Three issues to consider when considering getting married…
- Great CAUTION should be shown before marrying in these challenges times. 25-31
A. Our times are troubled, marry or remarry only with great caution 25-28
25 Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy. 26 I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you.
B. The eternal perspective of our faith changes how we see everything… 29-31
1. RELATIONSHIPS: Our present understanding of marriage won’t last 29
29 But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none;
2. DEATH: Our weeping will not last 30a
30 and those who weep, as though they did not weep; 30b
3. HAPPINESS: Our joys will not last 30c
and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice;
4. POSSESSIONS: Our purchases will not last 30d
and those who buy, as though they did not possess;
5. CULTURE: Our various, worldly pleasures not last 31
31 and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away.
II. There are inescapable CONCERNS that a marriage will face. 32-35
A. The husband’s cares are now divided between the Lord and his wife 32-34a
32 But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; 33 but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided.
B. The wife’s cares are now divided between the Lord and her husband 34b
The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.
C. Marriage adds great challenges to a life devoted to following the Lord. 35
35 This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.
Unfortunately, in the history of Christianity, even to this day–the concerns that marriage partners carry towards one another have been viewed as a regrettable impediment to spiritual growth and health. Nothing could be further from the truth! It is through the daily routines of kindness, comfort, and self-giving that make up a healthy marriage that amazing opportunities develop for the believer to grow closer to the Lord. Paul is not chastising those who marry–he is simply pointing out a fact: a married person’s concerns ARE divided between the Lord and the spouse, but, the person’s loyalty and intimacy with the Lord are only strengthen and nurtured through obedient participation in the marriage relationship! It is just as regrettable that person called to marriage would remain single as that a person called to singleness would force himself/herself to marry.
III. There is the need to obtain proper CONSENT before entering into marriage. 36-40
A. FATHERS: Consent to arrange marriage for Christian daughters 36-38
Mike Aquiline, Director of the St Paul Center for Biblical Theology, describes some of the more horrible aspects of the culture of death that the ancient Mediterranean world devolved into during and after the years of the New Testament period of the church. It was especially harsh for females. Regarding the ancient institution of marriage, he writes,
And pagan marriage offered no respite from this misery. Greco-Roman women were usually married off at age 11 or 12, to a mate not of their choosing, who was often much older. (Christian girls tended to marry at about 18) Afterward, they suffered in predatory relationships rife with contraception, abortion (which often killed the mother), adultery, and unnatural sexual acts. Infanticide was common, especially for female or defective offspring. Of the 600 families who show up in the records from ancient Delphi, only six raised more than one daughter. Though most of those 600 families were quite large, they had all routinely killed their baby girls. Dr. Rodney Stark quotes a letter from a pagan businessman writing home to his pregnant wife. After the usual endearments, he closes his letter by saying, briefly and casually, “If you are delivered of a child before I come home], if it is a boy, keep it, if a girl, discard it.” (Stark, The Rise of Christianity)
So, the decision on the part of a father in ancient Corinth of whether or not to “give” his daughter in arranged marriage was a very significant, vital decision to make. As the Christian families increasingly opted to not participate in the marriage customs of the surrounding culture, keeping their daughters with their birth families for a longer duration—they began to be known for the high value and dignity that they placed on their sons, but especially on their daughters.
1. To follow the cultural custom of arranging a daughter’s marriage is not a sin for a father. 36
36 But if any man thinks that he is acting unbecomingly toward his virgin daughter, if she is past her youth, and if it must be so, let him do what he wishes, he does not sin; let her marry.
Roman legal age of marriage for girls was 12, for boys it was 14 years of age. Most marriages were arranged by parents (husbands and wives). Faithfulness and harmony in the marriage were Roman ideals, and Christian parents also arranged their children’s marriages as did the surrounding culture.
2. To decide not to follow the customs of the day was a good thing. 37
37 But he who stands firm in his heart, being under no constraint, but has authority over his own will, and has decided this in his own heart, to keep his own virgin daughter, he will do well.
3. Summary: Freedom to do either, but a father does “better” to keep his daughter at home with her family longer than his surrounding culture did. 38
38 So then both he who gives his own virgin daughter in marriage does well, and he who does not give her in marriage will do better.
B. Consent for WIDOWS to remarry 39-40
Note: These verses are not addressing the issues of remarriage faced by those who no longer are married (such as divorced or abandoned mates) or those who have never been married. The verses appear to address those who have actually been widowed, and apply to those whose former mates are still formally recognized as “husbands.”
39 A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 But in my opinion she is happier if she remains as she is; and I think that I also have the Spirit of God.
C. A good application for ALL of us regarding the consent to marry might to be be sure that we are in obedience to both our consciences and to the Bible.
Application: Singleness and Grace Bible Church
- The benefits of singleness will remain unrealized if you do not take advantage of them—the church community needs you! The mere opportunity to avoid the troubles of life that your married brothers and sisters face is not an invitation to live a care-free, happy-go-lucky life. The mere opportunity to live a life of deeper devotion and spiritual pursuits does not mean that you are a St. Francis of the Singles—you still need to get your hands dirty in ministry. Use who you are, where you are, and how you are in life, right now!
- The burdens of singleness are unbearable when they are faced alone—you need the church community! Isolation kills, and the mono-culturalism of only being with fellow singles or fellow young people stunts growth. Isolation intensifies temptation and relapse into harmful patterns and sin—you need the church to “rub shoulders” with friends, and to share your life with them, and to find the right kind of relational intimacy. The battle of loneliness shouldn’t be fought alone! The answer to loneliness, particularly after the loss of mate, or a divorce or separation, is not to withdraw, and certainly NOT to seek another marriage relationship. It is to belong to the Lord, (like Paul) should you remain unmarried for the rest of your life or for a season—you need the church to share that life with!