From our discussion of the cares of marriage (I Cor. 7:32-35) in the last News, you can see how some married Christian men let their spiritual lives go. Through being too busy (!), they neglect Scripture reading and private prayer. Or, wife and family begin to take the first place in their lives and not the Triune God, our creator, redeemer and judge. Repent and return to the cross of Christ for mercy!
Thus we see too the naivety of some single men who think that marriage is the solution to all their problems. Yes, it is the God-ordained way of dealing with sexual burning (9). Yes, she will bring companionship and help in the home. But marriage is not the universal cure, for marriage also brings its own cares (33).
The truth of increased cares in marriage also holds for married women: "she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband" (34). Think of the many things wives do to care for and please their husbands: cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, looking after the home (Titus 2:5), etc. Then there is looking after the children—with loss of sleep, nappies and all the rest. Just read Proverbs 31:10-31 for the many labours of a faithful wife!
Thus her attentions are divided: pleasing the Triune God and pleasing her husband. She may (wrongly) come to view herself, solely, as the "help meet" for her husband (Gen. 2:18) and not, centrally, as the handmaiden of the Lord.
In this way, she may begin to slide spiritually. She neglects her private devotions. Faith, hope and love start to decay. She thinks only of her earthly vocation: her husband, the home, their children, etc. Thus she becomes earthly-minded, considering only this present age and not the things that are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God (Col. 3:1-2).
Moreover, if her husband and head is not walking closely with the Lord, she too will suffer spiritually. Maybe, he introduces her to worldly friends or he begins to adopt loose views on biblical doctrines and personal godliness. This, ordinarily, will have serious adverse effects on a Christian wife.
The cares of wives and husbands are necessarily involved in marriage in this world. The husband has to give attention to his wife and family; if he does not he is worse than an infidel (I Tim. 5:8). The Christian wife is commanded to be an help meet for her husband (Gen. 2:18). But these necessary cares plus our depravity often result in sinful cares and anxieties. You may let yourself become "worried sick" about your spouse, your job, your house, and your children and their future. This terrible anxiety is a real temptation, especially to married believers.
The answer to such cares is, of course, not divorce (I Cor. 7:10-11, 39). Instead, you must repent and focus on Jesus Christ. Care for your spouse (and any children gives you), not only to please him or her, but chiefly to please the Son of God who loved you and gave Himself for you. Do not let your private devotions slip. Read the Word daily and pour out your heart to God: "Be careful [or anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Phil. 4:6).
So what ought a single Christian do: marry or remain single? This is the question the apostle is addressing: "Now concerning virgins …" (I Cor. 7:25). In verses 25-35, Paul gives three reasons why singleness is preferable: there are distress and trouble in marriage (25-28), marriage passes away (29-31) and there are cares in marriage (32-35). The apostle would rather believers were "without carefulness" (32) and free to "attend upon the Lord without distraction" (35). Thus the single life is "comely" (35)—attractive, fitting and good for a Christian—and for our "profit" (35). But this is not intended to be a "snare" (35) or a noose around our neck, for it is not the case that all Christians have to remain single!
And there are things to be said in favour of marriage. Those who burn (9) and do not have the "gift" of sexual self-control (7) should marry. This is not merely advice; this is a command: "But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn" (9). The two main purposes and advantages of marriage are companionship (Gen. 2:18; Mal. 2:14) and children (Ps. 127:3-5; 128:3-6). Two people sharing their lives, as a picture of Christ and His bride (Eph. 5:22-33), and bringing forth a "godly seed" for the next generation of the church (Mal. 2:15) —what a marvellous thing! No wonder Solomon declared, "Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord" (Prov. 18:22)!
Two final points for the single Christian. First, if you want to marry, seek a spiritual spouse! This will take the sting out of many of the difficulties of marriage and it will multiply its blessings. Second, be content in your singleness. It is not a bad state; it is a "good" one (I Cor. 7:1, 8). Use it to glorify God … even if you are seeking a godly spouse.
Next time, DV, we will consider "Virgins and Widows" (36-40), the last section in I Corinthians 7 on Christian singleness and marriage.
- Volume: 10
- Issue: 21
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
Zip CodeBT42 3NR
Telephone(01144) 28 25 891851