The Apostle Paul has just finished speaking about sexual immorality, sex within marriage, and divorce. He now addresses singleness.
Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be. Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you. But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; 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; And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.1 Corinthians 7:25-31
Here Paul is not issuing a command; it is not wrong to get married. Instead, he is giving wisdom to us concerning singleness and marriage. Much of his argument centers around the present distress. He is here referencing an intense time of world upheaval. He is saying that at that particular time marriage was probably not the best idea. He references the troubles that a married person would experience during such an upheaval, and he is trying to impart wisdom to keep them from those troubles. He is not saying that marriage is wrong.
But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.1 Corinthians 7:32-35
Paul wants us to live a worry free life. He understands that in marriage we can become very concerned about worldly things to ensure the happiness of our home. Things like physical appearance, clothing, a home, etc. can become a huge concern when you are focused on having a happy marriage.
As it relates to the concept of pursuing marriage, we can see that our children can easily become distracted and focus on trivial things of this world instead of the things of God. For example, how much time and money is a young lady going to spend getting ready to go out if she is looking for a man? How about a young lady who is not concerned with getting married? What about a young man studying for an exam when he is trying to win a classmate? How much time is going to be spent on studying versus his physical appearance?
Paul’s conclusion is that he wants us to serve the Lord without distraction. He wants us to be pursuing the Kingdom of God, not marriage. What other ways does the idea of marriage distract young men and women?
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.Matthew 6:31-33
If we raise our children to get married, not seek the Kingdom, we are sending three very wrong signals:
- Marriage is the ultimate goal. This can lead our young people to believe that once they are married they have arrived. They now have 50+ years ahead of them and no purpose or direction because we have taught them that marriage is the goal.
- You cannot serve the Lord until you are married. Many young people do not believe that they are “ready” to serve the Lord until they are married. As such they spend all of their time pursuing marriage and ignoring the Kingdom.
- If you are not married you are defective. Many single Christians feel as if there is no place for them in the church. They feel like everyone sees them as defective because they are not married. This leads them to just “exist” while they wait for the right person to come along.
But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better. The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.1 Corinthians 7:36-40
There is nothing wrong with getting married! In fact, most Christian’s will get married. The issue is the focus that we set before our children. Are we teaching them to live for God’s Kingdom (which most often includes marriage, family, and children)?
Paul closes by emphasizing that once you are married it is for life. He concludes that happiness is found in living for the Kingdom, not marriage.