Sermon Summary: Some in the Corinthian church had accepted a false ascetic teaching of depriving themselves of pleasurable material experiences in order to make themselves more spiritual. These ascetic beliefs lead to abstinence which for the married lead to frustration. Sexual immorality became common. Paul clearly rejected this false teaching and re-established the God ordained principles of marriage. Physical intimacy in a lifelong, monogamous, heterosexual marriage is to be enjoyed and is a means of protecting the marriage from Satan's attacks. Our culture faces differently misplaced perceptions of sexual ethics which swing toward liberalism. Anything goes so long as everyone consents. This too has lead to a breakdown of marriage and the family. In Ephesians 5 we see that the union of one man and one woman in marriage hides a metaphorical truth about Christ and the church. A distorted view of marriage therefore leads to a distorted view about God and his purposes for mankind. The ideal marriage, however, as revealed in scripture, is a picture of Christ's authority, unconditional love, mercy, affection, and commitment to His people. Our faithfulness in the church to model these qualities in marriage is a strong testimony to the world of the glories of Christ.
1) Why would the Corinthian Christians suggest complete abstinence?
2) What other purposes does God have for marriage aside from this passage?
3) Why are regular sexual relations within marriage important?
4) What stands out to you as significant in Paul's teaching on matters of divorce? How does his instruction differ from the teachings of our culture?
5) How does marriage reveal the mystery of Jesus' relationship with the Church?
6) How do your preconceptions of marriage, sexuality, divorce, and/or Christ's love need to change?