1 Corinthians 7:1…
Paul has put forth the doctrinal truth our bodies do not belong to us any longer. They have been purchased at an infinitely high price by the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Since we are not our own, we are not free to do whatever we want to with our bodies because they no longer belong to us. Our bodies are now the temple of the Holy Spirit, and anything in this world we join ourselves to we also join with Christ. To re-join ourselves to anything in this world denigrates our ultimate purpose in life.
Paul now references a letter sent to him from the Church at Corinth asking him questions pertaining to marriage, which were raised in the highly-charged sexual climate of Corinth.
These are also the kind of questions which have also been raised over the centuries of Church existence. Many strange doctrines have arisen about marriage, and Paul puts many of those strange doctrines to rest here in his discussion.
In the first case, we must remember the Temple of Aphrodite looming just above the city of Corinth on the rocky monolith known of as the Acrocorinth, from which Corinth derives its name. From that temple prostitutes flowed freely down into the streets of Corinth daily for the purpose of providing the worship of Aphrodite, who was the goddess of fertility. These temple prostitutes were available for hire to satisfy just about any imaginable sexual perversion. The prostitutes themselves were likewise demonstrating their worship of Aphrodite by offering their bodies to the goddess for this purpose. They included women, men, boys, and girls.
We tend to think of modern life in the U.S. as being very free in its sexual expression, but we have nothing on the city of Corinth. The environment of Corinth far exceeded Las Vegas. (Add in a mixture of merchant-marine sailors constantly passing through the city, and you have a highly-charged cocktail of perversion.)
Homosexuality was also widely practiced and accepted, both in Roman culture and in the Greek culture present at Corinth. Emperor Nero himself had married a boy and called him his ‘wife.’ Later, Nero married another man, and considered himself to be the ‘wife’ in that relationship. (Gay marriage is nothing new.)
So, we can see how questions may arise about Christian marriage conduct in this newly-found, re-born Christian life. Are we free to express ourselves sexually, both in and out of marriage, or is sex a taboo even in marriage – since its expression has such obvious connection to Aphrodite?
Due to the example of its free and depraved expression, is sex to be reserved – even in marriage – for the purpose procreation alone? Are we to consider our sexual appetite, even in the confines of marriage as evil? (Is all sex dirty?)
Paul’s teaching here – in his answers to these kinds of questions – provides much instruction both Spiritually, (and even common-sensically,) about God’s design for the proper expression of Godly sexual conduct in marriage.