If read by itself, 1 Corinthians 7:17-20 would instruct every person who became a believer under the age of 16 to stay single for life. However, when read in the context of the verses preceding this section, these verses are actually very insightful.
As I mentioned in the post yesterday, the church in Corinth was struggling to establish a consistent moral standard in terms of sexuality. Also, being a relatively new and controversial church, there were many opportunities for one spouse to convert to Christianity while the other, out of fear of persecution or unbelief, remained without Christ. Thus Paul’s directions in verses 10-16 address the specific situation of one spouse becoming a Christian.
So if we look at verses 17-20 with that lens, the message will be interpreted differently; the “you” in the passage means the believing wife/husband with the unbelieving spouse. In verse 18, Paul uses an analogy to illustrate the point he is trying to make; Christians do not need to change their circumstances to be content or to know that they are loved fully by God. Just as a Jew does not need to become like a Gentile and vice-versa. To conclude all the marriage and singleness advice, Paul puts relationship status into its appropriate place; he writes, “the important thing (the focus should be) is to keep God’s commandments”.
My goal for you after reading 1 Corinthians 7 is to have hope. One, to have hope that relationship status cannot hinder your relationship with the Lord (note that I am not saying that a relationship cannot because an unhealthy relationship can distract you). Two, there are benefits spiritually to being single AND to being married. Three, have hope for your parents if one of them is a believer but the other is not. Again, I encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 7 for yourself and ask God to speak to you!
- Bailey Meyne