Summary: In today's lesson, Paul gives six reasons for remaining single.
We continue our study in The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians in a series I am calling Challenges Christians Face.
One of the challenges that Christians face is the issue of singleness. Let’s learn about this in a message I am calling, “The Unmarried and the Widowed.”
Let’s read 1 Corinthians 7:25-40:
25 Now concerning the betrothed, I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. 29 This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, 30 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, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.
32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.
36 If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. 37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. 38 So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.
39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 Yet in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 7:25-40)
Americans living alone or with unmarried roommates now make up 1 out of 3 households in the United States. The “singles” lifestyle is a new trend that is affecting every aspect of society. Unwed couples living together and divorcees are also in this group.
In San Francisco, one-half of the residents above the age of 17 are single. Nearly 3 out of 4 people of Carl Sandburgh Village, a suburb of Chicago, are unmarried.
Chapter 7 of The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians has to do with the issue of marriage and singleness. In his discussion of marriage and singleness, the apostle Paul has made it clear that neither state is better than the other.
There are many conferences, books, videos, and programs designed to help people grow in their understanding of the biblical standard for marriage. Many of them are helpful.
Much less attention, however, is given to what the Bible teaches about singleness. Some of the material that is available seems to reflect the underlying assumption that being single is not quite normal and it is certainly not desirable.
The apostle Paul taught in verse 7 of this chapter that God has given the gift of singleness to some Christians. In the last part of this chapter he continues teaching about the reasons for remaining single.
So, in our lesson today, Paul gives six reasons for remaining single. They are:
1. The pressure of the distress (7:25-27).
2. The problems of the flesh (7:28).
3. The passing of the world (7:29-31).
4. The preoccupations of marriage (7:32-35).
5. The preference of singleness (7:36-38).
6. The permanence of marriage (7:39-40).
I. The Pressure of the Distress (7:25-27)
The first reason for remaining single is the pressure of the distress.