“But let me say this, dear brothers and sisters: The time that remains is very short. So from now on, those with wives should not focus only on their marriage. Those who weep or who rejoice or who buy things should not be absorbed by their weeping or their joy or their possessions. Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away. I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please Him. But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband.”1 Corinthians 7:29-34
These comments of Paul have to be viewed in the light of the context in which he is writing. It is inappropriate to reinterpret them as general advice on marriage and relationships. The comments are made in the light of the present crisis. As I told you yesterday the context that makes most sense is the escalating persecution breaking out against the Christian church throughout the Roman Empire. In that context Paul makes comments like: “the time is very short”, “this world will soon pass away”. Given that context it makes perfect sense to focus on eternal things and not to allow the things of this world to distract you. Not possessions, nor wife, nor husband. Give yourself to the Lord’s work while there is still time, “for the night is coming when no man can work.” as John would say. In that context it makes perfect sense.
But it does not make sense to neglect your marital commitment or obligation in the name of serving the Lord when there is no persecution, nor external forces aligned against you. In that context, yes one would have to weigh up the benefits of being married as opposed to not marrying so one can give oneself whole heartedly to ministry. Given the chaos facing them, some very sober questions have to be asked about family relationships. But it is wrong to make these verses prescriptive for male / female relationships in “normal times”. It is true that those who have chosen marriage have other commitments that the unmarried ones do not have. So these factors need to held in balance in desperate times as well as being input to be considered for those who are deciding whether they should marry or not.
We have met many young people in the last few decades who have decided they don’t want to marry or have children given the likelihood of “end time” conditions coming upon the earth in years to come. This shows they are thinking through the issues and weighing up their choices in mature ways. As Paul says live in such a way to become free from the concerns of life and not attached to possessions but free to invest in spiritual things. Good advice for the generation facing persecution or end times.
I will switch from marriage focused quotes today to include the items I planned to include on my birthday – if I had been gemming on that day.
You don’t stop playing because you grow old; you grow old because you stop playing.Anon
I’m not 60. I’m 59.95Anon
If you can still do at 60 what you did at 20, it means you weren’t doing much at 20.Anon