For Singles and Widows
1 Cor. 7:6-9
Paul now was speaking regarding single life and how widows should live. I have a workmate here in NZ years back who don’t want to get married for the reason that he doesn’t want any responsibility. He also reasons out that why marry when he can have sex with a woman for “free” without any obligation. Just have some drinks with her and he will get what he wants. What is happening here now is also happening before in Corinth so Paul through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit teaches us what the Lord wills regarding singles and widows.
Illustration 1: One Flesh
Genesis in the Bible records the plan of God for mankind to marry; a man is to leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they will become one flesh. He didn’t say they should be joined to each other until they lost interest in each other. Or until one partner felt trapped by the confines of the relationship and wanted out. Or until a child complicated the scene. He said they should be joined to each other and become one. That process takes a lifetime.
I. Get married if you desire (1 Cor. 7:6-9).
A. “But I speak this by permission…” (1 Cor. 7:6): “Permission’ is an old word for fellow knowledge, i.e. concession: permission. Paul has not commanded people to marry. One is not bound to marry. The decision rests with the individual.
B. “For I would that all men were even as I myself…” (1 Cor. 7:7) Paul was not then married and it is confirmed by 1 Cor. 9:5. There are two reasons why some think Paul was a widower, and lost his wife while yet young:
1. He voted in the Sanhedrin (Acts 26:10),
2. Marriage was necessary to be a member of the Sanhedrin.
Paul had absolute self-control. While celibacy is excellent, he declares the capacity for celibacy to be a special gift. Those who do not possess this gift should marry. The single state is preferable in critical times (verses 8, 26) There are times still when it is best to remain unmarried, as in a time of war and invasion. Let me remind you that both singleness and marriage are God’s gracious gifts to mankind.
C. To the unmarried (1 Cor. 7:8). The word unmarried may mean either to those who had never been married, or to widowers.
Paul’s advice is, it is good for them to abide or to stay single. This may prove
advantageous, due to the present situations of persecution and distress, and also not to be burdened with the cares and anxieties of a family. 1 Cor. 7:26,32-34.
D. “But if they cannot contain…” (1 Cor. 7:9). If one wants to get married, do so; “for it is better to marry than to burn” with continue sexual passion or desires. Paul advices this because he knows that a person cannot live a happy life and serve the Lord effectively if his thoughts are dominated by sexual desires that are unfulfilled.
Illustration 2: Solomon As Better Judge
When William Jennings Bryan went to call on the father of his prospective wife and seek the hand of his daughter in marriage, knowing the strong religious feeling of the father, he thought to strengthen his case by a quotation from the Bible, and quoted the proverb of Solomon: “Whoso findeth a wife
findeth a good thing” (Proverbs 18:22). But to his surprise the father replied with a citation from Paul to the effect that he that marrieth doeth well, but he that marrieth not doeth better. The young suitor was for a moment confounded. Then with a happy inspiration he replied that Paul had no wife and Solomon had seven hundred, and Solomon, therefore, ought to be the better judge as to marriage.
Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.
Illustration 3: How to Love Your Wife (B)
I. Let her be a real helpmate (Genesis 2:18)
God saw everything and pronounced them “very good.” (Genesis 1:31) But he saw single man and pronounced him “not good”! Even the most successful bachelor is “not good” (unless intended by God to be single).
Also, you workaholic husbands…it is not good to be away from your wife for long. Make her a real helpmeet, to complement and support you. Women with the gift for details, judgment, and care can complement men with the gift for farsightedness, justice, and decisiveness. A great team!
Why did God create no animal with the gift of speech (thus, TV’s “Mr. Ed” program so fascinating)?
So, man can listen carefully to his wife! Also notice why insurance company statistics show women living longer than men? (An 80% chance) It is God’s intended way for women to be perfect helpmeet of men…throughout life.
Evangelist Billy Sunday: “Try praising your wife, even if it frightens her at first.”
Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.
II. Advantages of being Single (1 Cor. 7:26-36).
A. It is good to remain single because of “the present distress” (1 Cor. 7:26-28). This probably refers both to the persecution of that time as well as to the difficulties of life in this present sin-cursed world.
B. It is good to remain single because time is short (1 Cor. 7:29-31). Paul reminds the brethren that the fashion of this world is quickly passing. Therefore, they should live in this life with their eyes firmly on the next and make all of their decisions in this light. The eminency of Christ’s return is always assumed in the New Testament.
C. It is good to remain single because marriage is distracting (1 Cor. 7:32-35).
1. The single person can concentrate wholly upon serving the Lord, but the married person must also care about his family.
III. Instructions to Widows.
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.
“Marriages are likely to have God’s blessing only when they are made in the Lord, when persons are guided by the fear of God, and the laws of God, and act in dependence on the providence of God, in the change and choice of a mate–when they can look up to God, and sincerely seek his direction, and humbly hope for his blessing upon their conduct” (Matthew Henry).
C. Paul says that in his opinion or judgment, the widow will be happier if she remains unmarried (1 Cor. 7:40).
1. It is important that a believer be very cautious when making major life decisions such as that pertaining to marriage. He must be careful not merely to do that which is lawful but also that which is wisest and best. Paul is saying that the widow is at liberty to marry, as long as the marriage is in the Lord, but that does not mean that marriage will be the wisest and best path for her.
2. How can this be reconciled with Paul’s teaching in 1 Tim. 5:14, which says, “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”
Answer: The two passages (1 Cor. 7:39-40 and 1 Tim. 5:11-15) address different
situations. In 1 Tim. 5:11-15 Paul is addressing a situation in which young
widows become idle and indulge in sensual pursuits (“they have begun to wax
wanton against Christ … they have cast off their first faith … they learn to be
idle, wandering about from house to house … tattlers also and busybodies” (1
Tim. 5:11-13). In such a case, Paul instructs the young widow to remarry and to
give her attention to raising children and housekeeping and godly living within
this context (1 Tim. 5:14). On the other hand, in 1 Cor. 7:39-40 Paul is addressing a situation in which a widow is not idle and is not indulging in sensual pursuits. Rather, she is living for Christ as she should and is using her time wisely. See 1 Cor. 7:34. In such a case, he counsels her to consider remaining unmarried so that she can be freer to serve the Lord without distraction. (WOLE by D. Cloud).
Its always a choice to stay single or get married. Both has its advantage and
disadvantages. Be prayerful in making a decision whether to marry or not. Bear in mind that that a person cannot live a happy life and serve the Lord effectively if his thoughts are dominated by sexual desires that are unfulfilled.