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Watch 2022 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Sex And The Single Christian

Robert Jeffress - Sex And The Single Christian

Robert Jeffress - Sex And The Single Christian
TOPICS: Straight Answers to Tough Questions, Sex, Purity

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Today's generation of young adults are choosing to marry much later in life. When Amy and I married in our early twenties, it wasn't unusual whatsoever. However, today couples are waiting until they're deep into their thirties or beyond. Well, during the next half hour, we'll examine what the Bible says to men and women who are alone. My message is titled "Sex and the single Christian" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

It was the English writer Marie Corelli, who said, "I never saw the need to get married, because I have three pets at home that serve the same purpose as a husband. I have a dog that growls in the morning, a parrot that swears all afternoon, and a cat that stays out all night". Now, such a cynical attitude about marriage maybe explains why marriage is in the shape it is in our culture. You may not know this, but in the last 30 years, the divorce rate has doubled. Doubled in the last 30 years. But the disillusionment that people have with marriage is also seen in the attitude of singles toward marriage. As you know, a growing number of single adults are either postponing marriage, or they're opting out of marriage altogether. As they look at rocky relationship of their parents, as they fear the epidemic of divorce, they ask the question, is marriage really worth the trouble?

Well, in Corinth, singles were asking the same question as well, questions not just about sex, but about marriage and divorce and everything in between. And in 1 Corinthians chapter seven, the apostle Paul answers some very legitimate questions about the whole issue of marriage, questions that were dividing the church. If you have your Bibles, turn to 1 Corinthians chapter seven. These Corinthians wanted to know specifically is it better for a Christian to marry or to remain single? If a Christian chooses to marry, is it ever permissible to enter into divorce and then remarry again? What if I'm a believer married to an unbeliever? Should I stay in that marriage relationship, or does God's word obligate me to leave my unbelieving mate? And if my mate dies, should I remarry? Am I permitted to remarry?

Well, when we turn to 1 Corinthians chapter seven, we find what God's word says all about these very relevant topics. If I were going to subtitle this chapter, I would call it, "Everything you've ever wanted to know about sex, marriage, and divorce, but were afraid to ask". Paul answers these questions in 1 Corinthians 7. First of all, he addresses singles. He talks about the question, is celibacy, that is abstaining from sex even possible? Now look at verse one. He talks about the advantages of remaining single, abstaining from sex and remaining single. Look at verse one. He says, "Now concerning the things about which you wrote". He's talking about that letter we don't have, listing questions the Corinthians had. "Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman".

Now, that phrase touch a woman is obviously a euphemism for having sex. Paul says it is good for a man not to have sex. He's talking to single adults. Now, notice what he doesn't say. He doesn't say it's better for a man not to have sex. He doesn't say it's best for a man and woman to remain single. He is simply saying it is good, it's acceptable for people to choose not to get married. Now, some people say, "Well, that was easy for Paul to say. He was a crotchety old bachelor who hated marriage and women. Of course he would say it's good for a man not to touch a woman". What most people don't know is that, although Paul was single when he wrote these words, Paul had formerly been married himself. There is no question in my mind at all about that, that Paul had a wife. We don't know what happened to her. It may be that he left her before he was saved, it may be that she died, but Paul was definitely married. You say, "How do you know that pastor"?

Well, Acts 26 tells us that Paul was a member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling court of the Jews. He doesn't come out and say that, but it might as well as say it, because when Paul was given his testimony before king Agrippa, he talked about the time that as a persecutor of Christians, he had cast his vote to have Christians executed. The only people who could vote to execute Christians in the Jewish court were members of the Sanhedrin. Now, to be a member of the Sanhedrin, it was a requirement to be married, so there's no doubt that the apostle Paul at one time was married. Also Philippians 3 tells us that Paul was a Hebrew of the Hebrews. He knew all of the traditions. He lived up to every one of them, and one of the traditions of the Jews, not in scripture, but a part of their tradition, which they equated with scripture, was that if a man remained unmarried, he would be cast out of heaven, and if he was married and didn't have children, he would also risk being cast out of heaven.

Paul was the Hebrew of the Hebrews. He would not have dare violated that tradition of having been married. So Paul at one time had been married. He didn't hate women. He didn't hate marriage, but he said there are some advantages to being single. What are those advantages? First of all, a single person suffers less during times of persecution. They suffer less during times of persecution. Look at verses 25 to 26. "Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy. I think then that it is good in view of the present distress," underline that, "That it is good for a man to remain as he is". That is, single. What does he mean, "In light of this present distress"? It's referring to persecution of Christians.

Some people believe that 1 Corinthians was written 10 years before Nero's empire-wide persecution of believers began in 64 ad. Some people believe it was written after 64 AD. But what you need to know is apparently persecution was beginning when Paul wrote these words. If it was during the time of Nero, understand that Nero raised the art of torture to a whole new level. Historians tell us that Nero would take Christians and he would place the skins of animals around them and then throw them to the dogs to be torn apart. Other times, he would take the clothes of Christians and soak them in wax and then wrap the clothes around believers, and then would ignite them. They would become human torches in Nero's garden. Horrible atrocities that Nero committed against believers.

Now, you know, it's one thing to suffer that kind of persecution yourself, but anybody who is a husband or a dad knows how much worse it would be to see your mate or your children being persecuted in that way, and because of that, Paul said, if you're single, given what is happening right now to Christians, it's probably best that you remain single. There's some real advantages there. Secondly, Paul says a single person escapes the friction of a marriage relationship. Look at verse 28. "But if you marry, you've not sinned: and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I'm trying to spare you". That word trouble is the Greek word thlipsis, which means to press together. It refers to friction. Paul says, if you get married, understand that, in marriage, you are going to experience friction.

By the way, this should remove any doubt at all that Paul was married at one time. He was probably speaking from personal experience. You know, when you take two people from different backgrounds, with different temperaments, with different spiritual gifts, with different needs, and you press them together, that's what the word means, under one roof, you're going to have friction, and the single person gets to escape that kind of friction. There's a third advantage to remaining single, and that is a single person can devote more energy to ministry. Look at verse 32. "But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord".

Now, let's be clear here. A married person can do great things for God, but what Paul is simply saying here is a single person has more time, more energy, and certainly more money, many times, to devote to the work of the Lord. Think about lottie moon, a single woman who gave her life to winning the Chinese to faith in Jesus Christ. She was able to devote her entire life to that ministry because of her singleness. Paul says there's some advantages to being single, but there's also a disadvantage to being single, and he talks about the disadvantage of celibacy in verse two. He says, "But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband". What Paul is saying is, because of the overwhelming immorality of our culture, because of the temptations in our culture, most people cannot remain celibate without being married. Most people, if they try to abstain from sex, will eventually give in to immorality, and because of that, it is best for most people to get married.

Now, let me offer a balancing truth here. If you're a single adult and you're struggling with sexual immorality, whether it's in your relationships or pornography or some other kind of sexual immorality, don't think that getting married is the answer to your problems. If you cannot control yourself sexually before you're married, you will not be able to control yourself sexually once you are married. You see, sexual purity is a matter not of being married. It has to do with your own relationship to Jesus Christ. And I would just say to you ladies out there, especially, I would never marry a man who has trouble in the area of sexual morality and purity. If that man you're considering being married to has an addiction to pornography, or if he's always making comments about other women, or he has a history of sexual immorality, there are plenty of other people out there for you to marry, besides that one. It's too great of a risk, because most people who cannot be sexually pure outside the marriage will not be sexually pure within the marriage.

Now, that's not a command of the Lord. That's my own personal opinion there, but I think there's a basis for it in scripture as well. Now, the problem in Corinth was there were some people who were already married, who were asking the very same question about celibacy. They said, "Paul, we've come out of an immoral lifestyle, and now that we're Christians, would celibacy, abstaining from sex be the right course of action for us"? And so he answers that question beginning in verse three. Now, again, the situation is Christians were withholding sex from their mate out of a so-called devotion to God. Paul says that is absolutely wrong. Look at verse three. "The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife must fulfill her duty to her husband".

That phrase fulfill his duty means to render to. It's the same word that Jesus used when he said, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's". To fulfill or render means to pay your obligation. The same word that Jesus used to describe paying taxes, Paul uses to describe having sex with your mate. You probably never thought of paying taxes and having sex in the same thought, have you? Never thought of it that way. Now, let me tell you what Paul's not saying here. He's not saying you look at the calendar and say, "Oh, honey, it's April the 15th again! Another year's rolled around. Time to pay our obligation". That's not what he's talking about, okay? But what he is saying is there is an obligation that comes with sex. Yes, God gave it for our enjoyment, but he also says it is an obligation we have toward our mate, to meet the sexual needs of our mate.

Now, let me be real frank here. Husbands, you have a duty to make sure your wife is sexually satisfied, and wives, you have a duty to make sure your husband is sexually satisfied. Why is that? Look at verse four. He says, "For 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". Doesn't that go against the thinking of our culture today? The wife doesn't have authority over her own body? Well, that's the whole foundation of the argument for abortion. A woman's body is her own. She can do whatever she wants to. If she wants to have an abortion, she certainly doesn't have to ask her husband's permission. It's not what the Word of God says. Word of God says, wives, your body does not belong to you. It belongs to your husbands. And not only that, husbands, your body does not belong to you. Your body, whatever shape it's in, belongs to your wife, okay? For better or for worse. Wasn't that the vow you took?

Again, that goes against Paul's culture. You know, in Paul's day, when he wrote these words, that was unthinkable to say that a husband had no control over his body, it belonged to his wife. You see in Paul's culture, the Greek culture, they had a very low view of women. Women and children had all the responsibilities in the house, but none of the privileges, and they certainly had no rights over anything. But the Word of God never denigrates women. It elevated women above the culture in which the New Testament was written. And Paul was saying to these men, men, you are not your own. Your wife has authority over you as well.

Now, if I'm speaking tonight to some single adults or some teenagers who feel uncomfortable with that idea. I don't want somebody have authority over my body. I don't want some guy or some girl having authority over my body. That's a fine sentiment to have. Don't get married, then. Nobody holds a gun to your head and says you have to marry. In fact, we've just seen there's some advantages not to getting married, but if you do get married, understand you are giving up the rights to your own body.

Look at verse five. Paul comes out and says it very clearly. He says, "Stop depriving one another". Quit withholding sex. Quit saying, "Out of devotion to God, I'm not going to meet your sexual needs". When you deprive your mate of sex, you are robbing him or her of what rightfully belongs to them. Now, if you're in a position where your mate is withholding sex from you, don't beat them over the head with the New Testament, and say, "Look what the Bible says. You owe me. You're past due. You owe me". I'm not making this up. I had a man in a previous church that I served, and he came up to me several weeks after I had preached from this passage. He said, "Pastor, thank you so much for that sermon a couple of weeks ago. Thank you for that sermon". He said, "I bought a copy of that CD, and I've almost worn it out, making my wife listen to it".

Now, men, let me give you a little hint here, okay? If you want to stoke the embers of Romance in your wife's heart, don't play the pastor's message on your CD player over and over again. You know, play some Frank Sinatra music. That might do it. Don't play the pastor's message. Don't say over and over, "The pastor said you have to have sex with me". Believe me, that will quench any budding embers of Romance in your family. Don't do that. No, instead what you ought to do, if you're in that situation where your mate is withholding sex from you, let me give you this suggestion. Don't be demanding. Don't remind them of their obligation. Instead say, "You know, honey, I am very attracted to you. Sex is a very important part of our relationship, and I'm wondering what could I do to make sex more enjoyable for you"?

Your mate, whether it's your husband or your wife, might point out some ways you could be more emotionally sensitive that might make them more romantically inclined. It may be an issue of, especially for men, of being more physically fit and attractive for your mate. It may be a matter of personal hygiene. There could be all kind of reasons that your mate is not interested in having sex, but ask from a positive point of view, "Honey, I'm really in love with you. I'm attracted to you. What could I do to make this experience more pleasurable for you"?

Paul says, though, we have absolutely no right to withhold sex from our mate, except in one instance. Look at verse five. "Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come to together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control". Paul says, if there is a pressing spiritual need, something you are both concerned about and you both agree to abstain from sex, and it's for a very short period of time, that is permissible, but it has to be by mutual consent, and it can only be for a short period of time. Why? Because if you withhold sex, if you abstain from sex, even it fits by mutual agreement for a longer period of time, you are opening yourself and your mate up to Satan's temptations.

Warren Wiersbe says it best when he says, "Sex is a beautiful tool to build with, but it's a terrible weapon to fight with". Stop depriving one another. Is celibacy permissible for a single adult? Absolutely. If a single adult chooses to remain unmarried, there are positive reasons for doing that. Is celibacy permissible in marriage? Never, unless it's for a short time by mutual consent. Paul's conclusion is found in verse nine. "But if they do not have self-control, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn with passion". And this is really the heart of Paul's message on celibacy. He says, "In a perfect world, I wish everybody could be like I am right now, single, totally focused on spreading the gospel, but I realize everyone is not like I am, and so what's important is to discover God's plan for your life, whether it's for celibacy or for marriage".

And that leads me to two concluding principles from this passage. I want you to write them down. If God has given you the gift of celibacy, of singleness, then use your gift to further God's kingdom. Use that extra time, that extra energy, that extra money you may have to further God's kingdom, not to spend it on yourself. And secondly, principle number two. If God has given you the gift of marriage, then meet the needs of your mate. Marriage is just as much a gift from God as the gift of singleness.

Remember in Genesis 2, when we find the description of God bringing eve to Adam, the Bible says, "And God fashioned a woman for the man". That word fashion, banah, the Hebrew word means to build. God built for Adam a wife, and in the same way, husbands and wives, God has built, he has fashioned, he has tailor-made your mate as his special gift to you. He has made your mate to meet your very unique needs. What do we do with gifts of value? We treasure them, we express gratitude to God for them, and we sacrifice for them to meet their very real needs.
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