EDITOR’S NOTE
:  Each He Said-She Said column features a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view.  If you’ve got a question about anything related to singleness, please 
CLICK HERE to submit (selected questions will be posted anonymously).

QUESTION:  I am currently in seminary.  I am in the middle of my first year.  I still have at least three-and-a-half years left.  I have been dating my girlfriend for one year and three months and we want to get married, but seminary makes me not want to get married because my father says that once you're married, all your focus isn't on God but that it's also on someone else's life (Paul says this, not sure where).  Now, what should I do?  I'm 20 years old.  I know I'm a bit too young, and I should wait at least a little longer until 22 maybe.  How does this work though?  I would have to date her for another four years pretty much and goodness, temptations are strong.  Really, really strong.  I don't want to mess up but then again, I don't want to ruin what God has for me here in seminary.

HE SAID:  Your father is correct in saying marriage will cause you to divide your focus (and time) from solely being on God to being on God and your wife, as Paul attests, and as it should be if you are married.

In everything you do, I want you to be free from the concerns of this life.  An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him.  But a married man can’t do that so well.  He has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife.  His interests are divided (1 Corinthians 7:32-34).

Paul follows up in verse 35 with, “I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you.  I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.”  Another translation (NIV) says, “…but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.”

Despite the initial inference that Paul is denying singles to marry, he explains the reason for saying this is not to restrict us, but rather for our benefit.  Paul had lived a life divergent to how God wanted and another life directly in line with what God desired (with undivided devotion to Him).  His wisdom, although contrary to the hope of many singles, comes from the experience of both. 

Your struggle is not exclusive to single seminary students.  The application of leading a life with undivided devotion to the Lord is a battle for everyone, regardless of one’s marital status, sex, age, or occupation.  Every person claiming to be a follower of Christ must discover their own calling and direction for and throughout their life.  In order to find the answer, we must repeatedly ask ourselves, and prayerfully ask the Lord questions like these ...

  • What are my gifts and how can I best use them right now?
  • What does “undivided devotion” look like in my life?
  • What obstacles are distracting me from it?
  • What does God want me to do today?

The premise of 1 Corinthians 7:32-34 is probably on the top-5 list of subjects singles don’t want to study or hear about, even though I have heard a teaching on this in every singles group I have been a part of. 

The counterpart to this verse is found in Genesis 2:18: