Calvary Road Baptist Church


First Corinthians 7.17-38


This morningís is a message that is a direct follow-on to my sermon of a week ago about the benefits of being a virgin prior to marriage and the tragedy of being a fornicator. However, before beginning the message that is directed in the main to virgins and their parents, I want to garner the attention and support of anyone in attendance who is not convinced of the benefits of being a virgin prior to your wedding night.

Let me first of all speak to this matter of fornication somehow seeming justified by what is claimed to be love. ďOh, pastor, it cannot be wrong if it is an expression of our love for each other.Ē Two observations before moving on to the second matter: Observation #1: You are not the one who decides what is and what is not love; God is, and He insists that love is neither selfish nor expressed in an unseemly fashion, First Corinthians 13.5. Yet nothing is more selfish and unseemly than two people who are not married peeling their clothes off and having sex with each other. Observation #2: Fornicators are strangely persuaded that there is a difference between having sex twenty times with a single individual one is not married to and having sex one time with twenty different individuals; that robbing one bank twenty times is in some way morally superior to robbing twenty different banks one time each. It is fallacious logic.

Second, allow me to speak to parents who are a bit reluctant to press the wrongness of sinful activity to their children that they were guilty of themselves. I understand the very natural tendency to think that someone who is guilty of something feels reluctant to preach to others about that same sin. However, we must recognize that a motherís or a fatherís moral authority does not derive from their own past conduct, but from God. Fornication is wrong and should be avoided whether or not parents did it, because God declares it to be wrong. Therefore, regardless of any mother or fatherís personal history, Godís truth and a godly lifestyle should be urged upon every Christianís child, even if a child in wicked desperation tries to throw his parentís own former conduct back in their faces.

Turning to Godís Word, the entire 7th chapter of First Corinthians is given over to the subject of desire and marriage and related topics. That said, verses 17-24 do not seem to have much to do with desire and marriage, what Paul deals with in the rest of chapter 7, until you take a step back and see what he is doing. Read First Corinthians 7.17-24:


17   But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

18   Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised.

19   Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

20   Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.

21   Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.

22   For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lordís freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christís servant.

23   Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

24   Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.


The general thrust of these 8 verses can be summed up in one phrase: Do not change your status. Those who are circumcised are not to become uncircumcised. What Paul means is that Jewish converts are not to seek to become Gentile Christians, and visa versa. ďLet every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called,Ē verse 20. Are you a slave? Donít make a fuss about becoming a freeman, but take freedom if it is offered. ďBrethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God,Ē verse 24. In other words, Paul is telling the Corinthians to stay put. People who come to Christ have just had their lives turned upside down. Therefore, be very slow to change things not directly connected to sin, if you change at all. If you are a Jewish Christian, donít try to become a Gentile believer at all. If you are a Gentile believer, donít try to become a Jewish believer at all. If you are a slave, donít make a big deal about seeking freedom from your master, unless it is offered. In short, stay put for now and move slowly if you do move.

What do these 8 verses have to do with what follows? What follows has to do with Paulís consideration of virgins marrying. Having already spoken to those who are sexually experienced in verses 1-16, Paul has in verses 17-24 laid the foundation for virgins to approach the topic of marriage in a markedly different manner than was typical for Gentiles, especially Gentiles in Corinth. Excuse me, but if your approach to marriage is like most peopleís, it is wrong and most likely headed for eventual catastrophe. Paulís approach, which is to say Godís approach, is different, especially if you are a new convert contemplating marriage. Paulís design was to slow down the mad rush by young people to get married, especially right after they get converted. To that end, he provided specific instructions to virgins, be they young women or young men.

This leads to three areas of reflection:




Understand that the Word of God does not treat male virgins and female virgins in the same way. This is easily seen in our text. Verses 25 through 35 deal with the subject of a virgin contemplating marriage, but from the perspective of a virgin male. Verses 36-38, however, address the situation of a virgin female contemplating marriage. Notice, if you will, in verses 36-38, who Paulís remarks are directed to . . . her father. Therefore, my observations fall into two categories, male virgins contemplating marriage, and female virgins and their fathers contemplating marriage:

Consider first the virgin who is a man, in verses 25-35:


25   Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.

26   I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.

27   Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.

28   But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.

29   But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;

30   And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not;

31   And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.

32   But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:

33   But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.

34   There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

35   And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.


Verse 25. Though the Lord Jesus Christ did not deal with this issue directly during His earthly ministry, the Apostle Paul provides guidance to those who are interested in being faithful to the Lord. Ignore Paulís directives, young virgin man, and we can only assume that you have no interest in being a faithful Christian. Suspicious, therefore, I am, of those who do not follow these guidelines. Verses 26-35 deal with issues related to impending persecution and the effects of persecution on married life, some comments on how marriage will affect a womanís personal commitment to serve God, and a final word to remind young virgin men that his comments to them are made with your best interests in mind. Who would deny that most young men contemplating marriage have only their own interests in mind? What Paul seeks to do in this passage is remind young Christian men who are virgins that they need to seriously consider the best interests of their potential wife when they consider marriage, how marriage will affect her, how it will impact her ministry and service to God, as well as how being married will affect your own Christian life and ministry.

A Christian man known to us all dearly loves his wife and children. However, he has told me on numerous occasions that his impact for the cause of Christ, and his ability to work in the ministry, has been severely curtailed by the attendant details of marriage and being a father. Is serving God important to you? Then such consideration should enter in to your decision-making about marriage, about the timing of marriage and your preparations for being married, and about the woman you marry. Can you marry and serve God? If not donít get married. Can you marry and support your wife so that she can raise children and also serve God? If not donít get married. Now you know why I urge you to complete your college education before you marry. Think not only of yourself, and your ability to serve God, but also what kind of a situation you will create for your wife and her ability to serve God.

Next, consider women who are virgins and their fathers, in verses 36-38:


36   But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.

37   Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.

38   So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.


Again, how do we know Paul is talking to fathers and not fiancťs here? Is a young woman who is a virgin properly described as ďhis virginĒ in connection to a fiancť, verse 36? I donít think so. ďHis virginĒ applies only to dads. And how about the last three phrases of verse 36? ďlet him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.Ē How can ďthemĒ refer to a virgin and her fiancť if Paul is writing to the fiancť? This works only when Paul is writing to her father. So, en large, verses 36-38 are instructions given by the Apostle Paul to a virginís father about her marriage. What must that mean? It can only mean that the father wields authority in the life of his virgin daughter that he does not possess in the life of his sexually experienced daughter. And what implications does that have for a young man who desires to marry a Christian girl who is a virgin? Since Paul deals with her dad about her marriage, how can it be that the young man also should not deal with her dad? And the young man who attempts to pull off a coup with a virgin daughter (apart from the prior knowledge and consent of her father) is demonstrating that he has no concern but for himself, and no interest in faithfulness to God. You guys who sidle up to a virgin and look at the ground and say ďAw, shucks,Ē without first asking her fatherís permission, are way out of line . . . and you know you are.




Two considerations for those involved in the marriage of a virgin; her fiancť, her self, and her father:

First, there must be consideration of the fact that it is better to marry than burn, First Corinthians 7.1-9. Reread that passage when you get home. The young man, the young virgin, and her father, need to keep in mind that two young people who are not married need to keep their hands off each other, verse 1. Those same three people need to keep in mind that the long term solution to the temptation to commit fornication is marriage. So, there is a question in my mind about the sensibility of those who say ďI need a wife,Ē yet who do not prepare themselves for marriage by getting their education as rapidly as they can, or setting themselves up in a career as quickly as they can. According to verse 9, it is better to marry than burn. It is always assumed by some young fellow that he and only he is a girlís solution to this problem. However, if he is not prepared to support a wife, he most certainly is not any real solution to her problem, but is a bigger problem for her. What new problem does your solution create? The solution to a womanís problem of burning is a godly man who can support her. The solution to a manís problem of burning is not a woman who will marry him, but most likely a great job or good training. Otherwise he is only a problem and no solution himself. Where dads enter into this equation is by influencing his daughterís social life so that she does not become the reason a young man burns, and so she does not burn herself, as the result of a premature attachment to a young man who is not qualified to marry her. Dad, do not allow your daughter to ark and spark with a guy who is not already qualified to marry her. Put an end to it before a fire gets started. Donít wait to put out a fire you should never have allowed to flare up in the first place.

As well, the young man must provide for his own, First Timothy 5.8:


ďBut if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.Ē


If you got married before you were able to support your wife, and you both need to work to make ends meet, donít then bankrupt yourselves by rashly insisting that your wife immediately quit her job. Make every effort to work toward the day when you can support your family without a second income from your wife. Set that as a goal to work toward. You may not reach your goal of supporting your family by yourself. However, if you cannot reach that goal yourself, you can certainly raise your children in such a way that they can reach that goal. After all, sometimes financial goals take two generations to achieve. The optimum is for your wife to mother your children and to be in the home. Next to that is the goal of mom being home when the kids are at home, if she does have to work. But for you who are not yet married, you are in a position to do things with great wisdom. You girls can work to get training so that you can support yourself should you not marry, should your dad not provide for you, or should you marry and your husband die or become disabled in some way. You have no business marrying a man who has not prepared himself to support you so that you can mother your children. And you guys have no business expecting any woman to put herself in a position to have to work a job and be your wife and mother your children. We have good moms in our church who find themselves in that position. But every single one of them will agree with me that they would much rather be at home with their children than working a 9 to 5 job. So, get yourself ready to be that kind of a husband as quickly as you can. Remember what First Timothy 5.8 says. You guys are responsible to provide for your own. And if that doesnít first apply to your own wife and kids, then I donít know what words mean.




Let me move on with my thoughts and share with you some implications of our text and its obvious thrust toward a young man and a young virgin womanís father:

First, dating is entirely inappropriate. Why do I say this? Dating is inappropriate because dating removes a girl from her fatherís oversight and allows a guy to deal directly with her about things related to marriage without her unwise fatherís awareness. Dating is also inappropriate because it usually occurs with two people who are nowhere near being scripturally qualified to marry. Dating virtually guarantees that a guy will burn before he can earn enough to support a wife. No good. Yet girls who would never buy a car without their dadís help will decide on a husband without his input. Consider what happens on a date. A guy spends that time attempting to persuade his date to submit to him. He uses flattery, he uses charm, he uses cunning. By hook or by crook he works to persuade her to submit to him. However, according to the Bible she is supposed to submit only to her dad, and not to any guy. In the end a date has only three possible outcomes: One of them rejects the other, resulting in hurt feelings. They commit sin together, resulting in ruined lives. Or, they end up getting married to each other without her father playing his God-ordained role to assure that the guy is the right guy and the timing is the right time. So, nothing good happens as a result of dating.

This is why I strongly recommend courtship. There are many stripes and variations, but courtship basically starts out with a young man approaching a young womanís father and asking her dad if he can spend time with her. From that point onward the father should control the situation. By controlling the situation the dad decides whether or not the fellow is financially, physically, spiritually, educationally, and otherwise, qualified to even be considered by his daughter. The lamest of dads is typically more qualified to do that than almost any daughter. And this is as it should be. Remember, a guy will attempt to persuade a young woman to submit to him instead of her dad. Such attempts by a young man should only be undertaken with her dadís permission. Otherwise both the girl and the guy are engaged in rebellion. If courtship is conducted in a supervised way, by spiritual people, who are properly qualified, a great marriage can result, or two people can part company knowing it wasnít Godís will for them to marry, but without hurting each otherís feelings, and without rejecting each other.

All in all, submission to the father is of paramount importance. Unless a woman is widowed or divorced, Godís plan is for every female to be led, to be protected, to be guarded, by a spiritual man, either her father or her husband. It doesnít always work out that way, but that is Godís optimum. Sometimes a pastor is concerned enough, is insightful enough, and has the experience to be a blessing to a young virgin couple seeking Godís will concerning marriage. But two young people working this thing out on their own? No good. No experience. Too dangerous. Too many emotions and yearnings. Not something two people will do if serving God is important to them and if theyíve been taught better.

I am intentionally staying away from specifics this morning. My whole goal is to show you that God has your life covered. He has a plan awaiting implementation for those of you who are willing to forsake the single life and its freedom to serve God for the life of a married person with its many challenges and difficulties. To sum up what Godís Word says to virgins, it can be stated rather succinctly in two ways: Young man, when you have prepared yourself to be a husband, then approach the young womanís father, before you start cutting her out of the herd and flattering her, before you start showing her that you like her, before you start attempting to undermine her fatherís authority in her life. Get prepared and then go to her dad. Young lady, stop with the form fitting clothing thatís designed to attract young menís eyes. Stop buzzing about from guy to guy, flattering them with your charms and putting foolish notions into their heads and hearts before they are close to being prepared to marry anyone. What you should do is prepare yourself to be a wife and then wait. Get your education and then wait. Wait for your dad to approach you some day and say to you, ďHoney, a guy called me today and asked me if he could court you. Are you interested enough in him that I should talk to pastor about him, or do you want me to tell him ĎThanks, but noí?Ē

I could go on for hours about a guyís side of this, and the girlís side of this, and the dadís side of this. But let me tell you that Godís way is far better than manís way. Godís way is better than dating. Godís way isnít a gamble.




May I now speak to you young people who are lost? One can never tell who will be someday reached with the gospel message. However, it has long been known that children whose parents never attend church are in many surprising ways easier to reach than children whose parents merely attend church faithfully. Why so? Because parents who merely attend church faithfully can frequently be a curse to their children. They say little things or do little things. Or they donít say little things or donít do little things. Sometimes they sigh or they frown. At other times itís posture or the expression on the face. Still other times itís failing to involve in some area of church life, like Saturday night evangelism. O, how important Saturday night evangelism is.

Some of you kids need to realize that your moms and dads can either be a great spiritual blessing to you or be a terrible spiritual curse to you, and that some parents are a curse to their kids. Every congregation has parents who are a terrible and tragic curse to their own children and not a blessing. They love their kids, after a fashion, but they greatly curse them and throw up barriers that hinder their conversion. I would never intentionally create a rift between you and your mom, or between you and your dad. But if you are ever going to be converted you may have to admit that there are some things your mom is wrong about, and there are some things your dad is wrong about. You may have to decide in your mind and heart not to pay attention to your mom or your dad about some things . . . so you can be converted.

This morningís sermon is not exhaustive, but suggestive. I seek to cause no problems, but to suggest solutions. Do you really want your dadís kind of life? Do you really want your momís kind of life? Think about it. If the answer is ďYes,Ē then continue to listen to mom or dad and be cursed. But if the answer is ďNo,Ē then stop listening to mom and dad, and listen to me, and be blessed. Of course, I speak not of all parents, but only of those who are not with me in this gospel enterprise. You kids know whether your mom or dad are of one mind with me or not, whether they are really into the Christian life or not. Some of you know there are moms and dads who attend church but arenít really very committed. You know that. Sure you do.

Let me tell you how parents sometimes curse their children, so you can make sure your mom or dad doesnít curse you in this way. You can keep your parents from cursing you by agreeing with me and not with them whenever they disagree with God. Always honor them. Obey them. But you donít have to always agree with your mom and dad. I never insisted that Sarah agree with me, and neither should your parents.

Three considerations for you to give serious attention to:




What do I mean by this? I mean by this that not all parents were morally clean before they got married. Some moms and dads committed terrible sins and got in trouble in a variety of ways. Now, if mom or dad has been saved then God forgave those sins and cleansed them in the blood of Christ. But not all moms and not all dads are truly born again and free from bondage to sins. Evidence of this is seen, for example, when it comes to children dating. There are many of us here who were never taught that dating was wrong. My wife and I dated before we got married. No one ever told me that God had a better way of finding someone to marry, and no one ever told my wife. We dated because we knew no other way to go about finding a husband or a wife. However, once I was exposed to what the Bible teaches about a fatherís role in his virgin daughterís marriage plans, I became an enemy of dating, and have railed against dating ever since. And you know what? I donít think I have ever found a real Christian who hasnít turned against dating once he or she has been taught what the Bible says about courtship and a fatherís role in his or her virgin daughterís marriage.

But there are some parents who seem to care little about whether or not their children are virgins when they marry. They committed fornication when they were teens, and they think that itís normal and not particularly sinful behavior for their own kids to sleep with people before they get married. So they are reluctant to make a stand concerning dating. They donít think itís important enough to fuss with their children about. Theyíd rather their kids blend in with the world, dating and dancing and drinking, than make a big stink about such things. Why? Thatís what they did when they were young. Such parents are a curse to their children, young people. And they will subtly oppose the gospel. So, if you ever expect to be saved you will have to decide in your mind that your mom is wrong on this, that your dad is wrong on this, and that the Bible is right on this.

Turn to Second Corinthians 7.11:


ďFor behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.Ē


From this verse we see that had your parents truly repented of their sins they would be vocal and outspoken opponents of the sins they used to be guilty of themselves. That they are silent in opposing various sins shows they are either still guilty or tragically uninformed. So, whatís wrong with dating? Dating is where it all starts. Away from parental supervision. Premature attachment to a boy or a girl. Starting a fire that burns before you will ever be old enough or established enough to take the proper steps to marry. And circumventing her fatherís role in it all.




I know a boy in another church who committed some very serious sins. When the pastor appropriately dealt with the lad his mother cursed him. How did she curse him? Did she say nasty words to her son? No, she cursed her boy in another way. She did so by not emotionally supporting her pastor in his firm but tender dealings with her son. So, though the young man was wrong, and the pastor was right, the mother sided with her poor baby. Not openly. Not with words. But with a facial expression and with a sigh. That was enough.

The same thing has happened here a number of times over the years. Some boy will do wrong, or some girl will do wrong. And by doing wrong, I donít mean piddly little things. Iím talking about serious sins. Yet, when I take action against the guilty (and Iím not talking about little kids, mind you, but young adults or near adults) the fathers or the mothers wonít side with me against their obviously wrong son. So, though the young man was wrong and I did the best that I knew how to do, the parents sided with their kin. When parents do that they curse their children. They well-nigh damn them to Hell when they do that. How so? They further confuse young people who are already badly confused about the rightness of right and the wrongness of wrong. It plays into the hands of wicked and deceitful young hearts, 1Jeremiah 17.9, and allows self-deceit in their children to continue and to grow worse.

Children should not have to choose between their pastor and their parents in determining what is right and what is wrong, what is Godís will and what is not Godís will. When parents do not emotionally support me they are disagreeing with me and they confuse the lost. The result? Well, we see the result donít we? You are not converted and you wonít be converted so long as that nonsense continues. You need to disagree with your parents about what I preach. Because if things continue as they are, with your parents disagreeing with me, youíll never come to Christ.

This whole process is much like the way a baby is with his mommy and daddy. When a dad says or does something the little one questions he will look at his mom to see if she agrees or disagrees with dad. In that way a mom establishes or undermines her husbandís position and authority in her childís life. And the same kind of thing happens with the pastor. You look to your mom, whether you realize it or not. And if your mother does not fully support me on an emotional level, then you will not receive what I have to say as being true or as being important. And this is how a mother curses her son.




According to Romans 5.10, you are Godís enemy if you are unsaved. But whose side is your mom on if she is truly saved? Sheís on Godís side, isnít she? Or at least, sheís supposed to be on Godís side. But whose side does she act like she is on when you commit sin, when you reject the gospel? Many have heard about Susannah Wesleyís instruction of her many children, John and Charles Wesley among them, but few have heard about Charles Spurgeonís mother. His own preacher father once said, ďI came home one evening about seven oíclock and went upstairs. I heard the voice of a motherís pleading for her boy, Charles, and talking to him and the others and pouring her heart out in prayer in such a way as I never did in my life and as I never heard before.Ē[1] That is what your mother should do. That is what my own mother should have done, but did not do. It may seem like I am picking on moms more than dads, and I am. This is because a mother more frequently has much greater influence in her childrenís lives than fathers do. They should take advantage of that influence. There are also many dads who curse their children, you can be sure.

What is some young person who commits fornication? Who takes drugs? Who lies? Who steals? Who is lazy? Is that child a victim or a sinner? Is that young person wrong in his wrongdoing, or is he a victim of circumstances that he has no control over? Is it someone elseís fault? When your mom chooses sides, whose side does she choose? How about your dad? How about you? Do you choose your momís side or do you choose Godís side? If your mother sympathizes with your wrongdoing, if she makes excuses for her babyís sins, if she refuses to correct your foolish or rebellious conduct, then she has chosen your side against God, and has cursed you.

Consider this. Please understand that no sinner is saved who does not feel in some way alone. What do I mean by that? I mean that no sinner will be saved who feels like mom or dad are on his side against God. And so long as parents emotionally side with you against God, and do not side with God against you, it is unlikely you will be saved.


Sometimes parents curse their children unintentionally. But usually their cursing is the result of conscious choices and decisions to oppose God and His plans for their lives and for their childrenís lives. Young person? You need to come to grips with whether or not your mother or father is a curse to you. Do they not stand against sinful practices that they themselves participated in when they were young? Do they emotionally support me in my efforts to reach you and others with the gospel? Do they side with God when you sin against God, or do they side with you against God?

I want you to honor your mother and your father. I want you to obey them as much as you can. But you are foolish to agree with your mom or your dad when it means you wonít ever be saved. When they disagree with God, when they wonít make a stand against you committing sin, then they are a cursing to you and not blessing to you. Thatís too bad, but it happens too many times. Just make sure you donít allow your parentsí bad example, your parentsí sad example, to keep you from coming to Christ.

[1] Tom Nettles, Living By Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, (Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2013), page 32.

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