Questions and Objections, Part I, 1st Corinthians 7 and “Sex Outside Marriage”

Paradigm Determines Everything

Apparently we need to discuss 1st Corinthians 7 at length to deal with the assertion that it contains a prohibition on “sex outside marriage” and a prohibition on polygyny, which has come up in the comments.  Before I begin I’d like to thank our commenters for making rational arguments based on Scripture.  It’s quite refreshing after the recent kerfuffle on Dalrock’s blog.

We begin with the question of how we can know that something is sin.  As Christians we know something is a sin from one of two ways.

  1. The Written Word:  Romans 4:15 and 5:13 says Where there is no Law there is no violation and without a violation there is no sin imputed.  Contrary to Dalrock’s lie about me, the New Testament instruction applies to the Christian just as much as the Law.  Thus, the instruction in 1st Corinthians 6:15-16 that prohibits sex with prostitutes is binding and sex with prostitutes is a sin for all Christians.  Those things prohibited in the Law are violations (and thus sin) for everyone.
  2. The Individual’s Conscience:  Romans 14:23 says “that which is not of faith is sin” and James 4:17 says “The one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, that is sin to him.”  These are issues of conscience and what may be sin for one is not a sin for another.  Further, we are commanded (repeatedly) not to judge others in such matters.

One of the examples of an issue of conscience given in Romans 14 is keeping the Sabbath, which is commanded in the Decalogue.  Yet, Paul states that one man honors one day, another honors another day and another man honors every day as the Lord’s day.  Who are you to judge?

Another example is eating meat sacrificed to idols.  In Numbers 25, the young women of Moab enticed the people to the feasts of Baal where they “ate and bowed down” to the Baals.  Eating the meat sacrificed to the idols was part of the worship ceremony and constituted idolatry.  A death-penalty offense.  Paul said “Hey, it’s just a piece of wood or stone.  What is that compared to Christ? Give thanks and eat.”

The only way an individual gets salvation is to become one of Christ’s slaves, which means they have a Master… a Lord.   That slave is under His authority, not the authority of the Law.  Because the Master paid the penalty for sin  and was raised from the dead, His slaves are forgiven of their sins.   His slaves were purchased for a price, which He paid with His blood.  Which is why it is written

“if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Look carefully at the words “Jesus as Lord” because the confession is that Jesus is your Lord.  Your Master.  Becoming a slave of Christ after being a slave to sin under the Law is a change of status and status is important.   The status change to a slave is the essence of the New Covenant, a better covenant.  And yet, the average and even above-average Christian today will look you in the eye and tell you that slavery is immoral and a sin.

That is the result of the individual’s paradigm refusing to allow them to accept the truth.

 

Modern Christians Do Not Have A Biblical Paradigm

How many have ever met a Christian who cast out a demon, much less seen it done?  Not many, I’ll bet, but that was one of the things that Jesus and the Apostles did regularly.  Do we no longer have demons around, or is it that we feel highly uncomfortable with even the idea of taking authority in the Name of the Lord and commanding a demon to be gone?  The latter, I’m quite sure, based on numerous conversations over the years with Christians of all flavors.

What about healing people of sickness and disease?  Raising people from the dead?  Jesus and the apostles did so.  How would the average Christian feel if a fellow-Christian encountered someone who was sick and said “In the name of the Lord Jesus, I command you be healed.”  Again, based on experience, they’d be looking for a fast exit to get away from the lunatic who believed that “nutty” stuff that’s in the Bible.

The real question is whether God chose to heal that person or not.  If He didn’t, it was not His will that the person be healed and the reason (from Scripture) would be one of the following:

  • The faith of the Christian was not be sufficient to exercise that power.
  • The faith of the sick person was not sufficient to be healed.
  • God wanted that the person continue in their illness, for His reasons.
  • For some other reason God chose not to heal them.  He is Sovereign.

The average Christian would hear the words and see the failure and be convinced the individual was nuts… and look for a fast exit to get away from the nutty behavior.  But even worse would be if God chose to heal the sick person.  The average Christian who heard the words and saw it happen before their eyes?  Mind blown, they’d run for cover, later to convince themselves that it didn’t happen.  The memory would be suppressed.

What Christians have today is a paradigm that is shaped by the influence of the church’s opinions (frequently not from the Bible), the enlightenment that dethroned God and enthroned science, the theory of evolution (idolatry) and pervasive feminism (a degrading passion).

 

The Marriage Paradigm

How does marriage begin?  Jesus knew and in Matthew 19, when the subject of the grounds for divorce was brought before Him, He quoted Genesis 2:24 as the authority on marriage.  His further statement that “For the hardness of your hearts Moses permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it has not been this way” provides us with one of the keys to understanding Genesis 2:24….  because according to Christ, what is not said is just as important as what was said.

Yet, today Christians believe that marriage is begun with a procedure that isn’t in the Bible and they reject what the Bible actually says about it.   As evidenced by this discussion.  The reason is the early church was invaded by people like Jerome (a stoic) and Augustine (a Manichean) who had a hatred of sex and claimed that even within marriage sexual pleasure was a sin.  These men became thought leaders within the church and their influence was incredible.  Augustine’s opinions on sexual morality formed the foundation of the Church’s teaching on sexual morality for over 1000 years and Jerome was tapped to make the official translation of the Bible.

These men believed that sexual desire and sexual pleasure were the epitome of evil wickedness, even in marriage.  They believed it to be sinful and it was only tolerated in marriage because of the command to be fruitful and multiply.  Still, even within marriage they believed sex to be sinful unless specifically for the purpose of procreation.  Obviously if sex can be a minor sin (a venal sin) in marriage, any sex outside marriage is a mortal sin.    Because sex was so sinful (they claimed) marriage did not begin with sex, it began with consent (Roman law).  And polygyny?  Obviously the only reason a man would want multiple wives was greater sexual access and sexual variety…  for pleasure.  Polygyny was therefore forbidden as sinful and contrary to the will of God.

Fast forward to today.  I have been studying Biblical Sexual Morality for years and when I told the truth about what the Bible actually says on Dalrock’s blog, I was attacked, ridiculed, mocked and accused of starting my own religion.  Why?  Because if they admit that (as the Bible says) marriage begins when the eligible virgin has sex, then over 80% of the “Christian” in the church (including the men on Dalrock’s blog) are living in adultery because they purported to marry another man’s wife.  They were not the man to get her virginity and they were OK with that because the church told them “sex doesn’t make you married.”

That is a tough pill to swallow and they reacted with outrage.

Out of that orgy of Christian tolerance and rational debate, Dalrock stated that 1st Corinthians 7 definitively instructs Christians that “sex outside marriage” is a sin in order to support his Special Sauce doctrine of marriage.  Underlying this assertion is the idea is that God got it wrong in Genesis 2:24 and having sex and becoming one flesh does not make one married, there has to be something more.   Dalrock claims there has to be some Special Sauce that makes a couple married.  He claims God didn’t tell us what Special Sauce consists of, but he’s sure it’s a requirement and without it God will not recognize a marriage.

 

Virgins and Non-Virgins, A Status Difference

Interestingly, Dalrock pointed to 1st Corinthians 6:16 and (correctly) made the point that when prostitutes have sex and become one flesh with their customers, they are not married to them.  He used this point to incorrectly claim that because that happens with prostitutes, it means sexual intercourse and becoming one flesh with a virgin doesn’t make her married.  His claim is incorrect because according to his logic, Adam and Eve were not married.  However, in making the claim he pointed to the fact that an eligible non-virgin can choose to have sex while not choosing to consent to marriage.  He refused to recognize the difference in status between an eligible virgin and an eligible non-virgin in order to support his doctrine.

Some claim that if an eligible non-virgin chooses to have sex she is likewise choosing to consent to marriage.  1st Corinthians 6:16 proves this is not the case, otherwise all prostitution would be adultery because the prostitute would be married to the first customer and committing adultery with all the rest.  Why didn’t Paul simply tell the men not to commit adultery with the prostitutes?  Because they were not married and not committing adultery.  The fact an eligible non-virgin can choose to have sex without choosing to be married is proved by prostitutes.

The doctrine of Special Sauce and “no sex outside marriage” go hand in hand, you can’t have one without the other.  If “sex outside marriage” is a sin, it’s something that can be confessed and forgiven.  If there is no Biblical requirement for the Special Sauce because God got it right in Genesis 2:24, then the eligible virgin is married with the act of sex and God makes the two one flesh.  If that’s the case (and it is) then over 80% of the couples in the church are living in adultery, which means something needs to be done about that situation.  There are solutions, but they require admitting that the doctrine that has been traditionally taught is a lie.

That is the issue.  This is not about “Toad claims you can bang women outside marriage and not be in sin!” but rather “How does marriage begin?”   The “sex outside marriage” argument is and always has been a giant shaming exercise designed to attack anyone who pointed to the Bible’s clear instruction on how marriage begins.  This is an example:

Commenter Gary Eden questioned why the major point (the eligible virgin is married with sex) was being avoided and instead all manner of side issues were being pursued.

That is the problem with this whole comment thread. You are all starting from the belief/tradition that prostitution is wrong; rather than going to scripture to determine what the opinion of God is on the matter. More interested in shaming AT than dealing with the truth.

No, rather than seek out the truth, we’ll associate all these arguments with prostitution in order to shame them and mock them for trying to reason things out.

That is, in fact, exactly what was happening.  Dalrock’s response was that I write nutty things.  Then he laid down a shaming attack on Gary Eden for questioning the narrative.  Rather than refute the point about prostitutes (he tried and failed), he brands the truth as “nutty” and starts shaming:

My question to you is: Did you not notice these nutty things and are defending them in error? Or did you notice the nutty things and like them, which is why you are defending them?

There you have it:  The search for the truth is “nutty” according to churchians.

 

1st Corinthians 7 and “Sex Outside Marriage”

Based on what the text says, 1st Corinthians 7:1-9 provides no prohibition on “sex outside marriage”, nor does it prohibit polygyny.  We begin with the text (NASB), translators additions are in italic:

Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. The husband must  [a]fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and  [b]come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. But this I say by way of concession, not of command.   7 [c]Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.

But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

  • [a] 1 Corinthians 7:3 Lit render
  • [b] 1 Corinthians 7:5 Lit be
  • [c] 1 Corinthians 7:7 One early ms reads For

In the previous post about the kerfuffle at Dalrocks blog, concerning the doctrine that 1st Corinthians 7 prohibited “sex outside marriage” I made my objection from the text, not based on what I want the text to say.  What follows is a more complete explication than what was stated previously:

Paul specifically addressed sex outside marriage in 1st Corinthians 7:1.

“It Is Good Not To Touch A Woman”

The word translated as “touch” is the Greek word haptomai, which means “I fasten to; I lay hold of, touch, know carnally and Paul is obviously using the “know carnally” meaning in this passage.  How do we know?  The context of the instruction is sex and marriage.

The word translated into English as “woman” is gynaikos, a form ofguné.   This word is translated as either “wife” or “woman”, although more often it is translated as “woman”.  Given the context of the instruction he gave immediately afterward, he is obviously not saying it is good not to have sex with your wife.

If the woman is not a wife, then obviously carnal knowledge of such a woman is, by definition, sex outside marriage.  That is irrefutable.

In the previous chapter Paul explicitly forbid men from having sex with prostitutes and said such activity was sexual immorality.  In addition, adultery (the sin of a married woman having sex with a man who is not her husband) was forbidden in the Law.  So was incest and male homosexuality.  These acts are known as “sexual immorality” because they are specifically forbidden in the Law.  However, “sex outside marriage” between a man and woman who are eligible to marry is not prohibited anywhere else in Scripture and when Paul addressed the issue directly, all he had to say on the subject was (paraphrasing)

“It’s good to not do that.” 

Paul was a Pharisee of Pharisees and he knew exactly what God’s Law said and didn’t say.  He knew that marriage begins with sex and sometimes…  sex “outside marriage” is just sex that doesn’t result in marriage and it’s not sin.  Why is it not a sin?  Because its not prohibited.  It might be a sin for the individual because they are convicted by their conscience that it is wrong, but it is not a sin for everyone because it is not prohibited.

Dalrock claimed I was using Romans 4:15 and 5:13 (where there is no Law there is no violation; and where there is no violation there is no sin imputed) to obviate the requirement for obedience to New Testament instruction, specifically his doctrine that 1st Corinthians 7 creates a prohibition on “sex outside marriage”.  That is a lie, I have always acknowledged that New Testament instruction is binding on Christians and I teach that.  The conflict is he sees a prohibition in 1st Corinthians 7 that supports his false doctrine, but the passage in question does not contain any such prohibition.

Rather than prohibit sexual activity “outside marriage” as Dalrock claims, Paul actually said “it is good to not have sex a woman who is not your wife”.  Meaning, “yes, that is permitted, but it’s good not to do that.”  

The major takeway is that if sex outside marriage were a sin then there is no way Paul could have said “it’s good not to do that” because the direct implication and logical conclusion of that statement is such activity is permitted.  And guess what:  Such activity was always permitted, including sex with prostitutes (Paul only prohibited that in the previous chapter of the same letter).   Which supports the point that marriage begins when the eligible virgin has sex.  The only conclusion we can draw from this statement in 1st Corinthians 7:1 is that nothing has changed, but “It is good not to do that.”

Obviously, some are not convinced, so let’s compare this to the rest of Scripture.

 

What Does A New Testament Prohibition Look Like?

Looking at the previous chapter, we see something that was previously permitted being prohibited:  sex with prostitutes.   In 1st Corinthians 6:12-20 we have a pristine example of a New Testament rule being put in place that definitely prohibits something that the Law did not prohibit.  The instruction is clear and explicit, leaving no doubt what is being prohibited and to whom it applies.  Observe the prohibition:

15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! 16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” 17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. 18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the [j]immoral man sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a [k]temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from [l]God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

That is what a New Testament prohibition of something that was not forbidden by the Law looks like.  Observe that it applies only to Christians and thus does not apply to those who are not one body with Christ, so it falls outside the prohibition on adding to or subtracting from the Law (Deut 4:2, 12:32).  This is one of the “house rules” for slaves of Christ.  Do we have any other examples of changes were made in the New Testament that prohibited actions that were permitted under the Law?  As it happens, we do.

1st Corinthians 7:10-15 comes to mind.

10 But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not [d]leave her husband 11 (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not [e]divorce his wife.

12 But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not [f]divorce her. 13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not [g]send her husband away. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through [h]her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. 15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called [i]us [j]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?

  • 1 Corinthians 7:10 Lit depart from
  • 1 Corinthians 7:11 Or leave his wife
  • 1 Corinthians 7:12 Or leave her
  • 1 Corinthians 7:13 Or leave her husband
  • 1 Corinthians 7:14 Lit the brother
  • 1 Corinthians 7:15 One early ms reads you
  • 1 Corinthians 7:15 Lit in

That prohibition is very specific as to what is being prohibited (divorce) as well as who it applies (Christians) to and how it applies.  The right of a husband (under the Law) to divorce his Christian wife for adultery does not exist for Christian men and unlike the Law, there is no exception for adultery.   Interestingly, we see Paul being very clear that the instruction is not from him in his Apostolic authority, but from Christ.

Another example of a New Testament prohibition is found in 2nd Corinthians 6:14-18.

14 Do not be [a]bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with [b]Belial, or [c]what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,

“I will dwell in them and walk among them;
And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
17 “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord.
And do not touch what is unclean;
And I will welcome you.
18 “And I will be a father to you,
And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,”
Says the Lord Almighty.

  • 2 Corinthians 6:14 Lit unequally yoked
  • 2 Corinthians 6:15 Gr Beliar
  • 2 Corinthians 6:15 Lit what part has a believer with an unbeliever

Again, another clear and specific prohibition that leaves no doubt who it applies to (Christians only), what is being prohibited (marriage to unbelievers) and why.

Notice also that Paul wrote each of these prohibitions.

Do we see anything in 1st Corinthians 7:1-9 that even approaches a clearly stated prohibition of something that has previously been permitted?  No, just the opposite.  What we see is Paul saying “It is good not to have sex with a woman who is not your wife.”  A few verses later Paul said to the unmarried and widows “is good for them if they remain even as I (unmarried)”  Is that a prohibition of marriage?  Of course not.  Neither was there a prohibition of “sex outside marriage” in verse one.

 

Digging A Bit Deeper

Paul addressed “outside of marriage” by saying “It is good not to have sex with a woman who is not your wife.”  But, what kind of woman is he talking about and what kind of sex is he talking about?

  1. If the man and woman are not eligible to marry because the woman is already married, such as the man and woman Paul used as an example in Chapter 5 (he had his father’s wife), then obviously their union is the sin of adultery.  Paul is not talking about that sort of woman because sex with her is forbidden.
  2. Paul is certainly not talking about sex with prostitutes because he forbid doing that in the previous chapter.
  3. If the woman is a virgin, they are married with that act and it is marriage sex, not “sex outside marriage”.  If the woman is not a virgin, is eligible to marry and she consents to marry, they are married with that act and it is marriage sex, not “sex outside marriage”.  Paul could be talking about this sort of sexual relationship because he thought it better if Christians didn’t marry in order that they might focus on the Lord.  However, I doubt it.
  4. If the woman is not a virgin and eligible to marry, but the sex is more of a FWB relationship because neither one of them really want to get married, they are not in sin for having sex and the sex does not result in marriage because the woman did not consent to marry.  I believe it is more likely Paul is talking about this situation when he said “It is good not to do that.”

Understand that we DO NOT KNOW what matters the people of Corinth wrote to Paul about, but what we do know is it concerned them enough that they wrote to him about it.  His response was “It is good not to have sex with a woman who is not your wife.”

If Paul were prohibiting such activity, would he have made the statement “It is good not to do that” or would he have made an explicit, definite prohibition that specified who it applied to and why?

When we compare what he said in verse one to the three examples of New Testament prohibitions for Christians that took away their rights under the Law, the difference is obvious.  Paul was not forbidding “sex outside of marriage” in any way, he simply said “It is good not to do that.”   In observing that there are three prohibitions placed on Christians that took away their rights under the Law, we should understand that IF the Lord had instructed Paul to forbid “sex outside marriage” he would have done so.  Yet, he did not.

Logically, the reason is obvious:  Marriage begins with sex because a man marries a woman with the act of sex.  To forbid “sex outside marriage” is to forbid marriage.

Further objections will be dealt with in the next post.

 

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3 Responses to Questions and Objections, Part I, 1st Corinthians 7 and “Sex Outside Marriage”

  1. SnapperTrx says:

    Will need to go over this post a few times to fully understand it.

  2. Tracy Giles says:

    I thought the Father designed sexual intercourse as a means of procreation, and bonding for the purpose of strong family structure.

    What’s the point in a fwb? Logically one could argue companionship, but what happens if she gets pregnant (as is wont to happen)?

    Seems fwb=concubine.

    • I can agree with the procreation and bonding, but men have a physical need for sex as well. Women? Not so much.

      A woman’s fertility peaks around 23-24 and goes downhill from there. At around 30-32 her fertility goes into free fall. By age 40 only 5 out of 100 women can get pregnant. Typically menopause doesn’t occur until the early 50’s. Under God’s plan a woman grows up and gets married when she first has intercourse. After that she’s a married woman until her husband dies.

      But, what about the woman in her 40’s who no longer has a husband? Babies are not an issue because her time has passed. It is unlikely she would meet a man who wants her as his only wife, but she could become a second (or third wife) in an established household. She can also choose to not be married again.

      There is also a status issue. Virgins have no agency, women who have been through the process of marriage and are no longer bound do have agency (c.f. Numbers 30:9). If a woman has reached the point in her life that she won’t have children and she’s free to choose to marry or not, the point that bothers Christians more than anything else is she is likewise free to choose to have sex and if her conscience doesn’t convict her she is not in sin.

      A concubine is a slave.

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