Married or single? – Hope 103.2

Married or single?

By David ReayThursday 16 Feb 2017LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read 1 Corinthians 7:32-35

32 I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. 33 But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. 34 His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible. (NLT)

Those of us who think the Bible is to be obeyed literally have great problems with passages like this. Many married people would say that being married actually helps their Christian life. Marriage partners can be great partners in ministry, they can help one another stay strong in faith. We learn much about love by being married and having children.

On one level, then, Paul is quite mistaken in making such a general statement. Those who are not married may be preoccupied with getting married and may face great sexual temptations (as Paul elsewhere acknowledges). Those who are married reflect something of the relationship between Christ and his church (as Paul elsewhere acknowledges).

It seems Paul is expressing a very personal opinion and not seeking to be a mouthpiece of God, who after all did ‘invent’ marriage. In some cases, singleness is beneficial in the service of God. In some cases, family complexities can get us bogged down. But this is not always or even mostly the case. In the end, Paul gives us freedom to do what is best for our service of God. Married people and single people can be devoted to God or disobedient to God.

All in all, a timely reminder that taking the Bible seriously might not always mean taking it literally.

David Reay