman. "
16:58 Right...
16:59 Let's kind of... Get into that...
17:01 Yeah, because that's kind of a different direction.
17:05 There are two different questions
17:06 that we have to answer when we look at this question
17:09 and that is, first, is Paul...
17:12 Are these Paul's words?
17:15 We've seen before that sometimes Paul will quote
17:19 from slogans of the Corinthians,
17:22 here he has actually mentioned... a letter
17:25 and so the question is, when it says,
17:28 "It is good for a man not to touch a woman,"
17:32 are those his words or the Corinthian words?
17:36 Then the other question is,
17:37 what does he mean by "touch a woman"
17:40 it's a euphemism and a lot of people think that
17:45 what Paul is talking about is sexual relations,
17:49 it's just a euphemism for sexual relations...
17:52 In other words, it is good for a woman
17:57 not to have sexual relations?
17:58 Yeah, it is good for a man
17:59 not to have sexual relations with a woman,
18:01 see, in fact, when I read the ESV,
18:04 chapter 7 verse 1 reads like this,
18:07 "Now concerning the matters about which you wrote,"
18:08 and then they put it in quotes,
18:10 that they interpreted it as something that they wrote
18:13 in the letter, the Corinthians wrote it,
18:14 "It is good for a man not to have
18:16 sexual relations with a woman"
18:17 they're interpreting the word, "touch" there
18:20 to mean "sexual relations,"
18:22 just the general kind of concept for sexual relations,
18:26 well, interestingly there... just not so long ago, 2009,
18:30 Roy Ciampa, a Scholar, wrote an article
18:34 dealing with this question
18:36 and he reviewed a lot of ancient literature,
18:40 that makes use of this euphemism of "touching a woman"
18:45 and he found that the euphemism was used
18:49 actually to describe a variety of sexual encounters,
18:54 so, if I quote from his article, it goes like this,
18:59 "... using people for one's own sexual gratification
19:03 such as slaves, defenseless women,
19:05 a virgin in a man's care, a wife during her menses,
19:09 a pederast's lover,
19:10 other 'unnatural' homosexual relations,
19:13 incest, rape or adultery... "
19:15 this is along the lines of what he put in his articles,
19:23 not a direct quote, I don't think here,
19:25 there were other terms and euphemisms
19:26 used in the Greco-Roman world to describe sexual relations,
19:30 but interestingly, this idea of "touching,"
19:33 was not used of sexual relations, in general,
19:36 but, for that based on pleasure or passion
19:40 not appropriation or friendship, the term was used,
19:43 when the writer wanted to disapprove of what was going on,
19:48 so, this terminology, "touch a woman"
19:51 or "touch your object of desire" was something that...
19:55 was a common kind of idiom that they would use
20:00 to refer to sex for this kind of...
20:04 well, you could say, "not just sex for pleasure"
20:07 but it wasn't for procreation
20:09 and it was actually for self-gratification.
20:13 Self-gratification... Yeah...
20:14 "So, it was one of those things
20:16 that I really don't want to talk about,
20:18 so I'm just going to throw a term out there for...
20:21 in general... rather than being specific. "
20:24 Yeah, but you see, they had...
20:26 they had another term that they would use
20:28 for sexual relations,
20:29 illicit sexual relations, in general,
20:32 it was the word, "porneia"
20:34 which we get the word "pornography" from
20:36 this term, "porneia," could be used in a variety of ways,
20:41 but this idea... this euphemism of "touching a woman,"
20:45 was... or... or "touching a man,"
20:48 was... it had a certain connotation to it,
20:52 let me read what... this is from his article now,
20:55 his conclusion on page 336 in this article,
20:59 he says, "The fuller examination of the sexual euphemism
21:02 of touching, suggests that the statement,
21:05 'it is good for a man not to touch a woman'
21:08 should not be taken as rejection of sex in general,
21:12 but more likely reflects a rejection of recreational
21:16 or hedonistic sex, sex for pleasure,
21:20 or motivated by passion,
21:22 the idiom might be best translated as
21:24 'it is good for a man
21:26 not to use a woman for sexual gratification. '"
21:30 "The line quoted from 1st Corinthians in 7 verse 1,
21:35 may be taken as a criticism by some Corinthian Christians
21:41 against certain men in the church
21:44 who continued to look for sexual gratification
21:46 as they did before converting to Christianity:
21:49 with prostitutes, courtesans
21:52 and household slaves, among other people.
21:53 If this touching would come close to being
21:58 a Hellenistic equivalent for Jewish and Christian use
22:02 of porneia, the word for sexual immorality,
22:06 although the former term, the touching,
22:09 could be applied broadly even to sex for pleasure
22:12 or out of passion even within marriage,
22:14 in a way that the latter term, porneia, might not.
22:18 Also, while men and women may both practice porneia,
22:22 'touching' is something that only men do.
22:26 It is remarkable that while touching is unidirectional
22:31 people do not touch each other,
22:33 one male touches the object of his sexual desire,
22:36 the rest of Paul's language, in contrast,
22:39 clearly emphasizes mutuality in marital relations. "
22:45 Right, so this is related to... today...
22:48 to our world today, or what we would say,
22:51 "it's through using somebody else
22:53 as a sexual object,"
22:55 and this is everywhere in our Society,
22:59 I mean, the biggest example of it is pornography.
23:01 Yeah.
23:03 Where looking at that is just a means to an end,
23:07 is all focused within self,
23:09 and it's not about the other person at all,
23:13 it's all about "me," or all about that...
23:16 Which has grave consequences.
23:18 It does, it changes, actually, the way you think
23:22 of...
23:23 of that other person,
23:25 and of course, pornography tends to be a...
23:26 a major problem more for men, I think, than for women,
23:29 and so, men then tend to think of women as sexual objects.
23:34 The Advertising does this...
23:37 It seems like, in some of the surveys that I've seen,
23:41 is that, there is... it's not reversing
23:44 but women are getting caught up into this... also.
23:48 They may be... Yeah...
23:49 But that's not what we're talking about here.
23:51 Treating of another person as simply... as a sexual object
23:56 so, Ciampa goes on to give a paraphrase
24:00 of these two verses and it's kind of...
24:03 it's kind of useful to have this paraphrase in front of us
24:07 because it helps to fill out some of the background
24:09 so, with all the background we've been talking about...
24:11 about what the Greeks thought about the home,
24:14 about how they treated women,
24:16 about how they thought of sexuality,
24:18 Paul's words start to
24:21 carry a little different understanding for us,
24:24 as we try to piece it together, so, here's what he says,
24:27 here's his paraphrase,
24:29 Paul's argument in 1st Corinthians 7 verses 1 to 2,
24:32 may thus be paraphrased as follows,
24:34 "Regarding the things about which you wrote to me
24:37 in complaining about those men
24:40 who continue to visit prostitutes
24:42 or sleep with the household slaves, etc.),
24:44 'it is good for a man
24:47 not to use a woman for sexual self-gratification,'
24:52 but since porneia is so ubiquitous,
24:56 and to keep from falling into it yourselves,
24:59 each man should enjoy
25:00 regular sexual relations with his own wife
25:03 and each woman should do so with her own husband. "
25:07 So, in a sense... what happens is...
25:11 Paul agrees with these Corinthians
25:14 who are complaining about the people
25:17 who like those in chapter 6, maybe,
25:19 have been going to the prostitutes,
25:22 have been using their slaves for sex
25:24 and things like that and Paul says,
25:26 "You know, you're right, but, don't go too far with that"
25:31 you know, "don't get the idea that
25:34 sex is just too powerful, just don't have any sex at all,"
25:39 he says, "rather, there is a temptation to sexual immorality"
25:45 so he's not agreeing with them to the sense
25:47 to say that sex is bad,
25:49 he says, "but because of the temptation
25:51 to have sexual immorality,
25:53 everybody should be married, you should be married,
25:56 and you should have regular sexual relations
25:59 with your wife" and then notice, he says,
26:01 "and each woman with her own husband. "
26:04 So he's starting this emphasis
26:06 on mutuality, that he's been talking...
26:10 that we're going to see as a good portion
26:13 of what he has to talk about in this passage,
26:16 so, to go back and answer the very first question,
26:20 it seems that Paul is quoting the conservative Christians
26:24 in his church, who are shocked
26:27 by what the libertines are doing,
26:29 he agrees with them about the sin of touching a woman
26:35 but he differentiates himself from those
26:39 who think sex is so powerful, it's just so strong,
26:43 it's bad... that you should leave it aside all together,
26:48 so, he's carefully... we can say,
26:51 he's carefully winding his way in between a group of people
26:55 who are free-sex people,
26:57 who are just going anywhere, getting sex any place they want,
27:00 and another group of people who are so negative on sex
27:05 that they think that you shouldn't use it at all,
27:09 and Paul is somewhere in between those two...
27:12 saying that... well, that's bad certainly,
27:14 but what you're saying isn't what we should do either,
27:17 you should also...
27:19 you should all have this mutual relationships
27:21 of love and that involves sexual expression within marriage.
27:24 So, he's saying here,
27:27 I mean, you normally think Paul is just so strong
27:30 and then you're facing forward
27:33 but here... he's... he's walking a thin line.
27:37 Yes, he's walking a thin line.
27:39 He's trying to juggle both balls.
27:41 And he's done it in a very nice way.
27:43 Yeah, well once again,
27:46 these 30 minutes go by in a hurry...
27:48 It does...
27:50 But what a topic! you know,
27:51 I've wondered for a long time on that 1st Corinthians 7:1
27:55 and so you certainly helped explain it.
27:57 Praise God.
27:59 I just want to thank you so much for being with us again,
28:01 we just love each and every one of you,
28:04 thank you for sharing this time with us,
28:06 God bless you, see you next time.


Revised 2016-03-23