Questions for Further Study:
1. How do you understand Paul’s instructions to married couples, to
widows and widowers, and to “virgins” or “fiancées”?
2. In addition to the exhortation to the Corinthians not to change their status in relationship either to marriage or to slavery, Paul urges the uncircumcised not to get circumcised and the circumcised not to try to cover over their circumcision. This seems to have something to do with not changing one’s status as Jew or a Gentile, and the whole chapter may call to mind the baptismal claim of Galatians 3:28. Is this what life looks like for the community of the baptized?
3. Though the description of marriage is almost totally lacking in romance, are there signs of genuine mutuality—or is Paul’s vision of marriage here hierarchical?
4. Notice the distinction Paul makes between what he has learned “from the Lord” and his own opinion (7:10:7:12). Is this a helpful distinction when we think about Christian ethical practice today?
Questions for Discussion:
1. What can we learn from Paul’s discussion of sexual ethics in and out of marriage? Or is this all so hopelessly bound to his own time that we simply leave it aside?
2. How do you respond to Paul’s general claim that faithful people should not change their social status but should change their attitudes—those who mourn acting as if they rejoiced, those who were slaves as if they were free? Does this leave any room for Christian social action or do we simply try to make people feel better about the status quo?
3. We talk a good deal about an “inclusive” church. Does Paul’s openness to people in a variety of circumstances provide a helpful model of inclusiveness? Are there any limits to how open we should be?