What Does the Bible Say About Sex?

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 7:1-9, Mark 1:30, John 2:1-12
What does the Bible say about celibacy? This broadcast focuses on a passage in 1 Corinthians 7. Does it teach it is better to be single than to be married? Is it a commandment of God to be single?
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Announcer: It's time now for Bible Talk. Join our hosts Gary Gibbs and John Bradshaw, speakers for the Amazing Facts Ministry as they now open the Bible and discuss themes that affect your life today. Stay tuned because the next 15 minutes will deepen your understanding of God's word.

John Bradshaw: Hi friend and welcome again to Bible Talk. I'm John Bradshaw and with me is Gary Gibbs.

Gary Gibbs: Hi, John. It's good to be with you today. Question for you, what are we going to talk about today?

John: Well, today, I thought that we might just tackle a pretty interesting passage of the scripture found in 1 Corinthians 7.

Gary: John, before you go there, I can say one word that is going to really get people to tune in.

John: What's that?

Gary: S-E-X, sex.

John: OK.

Gary: They're all thinking, "We're on a Christian talk show here."

John: This is Bible Talk.

Gary: This is Bible Talk.

John: What is sex all about?

Gary: We're going to talk about celibacy.

John: OK, let's do it.

Gary: Because there is this teaching out there that if you're going to serve God, you have to be celibate. You cannot be in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex and that's the text that we're going to go to here in 1 Corinthians 7, isn't it?

John: Verse eight, Paul says, "I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I."

Gary: Then verse seven, go back one verse.

John: Yes, thank you. "For I would that all men were even as I myself but every men has his proper gift of God one after this manner and another after that."

Gary: Now, I was telling you before the program, John, that celibacy is a gift. In fact, I heard one preacher say it was a spiritual gift. That's a gift God gives people and Paul says I've got this gift and if others have it, that's good because in verse, what is it? Verse 33, he says, "He that is married cares for the things that are of this world, how he may please his wife." And so, if you really want to serve God, stay unmarried, don't get in a sexual relationship with someone of the opposite gender and that's the way you serve God. Their whole church as, you and I are aware of that teach that if you're going to be a minister of God, that's what you have to do.

John: Yes. Now, if you look at what the Bible says all the way around, I don't think the Bible awards Brownie points to anybody for remaining celibate. Now if somebody chooses to do that, that's fine but you can't become righteous by celibacy in any way at all. Look at verse nine at 1 Corinthians 7. Now you know something this is very important as you look at the wider implications of the subject dealing with purity, faithfulness, fidelity, the marriage relation, marriage vows, very important. Verse 9, "If they cannot contain, let them marry." People love this verse, "It is better to marry than to burn."

John: Does that mean to burn in hell or what?

Gary: Well, for some people, that's what it would be like, no question about it. It's better to get married if you cannot handle the discipline of the single life. That would be the discipline of celibacy. Paul said, "You can be like me if you like. We're assuming from this, deducing from this, therefore was unmarried." Not in a marriage relationship. Look something here that's very, very important. He says, "If you'd like to be celibate, that's OK. If you can't remain celibate then do what?" Then get...

John: Then marry.

Gary: Marry. Now this is important because you've got a growing movement. How could it possibly get any bigger? Of people today who consider the idea of marriage to be passé. It's something you don't do anymore. You just move in, you shack up together, you live in sin. We don't call that anymore.

John: Yes, we don't call it shacking up anymore.

Gary: There's no problem with that. I've read an interesting magazine article recently about a professional tennis player, a female and it was in a sports magazine. This is a woman who's won at least one major tennis tournament and she's a Christian. It talked about the Bible, the well worn Bible that sits on her nightstand beside her bed every night and then it just happen to casually mention as part of the story. She shares that bed with a man who is not her husband but this is a good Christian and then maybe a Christian way to carry on your life.

Now Paul said, "If you can't contain yourself then the way out of that is to marry." That's appropriate.

Gary: Now, it's interesting too because there are some people who say it's a commandment of God to be celibate. If you're really going to serve God, it's commanded by God but you don't find it in the Bible.

John: No, you don't.

Gary: In fact in the 1 Corinthians 7:6 reading back a couple of verses, Paul says, "I speak this by permission and not of commandment." He says, "This is just my take on things that because I'm single, it frees me up to be able to do things and administer in a certain way that others can't."

John: Now, let me throw a curveball to you. Are you suggesting this was Paul's idea and not God's idea? So maybe where Paul said something else, it was just his idea and not God's idea? Here, he's not inspired. You better clarify that up before someone gets the wrong idea.

Gary: No, the Bible said... Yes, thank you John. The Bible says all scripture is inspired by God.

John: Right.

Gary: The Holy Spirit inspired it but the inspiration there is applicable in different ways depending on your situation. It's an inspired idea, yes. When I was single, in some ways, I was freer to travel and do that type of ministry like missionary work like what Paul did.

John: Right.

Gary: Now today, in fact, I'll be moving soon, I'm moving the whole family now. It really slows you down. I've seen all the suitcases in the back of your car, you're getting ready to fly to the other coast here and it slows you down.

John: That's for real.

Gary: But that's OK. Paul just said, "I've got insight here, personal insight."

John: Sure.

Gary: This might be helpful to you. That's an inspired idea but it's not applicable to everybody.

John: Yes, I think perhaps the passage bears that out. He says, "I'm letting you know that if you want to go this route, that's OK. If you'd rather go that way, that's OK, too." There's no definitive commandment that says if you want to be a minister in some capacity, celibacy is the only way to go.

Gary: I think that's important to spend some time John looking at this because this teaching of celibacy really has caused a lot of trouble within the Christian church, hasn't it?

John: I believe it has. No question about that. In spite of the fact that writing to the Hebrews, the writer says and many of us, most of us, I'm sure believe that it's Paul, "Marriage is honorable in all and the bed," and honestly that's talking about the act of physical intimacy. "The bed is undefiled." There's no question that God looks up on marriage and the physical joining of two people in an appropriate marriage relationship as healthy, decent, proper, a blessing, a gift from God, no question. God created Adam, created Eve and then brought them together and they lived as married. This is God's idea. A healthy marriage and a healthy physical relationship within a marriage is God's idea and it's designed to be a blessing.

Gary: It really is and in ministers who have not been married in some faith beliefs, they teach celibacy. Those churches have really struggled with a lot of issues of immorality in those churches. You can go back centuries and many thinking people within those phase will say it's because of the teaching of celibacy.

John: You're enjoining upon people that which could be appropriate if it was their choice but to issue it as a commandment as a dictum, as a fear, as a decree opens up all kinds of problems and difficulties that I know the Lord God didn't intend to be there when He brought Adam and Eve together in the first marriage.

Gary: Now, let me ask you a question, how about the apostle Peter? Surely St. Peter, he was celibate. I mean he's the first head of the church. Some people would say he's the first Pope.

John: That seems it.

Gary: Wasn't he celibate and don't we date all of this celibacy back to Peter?

John: Well, if you've read your Bible, you know that Peter certainly wasn't celibate or if he was celibate then he certainly had a frustrated sort of arrangement with his wife. It says in Mark chapter 1. You think that's odd. Boy, I tell it would be a difficult situation if he ended into a marriage celibate.

Gary: It probably wouldn't have been much of a marriage, would it?

John: They needed counseling. Mark 1:30 where the Bible says, "But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever, and Anon they tell him of her." You read about Simon Peter's wife. He was a fellow who was married. No question about it. There are some who say, "Well, no you ought to be celibate and the priest ought to be celibate and the Pope ought to be celibate." St. Peter, if that's the route you go down certainly didn't live as a celibate man. He didn't play by the rules.

Gary: No. He had to have been married. Let's to go back to something you said earlier. You were talking about marriage, you talked about cohabiting and that's quite a popular thing today. People want to cohabit, see if they're compatible before they get married.

John: Popular, it's the norm. It's what everybody is doing out there and I wish more people weren't.

Gary: There are so much divorce. People's hearts have been hurt and broken. I think most people would want to be united in one life-long relationship and never be divorced.

John: Let me open up a couple of things here and my recent experiences have shone a light on this thing. I think we all know if we don't, we do now that statistic shows that couples who live together before marriage experience a high rate of divorce.

Gary: That's right, than those who do not cohabit or have premarital sex.

John: Absolutely right, and then the idea of, "Well, we'll just live together," you what very often happens? People say, "Well, we'll just live together." Then they make little children and they're saying, "We don't love enough to get married. We only love enough to cohabit and live together." Listen, that is not providing a strong framework and a secure future for the children that you've just chosen to bring into the world. There's no commitment there so that child, you can talk about it and you can pretend but that child does not have the security of two parents who have made a lifelong commitment to each other. You cannot claim to have made a commitment to your child if you haven't made a commitment to the parent.

I'm not talking about folks who've had the unfortunate experience of divorce. I'm not talking about abandonment. I'm not criticizing you. I'm simply saying there are people who choose to be together, choose to make babies but choose not to get married and that is not healthy or good or right for anybody involved.

Gary: John, let's talk about what does marriage really look like in the Bible because I've had people tell me and I'm sure you've heard it as well, "Hey, in God's sight, we're married." In some states, the state where I live, you're considered married after you live together for certain number of years.

John: All right.

Gary: It's common law of marriage, but in the Bible, what did marriage look like? Obviously, God says, "Adulterous sin, fornication, sex outside of marriage or before marriage is a sin." There's something definitely defined as marriage. What did they do? Did the couple just walk off together and they're considered married? What's marriage about?

John: Well, not if you read the Bible. Listen, in John 2, the Bible says, "The third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee." The mother of Jesus was there and Jesus was there and his disciples, they all went to the wedding. This is where Jesus turned the water into wine. Here, you've got a situation where the parties did something. They joined themselves to get in the public ceremony before witnesses, before people looking on, this have the blessing of family, friends, the blessing of society.

God's plan is something called marriage. He says back in the Old Testament speaking to the church, he said, "I am married to you." You read about the marriage supper, how Christ is going to come and receive his bride. You read that through the New Testament so God's idea is marriage and this is a marriage when we are given insight into this that is done publicly and with a little bit of fanfare. You read the Parable of the Ten Virgins.

Gary: Matthew 20, what, 25.

John: 25.

Gary: And then Matthew 22, "The kingdom of heaven is like a marriage."

John: Exactly right.

Gary: The Parable of the Wedding Garment.

John: And so the Wedding Garment, there's a feast, there's something public taking place. You don't find in the Bible somebody just latching on to somebody else and going off on their own and hello now, we believe we're married. This was something that was done with the blessing of family, the blessing of society and the blessing of God.

Gary: And today, we have to put that in our society and say, "What is the public declaration? What does society recognize as marriage?" In society today, it is a declaration that is blessed by the state where the state says you are married.

John: Absolutely.

Gary: Anything outside of that is outside of marriage.

John: And outside of marriage, what are we looking at? Fornication, adultery, you read what God says about that, takes a different view.

Gary: That brings so much sorrow and sadness.

John: And misery, that's right. God's plan is always best and friend it's best when you you're here on Bible Talk. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you more again next time at Bible Talk. [music]

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