Reading Through The Bible in 2011, Part 47

What I Read Today: 1 Corinthians 7.

What Stood Out About What I Read Today: 1 Corinthians 7: 3, “A husband should give to his wife her sexual rights, and likewise a wife to her husband.”

And 1 Corinthians 7: 17-24, “Nevertheless, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each person, so must he live. I give this sort of direction in all the churches. Was anyone called after he had been circumcised? He should not try to undo his circumcision. Was anyone called who is uncircumcised? He should not get circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Instead, keeping God’s commandments is what counts. Let each one remain in that situation in life in which he was called. Were you called as a slave? Do not worry about it. But if indeed you are able to be free, make the most of the opportunity. For the one who was called in the Lord as a slave is the Lord’s freedman. In the same way, the one who was called as a free person is Christ’s slave. You were bought with a price. Do not become slaves of men. In whatever situation someone was called, brothers and sisters, let him remain in it with God.”

Random Thoughts About What I Read:

My friend had been married about 3 months. His good friend got married about a week before he did. He called and wanted to talk…he was worried about the state of his marriage.

I asked him why he thought his marriage was off to a rough start. I mean, we’d already covered the bases of them not fighting much (if at all), they were having long talks on walks most nights, they’d been out on several dates, and, frankly, they seemed to me like they were ahead of the curve that most newlyweds go through when they start life together.

He leaned forward and told me in a low voice, “I don’t think we’re having enough sex.” Since this is always awkward, I asked generic questions to which he responded that she was happy and he was happy and that their times together were very enjoyable.

“What’s the problem, then?”

“It’s not as much as Jim & Jane. They’re having almost twice as much sex as we are and they’ve been married as long as we have. This can’t be good.” I spent some time talking about how comparison is never good, how it leads to pride or envy, and my guess was that he was envious and Jim was now prideful since they’d compared notes. My advice went along the lines of the reality that since he was happy and she was happy with both frequency and experience to stop talking to anyone about both of those things.

That conversation was kind of cute, but in my role as pastor, I hear about a lot of those things from guys who have generally been married much longer. And, often, those conversations aren’t cute at all. I realize there are a lot of dynamics at play in any relationship, so before you write any hate-mail about how I don’t understand your particular situation, just remember that this is a general rule:

Meet each other’s needs in this area, spouses. Just re-read verse 3. I don’t see any loopholes or exceptions here, folks. No excuses. And that’s all I have to say about that.

But the bigger picture of this passage kind of ties in with that very idea of comparison. We all have a tendency to think that other people have it better than we have it.

Maybe we’re married and maybe we see that group of college fraternity guys driving around in the convertible and think they’ve got life so good. Maybe we’re looking at our friends’ marriage and thinking they’ve got the perfect relationship. Maybe we’re single and thinking that those folks that are married have got the life and kids that we always wanted and never got. Maybe it’s that somebody else has the good job and we wish we got the promotion. Maybe it’s looking at somebody else’s kids and thinking how little trouble they must be compared to our own. Maybe it’s somebody else’s really cool job. It could be anything, really.

And, like I said earlier, we tend to compare. Again, whenever you compare, you ultimately lose.

The peculiar thing is that even if we can do the reverse, too. We can think our marriage is great, so everybody should be married. For example, I have a former female student who is living a great life. She travels a good deal. She has a job in a great city. She loves to go dancing all night with her friends. She’s taken jobs in foreign countries simply because it sounded fun. She’s enjoying her life and doesn’t seems to be enjoying the opportunities that her lifestyle affords.

I know some single guys in a similar boat.

And I know some young married couples who enjoy the life they have without kids in the picture yet.

And I can’t tell you how often I hear people talking about how they can’t wait to try and fix her up with the perfect guy they know.

Or they have just the girl who will help the guy mature and be all he can be.

Or they ask the married couple when they’re going to settle down and start that family (which will give their friends those grandkids they’d been wanting).

Which, in my way of thinking, runs somewhat contrary to what you read in this chapter…the words of verse 17, we should all be concentrating on serving Him no matter what your current condition happens to be.

If you’re married, be married well. Enjoy the relationship to the full.

If you’re unmarried, there are advantages to that.

If you’re a slave…

If you’re a free man…

If you’re a virgin…

And so it goes.

Each situation has advantages. Each situation has disadvantages. And no matter what your situation, honor God in that situation and in that time. No one situation is intrinsically “better” than another.

Sometimes it’s helpful to remember that…

…because when we compare, we lose. No matter what.

(Tomorrow’s Reading: 1 Corinthians 8-10)