How are we to apply 1 Corinthians 7:25-28 today?

Good evening. You will not typically read an article here in the evening hours, but in an effort to be spontaneous I thought I would go ahead and publish something tonight anyways. Consider it a bonus post 🙂 
1 Corinthians 7:25-28
The command Paul gives to the unmarried virgins in the Corinthian church is to “remain as you are…Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife” (vv. 26, 27, NIV). This command must be understood within the context (as with any passage). In verse 9, speaking to the unmarried and widows, Paul states, “if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” Paul’s main point in this section of Scripture (7:1-35) seems to carry with it a theme, “God’s commands is what counts…each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to…time is short…this world in its present form is passing away…be free from concern” (vv. 19, 24, 29, 31, 32). In summary, and in my own words, “while you are here in this life and on this earth, focus on God.”
But, what are we to make of this command to the virgins to remain as they are? How are we to apply this? There is no doubt that although this is not an explicit command from the Lord (v. 25), it is sound advice through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s concern at his time of writing, and to us today, is that we are able to focus on the Lord, keep his commands, and live according to how we are each called to live. For some, this means marriage, for others this means remaining a virgin (v. 7). Paul recognized that marriage would cause hardship to the husband and wife (v. 28). Times of trouble, persecution, and other hardship are difficult enough as a single person, but they are much greater when married, and even more so when children come along. 
With all of that in mind, as well as the context of our passage (vv. 25-28), I believe it is safe to apply this command, or advice, entirely to our world today (directly transferable). Virgins, remain as you are unless you are burning with passion or believe that you were called to marry (given the gift to marry, v. 7). If you do marry, you are not sinning (v. 28), but will need to be prepared to face hardship (v. 28) and allow the troubles that come along to draw you closer to the Lord.
What are your thoughts on this passage? Do you agree with my conclusion?


When Studying the Bible, Always, Always, Always, Know the Context

Watch the TED Talk from 2010 below. In it, Doctor and epidemiologist Ben Goldacre shows how witholding test data on drugs is being used to push drugs on the market, to say that certain drugs are better than others, and that a drug will do a certain thing most of the time. This is bad science.

As a student of the Bible (both as a Christian and as a student in a University’s Religion Department) there is one thing in particular that this video made me think of.

A classic example will flesh this out for you.

A young man is in a dating relationship with a young woman. This young man is uncertain about how to proceed with the relationship. So, like any good young man, he looks to God. He first stumbles across 1 Corinthians 7:36c, which says, “They should get married quickly.”

His heart rate goes up. God wants me to ask her to marry me! But, when?

He then stumbles across John 13:27, which says, “What you are about to do, do quickly.”

His questions answered, and having heard directly from God on what he should do and when he should do it, he closes his Bible and goes to sleep, dreaming of marrying his girlfriend.

What’s the problem with this? Well. Everything actually. What he read is in the Bible, yes. But, what he read has what we call context. If there is one thing that should be drilled into every Christian’s head when it comes to teaching, preaching, and learning from the BIble it is that context determines meaning.

If our eager young man would have bothered to read the context surrounding his snippet of text he would have noticed two things. First, that Paul was writing a specific instruction to a specific people. There was a problem in the Corinthian church of engaged couples acting as they shouldn’t (like married couples). In this light he says, “GET MARRIED!!” Second, after this verse (v. 36), there is a conjunction…”but.” Our young man should have continued reading. Paul instructs that if the young men are able to practice self-control and have decided to not marry, they should not. He concludes by saying this, “So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does even better” (v. 38).

And, obviously, John 13:27 is a quote of Jesus telling Judas, he betrayer, to do what he is going to do quickly, his betraying of Jesus, which has nothing at all to do with marriage and thus does not apply to our young man’s question of when to marry.

Context, context, context. In light of the video above, data, data, data.

“We cannot make decisions in the absence of all information.” – Ben Goldacre

Marriage and Divorce

La Demande en Mariage If there are two doctrines that are taught clearly in the Bible it is marriage and divorce. If there is one doctrine that is most confused, either on purpose or accident, it is, most specifically, the doctrine of divorce. Just as Jesus met the question of divorce head-on in Matthew 19:1-9 so shall we do here.

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The biblical teaching on marriage is simple: “It is not good that the man should be alone…therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:18, 24).  Marriage is the joining together of a man and a woman in a union that was created by God, and completed by the couple becoming “one flesh.” Once married, the role of the wife is primarily “to be mother of sons…[as well as] manag[er of] the Household” and the role of the husband is primarily to “provide for his wife and family.”[1] The main limitation of marriage is that it is an exclusive relationship, meaning that promiscuity and adultery are “ruled out.”[2] Also, indissolubility is only allowed when certain conditions are present. The Bible is clear that “what therefore God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6).

In Genesis 2:24 one can see that God views a couple married when the man leaves his mother and father (a new primary relationship/responsibility), the couple is joined together (a covenant with one another and God), and finally, join their two bodies together to create a complete whole, “one flesh.” There is one distinct way that this biblical view stands out from common practice today: becoming “one flesh” is solely intended for the marriage relationship, not any other relationship(s) (1 Cor. 6:16).

The Bible is clear about divorce as well: “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt. 19:6). God abhors divorce and does not encourage it. “A marriage is intended to be a relationship, healing and growing and maturing through time, a ‘harvest of the Spirit,’ which is patterned on and in turn displays something of God’s covenant relationship.”[3] A marriage union is not meant to be severed.

Although divorce is discouraged in the Bible, it is allowed under certain circumstances. The only grounds for divorce (or release from the marriage covenant, in the case of death) that are mentioned in the New Testament are “sexual immorality” (Matt. 5:31-32; 19:9), death (Rom. 7:2), and if an unbeliever in the relationship wishes to leave (1 Cor. 7:15).  This differs from what is witnessed in our current society. Money is a large, but decreasing, reason for divorce, as are emotional factors[4]; neither of which are biblical reasons for divorce.

The main objection to the view this author stands by (above) is that divorce is not biblically allowed under any circumstances (1 Corinthians 7:10-11). A second objection goes to the opposite extreme and says that a divorce can take place for any reason (Deuteronomy 24:1). This author stands by his interpretation of scripture (shown above) and believes that in the case of “sexual immorality,” death, or an unbeliever leaving the marriage, divorce is permitted to take place.

The topic of divorce may raise questions concerning remarriage. Specifically, is remarriage allowed? Yes. If a spouse dies, the living spouse is permitted to marry again without committing adultery (Romans 7:3). Also, if a divorce takes place due to “sexual immorality” then an individual is free to remarry due to the first marriage covenant being severed. That being said, if there is even the slightest chance of reconciliation to the first marriage, a second marriage should not take place. “Remarriage always falls under the cloud of the broken covenant of the first marriage.”[5]

When divorce happens in the church and society, it harms the immediate family as well as society. Ultimately what is at play in divorce is love and sin. A marriage starts with love, and sin enters into the relationship to destroy it. Giving sin the victory (divorce) may lead those in the church and society to believe that God will stop loving them as a result of their sin. This is not the case, but there is no doubt that divorce, if allowed to happen, will not just affect how individuals view one another, but also how individuals view God.

God created the union of a man and a woman in the marriage covenant as a means to complete the incomplete. He did not make man to be alone (Gen. 2:18) and when one enters into marriage they are able to experience a relationship that is unlike any other relationship on earth.


  • [1] Perkin, H.W. “Marriage, Marriage Customs in Bible Times.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001), 742.
  • [2] Granberg, L.I and Root, J.R. “Marriage, Theology of.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001), 743.
  • [3] Atkinson, D.J. “Divorce.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001), 347.
  • [4] “The State of our Unions.” ed. Wilcox, W. Bradford. (Charlottesville, VA: National Marriage Project, 2009), 45.
  • [5] Atkinson, D.J. “Remarriage.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001), 1007.

BibliographyAtkinson, D.J. “Divorce.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. 345.    Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001.

Atkinson, D.J. “Remarriage.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. 1007. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001.

Granberg, L.I and Root, J.R. “Marriage, Theology of.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. 743. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001.

Perkin, H.W. “Marriage, Marriage Customs in Bible Times.” in Evangelical Dictionary of    Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. 740. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001.

“The State of our Unions.” ed. Wilcox, W. Bradford. Charlottesville, VA: National Marriage     Project, 2009.     (accessed September 16, 2011).

Photo Credits:

Article header Photo Credit: “La Demande En Mariage [The Marriage Proposal]”

Bibliography Photo Credit:

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