Marriage is not a cure

One of the most pernicious lies to come out of the “purity” movement is the lie that a young man can cure his ungodly lusts by getting married.

The damage that this has done to marriage is astounding. All false doctrine destroys in one way or another.

Young women are guilted into marriage, and the subjected to all sorts of abuse inflicted on them. And then they are denied any sort of help or relief, because “God hates divorce”, which isn’t even in the Bible.

So let me give you a interpretive guide. According to Jesus, everything in the scripture is for the purpose of increasing our love for God and our love for our neighbor. (Matthew 22:36-40)

So if you believe that Scripture is giving you a justification for marital rape, abuse, assault, neglect and any other forms of hatred, I am here to warn you and to disabuse you of that notion.

God hates pride, scorning, reviling and the twisting of sexuality into a weapon of hatred.

So, where does the idea come from that if a man is burning with ungodly lust, then he is to get married and inflicted it on his wife?

From this passage:

8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I.
9 But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn. (1 Cor. 7:8-9)

Is Paul really teaching that self-control comes from pouring your lust upon your spouse? That cleansing and healing come another way than by the gospel?

Certainly not.

Paul is answering a specific question. First century Christians had a lot of questions about life and how to live now that Christ has come. Some early Christians were plaguing the church by teaching that really holy Christians didn’t get married. Others taught that really holy Christians were always married. Paul answers one of these questions, and then another.

In our text, he is responding to the accusation that he wasn’t really an apostle because God intended people to be married, and Paul wasn’t married. Paul is answering that accusation.

But he doesn’t want the “anti-marriage” party to have ammunition either. He is promoting love, not quarrels over the law.

So now, suppose there are two young people who have fallen in love. Both are believers. They can hardly sleep at night. They long to hold one another and live together as husband and wife.

And someone tells them that they can’t marry because…whatever reason they wish to insert here.

Paul is teaching them that marriage is good, designed by God. Sexuality is created by God and is good. A whole book in the Bible is about godly sexuality and how it is a picture of Christ and his church.

When we deny the right of  lovers to marry in the Lord, we are needlessly putting them at risk of fornication, but far worse than that, we are denying the goodness of God’s creation, teaching them that there is something about their bodies that is evil and wrong. False teaching about sexuality always increase shame and guilt and drive us into hiding, just as it did with our first parents in the Garden.

Even if they manage to avoid sinning against God, they are burning with passion with no relief in sight. It is like telling a starving man that food is a sin. It is not only wrong, it increases the torment of the conscience with no relief.

This is Paul’s concern. Let them marry!

He does not at all mean that a man who is addicted to pornography, violence, ungodly lusts and other sins can be “cured” by inflicting them on his wife.

There is only one cure for that. Repentance and faith and crying out daily for the gift of the Spirit.

Jesus died for us so that we might live. He did not die that we might continue in our pursuit of death.

Marriage is about love and unity, becoming “one flesh”. Sex is powerful and can become a tremendous weapon of hatred against those who are supposed to be safe. Love is safe, affirming, mutual and life-giving. Hatred destroys.

Don’t use the Bible to justify hatred.

6 Comments

Filed under Marriage, Sex

6 responses to “Marriage is not a cure

  1. Cynthia W.

    Rev. Powell, I was uncomfortable with this phrasing regarding the Song of Solomon:

    “A whole book in the Bible is about godly sexuality and how it is a picture of Christ and his church.”

    I think a whole book in the Bible about the love of Christ for his church, use sexual imagery because that is evocative of intense feeling in the natural man.

    • Thank you for the comment. I’m not quite sure what you are getting at here. Are you uncomfortable about my characterization of the Song as a book about godly sexuality?

      • Cynthia W.

        Yes, sir. I think the phrase “about godly sexuality” points the emphasis at a distraction. That’s why I suggested that the book is “about the love of Christ for his church,” and the use of human-sexuality imagery is illustrative of the book’s point, rather than being the point.

      • I understand. Thanks for the comment and the explanation.
        I think we must first understand the literal before we go to the type. The overall point is that God created sexuality and called it “very good”.

      • Cynthia W.

        ‘The overall point is that God created sexuality and called it “very good”.’
        That’s a tautology, I suppose, in that God called the entirety of creation “very good.” However, it’s only an inch from that to the idol-worship of the sexual urge that causes so much misery.
        Is there a Christian wife on earth who hasn’t been hounded with, “Sex is good! Look at the Song of Solomon! God said sex is good! If you don’t want to do it, there’s something wrong with you!”

  2. Anu Riley

    Excellent job as usual, Pastor. I recall reading the 1 Corinthians passage with cultural context inserted and it made ALL the difference.

    1 Timothy 4:2 warns us about “hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron” who will FORBID people to marry. I wonder if that will stem from what Paul was warning against: you are no more or less “holy” as a Christian if you do or do not marry.

    I’ve been married for nearly 20 years. I’m STILL amused the very notion that marriage is a solution to a problem. No, marriage ITSELF is problematic. You’ve only added to whatever issue you thought marriage would solve.

    And since lust is like an open grave that is never satisfied, I shudder for any potential spouse with that unthinkable burden on his or her shoulders. Reduced to a piece of merchandise. Yes, females do also “burn” and think marriage will solve that.

    I viewed physical intimacy as a tool to cure my need and greed for “romantic love.” This might not be “lust” in how we picture it. It’s a “burning,” but not necessarily in a rush to satisfy it. It can be a slow, steady but still serious sort of burning. And it doesn’t have to aim for or end up in having intercourse. I longed to feel special, significant—that led me down dangerous paths without ever losing my virginly.

    When I look back, I see how I wasn’t thinking about anyone but myself. IMO, that was both wrapped up in self-hatred AND hating others. It was poignant that you put that in there at the end. Hate is murder (1 John 3:15). I did not build up, I tore myself down AND dragged others down with me.

    I used to hear that marriage is like a form of slavery; to women in particular. I can understand how that notion came about. You are “purchased” like a product, meant to fulfill certain purposes. In return, you’ll be treated well, taken care of. But, you are not your own anymore, because you are owned. You lose who you are in order to become who he wants you to be.

    Ownership and oneness are two completely different things. You outlined those differences fabulously; so I’ll just encourage people to read the post.

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