Our readings today are from Jeremiah 50 and 1 Corinthians 7:1-16. In Jeremiah God’s judgment on Babylon is revealed and we get a great insight into our God’s character as a just God. In Corinthians 7 we have the apostle Paul discussing marriage as he is responding to questions and comments from the church in Corinth. After addressing sexual immorality in chapter 6 it is understandable marriage is next on the agenda.
Paul individually addresses 4 categories of people and concerns (1) Christians who are married concerning their sexual purity. (2) Unmarried and widowed Christians (3) to married Christians concerning divorce and remarriage (4) To mixed marriages of believers and non-believers.
The overall message is that it is important to understand our current constitution. We do still carry fleshly passions around with us, and we must learn to control them with the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit. All believers should follow the example of Paul in exercising self-restraint and guarding ourselves from sexual immorality. Whether married or not, we should strive to uphold God’s standards of marriage, to live a godly life and provide testimony so that others may be saved.
However as I’ve sat and talked with people going through marriage crisis, divorce, sexuality struggles and confusion, confessions of different levels of abuse within marriage it becomes evident that there are many sides to every story. Things often aren’t as black and white. We are complex people with complex emotions. It is easy to blame. It is easy to judge. It is easy to make grand assumptions on people’s choices or behaviours.
Jeremiah 50 reminds us God is not only the ultimate judge but also the only saviour. James 4:12 echoes this: “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you–who are you to judge your neighbor?”
The church gets a reputation of being a judgemental bunch. It breaks my heart to hear someone say “Why would I want to go to church? I already feel bad enough about my life”. We need to be a people of love… of grace…. of compassion… of mercy… To patiently seek to understand rather be understood. We must remember that our ability to judge is limited and especially that we are sinful people who will ourselves, one day, come under judgment. Regardless of people’s marriage status… or the state of their marriage – we are called to love each other.