Summary: Paul gives six reasons for remaining single: (1) the pressure of the system (vv. 25–27); (2) the problems of the flesh (v. 28); (3) the passing of the world (vv. 29–31); (4) the preoccupations of marriage (32–35); (5) the promises of bethrothed (vv. 36–38
This week you may have seen the story of Maria Headley. Like many people, playwright Maria Headley had had her fill of terrible dates. Discouraged and looking for love, she decided the time had come for her to eliminate her own (clearly not adequately discriminating) taste from the equation. Instead -- as she vowed to her roommates one frustrated morning -- she would date every person who asked her out for an entire year, regardless of circumstances. It would be her Year of Yes.
Over the next 12 months, Maria ended up dating most of NYC: a homeless guy who thought he was Jimi Hendrix, a subway conductor, a mommy-obsessed millionaire, a woman who asked her to have her baby, a 70-year-old salsa dancer, a Colombian Cowboy/Handyman, Her high school nemesis, whom she’d spent seven years rejecting, and THE MIME: A man in the Marceau Mold who proposed with hand gestures and more.
In Her words, the Year of Yes is the story of how one woman went looking for a new kind of love...and found a new kind of life.
The people in Corinth had some interesting ideas about being single as well. Written from Ephesus during the Apostle Paul’s third missionary journey from 53-57 AD, 1 Corinthians 7 commences the second part or division of this Epistle, or, “the discussion of those points which had been submitted to the apostle in a letter from the church at Corinth, for his instruction and advice. A strategic commercial center, Corinth was one of the largest cities in the Roman world and one of the most corrupt (Acts 18:1). Full of false teachers, immature believers and people of all kind of ideas, the Christians in Corinth got into a lot of difficult situations considering Marriage and singleness.
Not much is different today. Everyone seems to have an opinion on marriage and singleness. The discussion from friends and family, the talk shows and tabloids, the efforts in single bars to books in secular bookstores seem endless, and being single is almost regarded as being odd and a problem to be rectified. Weather we are single or married, how we view the single affects our parenting, mentoring, friendships, but most importantly the role that single people have in God’s kingdom. Is Singleness a problem we do our best to solve for people or is it an opportunity for a special group of people to serve in God’s kingdom in a unique way?
Continuing to answer the questions about which the Corinthians had written him (7:1), Paul gives six reasons for remaining single: (1) the pressure of the system (vv. 25–27); (2) the problems of the flesh (v. 28); (3) the passing of the world (vv. 29–31); (4) the preoccupations of marriage (32–35); (5) the promises of bethrothed (vv. 36–38); and (6) the permanency of marriage (vv. 39–40).
1) THE PRESSURE OF THE SYSTEM (7:25–27)
The principle here is that it is good … to remain as [one] is, and those in view are virgins, including both women and men (a man).
Again (cf. v. 12) Paul points out that Jesus gave no direct teaching on the goodness of singleness (I have no command of the Lord), although He alludes to it in Matt. 19:12. Yet the apostle’s teaching is no less divine and authoritative.
• Is Paul just shooting from the hip here, with not real guidance?
Opinion (gnômç) can carry the ideas of “judgment, consideration, and conviction.” As an apostle who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy, Paul’s conviction was that it is better for single Christians to remain single, if they have the gift from God.
But although this perspective is authoritative, it is not given as an absolute or as a command. It is an authoritative guideline, thoroughly dependable advice, and is twice stated in verse 26 to be good. Paul and the Lord are saying that singleness makes good sense.
Please turn to 1 Tim. 4
The first reason Paul gives for remaining single is the pressure of the system, the world situation of that day, that he called the present distress. Anankç (distress) means “a stress, calamity,” or sometimes “the means of calamity” (such as torture or violence). Some suggest that the reference is to the violent conflict between the new creation in Christ and the old cosmos, the world system. When a person becomes a Christian he immediately gets into some degree of conflict with the ungodly system around him.
• Should we avoid the institution of marriage altogether then? Is it an out of date concept? Since we may die at any moment and marriage is just for this earth why no just do away with it?
1Ti 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 1Ti 4:2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 1Ti 4:3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 1Ti 4:4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.