In 1 Corinthians chapter 7, Paul answers the question: ‘Is it good for Christians to marry?’
His reply gives several reasons why it may be better for a Christian to remain unmarried. An unmarried Christian often has better opportunities to serve God (7:32-34). When people have difficult troubles in their lives, it may be unwise to marry (7:26). Certainly, nobody should marry without proper thought about the serious responsibilities that marriage brings (7:4).
Here in 1 Corinthians 7:36, Paul explains a situation where it is right and proper to marry. This man genuinely loves a young woman and he wishes to behave in an honourable manner towards her. He is not marrying for selfish reasons. She is the right age to marry; and he wants to do the right thing.
Paul contrasts that man with another man in 1 Corinthians 7:37. Both men are behaving in a mature manner; both men have control over their own emotions. The first man chose to marry because of his love for a woman. The second man chose not to marry so that both he and the woman could serve God better (7:32-34).
Both men made decisions that were right and good. God approves of them both. However, the person who chooses to give all his time and energy to God makes the best decision.
These examples refer to the marriage customs that people used to follow in Corinth. Men were not free to choose whom they would marry. Instead, families arranged for a boy to become engaged to a girl when they were both very young. When he grew older, the boy could choose when to marry. Even where those customs are unfamiliar, we can still learn from Paul’s advice.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.