Married vs. the Unmarried State
1 Cor. 7:25-40
Paul here is writing his advice to single people as well as widows. This is in response to the question
and inquiry of the Corinthian Christians. Being married has advantages. Being single has advantages
also. They are both right and good in the sight of the Lord. The word virgin here can be interpreted
as “unmarried” and can apply to either man or woman. Paul here is giving new instruction that was
not addressed by the Lord during His earthly ministry. However, we can take his ruling on the issue
as trustworthy counsel. He was writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and hence his
“judgment” was as authoritative as Christ’s.
Illustration 1: Demographers Predict
Demographers predict that 10% of young men and women today will never marry, and that half of
those who do will divorce. Some 37% of adults over 18 are single, and roughly one-fourth of all
households consist of just one person. Moreover, one child in four is born out of wedlock, and onefourth
of all children now live with a single parent. Are these changes in American living patterns
affecting the nation’s health? Health experts have long observed that married people are healthier
than unmarried people, and that death rates (from all causes) are consistently higher among single
and socially isolated people. More recent studies have suggested that mortality rates are about
100% to 300% higher for socially isolated men, and 50% to 150% higher for socially isolated women,
than for their socially integrated counterparts. Resource, Mar./Apr., 1990
I. The unmarried of both sexes.
A. Practical Advantages of being single.
1. The present distress (1 Cor. 7:26). Life is becoming more difficult and society is
undergoing drastic change. Church will be facing calamities, specifically
persecution. Persecution will cause hardship and distress to single person but it
would be more painful and difficult to married people specially if they have
children. The term “it is good for a man so to be.” (1 Cor. 7: 26) can mean “to
remain as he is”.
a. If he is single, do his best in serving Christ. Make it his priority
b. If there is a desire for marriage, no problem, use your marriage to serve
c. It does not mean that married Christian should have divorce. Paul’s advice
here is for the unmarried.
2. The shortness of time (1 Cor. 7:29-31). Paul reminds the Corinthian Christians
that life is short. Therefore, they should live in this life with their eyes looking on
spiritual things which are permanent and not on the temporal or material things
which would soon pass away. It’s better to be prepared and ready for the
coming of the Lord. The imminency of Christ’s return is clearly written and
taught in the New Testament.
3. Marriage is distracting (1 Cor. 7:32-35). The single person can concentrate
wholly upon serving the Lord, but the married person must also care about his
Illustration 2: When Is He A Bachelor?
At what age is a single man considered a bachelor?
Although there is no definite age which determines when a single man becomes a confirmed
bachelor, for practical purposes it may be set at about 35 years. Beginning with age 18, young men
marry in increasing numbers, the marriage rate rising rapidly with each year. By age 30 about oneeighth.
While men continue to marry in later life, fewer than half of the single men who have passed
age 35 eventually do so. For this reason, single men who have passed their thirty-fifth birthdays may
be considered as confirmed bachelors.
Illustration 3: When Is She A Spinster?
At what age is a single woman considered a spinster?
A woman who has passed her thirty-first birthday may be considered a spinster in our country, since
the chances are against her eventual marriage after that age. As a matter of fact, most women in the
United States who marry do so relatively young. In consequence, less than one-tenth of our women
have not been married by their thirty-second birthdays.
II. For Widows (1 Cor. 7:39)
A. It is not wrong for a widow to remarry (1 Cor. 7:39). Some misguided teachers have
tried to forbid believers from getting remarried when their spouses have died, but
this is not the teaching of Scripture.
B. If a single person or widow desires to be remarried, she must marry in God’s will (v.
39). This means he or she must marry a believer (2 Cor. 6:14) and not only a believer
but one who is serving the Lord so that Christ will be the Head of the marriage.
C. Paul says that in his opinion or judgment, the widow will be happier if she remains
unmarried (1 Cor. 7:40).
Illustration 3: Wives Outlive Husbands
In most families the wife outlives her husband. Widows today outnumber widowers almost four-toone
in this country. The chances are almost three-in-five that the wife will survive her husband when
both are the same age.
When the husband is five years older, the chances are seven-in-ten that this wife will outlive him;
and when he is ten years older, the chances rise to eight-in-ten. Only when the husband is around
four years younger than his wife are the chances of survival about the same for both.
III. Shall the parent give the daughter in marriage (I Cor. 7:36-38)?
A. The Corinthians apparently had asked Paul about the duty of a father towards his
daughter old enough to marry.
1. A man may give his daughter in marriage. Roman and Greek fathers had the
control of the marriage of their daughters.
2. If circumstances of any kind seem to require her marriage. The father does no
wrong in giving his daughter in marriage. “Let them marry.
3. If no need makes marriage necessary, and the purpose that she remains
unmarried continues steadfast, the father does well to let her remain
4. To choose either course is well, but the unmarried state is better where
circumstances permit (verse 38), on account of the “distress” (verse 26). When
all is said, Paul leaves the whole problem of getting married an open question to
be settled by each individual case!
Paul’s advice here is it is better to remain single due to the present distress, shortness of
time, and distractions if you are married. However, you can remain as you are and if you
want to get married or already married, no problem, just make sure that serving the
Lord will still be your priority.