Paul talks a lot about marriage and, as some would say, he doesn’t seem to be a fan. But as I read I Corinthians 7 today, I wondered if that was really the case. He’s asking the question, should a person marry or not? And it sounds like he’s advising against it. But didn’t God create Eve because it wasn’t good for man to be alone? How do you make sense of these two seemingly contrary viewpoints?
I hope you read Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth. I think you’ll agree that the Apostle isn’t talking about marriage as much as he is talking about serving God. A single person can be single-minded concerning the Kingdom of God. A married person has divided loyalties and responsibilities.
My sister Peggy is retired. She attends church faithfully, is active in a Bible study, visits elderly women from her church, helps to organize funeral dinners, takes time to have lunches with unsaved friends. She fills her days serving God. But she always lets her husband know where she is, when she’ll be home, and she schedules her activities around his own schedule of activities. It’s not that she doesn’t have a vital ministry. It’s that she has the added responsibility to her husband.
Our sister Kathy has a full time job, a husband and teenage son at home, and grandchildren she enjoys spending time with. Her heart for the Lord is as passionate as Peggy’s. But the demands on her time and responsibilities offers her less opportunities for other ministries.
I’m single. If I want, I can spend all day at the church fixing food for our community free dinner every month. I can lead a Bible study, spend time searching God’s Word, or spend hours blogging at my computer. I could volunteer at the homeless shelter, take meals to shut-ins, sit with a sick friend all night. And I don’t have anyone living in my home with whom I need to be accountable.
That’s Paul’s point. He’s not anti-marriage. He just wants us to know that married people have divided loyalties and responsibilities. He said he wishes we all were like him, free to serve God at any time of the day or night. But he doesn’t say married people can’t have an important ministry.
What I take from these verses is a challenge. Before anyone marries, they need to understand what that will do to ministry opportunities. Ministries and marriages have failed because of the difficulty of that balancing act. (Isn’t that why we are warned not to be yoked with unbelievers? Just saying.)
Are you married? I hope you are praising God for the privilege of sharing your life with another. You are blessed. But you are not off the hook. It’s going to be a bit more difficult for you, perhaps. But find where you are needed in God’s work. Get involved in service. Teach a Sunday School class, or get on the visitation team. Sing in the choir, or volunteer to pull weeds at the church. You’ll have to coordinate your activities with your spouse. But do it!
Are you single? I would challenge you to fill up your time with activities that honor God, that further the Kingdom, and that can easily be done by you who don’t have the accountability of having a spouse. What a privilege we have!
The question Paul is addressing isn’t marriage. It’s service, obedience to God, being zealous about sharing Jesus.
May God find us all faithful, regardless of our marital status!