If anyone thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting along in years and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin — this man also does the right thing. So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does even better.
1 Corinthians 7:36-38
We know from the previous parts of this chapter that Paul thinks it best not to marry because of the persecution that’s beginning to manifest in his society. However, he lets us know that it’s simply his own opinion.
This passage is about another issue. In that society, not all engaged couples were together because they “fell in love.” There were arranged engagements.
The parents of a woman would negotiate with the parents of a man in order to combine their families – like a business merger today. In that case, the couple was bound by tradition to be married. That was the case even if they had never dated, or even met, before the engagement.
So Paul is talking to couples who are engaged either by choice or arrangement. He tells them that their engagement is not the end of the world. If they feel that for whatever reason, they shouldn’t be married, then they should call it off without guilt.
You may wonder what this has to do with us in our present generation. There’s an important principle that we need to understand.
In our present culture, dating is more of a hobby. Many go out on dates simply because that’s what most people are expected to do on the weekends. I believe that this desire to always have a date is one of the things that’s weakening our marriages and families.
I don’t believe in dating; I believe in courting. What’s the difference? In courting, you only go out with someone that you think could possibly be the one God has for you.
I can tell you from experience that this works better than any other method. I had only dated two other women before I met my wife (my junior year of college). Because my brain wasn’t scrambled by the experiences of hundreds of dates, I knew almost immediately that she was God’s choice for me.
We were married in 1980 and time has proven that God’s hand brought Cheryl and I together. There’s no one else on earth that I’d rather spend my time with.
So don’t succumb to the social pressure placed upon you to date all the time. Leave room for God’s provision. If you don’t feel called to be married, then simply be friends with those around you. Enjoy your life with Christ and those He brings into your world.
A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is — and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.
1 Corinthians 7:39-40
Paul gives a final comment. He wants to remind us of the seriousness of romantic relationships. Marriage should be for life. Believers must only look to marry a fellow believer. In this way, God will be honored in our marriages. Truly, God wants the very best for our lives, homes, and families.
Question: How have you seen the hand of God in your relationships?
© 2019 Nick Zaccardi