1 Corinthians 7:1-16

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These small group studies of 1 Corinthians contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

1 Corinthians 7:1-16 Inductive Bible Study and Discussion Questions

Outline:

  1. Sexual Limits (verses 1-2) (Sex is serious, only to be exercised in marriage)

    1. The best is to never have sex (1)

    2. Marriage is the only place it can be properly exercised and is better than immorality (2)

  2. Principles for sex in a marriage (3-6) (Marriage is serious, you are literally giving yourself to another)

    1. The husband or wife has a sexual duty to their spouse (3)

    2. The wife belongs to the husband and vice-versa (4)

    3. Sex is not a toy or to be manipulated (5)

    4. The only reason for a “fast” is mutual focus on the Lord for a time, but not a permanent thing (5)

    5. This is provision for our weaknesses as humans rather than a command (6)

  3. The gift of celibacy (7-9) (Singleness is serious, it is to be used for the glory of God)

    1. Celibacy is a gift to some (7-8)

    2. But it is not a gift for everyone (9)

  4. How to deal with an unequally yoked marriage? (10-16) (Divorce is serious, do not do it)

    1. Once married, one should stay married. Don’t divorce. (10-11)

    2. Even an unequally yoked believer should not divorce (12-13)

      1. The family will receive blessings through the believing party (14)

      2. If the unbeliever divorces the believer, let them. You are free. (15)

      3. You don’t know that you can “save” the other party (16)

Cross References

Into questions-

What issue/issues is Paul addressing in these verses?

Why does he want to address these issues?

Are his answers to be applied only to that group of believers in Corinth or to all believers for all time? Why?

Intro – In these verses Paul answers some of the questions they previously had asked him about sex, marriage, divorce, and so on. These are big, big issues that relate to the deepest parts of our heart. The Bible is not silent. God knows how important these issues are to us and doesn’t leave us to walk in the dark and make the best way that we can. The norm is for believers to follow the pattern of the culture around them. But this is NEVER right for believers to do for any issue, especially such an important one. The Bible is our standard, NOT culture. It’s important that we first understand this. God created marriage. He designed us as sexual beings. He also laid down the principles that we have to follow. Like everything else, Satan has twisted this and perverted it in a hundred different ways. So let’s look to see what the Bible says on some of these issues and make up our minds to follow it and not just our own ideas or culture.

  1. Sex is serious 1-2

What does it mean not to “touch a woman”?

What can we learn in verses 1-2 about the boundaries for sex?

Genesis 1:27-28,31 – God created marriage and blessed it and pronounced it “very good”.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-7 – Sanctification and purity.

Ruth 2:9, Proverbs 6:7 – Touching as a euphemism for sex.

Ephesians 5:3 – Fornication should not even be named among you.

Deuteronomy 5:18, Proverbs 6:32 – Do not commit adultery.

Questions. From these verses we learn that sex is serious. Touching a woman is a Jewish euphemism for sex. Many people, especially guys, think that it is good if you can do it. But here it is says it is good not to do it. It’s something to be refrained from. Does that mean we can never have sex? Why then did God create it? We can, but there are boundaries. What are the boundaries? The boundaries are found in verse 2 and also in verse 9. The boundary is marriage. The Bible repeats this again and again. Marriage is the only proper place to exercise our spirituality. There is no other outlet, whether through prostitute, girl friend, self-gratification, or just casual sex. These are all various forms of immorality. How can we do it without immorality, get married!

Why is it so serious? Why can we not just enjoy it like we enjoy movies or sports or anything else? Isn’t it just biological? NO. Remember last week. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Sex is a joining. It is a physical and emotional bond, not to be taken lightly. A big problem in our society is the “casualization” of sex. What are some problems with it? Besides direct disobedience to God, this can cause long lasting emotional scars on both sides. It can create a habit of lust and looking for beauty. It can make people less committed when their true wife comes along. It will cause more divorces in the future (stat about those who live with each other before marriage). It can cause comparing within a marriage. Read Proverbs 6:32. Sexual sin is extremely destructive. It is playing with fire and one can’t help but to be burned.

So, marriage is the ONLY outlet for sex. Where can we sign up? Not so fast. Just as sex is serious so is marriage.

3-6 (Marriage is serious, you are literally giving yourself to another)

Explain verses 3-4. What is the principle of marriage revealed in these verses?

How is this different from a single person?

What does it mean in verse 5 to deprive one another? Why should a couple not do this?

What is the one reason they can do it?

Notice also the wife and husband are to have their “own” spouse. Notice also the words “duty” and “authority”. We learn several things from these verses:

  1. Sex is both a duty and a right within marriage.

This means we should not look at sex as merely something to please our own desires. It is not merely self-gratification. It, like everything else in the life of a believer, is not to be self-centered. It is meant to please the other side.

  1. A spouse is literally giving himself to his spouse. You know longer belong to yourself.

This is an important principle in marriage. YOU ARE NO LONGER YOUR OWN. Your body, physically and emotionally belongs to your spouse. This applies to sex, but it applies to every area of a couple’s life. This was one of the biggest areas of adjustment for me. Before I could choose my own bedtime, choose my own schedule. I could go here or there pretty much as I pleased. But “marriage shock” is that I am no longer answerable just to myself. This “marriage shock” will be very great to some people who lived independently, perhaps by themselves, for a long time.

Marriage is a very serious thing. It is giving yourself to another. You no longer belong to yourselves, but to your wife. Are you ready to give up your freedom? Are you ready to be unselfish and care for a wife first?

  1. Sex is a normal part of marriage that should be practiced

Sex is not a toy. It is not to be manipulated. It is not to be given out as a reward or withheld as a punishment. Abuse of sex in a marriage is one of the biggest causes for divorce. What is the problem with depriving? It lends to temptation, especially for the guy. Sex keeps a couple close together. It is not a bad thing, but a good thing.

I’ve heard the thought go around in China, especially by mothers-in-law, that sex is only for having a child. After that, the wife should not do it anymore. This is wrong and sinful behavior, and will likely contribute to the husband falling into temptation elsewhere.

Also, it is an indicator that a husband and wife should not live apart for a long period of time. That is another possible cause of temptation.

  1. The main reason not to do it (and this only for a time) is to especially focus on the Lord. This would be kind of like a physical fasting, but is not to be long-term as that opens the door for temptation.

7-9

The gift of celibacy – Singleness is serious; it is to be used for the glory of God

What is the “gift” revealed in these verses? Why is this a gift and how is it to be used? Do you have this gift?

Why is it important to get married if you don’t have this gift?

1 Corinthians 7:32-35

1 Timothy 4:3-4 – Cults teach you shouldn’t marry, but it was pronounced good by God and should be rejected.

So you say, you’re not married, what does this lesson have for you? Firstly, it can remind you of the limits of sex and prepare you for the seriousness and responsibility of marriage and prepare you to be a good husband one day.

But secondly, it can remind all of us that singleness is not a bad thing. Actually, to many it is a gift. There are two kinds of singleness (what is that?) temporary singleness and permanent singleness.

Temporary-

Maybe you don’t have the gift of celibacy. That doesn’t mean that your singleness is a waste of time. Definitely not. It is a time to develop your relationship to God so that you will be prepared for marriage and it is a time to un-dividedly serve the Lord while you are able to focus on that even more fully.

Permanent-

This is even better than temporary singleness. Paul himself appears to have been single permanently and to have this gift. It is not a bad thing, but to whom it has been given it is a “good” thing. Yet if someone doesn’t have this gift, then they will burn with passion so they should get married. Why is this a gift? Read 1 Cor 7:32-35.

A person with this gift has unique opportunities to serve the Lord. Think of Paul and Peter. Peter was married. Paul wasn’t. Paul was far more free to travel around the world to do ministry than Peter. There is a real sense where a believing husband’s interests on divided. He will definitely have less time to do ministry. However, for a believing husband his wife and children can also be his ministry. Neither one is right for everyone. Both are good and both are to be done whole-heartedly for the glory of the Lord.

10-16

Divorce is serious. Do not do it, even if your spouse is an unbeliever.

Matthew 19:3-9 – Jesus spoke out on divorce.

Malachi 2:16 – God hates divorce.

What is God’s principle on divorce?

As believers can we divorce? What is the biblical reason/reasons for divorce?

Since you are not married yet what impact will this have on you?

What impact would this have on the family? On culture? On the church?

If a believer does divorce can he/she get remarried?

What impact should that have on you?

12-16

10-11

Just as marriage is serious before God, so is ending it. Culture has turned marriage into almost a kind of test. Try for awhile and see if it works. God views it very differently. It is a lifelong commitment. We are not to go into marriage thinking that divorce is a way out if it goes wrong. One who gets married is taking a vow before the Lord. He should not take it lightheartedly. God hates divorce. It was not part of His plan from the beginning. Man and woman are designed to be lifelong mates. Read cross-references and questions.

Divorce wrecks the home, wrecks the children, wrecks the spouses. It wrecks society. The Bible only gives three legitimate ways out of marriage. One, is death. This breaks the bond. Two, is adultery. We should remember too that believers should forgive even seventy times seven times. A mistake, even one as serious as adultery, can and should be forgiven by a spouse as they try to fix the marriage and make it right. Only if it is a perpetual problem with no repentance is divorce really an option. Third, is if an unbelieving spouse (probably the believer became so after marriage) wants to divorce the believer and cannot be talked out of it. We’ll look at that in a minute.

In Jewish history, any little thing was used as a grounds for divorce, including burning dinner. This is not a biblical concept. Marriage is holy and sacred. And we should also remember what marriage is a picture of. What is it a picture of? Ephesians 5. Marriage is a picture of Christ and the church. Does Christ ever divorce, put away, or reject the church? No. As believers, we need to live out this picture so the world can see how Christ loves the church.

12-16

What should a believer do if she/he is married to an unbeliever?

What does it mean that a wife or husband is sanctified as their spouse?

What should a believer do if their husband/wife refuses to stay together? Can they get married again?

The simple rule for believers married to unbelievers is this: Try to stay married, but if the unbeliever refuses then let it go. Again, we should be reminded that the Bible is also clear believers should marry believers. This is talking to those who were saved after married or to those who sinned and got married anyway, but maybe changed their minds later.

Why stay married? The blessings God gives to the believer overflows to the whole family, including husband/wife and children. The good example of the husband could lead to the salvation of their wife and vice-versa. It doesn’t teach that the whole family is saved through one. Other Scripture is clear it is an individual decision. Yet one member of the family can have a big impact on the rest.

1. Sex is serious, only for marriage. 2. Marriage is serious, you are giving yourselves to another.

3. Singleness is serious, it is for the Lord. 4. Divorce is serious, it is only for the extreme case of adultery.

Study 1 Corinthians 7:17-40

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