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Paul's View of Marriage
by Wayne Blank
"But each has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another"
The apostle Paul (and other key figures among God's people, including Elijah, John the Baptist and Jesus Christ) was not married (some are of the opinion that Paul may have been a widower; see also Paul's Ministry), but Paul taught neither for, or against, marriage. What Paul taught regarding marriage was a matter of what was best for an individual's righteous life.
"To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion." (1 Corinthians 7:8-9 RSV)
Paul was not absolute in his teaching, of The Lord's teaching ("I give charge, not I but the Lord"), about separation and divorce, but he did make a distinction between marriage in general ("To the married I give charge") and a marriage that involves a believer and an unbeliever ("if the unbelieving partner desires to separate, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound").
"To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband - and that the husband should not divorce his wife.
Paul's primary focus was "let every one lead the life which the Lord has assigned to him, and in which God has called him." Does that mean that, for example, Paul remained single because he was single when he was called, while Peter (see Peter's Ministry) was married to a "believing" wife because Peter was married (we know that Peter was married at his calling because Jesus cured Peter's mother-in-law of a fever i.e. Luke 4:38-39) when he was called? Perhaps, but as Paul explains further, his, or Peter's, or anyone else's, circumstances and choices do not apply to everyone. It depends on the calling, the mission.
"Only, let every one lead the life which the Lord has assigned to him, and in which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches." (1 Corinthians 7:17 RSV)
But what did he mean by that?
"Was any one at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was any one at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the Commandments of God.
Paul's summary? Marry or remain single, not as one state being better than the other, for everyone, but as a matter if whichever makes an individual more productive to their calling in this life. Some are more effective Christians married, while others are more effective Christians single.
"I mean, brethren, the appointed time has grown very short [see Could Christ Return Tonight?]; from now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the form of this world is passing away.
Fact Finder: While Christ was not married as a mortal man, that does not mean that He will not have a "wife." Who is the betrothed bride of Christ? When will the marriage happen?