1 Corinthians 7 is a passage that causes people to cringe for a variety of reasons; one, Paul talks about sex… two words that I never thought would be in the same sentence. Two, this passage is often misinterpreted to mean that it is wrong and spiritually settling to get married… these two reasons are enough for one to quickly skim over the chapter and then move on. I want to help you interpret this passage accurately so that in the future, you will not dread reaching the end of 1 Corinthians 6.
First of all, Paul was not writing directly to us in 2015 American culture (this is a critical thing to remember when reading the Bible, know the context of each book so that you can accurately interpret!); he was writing to the church in Corinth, a group of believers who were currently struggling with degrading morals within their body and persecution from non-believing Jews. Thus, in the beginning of Chapter 7, Paul lays out God’s heart for sex within marriage as clearly as possible (alluding that the church in Corinth needed clarification). Then, Paul makes the final controversial statement,
So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows—it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am. But if they can’t control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It’s better to marry than to burn with lust.
If we read this statement through the lens that Paul was addressing a specific group of people in specific circumstances, we can conclude that Paul’s advice applies to their specific situation, not every believer in every culture/period of time. In a season of persecution and dissension, it makes sense that Paul would not advise Christians in Corinth to add getting married to their present circumstances. Yes, there are some spiritual benefits to being single, but if singleness were truly the only way to have deep intimacy with God, then the Lord would not have created marriage to be the ultimate reflection of our relationship with Him! I will elaborate more on this concept in the blog tomorrow, be sure to check it out and read 1 Corinthians 7 for yourself!
- Bailey Meyne