In 1 Corinthians 7:7-38 Paul talks about marriage, and talks about celibacy as well. He refers I think in part here to Matthew 19 in this. It is on my heart to share about this because there is so much talk about the virtues of marriage in our culture. In a way a person is not really considered whole if they are not in an intimate relationship. And so that makes me wonder if we as Christians put too much concern upon that.One thing that bothered me a lot on the Christian Forums was that you lost status if you BECAME single–not if you had always been but if that became your state. I had to beg pretty much to be allowed to post in the married men’s forums.
One thing that is rather interesting is that single life, according to Jesus and the Apostle Paul is a calling from God according to the scriptures I mentioned. According to them it allows for the possibility of a life focused on a life in Christ–not necessarily becoming a monk or something but rather that your life can become more focused on God than if you were married. In fact Paul talks about how it is harder for married people to focus on the things of the Lord than it is for a single person, because of the (necessary) distraction of intimate devotion to another person. What I find interesting about this is that neither state of being–that is to be married or to be single–is forced on people. As Jesus says “He is who is able to receive this, let him receive it.”
I’m thinking about this because I have for a while been wrestling with the idea of marriage itself. I think about that CF thing–how suddenly I was relegated to being someone in front of whom it was not appropriate to discuss martial matters with, as though I had never experienced them. Suddenly I had nothing of value to contribute, because I wasn’t married. And yet Paul, who was not married, gave advice to married people and those who might be married one day, as did Jesus. And if I do not add to scripture but make it the basis for speaking wisely, am I not being a follower of Christ in that?
I think this is another one of those uncomfortable biblical truths. The Bible seems to be saying that we should not pity those who are not married, nor should we think that there is something wrong with them, but we should see it as a blessed state, potentially, equal with those who are married.
This leads me to see things this way: that if it is better to marry than to burn, it is also probably better to not marry than to marry badly, because of the narrow circumstances under which you can divorce without sin. As we’ve discussed, of course God forgives sins–but sins lead us away from God, and either that is a very serious matter or it is not. That’s perhaps something for another subject, but it strikes me that we should be very very careful about who we marry and even IF we marry at all.
Because it is hard to escape the fact that Paul expresses the belief that it is the preferred position for a Christian not to marry–and that that is opposite to what most churches really teach. Imagine if rather than Purity Balls, vows of celibacy, holiness and all that sort of thing that we simply said that marriage should not be a goal?
Feminism is one of the ways in which the modern culture attacks people where they are very vulnerable. Remove that possibility by stating that men and women don’t need to marry at all but that they do very much need to follow the Lord, and immediately it removes the battleground to one of their choosing to one of our choosing. We don’t need to get along with feminists, or indeed anyone; we merely need to offer them the truth of the Gospel/