1 Corinthians 7: 8-9

The next passage we will deal with offers a reason that marriage is allowed. Throughout this chapter, the apostle Paul offers the advise that celibacy is by far the better decision to be made, yet he also realized that some do not have control and some choose to allow their bodies to rule themselves. In the area of sexuality, which is a very strong feeling, God allows for active participation in this act. However it is limited to the marriage bed and is to remain undefiled (Heb 13:4). To participate in any sexual activity outside of the bond of marriage is sin. Let's look at some different versions of this passage.

(KJV) I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. 9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

(NKJV) But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; 9 but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

(NLT) Now I say to those who aren't married and to widows—it's better to stay unmarried, just as I am. 9 But if they can't control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It's better to marry than to burn with lust.

(CEV) Here is my advice for people who have never been married and for widows. You should stay single, just as I am. 9 But if you don't have enough self-control, then go ahead and get married. After all, it is better to marry than to burn with desire.

(NASB) But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. 9 But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn.

(EVD) Now to the people who are not married and to the widows I say this: It is good for them to stay single like me. 9. But if they cannot control their bodies, then they should marry. It is better to marry than to burn with sexual desire.


Let us notice to whom the apostle Paul is speaking. The unmarried and the widows. We know for a fact that the widows are allowed to remarry. The advise by Paul is "in the Lord" (v.39). Rom 7:2-3 teaches that a wife is bound as long has her husband lives. The other category is the unmarried.

Part of our problem in this matter is determining who the unmarried are. Some will be willing to state that any person not in a current state of marriage is qualified to be included in this passage. No doubt, there are some who are not currently married that are included in this passage, but there are scriptures elsewhere that would eliminate some of those not currently married.

Primarily the best advise that Paul gives is that they remain in an unmarried status, or celibate. Not being devoted to a spouse allows one to concentrate on the things of God (vs.32).

Secondarily, Paul realized that the physical desires for sex are a natural gift from God. This being the means by which reproduction take place and the joining not only of two bodies, but two spirits. If someone was to engage in any sexual activity outside of the realm of marriage, they would be guilty of sin. And since the Christian is to abstain from sin, it would be logical that God would establish a relationship that would allow for sexual activity. From the beginning God established that a man should leave father and mother and cleave unto his wife, and the two become one flesh (Gen 2:24). You have to try real hard to conclude that second, third, forth,etc marriages are included in this statement. God's original plan for marriage is one man and one woman for life. When man decides otherwise, they are in danger of sin, and sin produces death. God always approves a first marriage with qualified persons. God only allows remarriage in certain conditions as mentioned earlier.

Those who want to promote the idea that anyone, including the divorced for any reason, can marry; do so without authority. By ignoring scripture elsewhere, these false teachers teach that to marry would avoid eternal punishment because of the lack of ability to control their sexual desires. This passage is correct and inspired and is the truth. The false teachers add to scripture when they include the divorced for any cause other than fornication.

The last point I want to bring to your attention is the last phrase. "better to marry than to burn" Several of the quotations have an italicized addition to the passage; "with desire". Some would assume that the burning is found in the fires of hell, where some would assume that the burning is found in the desire for sexual satisfaction.

The Pulpit commentaries make mention of the difference in tenses in this passage. "Ver 9---If they cannot contain; rather if they have not continency. Let them marry. In 1 Tim. 5:14 he lays down and justifies the same rule with reference to young widows. It is better to marry than to burn. The original tenses give greater force and beauty to this obvious rule of Christian common sense and morality. The "marry" is in the aorist-- "to marry once for all", and live in holy married union; the 'burn' is in the present--"to be on fire with concupiscence" Marriage once for all is better than continuous lust; the former is permitted, the latter sinful. (Page 225,volume 19)

If a person wants to be right with God, they will take all that He says on any given subject and apply those teachings to their lives. Any doctrine that mis-uses scriptures and come to logical reasoning that ignores other scriptures is a false doctrine. These people who teach such doctrines really do believe them. Just as much as you or I may believe what we do. These writings are given in hopes that those who have not made up their minds in this matter will be presented with the truth and we pray that they will choose truth over error.

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