Loving Father, Lover of my soul, make Your presence known to me in a real and tangible way today as I meet You in Your Word.
Read 1 Corinthians 7:25–40
25 Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
29 What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; 30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.
32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.
36 If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. 37 But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing. 38 So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does better.
39 A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. 40 In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is—and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhether you are single or not, prepare to engage with Paul’s thinking about this topic.
Paul has already introduced this subject in 1 Corinthians 7:8,9. It’s easy to see that he is writing out of a critical situation where the Corinthian Christians need all of their wits about them to cope. See what he says even to married couples in verses 29–33. In verse 39 he picks up his advice again to married couples. The crisis could arise from systematic or even temporary persecution or else it may be that Paul is galvanized by the thought that the resurrection of Jesus heralds the end of the world. Personally I think it is probably the former since even chapter 15 doesn’t clearly predict the end of the world.
What are the good reasons mentioned here for remaining single, when marriage was the default option? Do you think Paul is handling the topic sensitively, as we would hope to do today?
Remember that Paul is writing a very specific piece of guidance and is not able to take into account all of the complexities of our own society. In the end, the central question for us all is who has the undivided devotion of our hearts?
If you are single, are you able to thank God for it? How can you support “unattached” and single friends?
Omniscient God, I pray for all who are single to remain faithful to Your special calling in the midst of an uncomprehending society.
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