The Gift of Singleness – Part 5
- Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Remain single? Get married? We have laid open a number of issues related to the aforementioned subject by looking at what the apostle Paul has to say in 1 Corinthians 7. Here, we conclude our discussion by offering eight things to consider when contemplating marriage and/or singleness.
The fifth major issue to consider is wisdom. That is, when contemplating marriage, one must make a biblically informed (wise) decision. In v. 36, Paul says, "But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry." Paul here refers to a man betrothed (engaged) to a woman.
We offer this translation for two key reasons. The first reason is that it is faithful to the Greek text. The second reason is that it fits the context in several ways. First, Paul begins in v. 25 by addressing those who are betrothed. Second, while still referring to those who are betrothed, he does more than repeat his exhortation from vv. 25-28 in vv. 36-38. He adds the dynamic of one who is acting improperly toward his betrothed virgin. Third, Paul continues his thought that marriage is not sin. It is simply better not to marry in view of the present distress. Fourth, by referring to the man not marrying his virgin based upon his own will and not under the compulsion of another is in keeping with Paul's refutation of the ascetics in the church who felt that marriage was at best unspiritual and at worst sin. Fifth, the phrase "keep his virgin in the state she is in" fits Paul's admonition to do just that. Sixth, the alternative interpretation given by some, that is, that Paul is speaking about fathers determining whether or not to allow their virgin daughters to marry, does not fit the context. To change subjects and deal with fathers determining whether or not they will allow their virgin daughters to marry is odd indeed. Seventh, shifting the subject to fathers and daughters poses more grammatical and interpretive problems than it solves. Eighth, allowing the text to flow from the current context poses no grammatical or interpretive problems that cannot be solved. Those issues will be dealt with below.
Now, several observations will illuminate Paul's point. The first observation is that when contemplating marriage, Christians must think about what's proper. First, Christians must marry to avoid impropriety. A man may feel he is acting improperly toward the woman to which he is betrothed or engaged. He may feel that not marrying when a commitment has been made is improper. He may feel he can't control himself with her in a sexual sense which would thus necessitate marriage. A number of other possibilities exist. Paul's point is that a man should marry the one to whom he is engaged if he feels it would be improper not to do so.
Second, Christians must marry when old enough. A woman, for example, must be of marrying age. The Greek word refers to that which has bloomed. Once she has bloomed, or come of age, the virgin is free to marry.
Third, Christians must marry when they should. Paul adds the phrase, "if it must be so." This phrase may refer to her desire to be married for whatever the reason. If the marriage must take place in that sense, then let the man do as he wishes and marry her. He does not sin in so doing.
Fourth, Christians may marry if they desire. The phrase "let them marry" would militate against the father/daughter interpretation cited above. Paul begins by saying that a man may feel he is acting improperly toward his virgin. If the man is the father acting improperly toward his daughter, it would seem that at the end of the verse, Paul would say that the father should "let her marry." He should let his daughter marry. The fact that Paul uses the term "let them marry" seems to indicate that a betrothed couple is in view rather than a father/daughter. In the end, the Christian must marry for God's glory.
Recently on Singles
Have something to say about this article? Leave your comment via Facebook below!
Listen to Your Favorite Pastors
Add Crosswalk.com content to your siteBrowse available content