Marriage and Singleness

1 Corinthians 7:1–16

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? (1 Corinthians 7:1–16 ESV)

In order to unpack this passage properly let us first consider a few things. First, marriage is a reflection of something greater, it is a reflection of Christ and the church.

What Paul is NOT saying here is: Being single is better than being married. He does say it is good but not better, and he says that it is good because it allows the person to focus fully on God and church where as a married couple focus is split.

Paul must have been addressing some issues in the Corinthian church where men and woman were divorcing or considering divorce based on this idea (that Paul himself agrees with) that “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” Considering Paul’s own opinion on this subject he may have wrote it in a previous letter to them. Paul is now trying to clarify some misunderstandings.

First, marriage is a gift from God and singleness is a gift from God.

Secondly, if you are married do not withhold sex from one another, and if you do, for some spiritual reason, don’t do it for very long.

Thirdly, if you are burning with passion, you desire sex, get married, this should of course not be the basis for getting married but God has not created you to be single if you feel you cannot resist the temptations all around you.

Fourthly, for those who are married to an unbeliever, do not seek divorce, if they are willing to live with you there is a chance that you could lead them to Christ by your christian character. If the unbelieving husband desires a divorce, let them.

Father help me to love my wife well, it is a blessing that you have given me to be married.