I Corinthians 7 – a new look (Part 4)

Our impression of what the word “intimate” means has diminished over the years to mean sexual activity.  A dictionary search is quite different:  close personal relationship; characterized by warm feelings; private; closely personal; characteristic of inmost or essential nature; and finally, engaging in sexual relationship.  Scripture is full of information about how we are to conduct our lives in all these definition areas.  How the unmarried and married persons are to conduct themselves in physical sexuality is the only one which gives different instruction to each.  Handling this area with faithfulness, righteousness, and purity is a broad umbrella over those in both circumstances.

From the very beginning, close relationship with God was His intention.  Then came close relationship with others.  and the story unfolds with success and failure to this day.  Faithfulness to God is mentioned early in Genesis, and the pattern for Godly relationship is spoken of in marriage terms.  Violation of trust in this relationship is vividly represented in Jeremiah 3:6-10:  During the reign of King Josiah, the LORD said to me, “Have you seen what faithless Israel has done?  She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there.  I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it.  I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery.  Because Israel’s immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stone and wood.  In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense,” declares the LORD.

Pretty strong language!  While there are no verses stating explicitly that Israel and Judah were “married to God,” it is to be understood from these verses in Jeremiah that the connection was in that context.  God states plainly to Israel in Jeremiah 3:14, “for I am your husband.”  And in verse 20:  “Like a woman unfaithful to her husband, so you, Israel, have been unfaithful to me.”  And of course, we have other Old Testament verses which support this thought, a most notable one being Isaiah 54:5 where God says to Israel, “your Maker is your husband.  (Hosea 3:1; Isaiah 54:5)

Just as our understanding of intimacy is too small, so is our understanding of marriage!  We most often see it in the earthly relational and physical sense without realizing that it is a symbol of the spiritual relationship we have with our Maker, with Christ and His church. (Ephesians 5:21-32)  Neither the married nor unmarried have the complete picture which will be made perfect in our heavenly home as we finally understand the mystery of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Colossians 2:2-3)

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