Paul gives advice to virgins in this section, both females and males. When Paul says that he is giving an "opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy", he is indicating that his words on the subject are principle and not law. A general rule that may have exceptions. However, he uses the same word for "opinion" here as he does in verse 40. Both verses indicate the involvement of God in his choice of words. So the difference in what Paul is saying here is in type, not authority or reliability as the words of God.
In Acts, chapter 18, we get a sense of the hostility toward Christianity that existed in Corinth. This was probably a key contributor to the "present distress" Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 7:26.
The remainder of this chapter should be looked at in the context of distresses circumstances. We should also remember that these are wise principles worth following, but not hard and fast rules without exception.
First, Paul recommends that in times like this, people remain as they are and avoid complicating their lives further. (v. 26-28)
In times of severe difficulty and persecution, Paul also suggests an adjustment of priorities. In these circumstances, our marriages, our grieving, our celebrating, our commerce, our hobbies and activities, should be put on the back burner in favor of serving God. This is consistent with Mark 12:28-30 and amplified even more so by Paul’s choice of words. These things are all valuable parts of life, though always lower priorities than our love of God. Even so, they should be temporarily made even lower priorities in times of severe trouble and persecution.
It’s for times like this that Paul sees the value of being single. The single person can more easily focus on serving God, without the needs of a spouse to take up some of their time. (v. 32-34)
Paul makes it clear that he’s not saying all of this to put restraints on believers, but to help them be better equipped for serving God. Getting married is not in any way sinful, nor does it make someone less holy. (v. 28, 35) But it does make life a little more complex at times.
There is still debate among scholars about verses 36-38. It either refers to a man and his fiancée, or a Father debating whether or not to allow his daughter to marry. In either case, Paul has the same message for men that carry responsibility for the marriage of a woman: Marriage is good, but in times like this, being single may be even better.
Finally, Paul says that a woman is free to re-marry after her husband is dead, though she is likely to be happier if she remains unmarried.
Next Time- Why it’s okay for Christians to play Dungeons and Dragons! Coffee House Question If you had to give up one thing in your life to serve God more effectively, what would be the most difficult thing to give up?
Next Time- Why it’s okay for Christians to play Dungeons and Dragons!
Coffee House Question
If you had to give up one thing in your life to serve God more effectively, what would be the most difficult thing to give up?