To Marry or to Remain Single

I Corinthians 7-32-40

Two guys in an insane asylum are up for parole.
The first guy goes to see the committee, and they ask him
some questions.

Committee: “Who discovered America?”
Guy 1: “Christopher Columbus.”
Committee: “How long ago was that?”
Guy 1: “Around three hundred years.”
Committee: “Do aliens exist?”
Guy 1: “It’s possible, but there’s no proof.”

He goes back outside and says to the other insane guy,
“It’s easy, you just answer “Christopher Columbus”,
“Around three hundred years”, and “It’s possible,
but there’s no proof”.

So the other guy goes in, and the questions begin.
Committee: “What’s your name?”
Guy 2: “Christopher Columbus.”
Committee (incredulously): “How old are you?”
Guy 2 (with conviction): “Around three hundred years.”
Committee: “Are you insane?”
Guy 2: “It’s possible, but there’s no proof.”

As we round out chapter 7 of Paul’s first letter to the church at
Corinth we are going to see his final thoughts about being single
versus being married. We know that Paul was single so it isn’t like
he is talking about something he can’t relate to.

Let’s start by looking at the first 4 verses.

I Corinthians 7:32-35

Paul writes that he wants them to be free from anxieties.
This word can be translated: anxiety or concern or careful or
cares for.
Some people describe the single life as carefree.
That may not be totally true, but Paul’s point is that singles are
able to spend more time focusing on spiritual matters versus
things of the world.

Single Adults can Singularly Focus on Christ

V.32,34 both discuss how the unmarried man/woman is anxious
about the things of the Lord.

The unmarried man’s focus is how to please the Lord.
The unmarried woman’s focus is how to be holy in body and spirit.

On the other hand, those who are married have another person or
family they must be concerned about.
When I was single I was much more of a risk taker than I am
I remember as a teenager hanging Christmas lights on our
two story house. I would lay on the roof and hang my arm
over the gutters and attach the lights to the soffit. I had no
fear. I would never do that today. Part of that is just getting
older, but part of that is because I know my family needs me
and they don’t want to lose me because I took a risk I
shouldn’t have.

Married man/woman is anxious about worldly things
How to please each other – not a bad thing but
It’s a division of interests.

We’ve seen it many times where a husband seeks to provide for
his family by having a good job and working long hours at the
expense of his family rather than for their benefit.
Paul’s point is that single people have fewer distractions. They
can spend all their energy focusing on the things of the Lord and
serving Him with all of their body and spirit.

He isn’t forcing singleness on people, but rather saying that those
who God calls to singleness can devote themselves wholly to the

We talked a little bit last week about our society’s stigma towards
There is nothing wrong with being single.
The Apostle Paul was single, Jesus was single.
Remember our context, it was a time of distress and Paul truly
believed that time was short before Christ was to return.
He was truly looking out for the good of the members of the
church at Corinth.

I Corinthians 7:36-38

Marriage is not something to be entered into lightly

We have to keep in mind the marriage customs of the day.
The way we handle marriage in America is totally different than
how it was in the middle east. The parents, specifically the father,
were responsible for finding a spouse for their child.
With an arranged marriage both families are already on board and
there are no surprises.
The father had complete control over whether or not his daughter
would be married.

In America we have a custom of having the future husband ask
the father for permission to ask for the daughter’s hand in
marriage and for the mother’s blessing.
There’s some wisdom in that because parents have wisdom and
want what is best for their children. They know their child better
than anyone else. Starting off a marriage with contention between
the in-laws is not a great way to start a lifelong commitment.

But, back to Paul’s point. He prefers the single life, but he doesn’t
condemn the married life.

I Corinthians 7:39-40

The Permanence of Marriage

God designed marriage to be for a lifetime.
Paul states that clearly in v.39. A wife is bound to her husband as
long as he lives.
Even though the law provides for divorce in any and all situations
God desires it to be a lifelong commitment.

Listen to Jesus’ response to the Pharisees who asked Him if it
was ok for a man to divorce his wife for any cause.

Matthew 19:4-6
“He answered, ‘Have you not read that he
who created them from the beginning made them male and
female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and
his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become
one flesh? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What
therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.’”

Marriage is designed to last a lifetime.

In the event of the death of a spouse, Paul allows for remarriage
as long as it is to another believer.

Paul’s final word in this chapter is that even widows would be
happier if they remained widows. In his letter to Timothy, Paul
writes, “She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her
hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers
night and day,” I Timothy 5:5


Whether you are single or married, Christ should be your focus.
Remain in Christ

If you are single, you should be working on who you are as a
person and listening to God’s direction for your life. God does call
some people to remain single all of their life, but many He calls to
be joined with a spouse.

If you are married, you should also be working on your
relationship with Christ. As you seek after Him you will become a
better spouse as well.