"TO TOUCH A WOMAN"
1. Please turn to First Corinthians chapter 7. Before we read God's Word, let me paint a portrait of a rather typical Corinthian Church member at the time Paul wrote this first letter.
2. This member, let's use the pronoun "he" to refer to either a man or a woman, has recently trusted Christ as his personal Savior. His sins are forgiven and he now has a level of confidence that he will go to heaven when he dies.
3. Since he was already an adult when he was converted, he is, naturally, married. But things are not going well in his marriage.
4. Before he married his spouse, when the two of them were typical unsaved Corinthians, the two of them really enjoyed each other physically. The passion and the romance was there, and there appeared to be no problems in the beginning.
5. But shortly after coming to Christ this part of the marriage began to turn a bit sour. And now that this Church member is converted and has a desire to serve God, it seems perplexing that the marriage is shaky in an area where things used to be great.
6. You see, this marriage, built as it was upon the unstable sand of physical attraction, no longer seems to be able to stand the weight of life's trials, now that the spiritual warfare every Christian is involved in has hit.
7. The little games, of trading pleasure for power and for favors that this Christian has seen other married couples play all his life, now seems frustrating and disgusting.
8. Friends, many Christian couples who've traveled this road of promiscuity prior to marriage end up living lives of quiet desperation and loneliness in their marriages; sharing a bedroom, but nothing more intimate than that. How very sad. And how very wrong.
9. Others, and this is scandalous in Christian marriages, don't even share a bedroom anymore. A terrible thing so long as children are still in the home. And it seems sad to me, even when couples justify themselves by reasoning to themselves that they are getting old. Married people need to work to keep their lives together.
10. Still other couples, claiming now to be Christians but not really bound by either morality or love for Christ, go outside of marriage into the slop trough of adultery. Typical American behavior. Typical human behavior. Our own Church has seen this type of behavior from once promiscuous people who are now married, but who were never truly converted.
11. But this was not typical Corinthian behavior. As carnal as those folks for a period of time were, and as confused as they were, their really big problem so far was their misguided willingness to tolerate fornication in their midst, not to any longer actually commit those sexual sins themselves.
12. So, these Corinthians knew they had serious problems in certain areas of their lives, even before receiving this letter from Paul informing them of errors in other areas. How can we be sure of this? The issues we will begin to address tonight had already been laid before Paul for comments and directions.
13. So, we know that these folks wanted a way out of their marital difficulties. We know that they wanted some degree of fulfillment in their marriages. And as frustrated with each other as they probably were in their newfound Christian lives, they really did want to save their marriages.
14. So, wanting a solution, and already having turned to this man they were guilty of previously scorning as being old fashioned, outdated, narrow, and opinionated, they were ripe for God's solution to their dilemma.
15. Folks, what happened with the Corinthian Christians 2000 years ago is actually quite typical of what happens today. Having built a marriage on sexual sin before the wedding, and continuing on with selfish behavior after the wedding, as many 20th century Christians have done, it's now time to find out what went wrong.
16. As a foundational statement to Christians, recognize that God does have a plan to meet your legitimate physical needs in marriage. And, contrary to the feminist propaganda that has infiltrated every area of our society, couples don't have to play games with each other.
17. As well, God grants such liberty in marriage that married people not have to deal with the temptation to go outside marriage to find their needs met. And you certainly don't have to live out the golden years in quiet desperation with someone who is one flesh with you in name only, or only occasionally.
18. This divine plan, which will change your entire outlook on love and marriage, from a man-centered or woman-centered concept of love and marriage to a God-centered concept of love and marriage, is briefly outlined in five statements.
19. Let us now stand and read God's Word, First Corinthians 7.1-7, and then we will examine each of these five statements: "Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that."
20. Five statements that will help you realize what God's plan is for meeting your physical needs, as well as the physical needs of your husband or wife.
1A. FIRST, A STATED PRINCIPLE (7.1)
"Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman."
1B. The Reminder At The Beginning Of This Verse Serves Notice To Paul's Readers That They Were The Ones That Brought This Whole Subject Up In The First Place. Reminding Them That They Asked The Question Paul Is About To Answer Probably Served To Remove Many Barriers They Might Have Erected, That Would Spring Forth From Pride, And Would Interfere With A Proper Spiritual Response To His Counsel And Advice. After All, He Has Just Finished Lacing Them For
2B. The Refrain States That "it is good for a man not to touch a woman."
1C. Here Paul is sharing some wise advice that will really solve some problems in their lives . . . if the advice is heeded.
2C. You see, this advice solves the problem of finding yourself with someone without tempting him to commit fornication.
3C. As well, this advice answers the question of "Where did we first begin to go wrong?"
4C. And it answers a young person's question about how to behave with someone who likes you, to make sure you don't begin to allow anything to go wrong.
5C. Finally, this advice guides spiritual parents, parents who are concerned that their children don't go wrong, what behavior their children need to exhibit when the parents are not around."
6C. By the way. "Not to touch" literally means in Greek, "not to touch." Does that mean it's a sin to hold hands with some fellow who likes you, or with some girl who will let you? No. But it does mean that it's unwise.
7C. And, my friend, those who commit sin are those who did not react to temptation properly. And those who didn't react to temptation properly are those who didn't avoid the possibility of being tempted, as much as possible. And those who didn't avoid the possibility of being tempted as much as possible are simply unwise.
8C. So, do you see how important it is to be wise? The wise proverb, then, that will keep you out of trouble in the first place, is this: "It is good for a man not to touch a woman."
9C. And ladies, if it is good for a man not to touch a woman, it is also good for a woman not to let a man touch her. Amen? It's just not wise.
2A. SECOND, A STATED PROTECTION (7.2)
"Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband."
Do you want to be protected against committing sin? Then realize a couple of things:
1B. First, Realize That The Sin To Be Avoided Is Fornication
1C. This seems like a relatively simple point, but by the way some teens and by the way some adults act, it appears they don't realize this.
2C. People, committing this sin ought to be a grave concern. Why? The body is not for fornication, First Corinthians 6.13. Your body was not made to handle the consequences of sex outside of marriage.
3C. Fleeing this sin ought to be a goal and objective in your life, since it is commanded in First Corinthians 6.18. Realize that.
2B. Then, Realize That The Solution To Be Advanced Is Marriage
1C. Petting, which is fondling and groping, is no solution; it's fornication.
2C. Birth control is no solution; it's still fornication.
3C. Abortion is no solution; it's murder committed to make fornication convenient.
4C. The only legitimate fulfillment of sexual desire is within marriage. And though this is not the only purpose of marriage, it is one of the purposes of marriage. And it's an important purpose of marriage.
5C. But does the world have the spiritual insight to see marriage as a viable alternative to fornication? No way. The world would advocate safe sex, not realizing that even if you catch no diseases while committing your sin, the sin itself will wreak havoc in your life.
6C. Do you want to protect yourself? Do you want safe sex? Then remain a virgin until you marry a virgin and you will enjoy safe sex the rest of your life. Amen? That's God's way.
3A. A STATED PROVERB, FIRST, FOLLOWED BY A STATED PROTECTION. NOW WE MOVE TO THE THIRD STATEMENT . . . A PROVISION (7.3-4)
"Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife."
I want you to notice two things related to this provision Paul states.
1B. First, Notice The Responsibilities (7.3)
"Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband."
1C. Do you see the responsibilities of both the husband and the wife, here? In an age when people talk a great deal about rights, note that Paul deals with responsibilities.
2C. The responsibility of the husband is to give to his wife what is due her, which is benevolence, or good will. And the same is true of the wife. She is to give him what is his due.
3C. Now, taking the context into account, what do you think Paul is referring to? I think he is referring to meeting the sexual needs and desires of your spouse. He is telling each to do good things for the other.
4C. "Couldn't Paul be referring to husbands and wives being nice to each other?" Of course. But not nice alone, since being nice doesn't necessarily satisfy a person's sexual appetite. But if nice includes great sex between a husband and a wife, then, yes, Paul is referring to being nice.
5C. The responsibility, then, is to give the other what is due him or her, and not to practice selfishness by saying "I don't want to." And as many husbands say "I don't want to" as wives.
6C. Believe it or not, teens, once people get married they oftentimes do not want to meet their mate's sexual needs. And if they are totally self-centered and selfish, they will actually deny their mate that which only they can provide, which actually tempts the husband or the wife to commit adultery.
7C. Think of it. There are actually professing Christian husbands and professing Christian wives who each day tempt their spouse to commit adultery. And how is this done? By not being eager to provide that which only they can provide, sexual fulfillment.
2B. The Next Thing To Notice Is The Rights (7.4)
"The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife."
1C. What can be said about rights? There are none. Though husbands and wives will regularly deny their mates that which is their due, we find no legitimate and Scriptural right to say "No" in God's Word. Not to that person they are married to.
2C. You see, unity and harmony come in a marriage, not by demanding rights of control over your own body, but by forfeiting rights, or by realizing that you have no rights.
3C. How different are God's expectations of the child of God than the humanist, who demands the right to control his or her body, even if control over her body results in the death of another by abortion, or even if control of her body results in her husband being tempted to commit adultery. Amen?
4C. Why is forfeiture of rights so important? Partly because recognition of the fact that the child of God has no rights, not even in the bedroom, eliminates prostitution by both parties in the marriage.
5C. Instead of husbands and wives being adversaries vying for advantage and control, instead of husbands and wives selling sexual favors for valued consideration, which is what prostitution really is, they can become true partners in every aspect of marriage.
6C. This is because they have become two people seeking to give to each other, so that needs might be met, not seeking to take from each other to get their own needs met.
7C. If husband and wife just sought to meet each other's needs, both sexually and in every other way, then two things would cease: First, prostitutes could no longer accuse housewives of just being underpaid whores, which they do accuse them of being, since most housewives do trade sexual favors for valued consideration, or deny their husbands sexual favors outright. Second, very sensitive and tender mates would no longer feel like they were prostituting themselves with their spouse, since their behavior is voluntary and in response to God's Word, not the result of some bribe given by the person you are married to.
8C. Yes, God has made provision for meeting your physical needs. But if your mate fails to fulfill his or her responsibility, or fails to understand that they have no rights in these matters, then God's provision might seem like a mockery to you. That's why it is so important for you to make sure that you are not interfering with God's provision for your husband's or your wife's physical needs.
4A. FOURTH, A STATED PERMISSION (7.5-6)
"Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment."
Scripture does give permission to abstain from sex with your mate, under certain well defined circumstances. Let's see what those circumstances are:
1B. As To Agreement
1C. According to this passage, only by the mutual agreement of both the husband and the wife can regular sexual activity be interrupted or interfered with.
2C. Do you realize what this means? It means that God wants sexual activity to be a part of every marriage, and He wants it to be an activity that is not interfered with, except along certain well defined guidelines.
2B. As To A Goal Set
1C. From what Paul says, we can surmise that legitimate spiritual goals and pursuits, which are reached through prayer and fasting, are the only proper reasons for a husband and wife to stay apart, and then for a short time only.
2C. Consider the ramifications of this guideline. It means that being in the Army and being sent to Germany for a year, without your wife, is not acceptable to God.
3C. It means that if you are a truck driver, and you are put on a long haul route that takes you away from home for days at a time on a regular basis you should look for another job.
4C. It means that repeatedly going to visit your mother in Timbuktu, for extended periods of time, is not warranted by Scripture.
5C. Do you begin to see how important it is for a husband and wife to have active and regular sex lives? Only fasting and prayer can interrupt your sex lives, people. Excuse me for address a delicate subject in an indelicate manner, but this is important and too many people do not understand unless you speak to them very clearly.
3B. As To A Guarantee
1C. After the period of fasting and prayer, in which you are sexually abstinent, you must come together again. Paul writes, ". . . and come together again . . . ."
2C. Why does he specifically write this? For two reasons. First, because after a period of prayer and fasting the spontaneity and the immediate desire for sexual activity may be greatly diminished. "That's okay," Paul would say, "force yourselves, because your appetite will return, possibly at the wrong time and under adverse circumstances, if you don't."
3C. And when your physical desire does return, now comes reason #2, Satan will tempt you. So make sure that you have planned and executed a strategy to take care of your physical appetite with your mate, so that when Satan does strike, you'll be way out in front of his temptations.
4C. Now folks, practically speaking, there are times when you and your mate are apart. And though you should do everything you can to minimize the number of these occasions that occur, please make sure that when you are reunited you have made special provision for a romantic rendezvous. It will help your marriage in the long run, I guarantee you.
5A. PROVERB, PROTECTION, PROVISION, PERMISSION. OUR FIFTH STATEMENT IS A STATEMENT OF PREFERENCE (7.7)
"For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that."
1B. When Paul uses the phrase "I would," he is expressing his personal preference regarding marriage. And we have to be very careful to note the context in which he made the statement, lest you think Paul is anti-marriage. Nothing could be further from the truth.
2B. But in verse 26 Paul refers to the "present distress." That is probably a reference to either present or impending persecution of the Christian community. Paul simply does not want Christians to risk the obvious dangers of being married when great persecution is taking place. Imagine your new bride being used to tempt you to compromise your testimony under threat of torture. Remember, Paul had done that to Christians, himself, before his conversion.
3B. Additionally, Paul notes, later on in this chapter, that married people simply have more concerns than do single adults. And these concerns, whether it be your mate or your children, sometimes hinder certain spiritual pursuits.
4B. So, though Paul did prefer remaining single so that he might continue at his present work load, he also clearly understood that most Christians were not gifted to remain single, and that marriage is God's divinely ordained institution in which the legitimate sexual needs of God's people are to be met in a way that both pleased and glorified Him.
1. We've dealt with some issues, this evening, that most of you have never heard preached about in the house of God. Others of you might never have even imagined such subjects being dealt with on a Sunday evening.
2. But people, these things are important. These things are issues of vital concern to the Christians everywhere and to the integrity of the local Church.
3. In the Old Testament God refers to Himself as El Shaddai, which means All-Sufficient God. He is, literally, the meeter of every human need. But He does not meet every human need directly.
4. In the case of human sexual need, God does meet that need. But He meets that need only within the limits of marriage, and He only meets that need through the person to whom you are married.
5. When you seek to meet your own need by committing fornication before you get married, or by committing adultery when you are married, you commit sin simultaneously against three persons. You sin against God. You sin against the person with whom you committed the fornication or adultery. And you commit sin against your own body, which really isn't your body, but God's.
6. Or, when you are married and you deny your mate that which is due him or her, you again commit three sins. You commit sin against your mate by denying them that which God has provided for them to meet their sexual need. You commit sin against God by interfering with His plans to bless and meet your spouse's needs. And you commit sin by not doing that which you know to be the right thing to do. "He that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, for him it is sin."
7. My friends, this message has absolutely no Gospel presentation in it, but it is a critical message for the hour in which we live.
8. Preachers are dropping like flies. Christians are divorcing right and left. Husbands and wives are failing to be a blessing to their mates in proportions that can only be described as epidemic. And professing Christians who have not married are committing fornication as frequently as the openly lost people are.
9. What's the reason for all of these things taking place? Theologically, it's because most Christians are simply not converted. Practically, it's because even genuinely converted Christians sometimes fail to realize that God, the Meeter of all needs, has a plan devised for meeting every legitimate human need, including human sexual needs. And socially, it because people have shrill feminists to influence them, convincing them that you should never do anything unless you feel like doing it, even it's the right thing to do.
10. We don't have to do things man's way. We shouldn't do things man's way. We don't have to live like the world. We shouldn't live like the world. If married Christians will follow God's plan in marriage, and if single Christians will follow God's plan leading to marriage, the needs will be met.
11. Just trust God enough to do things His way. Trust Him enough to realize He has your best interests at heart. Trust God enough to be the husband to your wife, the wife to your husband, that God wants you to be.
12. After all, anyone can fix supper. Anyone can replace the hot water heater. And anyone can do the laundry. But there is one thing only you can do husband, wife.