These are not rules; Paul was giving advice here. He was dealing with a situation where people were not free to arrange their own marriages. Families agreed which boy would marry which girl, at a young age. When he became a man, the boy could choose the right time for their marriage. But the girl had no choice in the matter.
For that reason, Paul gave this advice to unmarried men and to widows. Unmarried men could choose whether or not to marry their young woman yet. Widows were free to remarry if they wished.
Paul advised them that it was probably wiser not to marry. Across the world, Christians were suffering because of the cruel actions of their enemies. It would not be easy for a Christian husband and wife to look after each other in the present situation (7:28-31). Their duties to each other would cause special difficulties for them.
So certainly, people should not marry without a good reason. Strong emotions and selfish desires are not good enough reasons to marry - and especially not in such circumstances.
Paul told them only to marry if their love for each other made it absolutely necessary. He refers, perhaps, to Song of Solomon 8:6. Perhaps a man and a woman have such a desire to look after each other that only death will separate them. Perhaps their love is so constant that it seems like a burning flame in their hearts and minds. Then Paul agreed that they should marry. But otherwise, it was probably more sensible not to marry.
Next part: Advice about divorce (1 Corinthians 7:10-11)
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© 2014, Keith Simons.