Anyone who’s read 1 Corinthians 7 knows that the Apostle Paul was not a big fan of marriage, and thought it should be avoided if at all possible. Here are a few of his thoughts on marriage:
Now about what you wrote: “It’s good for people not to touch each other.” But because of promiscuity, everyone should have their own spouse. Spouses should fulfill their duty to each other. Committed people don’t have authority over their own bodies, but their spouses do. Don’t deprive each other, except by mutual consent for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to [fasting and] prayer, and then come together again so the Satan won’t tempt you because of your lack of self-control. But I say this as a concession, not as a precept. I actually wish that all people were like me. But everyone has their own gift from Godde; one has this and another has that.
I say to the single and widowed, it’s good for them if they remain like me. But if they don’t have self-control, they should marry, because it’s better to marry than to burn with passion. (1 Corinthians 7:1-9, DFV)
But I want you to be carefree. Whoever isn’t married cares about the Lady’s business, how they may please the Lady; but whoever is married cares about the things of the world, how they may please their spouse, and they’re distracted. The single or celibate person cares about the Lady’s business, so that they may be holy both in body and in spirit. But whoever is married cares about worldly business, how they may please their spouse (1 Corinthians 7:32-34, DFV).
Ah Paul, you old curmudgeon. The thing I hate the most about his allowance to marriage is that he doesn’t even use his own Jewish tradition to defend marriage. He says, “Well, OK, if you’re going to screw anything with two legs then get married, but you really should be a curmudgeonly celibate single like me. And if you stay single and celibate you’ll be a better Christian because you won’t have those distractions married people have. They can’t serve Godde like we can.” (Disclaimer: I was single for 36 years and loved it–thought for awhile I might not marry–now I am married. I LOVE being married. I’ve been happy on both sides of the fence.)
Here is what Paul’s defense of marriage should have looked like:
Dear sister and brother, remember why our Godde created marriage in the first place. In the beginning…
Sophia-Yahweh said, “It is not good for the human to be alone. I will make it a power equal to it.”
Sophia-Yahweh caused the human to fall into a deep sleep. As the human slept, Godde took one of its ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Sophia-Yahweh made a woman from the rib which was taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken out of man.” Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother, and will join with his wife, and they will be one flesh (Genesis 2:18, 21-24, adapted from the World English Bible).
So you see dear sisters and brothers in Corinth, it is fine if you want to stay single, but marriage is Godde-ordained as well. Godde made marriage because it was not good for the human to be alone. Now the communion does not have to be marriage–that’s why Jesus had disciples. It is not good for us to be alone, which is why we need both marriage and community. We can’t make it though this life alone. Both marriage and celibacy have their place in the world and in the community. Some will stay single like me. Most will marry like Peter and his wife (1 Corinthians 9:5), Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:2), and Andronicus and Junia (Romans 16:7). Both celibates and couples can serve Godde and bring Godde’s kingdom into the here and now by loving each other, loving the stranger, and showing the world around us that life can be different.
That’s what Paul should’ve said to the Corinthians.
Originally published at ShawnaAtteberry.com.