Question of the Week: Is it God’s will for everyone to get married?
The short answer is no. This is a source of discouragement for some for two main reasons. 1. They want to get married. Or 2. They live in a culture that obligates them to get married. Neither of these reasons are the kind of attitude that should motivate biblical marriage. In order to avoid unnecessary forms of discouragement or leaving people with conclusions the Bible doesn’t say, we’re going to clarify why the answer is no. Then we will clarify what marriage is in the eyes of God. With both in mind, we will avoid the false conclusions that God is keeping us from good things or has somehow predestined us from marriage entirely.
Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment. For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that. But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
1 Corinthians 7:1-9 (NKJV)
His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But He said to them, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”
Matthew 19:10-12 (NKJV)
Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
Hebrews 13:4 (NKJV)
These three passages form the most balanced understanding of how a Christian should view marriage, singleness, and their place in either form of ministry. First, we need to clarify that marriage is not a sin. Scripture identifies it as honorable and it as the place where sexual intimacy takes place where God intended it to. This serves as the primary motivator for marriage given our lack of self control. Second, regarding abstinence and singleness, Jesus addresses whether it is better to marry or remain single and doesn’t regard one above the other. Instead, He draws attention to the individual. For the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake, there are some who have been given the ministry to which Jesus was speaking about. That is key in understanding the significance of either role. If God gives something to you, it isn’t something we should despise or be resentful about. Nor should we conclude the opposite and assume that it will always be a fun and happy experience. James 1:17 makes it clear that if it comes from the Father, it is a good thing. And likewise, things given to us from the Father don’t exclude hardship. The example of the Great Commission is the perfect example of this as well. John 15:18-25 details Jesus telling His disciples that to follow Him, something that He calls us all to do, will invite hatred, opposition, and hardship. Paul recounts his experience in 2 Corinthians 11:22-29. If marriage and singleness can be rightly identified as something given to us from God, then it’s just a matter of discovering what God has given to us. This brings us to Paul’s point in his letter to the Corinthians.
Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy. I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress—that it is good for a man to remain as he is: Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you. But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away. But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife. There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction. But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry.
1 Corinthians 7:25-36 (NKJV)
Continuing and concluding his point about marriage, the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to clarify that both roles provide us benefits that the other excludes. Neither is more holy than the other, but one offers the opportunity to serve God in ways the other does not. A husband’s ministry to his wife is to love her as Christ loves the church. A single man does not have that opportunity because he does not have a wife. Likewise, a single man has the advantage of being able to serve God directly and without distraction given that his priorities and obligations in ministry are entirely limited to himself. That is an advantage the married man does not have because his ministry to God is to serve and protect his wife before himself. If you’re called to one, fulfill it exactly how God equips you for it. If you’re called into the other, then know God will equip you for it. If you are in one and desire the other, pray that your heart serves where you’re at rather than where your culture, feelings, or other factors are pressuring you to be. The gift of singleness will be a joy to the one who has been given it by God regardless of the difficulties it will include. And vice-versa for those in the ministry of Marriage. Just make sure you are careful not to fall into the trap of pursuing a ministry God hasn’t called you to. If you’re single, be thankful and make the most of it. If you’re married, your orders haven’t changed.
A Reason For Hope is a ministry of Calvary Christian Fellowship of Tucson
Listen: Monday – Friday 5-6pm, on 106.3FM Reach Radio
Email your questions: