For the Unmarried Believer in Christ
But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.”
First, let me say that in addressing the issue of sex and marriage, which these two verses are indeed addressing, I am speaking not just to those of you who find yourself in a state of singleness, but also of myself, as I was widowed in January of this year. So believe me, just because I occupy the office of a pastor/teacher in no way means that I am immune to the emotions and feelings that every single Christian person deals with regarding this subject. Like Paul told those folks at Lystra who wanted to elevate he and Barnabas to the status of gods, I am a man of like passions with other men (and, I dare say, women) So let us proceed with dealing with this issue, and understand that I am addressing myself here along with anyone else who is reading it.
First, in these verses Paul is specifically addressing a distinct group of people: the “unmarried.” If you’ve never been married, you cannot be “unmarried.” The only people that qualify for this designation are widows (and widowers) and divorcees. But also let me say that the principles laid down here for believers, would apply to all categories of singleness.1
Paul provides two options for those of us in this category: 1. If you can remain in your state of singleness (a state that he obviously was in), then by all means do so, but: 2. If you can’t, that is, you burn2, then get married.
Clearly, plainly, unequivocally, the covenant of marriage is the venue which God ordains for believers to satisfy sexual desire.3
Of course worldly philosophy concerning this says that it’s unnatural and harmful not to regularly engage in sexual intercourse with any willing partner, as long as you use “protection” when you do it. And, moreover, the one thing “they” say you should be certain of before you marry someone is that you are sexually compatible. After all, you wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes without trying them on first, now would you? And surely you’ll have to try on a lot of shoes before you find the right fit.
Unfortunately, a lot of Christian men and women have bought into this worldly philosophy, and had subsequent marriages that were the outcome of it end up on the rocks. Really, doing it this way is like trying to back a two wheel trailer down a long, narrow driveway. Anyone who’s ever tried this knows it is next to impossible–the minute you start traveling a bit too fast, the trailer jackknifes. A true, lasting love relationship between a man and a woman, if it ever comes to that, must always begin with a friendship based on mutually held beliefs and life goals, and admiration and respect for one another.
Finding your soul mate
Okay, how do we do this? How do we find a spouse? Let’s look at some scripture for guidance. First and foremost, you want someone with which you can be equally “yoked.” The marriage covenant is the ultimate “yoke,” and scripture plainly says not to be “unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” ((2 Cor. 6:14)) Therefore, before you engage in any kind of romantic, intimate relations with someone of the opposite sex you have an attraction for, be certain you know where they stand, spiritually speaking. Are they saved? Do they have a testimony of salvation? Are they of a “like precious faith”4 with you? And for women–and this is of the utmost importance–would you be willing for the man you are considering as your husband to be your spiritual “head?” Is he a man that you can “reverence?” 5 And men, you are charged with loving your wife, “as Christ also loved the church.” 6 In other words, would you be willing to die for her?
Of course there are other considerations, e.g., what is his/her world view; does he/she want children; if both of you were formerly married, and both have children–particularly if they are young children–how is that going to be worked out; What kind of complications are there with former spouses; how will financial affairs be handled; If you are from different parts of the country (or, any more, different countries/cultures!) where will you live, etc., etc. In other words, the practical considerations that everyone in life must deal with.
I know that there is a belief in the world that says “love conquers all,” but initial love feelings for someone can be quickly quenched, not only by adverse and unplanned for circumstances, but also by discovering things about the person you are now married to, things you chose to “overlook” during the courtship, that can drive a wedge between you.
Okay, let’s say you are in the second category, and you are in agreement with this process of finding a life soul mate. The next question is: Where do I find this person? The first order of business is to start praying that God would bring you in contact with a person that will fill this need.7
This doesn’t mean that you are to just sit on your hands and wait for someone to show up. Get out and meet people. If you aren’t in a church fellowship, get in one.8 Let your pastor know you are in the market so he can pray for you. When you find someone you are attracted to, become friends with him/her, and if there is a strong sexual attraction, avoid putting yourself in vulnerable situations with the person. In other words, don’t get the cart in front of the horse! 9
As for meeting people of the opposite sex, social media venues like Facebook are excellent for this, because they reveal a lot about people without having to ever come into physical contact with them. You can pretty well know what someone looks like, what their background is, and what they believe and think about a multitude of things without ever getting into any kind of private conversation with them, or having a physical encounter with them.
Finally, above all, in your quest to find your life soul mate, remember to:
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways, acknowledge him, and he shall direct they paths.” 10
All Scripture references are taken from the King James Bible, which I believe to be the only Bible currently published in the English language that is inspired and completely trustworthy. Please feel free to re-print or distribute this article.
Are you saved? Jesus Christ—“who knew no sin”—and his sacrificial death on the Cross, has made the way for “everyone that believeth…to be reconciled to God. History has shown that whatever peace man has achieved in the world can only be temporary. The Bible says that individual men and women can know, beyond a doubt, that they are saved and bound for heaven, and therefore have absolute and permanent peace, regardless of what is going on in the world, by trusting Jesus Christ and his death on the cross for their eternal salvation.11 “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Have you done this? If not, why not now?
I would strongly suggest that everyone–married, unmarried, or never married–read this entire chapter, as it is the quintessential instruction concerning the issues of sex, marriage and divorce for members of the body of Christ. ↩
with desire, lust for the opposite sex ↩
allow me to be plain spoken here: this God ordained covenant is exclusively between males and females. See Romans 1:26,27 ↩
2 Peter 1:1 ↩
Eph. 6:23, 33 ↩
Eph. 6:25 ↩
“You have not chosen one another, but I have chosen you for one another.” C.S. Lewis, “The Four Loves” ↩
This doesn’t mean you are to go enjoin yourself to a religious sect or organization. Not! ↩
In my own personal quest for a wife, when she showed up one night at a Bible study in the church fellowship I attended, a voice inside me said: “here she is, the ball is now in your court.” The problem was, initially, she didn’t feel the same way about me that I did about her. It took me a year and a half, and an immense measure of patience on my part to convince her that I was her soul mate ↩
Prov. 3:5,6 ↩
1 Cor. 15:1-4; Eph. 1:12-14 ↩