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“Let Them Marry”

1 Corinthians 7:36-38

If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong 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 better.

Thoughts for Today:

Based upon a review of the original Greek text, I do not believe the NIV to be the most accurate translation of Paul's intended meaning. Let's take a look at the King James Version for clarification:

"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. Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well. So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better."

The phrase "is engaged to" (verse 36) was added by the NIV translators and vastly changes the intent of this passage. We now realize Paul's reference to "the man", is really the father of a young woman or man (his virgin). Verse 38 reflects the father's giving of his child in marriage (the gender of female was added by the KJV translators). Therefore, the "behaving improperly" (from verse 36) has nothing to do with any kind of unacceptable moral behavior, but with parents who may deny their daughter or son the right to marry.

It is important to remember, our passage today was written over two thousand years ago and to a culture that gave the parents the primary responsibility for arranging their children's marriages. For that reason, Paul must address a very pertinent question raised by the Corinthians: Based upon his previous teaching, should Christian parents recommend singleness to their daughter or son? Paul's answer: If they have reached the age of maturity ("past the flower of youth"), then let them marry if they choose.

Questions to Ponder:

For Paul, remaining single meant fewer distractions in his service to God. Unfortunately, many modern single Christians consider their single status to be a horrible distraction and insurmountable barrier in ministry. Shouldn't we regard an unmarried present status (whether temporary or permanent) as a special opportunity to please God? How do you view singleness?

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About the author

Pocket Devotions are written by Mike Brooks. A retired businessman, he is Moderator of South Shores church, leads the Deacon Board, serves on the finance committee, and he teaches a Men's Bible study and the Men's Ministry. Mike has a passion for evangelical missions. He is the husband of Sherry; the father of Ryan, Natalie, Krissy, Rebecca, and Amanda; the father-in-law of Ariel; and the grandfather of Conner and Christian.

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