Protect the Woman – 5-25-22

You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” 1 Corinthians 7:23 NKJV

RELATIONSHIP:

Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.

Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.

If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father. 

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is the Book of First Corinthians chapter 7 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Principles of Marriage

Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me:

It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment. For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.

But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Keep Your Marriage Vows

10 Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. 11 But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.

12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?

Live as You Are Called

17 But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I [a]ordain in all the churches. 18 Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. 20 Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. 21 Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. 22 For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.

To the Unmarried and Widows

25 Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy. 26 I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress—that it is good for a man to remain as he is: 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.

29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, 30 those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, 31 and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.

32 But I want you to be without [b]care. He who is unmarried [c]cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. 33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife. 34 There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. 35 And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.

36 But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his [d]virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry. 37 Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his [e]virgin, does well. 38 So then he who gives [f]her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better.

39 A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment—and I think I also have the Spirit of God.

Footnotes

  1. 1 Corinthians 7:17 direct
  2. 1 Corinthians 7:32 concern
  3. 1 Corinthians 7:32 is concerned about
  4. 1 Corinthians 7:36 Or virgin daughter
  5. 1 Corinthians 7:37 Or virgin daughter
  6. 1 Corinthians 7:38 NU his own virgin

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

John 20:31- “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

Marriage – It’s what brings us together today. I am NO expert on marriage or godly marriage and have no personal examples of what to do and what not to do. I have never been married. Oh course Jesus is the bridegroom and we are the bride – but that is the closest I come to experiencing the subject. Luckily, the man inspired to write these scriptures was also never married. So I feel I am qualified to speak on his texts.

What do the Original Audience know, that we may not? I have said it a few times – there are a few books in the Bible which REQUIRE knowledge of their historical culture in order to understand what the writer was saying. This book is one of them.  If you do not know, it begins to appear that the Bible contradicts itself (which it never does) and when we apply the right answer to the wrong question – it is not the right answer.
First of all, verse one begins with: “Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me”. This gives us 2 points to discuss.
One is that they wrote Him with a question or questions and up to this point Paul has only addressed the issues he discussed with the letter carrier from Chloe’s house.
The second is: what did they write him about? This can be a big problem for us if we guess wrong as to what the question is. We know it has to do with marriage, because the response has to do with marriage. But we will never know exactly – that document did not survive time, and if it did, we have not found and verified it yet.
What did survive is a large number of writings from the time period which included laws, customs documented types of marriages….. It was from the Roman governmental documents that the USA government was modeled after. So we know there were a lot of components of their society we can understand and learn about. Like marriage
I already spilled the beans that there were legal ceremonial marriages (1) with expensive fees to pay to the Roman government for a legal marriage. There were common law marriages (2) and groups like non-wealthy Jews had their religious ceremony and just lived together as husband and wife for a year before the government would give them the ‘legal’ status.  A third type of marriage was a debt payment marriage (3) – when a man owed a debt he could pay it by giving his daughter to the man he owes. His daughter would stay with the man as a wife for the required time until the debt was paid off then she could return to her father and he could let her marry for love or whatever. This was a legally recognized form of marriage and called marriage. And sometimes the man was already married to a wife and He was considered married to his first wife – but the marriage law covered the girl paying her father’s debt in order to prevent her from being exploited, ironically. So their system wasn’t perfect.   Another was a type of marriage imposed on slaves (4) – slaves were not usually treated as slaves in early American history were recorded as being treated. Slaves had rights and small payments and were able to marry for love in type one or type two marriages. However their owner’s desires trumped their rights. So if he had a few male and female slaves and he wanted more slaves without buying them, he could essentially breed his slaves even if they were married to someone else. A slave marriage for breeding purposes usually last for one year and was covered by a legal marriage law (again) to prevent them from being exploited. (again, ironic) Another type of marriage was a temple marriage as part of the rituals in worship f certain gods and goddesses. And these marriages were usually temporary and covered by certain laws and many times were not freewill. And a few more each getting more perverse, including same sex marriages with a breeding clause and one including forcing children into marriage but honestly they seemingly legalized sex trafficking so we will not get into the detail. Yes, in some ways the Roman world was worse than our world. However these were “normal” and no one batted an eye. The law covered them so they wouldn’t be exploited so no one was fighting for their rights. (Seriously, the law covering an exploitation so it wouldn’t be further exploited is laughable.)
So when someone in Corinth speaks of marriage they could be speaking of any of these. The people discussing would know which type each situation had, so there was no need to differentiate. I do not know about you – but without knowing the question, or the people, or the situation, I cannot read this chapter in full confidence I know what’s what. But I can say I have full confidence in my Lord’s ability to give revelation to understand and take this all in context the way Paul intended it.

1 Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me:
It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.“

If I was to guess – the question is something like what is a Christian marriage supposed to look like. Paul says it is ok to be single. It is ok to be married. So I ought to speak to singleness for a moment. Because much of the church pushes marriage. When you are as old as me, and past child bearing years, and never married – you’d think they would give up on me and drop it. But no. Every time the women get together they ask when will I look for a husband. Paul says it is fine not to.
But also, if you do… this is what it should look like, without body autonomy.

Can we speak of “My body, My choice?” In relation to the folks who are anti-vaccine many have given their bodies over the God to be the Temple. These are His body, His temple and I completely understand the concept that the ‘vax’ is a weapon attacking it in the spirit. It is not a flesh and blood battle or understanding.
In relation to the women using it as a fight against the pro-life, there is a glaring flaw. That mass inside them was created by God, may have a different blood type and hair color and has its own DNA and is NOT their body.
In relation to reality – body autonomy is not really a thing. Verse 5 points out the biggest human flaw when it comes to sex – we lack self-control.  And one who denies it has either never been tempted or is a liar.  Heck, sometimes pure people have sinful sex dreams, completely out of their control, because the draw it that powerful. If we die to self, we lose body autonomy to Christ and we belong to Him – and in a Godly marriage to our spouse as well. If we live to the lusts of our flesh, unsurrendered to God, then we still lose any autonomy to the enemy because without the Lord’s protection we become slaves to sin and corruption.
So when I hear people get made about Paul asking spouses to surrender their bodies to each other I immediately know that body is owned by the enemy – because God not only shares, he designed that sharing and communion to be powerful.  Who is your body surrendered to?
People might be surprised at how well another person can care for you if you surrender to their care – especially if it is your spouse, who loves you.

But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment. For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.  But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
Paul is NOT speaking against the ‘be fruitful and multiply’ scriptures. Paul was encouraging the singles.  You see, it is well know there were more males than females in the Roman world. Because female children were often taken out into the wilderness and left for dead. If you had a male child, you had an heir, you had a worker to help, you have a soldier sending home financial compensation, you had another vote, you had increased your presence and you had respect. If you had women, they helped in the home but nothing else contributed, in their eyes. Soon there was an imbalance. Soon men are taking child brides because lack of adults or other men. Paul is speaking to a social issue. God still wants us to marry and be fruitful. But do not be in bondage to the idea. Our modern world does not have an imbalance, but my church doesn’t have any single men my age. Here is the thing, do not sweat it – if you can be single, and I can, then do not be pressured to find a spouse, any spouse potentially marrying the wrong one.
Wait – is there a wrong one and a right one? Today is not the day to get into that. But if you are just marrying to get married… make sure you are equally yoked and in agreement on major things or it is the wrong one.

Now, Paul is about to lay out some rules on divorce in Roman society in the body of believers. Did God change His laws and rules on divorce? No. God’s perfect will is that we consult Him first before marriage and that we never divorce. But God knows how stiff necked humans are and left a way for a Biblical divorce.

10 Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. 11But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.”

In Roman society a woman must be married or under her Father in order to do certain things and go certain places. A divorced woman and a widow were restricted and could not do everything they needed to do to survive. Widows with adult children had them care for her, getting her things she needed from places she could not go. But widows with small children had to find a kind neighbor or friend to help. Or needed to have the money to pay someone to do it.  So the original divorce laws stay in place – but to act like a Christian – if you must separate, do not divorce her and let her keep the benefits from society from being married. These married women rights were so important, they even gave them to the sex trafficked ‘wives’ and such. You see it was easier to make a million marriage laws than to give women inalienable rights.  It is the Christian thing, not to take them away again after a marriage doesn’t work out.

12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?”

It is very hard to be married to a believer of you aren’t one. We say things that sound scary and cult like if you aren’t familiar, like drinking Christ’s blood. Which is meant as a poetic symbol to edify us.
I used to work as a divorce paralegal. A man came in and he and his wife were separated and it was time to finish the task. It was a sad day. He and his wife attended the church I grew up in for a while. She was a believer, and he tried – for her. And they tried to stay married – valiantly tried. It is hard. Obviously as complex as humans and their emotions are, there was so much more going on besides different beliefs. It was sad, he cried when it was final. I suggested he talk to God about it and this time be a believer for himself and not for her.
Paul seemed to understand this and was encouraging people to stay with it and fight the good fight for their soul! No soul left behind, style.

17 But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches. 18 Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. 20 Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called.”

We get caught up in the emotions of marriage and forget the point. The point is souls.  Your husband’s or wife’s soul is important, pray fervently for them. It is literally a married person’s spiritual Job to pray and take authority over evil and cover them with the blood. IT IS YOUR JOB.
It is no wonder, that the idea of callings and giftings could be points of contention in a marriage and if you have a gift, you should not put it away for your spouse. But Paul also broadens the scope so it can be applied to everyone.
If I am called to teach, I may not have the gift of interpreting dreams (not a 5 fold ministry gift, but I am going to use it because this came up recently). I had a crazy dream. I do that often. I also went to school for art and loved classed on images meanings in society and image interpretations. So I can usually interpret my own dreams as well as others fairly easily. BUT it is not my gifting with God… and when I had a dream with new images I had to seek help from someone in the body with that gift. I do not go out of my way to interpret dreams – I stay in my lane. This is what Paul speaks of. We all can do a lot of things – but stay on the lane of who you were called to be.

21 Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. 22 For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave.”

Now, Paul speaks to the slaves – my heart breaks for them. Just using statistical probability and the nature of Corinth and temples, it is highly probable that up to 35 to 40% of their congregation were slaves/servants. And of that population it is highly probable that half of them were slaves to the various temples in the city. Imagine needed that kind of deliverance.
Paul says a small thing that shine a light on another big problem in the Roman society. In verse 21: “If you can be made free”. You see first of all – slaves were paid servants, unlike black history in the USA (where some were paid and some were not). And women often earned enough to buy their freedom (men seldom earned enough), but the women would stay – why? Because without a husband or owner they had no rights. The status of slave was better than being free. This is a huge ask – to ask them to use their means to freedom, because without a solid support system – it is a death sentence. And that support system was NOT yet in place, obviously – or Paul would have no need to write these things.

Now Paul flips and says the converse

23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.”

Apparently there were some who Paul thought would take what he said and go to the other extreme or maybe were already going to the other extreme to want to sell themselves into slavery in order to be Christ’s freeman.  So Paul wisely nips it in the bud.

This next section Paul speaks to the singles, the widows, the unmarried:

25 Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy. 26 I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress—that it is good for a man to remain as he is: 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.”

We are chest deep in verses quoted out of context and running amuck putting our teens and young adults in bondages that are not of God. That was not to just virgins, but if they lost their virginity Paul was not going to call then out – they have been forgiven and God sees them fresh – so does Paul.
“Good because of the present distress” what is he talking about? He is talking about the lack of women. Do we currently lack in men or women? No. so again – he is trying to encourage men of his time and he is not saying we should not be fruitful and multiply. We are to occupy until he returns. And don’t put singleness onto someone or encourage a single person this way.

29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, 30 those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, 31 and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.”

Paul is still encouraging the singles – time is short focus on God, Kingdom building and Heaven. Don’t focus on systems of this world like marriage and money. These men needed hope and focus.

32 But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. 33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife. 34 There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. 35 And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.”

No – not to be nuns and celibate. Paul is encouraging this specific situation. But, let me tell you – I am single and LOVE that I answer to no one but my Lord! And I cannot imagine how another person can fit into this. And I do not want to compromise my time with Jesus. This is a good encouragement to singles to stop focusing on what they don’t have (like a spouse) and focus on what they do have: unlimited time focused on Jesus! Which is awesome without a husband and kids to distract you.

36 But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry. 37 Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well. 38 So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better.”

Ok – a little bit to unpack here. His virgin means his daughter, or maybe a women he owns (as young woman who were unmarried often sold themselves into slavery just to have the covering and the rights and the owner could sell her into marriage, not a breeding slave marriage but a civil ceremonial marriage. It was a business deal, because women were few – men would buy them to marry. It is better, Paul says to keep her then to sell her into marriage.

39 A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment—and I think I also have the Spirit of God.”

The whole point of this is to make sure the women are protected and cared for. That they and everyone is encouraged to serve God. Paul doesn’t want to see them exploited – and is subtly calling out the corruption and exploitation of the evil treatment of marriage and woman.

I hope putting the letter back into time helps you understand it better – and then draw from it, what is still applicable to you today.

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

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