In the discussion about “Christian marriage”, the contribution of Paul to the Biblical view of marriage is often raised. There is persistent mis-reading of his advice particularly in his letter to the church at Corinth and so for the purpose of contributing to this ongoing discussion among Christians I would post these two “readings” from my efforts to put forward a coherent Christian reading of the New Testament.
In particular, there has been persistent appeal to three statements of Paul in this advice in order to gain leverage to views that he was unsure of himself, or that he was authoritarian, somewhat misogynist, and even libertarian in outlook. These three phrases are rendered in my transliterations as “To the ones who marry, I advise – not my words but the Lord’s command” (7:10), “But for the rest I speak – not the Lord” (7:12) and finally “And I consider that I have the Spirit of God” (7:40).
Readers who wish to do so may avail themselves of Corinthian Letters of Paul, my account of the New Testament’s record of how Paul’s letters helped that church community live as a Christian synagogue even while Paul’s visits to them were severely interrupted.
There is important work waiting to be done by Christian scholars in all disciplines heeding the Scriptural teaching about marriage. There is important clarification needed from a new-found emphasise upon the holy and chaste character of the marriage institution (Hebrews 13:4). There needs to be a forthright and global political resistance – not neglecting to meet together politically as has been the habit of a faith accommodated with a liberal humanistic view of individual privacy – as the world-wide neo-colonial confusion makes its tsunami like influence felt in places waiting to be newly colonised by this generic view of the marriage institution. As the liberal idolisation of human rights proceeds to new phase of deconstructing marriage and reconstructing it as a basic human right, there will be ongoing need for clear teaching that is unashamedly political in its adherence to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, seeking the way of public justice as our response to His call to follow Him in all things.