By Dr. Lawrence Butler, The Bridge Church, Pembroke.
At this juncture of his letter, Paul begins to answer questions that have come to him from the church.
Cases had arisen that went beyond Jewish instruction, and were not easily comprehended by the words of Christ, that needed the touch of an apostle to provide guidance. These new conditions demanded authoritative assessment and settlement.
They ranged from Christian marriages to those who were remaining unmarried, food sacrificed to idols, and to a lack of understanding the role spiritual gifts.
In this section of the letter, Paul deals with marriage. The problem: The first question is whether or not Christians should get married. Later in the chapter Paul deals with whether or not virgins (daughters of saints) should be given in marriage. As we know, Paul was apparently not married. Thus the accusation against him was likely that he did not approve of marriage and taught against it. He said that it was “good for a man not to touch a woman” (v.1). In verse 7 he even revealed that he wished “all men were even as I myself ” (meaning unmarried). However, Paul’s reasons for recommending staying unmarried were the present distress (v. 26, persecution perhaps?), there would be some trouble in relationships (v. 28), the short time left to serve the Lord (v. 29), and also because the spouse would take away some of our dedication to God in order to have a home.
The response: Paul did teach for marriage elsewhere in the scripture. In Ephesians 5 he compared the relationship of Christ to the church to that of a marriage. When reading I Timothy 3 we find that he required bishops and deacons be married.
Paul taught that those forbidding to marry were wrong and had departed from the faith.
(Heb 13:4) “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”
Paul did insist that the marriage be inviolable and each spouse had to submit to the other.
Their bodies were no longer just their own, but they had to agree together on working out their relationship with one another and with the Lord.
Our lesson: Marriage is one of the most serious decisions a person will ever make. It must be made carefully and with much prayer. God must come first, but the partners need to work out their responsibilities toward one another and the Lord together.