1 Corinthians 5-7
Fornication has been defined as either "voluntary sexual intercourse between persons not married to each other" or "extramarital sex that willfully and maliciously interferes with marriage relations" - the latter being also a definition of adultery, which is a plain violation of the Commandment (see Thou shalt not commit adultery to understand the ultimate spiritual purpose of the Commandment; listen also to the Sermon The Divorce and Remarriage of Jesus Christ from our Sermons page).
Along with their troubles with divisions caused by struggles for leadership among themselves (rather than looking to Christ as the Leader of His Church), the people of the Church at Corinth were also infected with fornication, either by act or toleration.
"5:1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife [see Leviticus 18:1-30 for the listing of unlawful relations]. 5:2 And ye are puffed up [see The Two Kinds Of Pride and High Places of The Mind], and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 5:3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 5:4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus [see Could Christ Return Tonight? and When Will You Be Judged?].
1 Corinthians Chapter 6
Paul (see Paul's Ministry) also encouraged the Christians of Corinth to settle their differences within and among themselves, rather than having non-Christian "judges" applying non-Christian solutions. Why? "6:2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?" (1 Corithinians 6:2 KJV).
"6:1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? [see What Is A Saint?] 6:2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 6:3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? 6:4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church [see What Is The Church?]. 6:5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? 6:6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.
Sins of physical immorality are different than other kinds of sin. How? "6:18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" (1 Corinthians 6:18-19 KJV).
"6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 6:13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats [see Clean and Unclean]: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. 6:14 And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power. 6:15 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. 6:16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. 6:17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
1 Corinthians Chapter 7
The apostle Paul (and other key figures among God's people, including Elijah, John the Baptist and Jesus Christ) was not married (some are of the opinion that Paul may have been a widower; see also Paul's Ministry), but Paul taught neither for, or against, marriage. What Paul taught regarding marriage was a matter of what was best for an individual's righteous life.
"7:1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 7:2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. 7:3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 7:4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. 7:5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. 7:6 But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. 7:7 For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.
Paul's primary focus was "let every one lead the life which the Lord has assigned to him, and in which God has called him." Does that mean that, for example, Paul remained single because he was single when he was called, while Peter (see Peter's Ministry) was married to a "believing" wife because Peter was married (we know that Peter was married at his calling because Jesus cured Peter's mother-in-law of a fever i.e. Luke 4:38-39) when he was called? Perhaps, but as Paul explains further, his, or Peter's, or anyone else's, circumstances and choices do not apply to everyone. It depends on the calling, the mission.
"7:17 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches. 7:18 Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. 7:20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. 7:21 Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. 7:22 For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant. 7:23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. 7:24 Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.
Paul's summary? Marry or remain single, not as one state being better than the other, for everyone, but as a matter if whichever makes an individual more productive to their calling in this life. Some are more effective Christians married, while others are more effective Christians single.
"7:29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; 7:30 And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; 7:31 And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.
Fact Finder: While Christ was not married as a mortal man, that does not mean that He will not have a "wife." Who is the betrothed bride of Christ? When will the marriage happen?