November 26, 2023 | Duane Roberts
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“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.”—1 Corinthians 7:32–35 (NKJV)
In context, Paul had just answered a question the Corinthians posed to him about whether or not those who aren’t yet married (virgins) should get married. His answer didn’t fall along the expected “yes” or “no” lines. Instead, he basically answered that contentment in one’s relationship with God should be pursued first and foremost. From this point, the Lord might lead a person to become married. So, Paul wasn’t prohibiting marriage or equating it with sin.
It’s important we understand this so we don’t get the false impression that Paul is “anti-marriage.” Keep in mind, he also elevated marriage to its highest height by drawing the spiritual comparison of the marriage union between husband and wife to the union between Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:31–32). Paul is definitely “pro-marriage” in its divine purpose. Not only that, but in context he also advised those who were already married to remain married.
But that being said, Paul now elaborates on the spiritual advantages of someone who is not married to remain unmarried. These advantages all revolve around a relationship with Jesus and the spiritual dynamics introduced by such a relationship. Again, Paul is not “anti-marriage,” he is “pro-Jesus”—and he wants those in relationship with Him who aren’t married to understand the advantages of being unmarried.
The most obvious advantage is that those who are unmarried can focus on the Lord with much less distraction than someone who is married. Once you’re married, another will enters into the equation. A husband or wife isn’t free to just act on their own initiative, even if it’s led by God’s Spirit. The two are now one in God’s eyes, and that means there’s no place for the independence of one from the other. Now, in a Christ-centered marriage unity and agreement will usually prevail. Yet in marriage, all must be subjected to the will and consideration of the other.
There’s obviously a lot more freedom in this regard for someone who isn’t married. As the Lord leads them, they can respond without hesitation. It’s just His will and theirs! Paul is pointing out what an incredible advantage this is for someone who has devoted themselves to the Lord and serving Him. Their practical reality of being unmarried has an undeniable spiritual impact.
A challenge often arises with us when we read this area of Scripture. Because Paul is dealing with different scenarios and states that people can be in, we can sometimes feel like outsiders looking in. “What does this have to do with me, I’m married/unmarried?” But everyone is given something here that affects and directs their lives; our natural reality has a spiritual impact.
Who we are in the natural, married or unmarried, has an effect in our spiritual lives. Those married have the opportunity to model the relationship between Christ and His Church. Those unmarried have the opportunity to serve Christ more responsively. Either way, our status on the earth enables us to honor and serve the Lord of heaven.
Pause: What was Paul’s point in pointing out the advantages of being unmarried?
Practice: Consider how your natural realty affects your spiritual impact.
Pray: Lord, I’m often looking at what I don’t have or who I’m not instead of seeing Your purpose and place for me in where You have me in the here and now. Give me Your perspective on my life and show me how I can best honor and serve You in where You have me. Amen.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.