I Corinthians 7 is the outstanding chapter in all the Word of God on the subject of Christian marriage and singleness. It deals with just about every variation on these two states. Here inspired instruction is given to Christians who are married to an unbeliever, who have been deserted by their spouse and who are separated from their spouse, as well as Christian virgins and widows.
I Corinthians 7 provides a healthy corrective to the foolishness which passes for wisdom in the world and with many professing Christians. Here mere emotionalism and unhealthy romanticism find no place. I Corinthians 7 has no time for worldly notions that physical beauty is the number one thing in a mate, that sex is the be-all and end-all, and that marriage is all about self-fulfillment and feeling good. Listen to the following samples of biblical realism: "it is better to marry than to burn" (in lust; 9), "the fashion of this world passeth away" (31), and married people "shall have trouble in the flesh" (28). Marriage and singleness require serious thought and biblical sobriety. Many, sadly, end up marrying foolishly or are carried away by lust into fornication.
Some speak of the single Christian life as freedom. Others call it evil and bitter, a sore trial and a heavy cross. The Word of God calls it "good:" "It is good for a man not to touch a woman" (1). "Touch" here refers to intimate, sexual touching. Thus when God kept back Abimelech from sleeping with Sarah, it is said that he did not "touch" her (Gen. 20:6). Similarly, in Proverbs 6:29 touching a woman is synonymous with going in to her.
As a "good" state for a Christian, singleness is beautiful, becoming and worthy. It is not contrary to God’s moral ideal and there is nothing shameful about it. Two false inferences have been made from the goodness of singleness—both in favor of asceticism and monkery. First, some, like Jerome (c.345-c.419), have inferred that if it is good to be single, then singleness is a more holy state than marriage. Second, it has been argued that if it is good not to touch a woman then it is bad to touch a woman, that is, there is something unclean and sinful about marriage and sexual intercourse.
However, when the Bible teaches that singleness is good, this does not mean that other states are bad. Marriage, like singleness, is a good state. Marriage is an institution of God and a picture of the covenant union of Christ and His church. "Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled" (Heb. 13:4). Parenthood is also a good state. Just sing Psalms 127 and 128 where children are seen as a blessing and a heritage from the Lord. Thus singleness, marriage and parenthood are all good states for the Christian. Next time, we shall consider how singleness is good (DV).
- Volume: 9
- Issue: 26
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