What is Marriage

  • PDF
  • Print
  • E-mail

The first-century Corinth Church was beset with problems, one of which was a man had his father’s wife. Though many churches today are not facing the same problem, which at Corinth was incest, it has to deal with the same general problems of an ever-changing culture. This is a reflection of philosophy and practice of a world system of which the Apostle John warned (1 John 2:15-17). It is exemplified in a society that is increasingly hostile to the Church. Further, the modern evangelical community’s pursuit of favor with a humanist world system diametrically opposed to Scripture poses additional problems. This humanist system has set out to destroy the very foundations upon which American society was built.

           Paul faced similar problems with believers at Corinth. Those believers accepted a society that had potential to render them ineffectual and negate their ability to be a positive force for Christ. In fact, the believers at Corinth were proud of their tolerance of divergent views. While Paul dealt with the church and not society and culture, his lessons are applicable to society today. Paul’s teachings to the Corinth Church in 1 Corinthians, chapter five, offers solutions to modern day problems faced by local churches. In particular, Paul’s lessons concerning marriage are invaluable insights into how the modern Church should approach the current liberalization of that institution.

One of the most critical issues that will affect and shape our society in the immediate future is marriage. The current debate not only has implications on what marriage means and how it is defined, but on society and the Church. Intrinsic to this debate, the problem of priority arises. Potentially, the Church’s ability to carry out its mission and ministry will be crippled by focusing solely on marriage. In assessing its priorities, the Church needs to address whether it is the church’s mission to save society and culture. If so, the Church needs to weigh the importance of the marriage conflict against its available resources. Additionally, the Church needs to decide whether its resources would be better spent addressing the broader erosion of Biblical traditions in the United States. Second, the Church needs to understand the ramifications that would follow from not being proactive in preserving those liberties afforded it by the First Amendment. These are serious questions and they need serious consideration. If the Church is going to be an effective social force today, it needs to apply Paul’s teachings to the Corinth Church.



There are many parallels between first-century Corinth and modern-day society. The believers were a small percentage of the total population. Factions had divided the Church and there was misunderstanding of the gifts of the Spirit. Carnality was a way of life for some and sin was not being dealt with. The Spirit-filled life was not being lived by believers in the Church or in the community. They were even going before the civil magistrates to settle their differences. In chapter seven, Paul deals with the question of marriage and its origin, purpose, and regulation at length. The Apostle then brings them back to their main purpose in chapters fifteen and sixteen. In light of the future resurrection and reward, the believer is to be faithful to the one that has called him and to stand fast in the faith.

Corinth was located on the narrow isthmus that connects the Peloponnesus (as southern Greece is called) to the mainland. It was a powerful commercial center near two seaports only four miles apart. Lechaeum, the western harbor in the Corinthian Gulf was the trading port to Italy and Sicily, and Cenchreae, the eastern harbor in the Saronic Gulf, was the port for the eastern Mediterranean countries. The city’s location with its two adjoining ports made it a center for trade that passed east and west, resulting in prosperity. Consequently, luxury and immorality abounded. [1] “To live like a Corinthian meant to live in gross immorality, and many pagan temples in Corinth encouraged this licentious way of life through temple prostitution.”[2]

Thus, it is not hard to imagine what some in the church at Corinth had been used to in secular society. It is evident from the eighteenth chapter of Acts that some in Corinth knew the Law of Moses, for they had come out of Judaism. It is logical to infer that the writings of Moses were taught to believers at Corinth during Paul’s eighteen-month stay: “Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house,” (v 8) and Paul had been a Pharisee. Even the Jerusalem council, which met to determine whether it was necessary for the Gentile believer to be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses in order to be saved, gave commandments to both Gentiles and Jews to abstain from pollutions of idols, fornication, things strangled, and from blood (Acts 15: 5, 20). These commandments mirror the teaching of Leviticus eighteen, which deals with the prohibitions against immoral family relationships (Lev 18:8).[3] Paul had also reinforced these teachings when he established the Church, “teaching the word of God among them” (Acts 18:11) and had written to them previously not to company with fornicators (1Cor 5:9).

The testimony the Church should have had in the city of Corinth was seriously compromised by the actions of the member living in direct disobedience to the teachings of the Law of Moses and the Apostles. This act was, according to Paul, something that was not even named among the Gentiles: the sin of incest. As Simon Kistemaker writes, even the Roman historian “Cicero condemns the practice of incest.”[4] Although the practice was condemned by secular and sacred voices, it was still taking place at Corinth. The sin they were ignorant of, or at least unwilling to acknowledge, was symptomatic of the problem that was causing the controversy in the church and the community. Paul’s statement on incest was designed to wake the church of its lethargy, to urge action against the one that had committed this act, and to restore the Church’s purity.

Paul’s injunction against fornication is not limited to the individual guilty of incest or to this one sin. He condemns other forms of wickedness as well, citing covetousness, idolatry, railing, drunkenness, and extortion. The specific problem that surfaced in the body of believers might have been incest, but this was just the visible part.

           The other problem that infected the church was pride. Pride, according to Daniel Defoe, is “the first peer and president of hell.”[5] Paul warned against pride, arrogance, and general apathy towards sin. Unfortunately, this is where a substantial portion of main-line denominations and independent churches are today.[6] In our multi-cultural society, there is a tendency for the Church to display acceptance of others no matter how extreme their positions. This is, as Francis Schaeffer points out, an example of how humanism has crept into the thinking of not just Western society, but also the Western Church.[7] The acceptance and condoning of that which the Word of God condemns is what some in the Corinthian Church were guilty. Paul’s concern is for the purity of the Church. This, he reminds them, is reason enough for believers to separate from one who is disorderly, even to the point of not eating with such an individual.                     

Although Roman rule supplanted Grecian sovereignty, Grecian culture remained. The Greeks, similar to Romans, were polytheistic in belief. Their gods and goddesses possessed the same, if not worse, moral attributes than their creators. Thus, when an individual in the church had his father’s wife, to some it was of no consequence. To Paul it was of great consequence. Paul was not bashful when it came to naming sin and the sinner. He withstood Peter to his face when Peter had been inconsistent in his walk (Gal 2: 11-14), and had even separated from Barnabas over John Mark (Acts 15:36-39). Paul did not limit himself to only rebuking the believers. Paul also preached to the lost, both Jew and Gentile, anywhere they were found, including a synagogue or market place and told them God requires repentance. This was the message brought home to the Church at Corinth.

After pointing out the problem with incestuous individuals, Paul turned his attention to the Church and told them they had in effect, colluded with this man by not dealing with sin. Paul judged those culpable of incest and his recommendation was harsh: They were to “deliver such an one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh” (1 Cor 5:5). In other words, church discipline in the form of excommunication was necessary to purge immorality. Various views have been put forth on the meaning of the phrase, “to deliver to Satan.” One author suggests that its roots are in the Old Testament Day of Atonement where a scapegoat was released into the wilderness. This goat, he says, is delivered to Satan for destruction and thus removes the sin of Israel. Thus, he infers the Corinth Church through the sacrifice of one of its members could have its sins cleansed and purity restored.[8] This would certainly make unnecessary the death of Christ because the sacrifice of Christ is the only way sin can be dealt with. Others teach the “destruction of the flesh” is referring to the eradication of the sinful nature or a person’s sensuality.[9] Why can it not mean what it says? Of all the commentaries and articles read, no one connects this passage to 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, which speaks of God destroying the one who defiles his temple, “for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” Matthew Henry states the destruction of the flesh is for the deliverance of the man’s soul.[10] Regardless of the meaning, such an ordeal would not have been a pleasant trial to endure. This is not the only mention of an individual or individuals being delivered to Satan. Paul also delivered Hymenaeus and Alexander to Satan so they might learn not to blaspheme (1 Tim 1:20) and again, he does not elaborate on their fate, but does say this judgment is for the destruction of the flesh for the man in Corinth. Such apostolic authority the church does not possess today. At most, the church can excommunicate the sinning individual, but only after Biblical guidelines are followed.[11]


The situation churches face today concerning discipline is not the same as first-century Corinth. Discipline is something that many churches are hesitant of for fear of reprisals, and their standing before the world. Churches face lawsuits for defamation of character, breech of trust and confidentiality, and emotional distress for exercising the Church’s right to discipline sinning members. When asked via email about the number of lawsuits filed against churches in America for practicing and enforcing church discipline, Charlotte Cover of the Gibbs Law Firm answered: “I wish I could give you statistics as to how many church discipline lawsuits are being filed, but I know of no source that is compiling statistics as to that number.  I do know that the numbers are substantial.”[12]  Yet, just a few years ago, this would not have been an issue.[13] In fact, both the church and its ministries are at risk. As reported on the Christian Law Association website, activities such as witnessing, street preaching and Christian schools are being litigated. One article says:

         In one such case in the South, a Christian school has been sued for asking two female students to withdraw after they admitted to having an inappropriate sexual relationship. Claiming “emotional distress” and “invasion of privacy,” one of the former students has filed a lawsuit seeking one million dollars from this ministry that did nothing but uphold the Biblical values consistently adhered to by the administration. As mainstream American society and the media continue to drift farther away from Biblical values, ministries that commit to stand firm on the Word of God can expect the challenges to intensify in the days that come.[14]


One can see that even when the Church exercises its Biblical mandate of discipline in order to maintain integrity and purity, opposition arises from within.

Conversely, Paul does not limit discipline to just the individual guilty of incest. In fact, he implies with the phrase “such an one” that not only this individual, but also anyone practicing immorality is to be sanctioned as well. Infractions would include adultery, fornication on the part of the members of the church in a heterosexual relationship, as well as the others areas of misconduct mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11. Essentially, what Paul does in this passage is refuse to allow a redefinition of marriage. Any arrangement that deviated from one man and woman was outside of the realm of marriage. In fact, Paul re-gives the definition of marriage in chapter 6:15-17, where he states that two shall be one flesh and a heterosexual union is implied.


In a society where culture is changing as quickly as the next fad, absolute truth seemingly does not exist. Modern Americans, similar to first-century Paul, live in a multi-cultural society. America is no longer a melting pot with one identity from many sources, but many separate communities each with its own identity. The current emphasis is ethnicity; one is expected to retain their rites, customs, language, and culture from the land of their nativity. The first-century Jews refused to assimilate completely with the contemporary culture. Although some were Hellenized, they were still above all, Jews. Jewish definition of marriage was different from the culture in which they lived for they recognized that the marriage bond symbolized their relation with Jehovah.[15] Even though Israel had not always been faithful in their relationship with God, yet their God had been faithful to them, and they had entered that relationship through a covenant.[16] When dealing with the idea of plural, or polygamous marriages, they had no problem with other cultures that practiced it. Both Abraham, and Jacob had more than one wife; as well as the kings of Israel who practiced polygamy, particularly Solomon. Even concubinage was accepted. The Law of Moses and the Talmud made provision for a man to have more than one wife. The law of Levirate marriage established a duty for a man to marry his brother’s widow, if he had left no progeny, and sire children for his brother?[17]

There were restrictions placed on marriage. Israel was not to inter-marry with the Canaanite, male or female, nor were the Israelite women to marry an Ammonite or Moabite male. Marriage was permitted with the Edomites and Egyptians and considered legal with the offspring of these unions being recognized as being Israelite. In Lev 18:6-18 prohibitions are placed on a man marrying the “near of kin to him.” The only exception was a Levirate marriage (Deut 25:5-9). When one tries to limit the definition of marriage to one man and one woman, he runs into the problem (or excuse) some have with the Bible. The Bible does not seem to define marriage in this way.

The definition of marriage, according to The New American Standard Handy College Dictionary, Third Edition, is: “the legal union of a man and a woman; a wedding; the state of being married.”[18] The Random House Dictionary defines marriage as: “the state or relationship of being married; a wedding ceremony,” and adds “any close association.[19] These definitions are being challenged in society today by those who believe that with the change in the culture, a change in the definition of traditional terms should reflect the new direction society has taken.

One is constantly being deluged by a stream of news and information lamenting the plight of same-sex couples that claim social inequality. These groups claim their struggle for equality is no different from the civil-rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. In order for this segment to be treated equally and fairly and with dignity, marriage has to be re-defined to include same-sex couples. After all, society is evolving, and constantly progressing; so society needs to keep up with the changes that humankind is going through. To this group there is nothing odd or unusual in this practice, it is perfectly normal and has been practiced as long as man has been around. There is, they claim, a touching example in the Scriptures of one mourning over the death of his same-sex lover where David laments over the death of Jonathan (2 Sam 1:26).

Accordingly, anyone who would deny this segment of society the same rights and privileges everyone else enjoys must surely be bigoted and homophobic. If the Creator made them this way, society should recognize their life style as valid and legitimate.[20] The times have changed, so attitudes must change as well. If, in fact man is born with certain genetic pre-dispositions, then why legislate against any lifestyle choice? Taken to its logical conclusion, the serial rapist or serial murderer can argue their genetic predisposition contributed to their crimes and so they should not be held accountable for their choice. The opposite is true.

In addition, there are those who say the Bible should be made to fit current culture. One is not to impose their interpretation of the Scriptures on cultures and societies that differ, but are to make the message fit the culture. After all, the argument goes, the Bible came from languages and cultures far removed from ours, and however currently interpreted it is just a man’s interpretation. In other words, there is no absolute truth. There is no final authority to which to appeal except one’s own reasoning or feelings. Everything is relative, and therefore, truth is constantly changing. If evidence can be presented there is a final authority to which all humankind must answer, the previous argument falls. There must be, therefore, a cross-cultural perspective of interpretation of Scripture bridging the gap from not just original languages and cultures to existing society, but to other contemporary languages and cultures as well, making the message of Scripture authoritative. [21]


Enormous changes have taken place in society over the last sixty years. Where once churches dotted the landscape, filled with the faithful worshippers that were converted because of great revivals, there are only empty meetinghouses. There is no true spirituality for the community in which many of these churches are located. The social scientists of Kinsey, Masters, and Johnson, and Dr. Benjamin Spock[22] taught that what we had believed and practiced for generations was wrong. For the most part, society believed these teachings. According to these social scientists, society was wrong to restrain its natural passions and desires. The embracing of this information led to the belief that passion and desires were given to individuals by the process of evolution to enjoy and to ease the stress of life. The result of which leads one to conclude what consenting adults do is of no concern to anyone else. The old idea of adultery and fornication were out-dated, and were at the worst, victimless crimes. After all, Darwin proved to the enlightened thinker that God was created after man’s image.

           Dr. Timothy Leary expounded the virtues of mind-expanding drugs as harmless entertainment and that society ought to “turn on, tune in, and drop out.”[23] Leary, a hero and pioneer of the drug counter-culture, also said that: “People use the word “natural”…What is natural to me is these botanical species which interact directly with the nervous system. What I consider artificial is four years at Harvard, and the Bible, and Saint Patrick’s cathedral, and the sunday school [sic] teachings.”[24]

Here was the “new gospel” popularized by Marx and preached to the masses by the apostles of higher education with the choir of popular music providing the anthems for the new counter-culture that was coming into puberty, and validated by the highest moral authority of the land.[25] Now we had proof that America was the “land of the unrestrained” and the “home of the uninhibited.” There was nothing new in all this, because each generation feels that the succeeding generation is worse morally and society will never recover. The problem seems to be there never is a total reversal of the downward direction towards which society is heading.

Fortunately, current society is not under the same form of government that the Apostle Paul and the first-century church was. Modern individuals have the privilege of having their voice heard through the ballot box. When elected leaders do not perform as promised, one has the privilege of voting them gone. If enough popular support can be raised for or against an issue, society can be manipulated by whichever faction controls the election results. During the eighties, the pendulum of cultural consciousness returned to the conservative side of its ever increasingly shortened arc when evangelicals of diverse backgrounds came together on major issues. The nineties continued the trend with the election of conservative majorities to both houses. Thus, some would argue, the Church had influenced the political process to the point of establishing what some termed derisively a theocracy, even though the president was of the opposing party.

Still, others take a view the direction culture is taking society is controlled by the media. The media is one of the most influential forces affecting public opinion today. The media has the ability to mold and shape the attitude of the masses with its continuous stream of information. If those in charge of media favor a particular issue, then all the positive influence it can wield will go behind that cause. This is what abortion proponents did to get abortions legalized.[26] In fact, it is such a powerful tool there has even been action in Congress to control explicit content. Liberal bias, or humanism has long controlled the content consumers get from mainstream media. Conservative evangelicals are seldom presented as positive role models and believers are most often portrayed as hypocrites and bigots leading to a false idea of what the Church stands for. This is a subtle form of persecution, the result of which leads to a denial of first amendment rights.


Even though the first-century church was persecuted by Jew and Gentile alike, Paul could appeal to protection of Roman law because of his Roman citizenship.[27] It did not matter that he had converted from religion to a relationship with Christ, at this time Paul was free to worship as he chose. This freedom is the same privilege certain sects in society would deprive evangelicals. The Constitution guarantees an individual the right to the free exercise of his or her faith, even in the public arena, without the fear of government intervention. Yet, the government, though it does not bestow this God-given right, has a duty to protect that right. Sadly, this is being construed today to mean not freedom of religion, but to mean freedom from religion. Therefore, laws are being considered and passed today to limit the free exercise of religious expression.

To what authority does the church subject itself today? Romans thirteen tells Christians to be subject to civil authorities and Peter admonishes the same in his epistle (1 Pet 2:13, 14). If civil authority hostile to the church imposes onerous restrictions and condemns the worship of Christ as many nations have done, are Christians to obey these prohibitions? Does the body of Christ submit to the authority of the state and not to the headship of Christ when the state is in conflict with the Word of God? Peter and the other apostles made an important statement in Acts 5:29 when they said, “we ought to obey God rather than men.” It is very important that evangelicals know where these lines of civil authority and sacred authority are drawn. As Schaeffer points out, for the Christian there is no distinction between the sacred and the secular; all areas of life are to be brought under the headship of Christ.[28] Every Christian is to be subject to the Lordship of Christ in all realms of life.  

In modern society there are many trying to shape culture and society by the legislative process. When this fails, the judicial process is employed to circumvent the legislature. Ultimately, the courts have the final say in what becomes law, and laws are designed to prohibit certain behaviors. Accordingly, this is why so much emphasis is placed on who is appointed to judicial benches. The problem, however, is that law becomes something pliable and changeable in the hands of a powerful few and not the will of the governed via democratic process. Conversely, in Paul’s day this was not a problem. The emperor dictated law and his magistrates and army enforced it.[29] Thus, that which the state allowed had serious consequences for its citizens. The primary question of importance to the early Church was the state’s role in determining how, when, and whom believers worshiped. That same question faces the Church today.


In order for the segment of society who desire their relationships legitimized and sanctioned by not just society, but by the state, the traditional view of marriage, has to be changed. This segment of society argues they are asking for no more than what the larger percentage of society already possesses. This includes “full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and the transgendered.” Further, this segment advocates recognition of their unions, the right to adopt and raise children, freedom from discrimination and harassment in the workplace and schools, and “to fashion a society that is truly diverse and tolerant.”[30] In order to achieve these goals, a massive human rights campaign has been underway for two decades, including very high-profile court cases and mainstreaming in the electronic media in an effort to portray their lifestyle in a positive light. Their gains have been substantial. In order to better inform society about their goals and change public opinion, a lesson plan for public schools was developed. If one can educate the youth, one can eliminate prejudice and bigotry. This program, entitled: Making Schools Safe: Anti- Harassment Training Program, ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, was developed by Nancy Otto. The program has been successful in opening doors for Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs and pushing their agenda in public schools. Part of the program reads:    

The program’s goals are: To alert school districts that they have a duty- backed up by legal liability- to change a school culture that ignores or promotes harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation. To provide those districts with the skill and resources they need to promote an environment that does not tolerate harassment and discrimination.[31]


Homosexuals are just one segment of society that advocates redefining marriage. Another large and growing population of sub-culture who want the definition of marriage changed is those that are living in this country in polygamous relationships. The Mormons have long held the belief it was God’s will for them to have more than one wife. In fact it was one of the primary concerns of Prophet Joseph Smith, but “this ‘strong meat’ was not to be fed to the ‘Gentiles,’ who were to receive only the ‘first principles.’”[32] In fact, they were driven from New York, Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois for practicing this part of their religious beliefs.[33] Even though polygamy has been denounced by the Josephite sect of Mormonism, some sects of Mormonism still hold to this doctrine because it was taught by Smith and increasingly large numbers of Mormon sects have come to attention lately because of this doctrine. When the Supreme Court ruled against Texas in Lawrence vs. Texas, a polygamous group in Utah filed suit to challenge the constitutionality of the ban on plural marriages.[34] The Washington Post published an article by John Pomfret, entitled: Polygamists Fight to Be Seen As Part of Mainstream Society. The author states: “The U.S. Supreme Court's 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas which voided laws criminalizing sodomy, also aided polygamy's cause because it implied that the court disapproved of laws that reach into the bedroom.” [35] Debra Majeed, in an article published in Cross Currents writes:

What doesn’t make sense to many opponents of the legalization of same-sex marriages is that their challengers are seemingly unconcerned that the national acceptance of gay and lesbian marriages would not be the final test of the vibrancy of traditional marriage. Instead, proponents of plural marriages would be next in line, and their goal, according to the Traditional Values Coalition is to introduce ‘polygamy and polyamory’ as families.[36]

In addition to the Mormons, another like-minded sub-cultural group is pushing for a change in current marriage laws. As Majeed observes, the rapidly growing number of African American Muslims practicing in secret and openly what she terms “polygyny” are “most prevalent in the Atlanta area and along the eastern seaboard, particularly in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C.[37]

There are several reasons stated for the increase in polgyny. One, is after the men get over the idea of living with and supporting more than one spouse, they see it as a return to true Islam as practiced in the seventh century. Another reason for “man sharing” is the lack of available and eligible men. With the high divorce rate and increase of single mothers, latchkey kids and the stigma associated with unwed couples living together, polygynous arrangements seem to meet several needs at once. Majeed concludes that same-sex and polygynous arrangements have existed alongside of monogamous, heterosexual marriages and both are worthy of further study and consideration.[38]


Looking at the directives that Paul gave the church at Corinth concerning incest, the Apostle took the matter of marriage very seriously. It can be inferred even non-believers were serious about marriage as well. Paul said what the man guilty of incest had done was not even named among the Gentiles. Was this man a Jew? Then there absolutely was no excuse because of the teaching of the Law of Moses. Even if this person was a Gentile, this deed had been committed against his conscience (Rom 1:20; 2:14). Paul realized the sin mentioned in chapter five had the potential to destroy the church; and the problem stemmed from the abuse of marriage and how it is defined. This is why Paul was serious about marriage. The Church should be serious about preserving the Biblical sanctity of marriage because there are many other groups in this diverse society very serious about marriage as well.

The Scriptural definition of marriage is important for current society. There would not be an assault on it by Satan if it were not. In Mark chapter ten, where the Pharisees approached the Lord, and asked about divorce, He referred them back to “the beginning” (Gen 2:21-24). Christ was not asked about the sex of the first couple, nor was He asked about the number of wives a man could have, but only about putting her away or divorcing her. He answered all of these when He replied “for the hardness of your heart.” Adam and Eve, he told them, were made male and female. Regarding gender, Biblical marriage is between a man and a woman. This is, obviously, for procreation. Noah did not put all male animals or all female animals on the ark. A man was to have only one wife. The Scriptural injunction is plain: “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife. And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.” As to the question of how long marriage is to last: “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Death is the only reason for separation from a spouse (Rom 7: 2, 3).[39]

It is important to note that Christ, when asked about marriage, goes back to “the beginning” not the Law of Moses. Likewise, Paul, when discussing marriage goes back to “the beginning.” In 1 Corinthians 6:16-18 Paul uses the same formula as Christ, “for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.” Just as the ancient Jew understood Israel was the wife of Jehovah, and marriage was synonymous with a covenant, Paul is telling the Corinthian believers they are married to Christ (v17). Since the Church is the bride of Christ, she is to be pure and faithful. Instead, the Church is following the “doctrine of Balaam.”[40] She is committing adultery on the One who has given His life for her.[41]    

There is modern research to validate the Biblical wisdom of monogamous heterosexual unions. In an article entitled The Emotional Antecedent and Sequelae of Adolescent Sexual Activity, Dr. W. David Hager gives insight into emotional consequences accompanying pre-marital and extra-marital sex. Relying on studies documenting the chemical and hormonal reactions in men and women intimately engaged, Hager concludes couples “emotionally ‘super glue’ themselves to each other,” and as a result, “there is an addictive effect of being unified.” “Thus,” he says, “there is a biochemical basis for bonding and imprinting.”[42] This bonding, when broken, has a devastating effect on the individual and society, resulting in escalating numbers of sexually transmitted infections and non-marital pregnancies.[43]


The church and the evangelical community can learn three things from the situation in first century Corinth. First, the church needs to regain its perspective. Evangelicals and the church are not the guardians of culture and society. The modern church, like the church in first-century Corinth, has forgotten its mandate. Arrogance and apathy has blinded the Church to the plight of the lost. This is not to say that the Church and evangelicals are not to be involved in the society and culture and even political process. There is still freedom to speak and the truth the Church has been entrusted with needs to be heard. We certainly must, as Schaeffer states, use this freedom while we still have it.[44]

Secondly, the church has lost its purity. Like the man in Corinth who committed incest, the modern church has chosen to “live like a Corinthian.” The church needs to purge out the old leaven and become a new lump, free from the leaven of malice and wickedness. After all, Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Let us then partake of the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth and serve Him in purity (1 Cor 5:8).

Lastly, the church has lost its power. The church needs to decide whether it will fight spiritual battles in the political arena, or in the prayer closet. Political freedom is one thing; spiritual power is another. Evangelicals have no influence in society and on culture, because there is no power with God, or with men. Change in society and culture is brought about by changing people. A change in people occurs when there is a change in their heart. A change in the heart occurs when the Spirit of God and the Word of God is presented in the power of God through the life of an obedient child of God. If this sounds simplistic, it is. It is His plan.

The battle over marriage is not the only challenge facing the Church today but its importance cannot be over emphasized. This fight should not take priority of the primary mission of the Church, but Evangelicals must be proactive in preserving the Biblical tradition of marriage. This is not just important for the Church, but for society and culture as well. The home was the first institution the Creator bestowed to His children and is the foundation of society. If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3).




















Byne, W., Parsons, B. “Human Sexual Orientation: The Biological Theories Reappraised,”

     Archives of General Psychiatry. 50 (n.d.): 228-39


Cicero, M. T. “Pro Cluent” 5.11-14. Quoted in Simon J. Kistemaker, Deliver This Man to Satan

     (1 Cor 5:5): A Case Study in Church Discipline, The Master’s Seminary Journal 3/1 (Spring

    1992): 33-45.


Christian Law Association. www. Christianlaw.org/newsletter/articles/2006.html.


Cover, Charlotte. Internet correspondence, Gibbs Law Firm, (Oct. 2006).


Durant, Will. The Age of Faith. New York: Knickerbocker Press, 1950.


Gibbs Law Firm, P.A. Informing the Faithful: One-Day Legal Seminar. Seminole, FL: Christian

   Law Association Publishers, 2004.


Hager, W. David. “The Emotional Antecedent and Sequelae of Adolescent Sexual Activity,” rev.

   2004. Available from www. cmdahome.org


Henry, Matthew. Commentary on the Whole Bible. Vol. 6. McLean, VA: Macdonald Publishing



Kraft, Charles H. “Interpreting in the Cultural Context.” In Rightly Divided: Readings in Biblical

   Hermeneutics, ed. Roy B. Zuck, 245-257. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1996.


Kupelian, David. “Innocent Blood: How Lying Marketers Sold Roe v. Wade to America,”

   Available on line at www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=42462, Jan. 20,


Laney, J. Carl. “Paul and the Permanence of Marriage in 1 Corinthians 7.” Journal of the Evangelical Society 25/3 (September 1982): 283-94.


Leary, Timothy, Dr. “Methods in Control.” n.d. Database online. Available from




Majeed, Debra Mubashshir. “The Battle Has Been Joined: Gay and Polygynous Marriages Are

     Out of the Closet and In Search of Legitimacy.” Cross Currents 54 (Summer 2004): 73-81.


Manson, Pamela. “Utah Trio Challenges State Law Banning Polygamy.” Salt Lake Tribune,

     January, 13, 2004.


Otto, Nancy. “Making Schools Safe: Anti-Harassment Training Program,” ACLU Lesbian and

   Gay Rights Project, for the Howard A. Friedman Foundation. By Jennifer Middleton, rev.

   Joshua Freker. 2005, database on-line. Available from



Pomfret, John. “Polygamists Fight to be Seen as Part of Mainstream Society.” The Washington

   Post, 21 November 2006, A01.


     Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973).

Schaeffer, Francis A. A Christian Manifesto. Rev. ed. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, Good News Publishers, 1982.


Shillington, V. George. “Atonement Texture in 1 Corinthians 5:5.” Journal for the Study of the

   New Testament 71 (1998): 29-50.


Van Baalen, Jan Karel. The Chaos of the Cults: A Study in Present-Day Isms. Grand Rapids:

   Eerdmans, 1972.               


[1] Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts. Old and New Testaments. Rev. ed. (1996) 386.




[3] This should answer those that teach that the church, since the death of Christ, is not under the moral Law of Moses any longer.                                                               


[4] M. T. Cicero Pro Cluent 5.11-14, quoted in Simon J. Kistemaker, “Deliver This Man to Satan” (1Cor5: 5): A Case Study in Church Discipline, The Master’s Seminary Journal 3/1 (Spring 1992): 33-45.                     


[5] The New Dictionary of Thoughts, (1957) s. v. “pride.”


[6]For example, the current Episcopal Church USA and Methodists ordains homosexual bishops.


[7] Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto, rev. ed. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books and Good News Publishers, 1982), 18.

[8] V. George Shillington, “Atonement Texture in 1 Corinthians 5:5,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 71 (1998): 29-50


[9] Ibid. 38. This, he says is the correct understanding of this phrase to which the reading as found in the NIV agrees quoting Adela Yarbro Collins, “The Function of “Excommunication” in Paul,” HTR 73 (1980) 257.


[10] Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, vol. 6 (McLean, VA: Macdonald Publishing Co, n.d.). 529.


[11] See, Matt 18:15-20; Luke 17:3; 2 Cor 2:1-11; Gal 6:1; 1 Thess 5:14; 2 Thess 3:6, 10-15; 1Tim 5:19-20; and Titus 3: 10-11.


[12] Internet correspondence with Charlotte Cover, Gibbs Law Firm, P.A., Oct. 2006. (Gibbs Law Firm is otherwise known as Christian Law Association).


[13] This is happening in spite of Paul’s instruction in chapter 6 for believers not to go to the civil courts (the unjust) to settle their differences.


[14] http://www.christianlaw.org/newsletter/articles/2006.html


[15] Will Durant, The Age of Faith (New York: Knickerbocker Press, 1950), 380


[16] See Isaiah 54:1,6; Hosea chapter 1-3 and Malachi 2:14.


[17] Durant, 362.


[18] The New American Handy College Dictionary, 3d. ed. (1995) s. v. marriage.


[19] The Random House Dictionary (1985), s. v. marriage. emphasis added.                                                                            


[20] There have been scores of studies conducted over several decades in search of genetic or biological origins for homosexuality, including studies of identical and fraternal twins. (See: Byne, W., Parsons, B. (1993, March). Human Sexual Orientation: The Biologic Theories Reappraised. Archives of General Psychiatry. 50: 228-39 (228). for just one of many such studies.) The conclusion is that while there may be many factors involved in determining a person’s sexual orientation, genetics is not one of them.  


[21] Charles H. Kraft, “Interpreting in Cultural Context.” In Rightly Divided: Readings in Biblical Hermeneutics, ed. Roy B. Zuck, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1996), 247.


[22] Alfred Kinsey published two works in the mid 1900s about male and female human sexuality. William Masters and Virginia Johnson based their research on the work of Kinsey. The difference in the methods was that Kinsey used surveys to gather data; Masters and Johnson used direct observation of men and women in a laboratory setting. These studies were instrumental in legitimizing sex out side of marriage. Dr. Spock also published his book on child rearing entitled: Baby and Child Care in the mid 1900s. His famous maxim “trust yourself; you know more than you think you do” led many to label him the “Father of Permissiveness” where child rearing was concerned.


[24] Ibid.


[25] Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113.U.S. Supreme Court decision. (Jan 1973).


[26]David Kupelian, Innocent blood: How lying marketers sold Roe v. Wade to America, http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=42462, January 20, 2005

[27] See Acts 16:37; 22:25-28; 25:10 where Paul asserted his civil rights as a Roman citizen.


[28] Shaeffer, 19.


[29] It is not the intent to go into detail about ancient Roman government. The republic was effectually done away with when Octavian declared himself Augustus Caesar (Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus). http://www.historyguide.org/ancient/lecture12b.html


[30] Informing the Faithful :One-Day Legal Seminar, Gibbs Law Firm (2005) 45.


[31] Nancy Otto, Making Schools Safe: Anti-Harassment training Program, ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, for the Howard A. Friedman Foundation, by Jennifer Middleton, rev. Joshua Freker. www.aclu.org/images/asset_upload_fileG81_24003.pdf2005. “italics mine”


[32] Jan Karel Van Baalen, The Chaos of the Cults: A Study in Present-Day Isms (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972), 199.


[33] Ibid. 199.


[34] In January 2004, J. Bronson, G. Lee Cook, and D. Cook filed suit in U.S. District court against Salt Lake County clerks that would not issue a marriage license because of existing state law against polygamy and bigamy. The three alleged in their suit they were denied their First Amendment right to practice their religion, which includes polygamy. They cited Lawrence v. Texas as the basis for their suit. Pamela Manson. Utah Trio Challenges State Law Banning Polygamy. (Salt Lake Tribune, January 13, 2004).


[35] John Pomfret, Polygamists Fight to Be Seen As Part of Mainstream Society. (The Washington Post Nov 21, 2006). A01.


[36] Debra Mubashshir Majeed, “The Battle Has Been Joined: Gay and Polygynous Marriages Are Out of the Closet and in Search of Legitimacy,” Cross Currents, 54 (Summer 2004): 74.


[37] Ibid. 74


[38] Ibid. 78-81.                                                          

[39] This is the ideal. Christ in Matthew nineteen gives what some have labeled “an exception clause” clause. There is still much debate on the meaning of this passage. J. Carl Laney’s opinion is that to remarry after divorce is to be guilty of adultery.

[40] See Numbers 22-25. When Israel could not be cursed, they were corrupted by the intermingling with the nations surrounding them. This is the counsel Balaam gave to Balak. The Church cannot be cursed (Gal 3:13) but it can be corrupted by worldliness. See also Num 31:16; Josh 22: 16-18; 2 Peter 2:15; James 4:4; Jude 11; Rev 2:14.

[41] Cf. 1 Cor 3:16,17; 6:15; 7: 1-40; 2 Cor 11:2; Eph 5: 30-32

[42] W. David Hager, The Emotional Antecedent and Sequelae of Adolescent Sexual Activity. [database on line]; available from www.cmdahome.org. (2004) 2,3



                [43] Ibid. 1


[44] Shaeffer, p 55.


Come and See!

We invite you to Come and See what the Lord is doing at Roanoke Island Baptist Church.  We are a growing and hungry congregation seeking to glorify our Lord Jesus Christ! Won't you come and be a part of these exciting times?

Psalm 34:8 "O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him."