Singles Who Desire Marriage and 1 Corinthians 7 – but 1 Timothy 4:3 – Also: Singlehood and Messed Up Hermeneutics

Singles Who Desire Marriage and 1 Corinthians 7 – it’s benefits, drawbacks – also: 1 Timothy 4:3 and Christians cannot agree on biblical doctrine

I first began this post with only an intent on discussing 1 Corinthians 7 in mind, but as I began typing, it meandered a little into other (but related) topics, then I wandered back to the 1 Cor 7 discussion.

(Link): Read 1 Corinthians 7 Online, on Bible Gateway

My commentary is below this long excerpt.

Excerpts from 1 Cor 7,

    8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.

9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

…25 Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.

26 Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is.

27 Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife.

28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.

…. 32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord.
33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—
34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.
35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

I have had a blog visitor who says she (or he? Though I think she is a she) loathes and hates 1 Cor 7.

I left her a reply under a previous thread which reads:

    • I actually rather

like

    • 1 Corinthians 7,

except

    when it’s used as a weapon or condescending slogan against singles who want marriage.

But, in other contexts, I like that 1 Cor 7 passage, because married Christians (who are the ones who idolize marriage) need to be reminded that marriage is not better than singleness… that is, churches / body of Christ need to stop showing favortism to married with children couples, as they often do.

If anything, I see some pastors (such as Mark Driscoll, whom I wrote about recently (Link): here ), twist and distort 1 Cor 7 and try to explain it away – because he (and other Christians) view singles as being abnormal, or they view the state of singleness as being abnormal, or not as good as, being married, which is an INSULT to adult singles.

I know it can hurt or be frustrating to want marriage when you are single BUT (at least for me), so long as you are single, until you marry one day (assuming you marry), don’t you want preachers and other married Christians to stop acting as though you are somehow lower or not as godly or mature, or not deserving of a church’s finances and time, just because you are single?

That is why I like to toss 1 Cor 7 in their faces (and other passages).

I’ve sort of written on this topic here:
(Link): The Netherworld of Singleness for Some Singles – You Want Marriage But Don’t Want to Be Disrespected or Ignored for Being Single While You’re Single

There are some never married Christian adults who actually LOVE the GOS (“Gift of Singleness” or “of celibacy,” “GOC”) talk, they have stopped by this blog before to say they like these phrases…

I can’t get these types of adult, Christian singles to see that not only is neither phrase in the Bible, but the phrases are mis-used and abused by married Christians and preachers to keep singles single – the ones who want marriage.

The GOS/GOC talk and terms are used to maintain discrimination against singles. (I’ve blogged about that before, just search the blog using the phrase “gift of singleness.”)

I also have many blog posts talking about the cliches that Christian singles who desire marriage get from married Christians, and it annoys me too. Here are a few posts about it:

(Link): Article: My Savior My Spouse? – Is God or Jesus Your Husband Isaiah 54:5

(Link): Annoyance of Being A Christian Single (has list of cliches’ one hears from married Christians and friends at church, in sermons, etc)

… I have similar blog posts, those are just a few.

To sum up, 1 Cor 7 can be a helpful ally and tool in the arsenal of an adult Christian single who runs into Christians who idolize marriage – the ones who behave as though single adults are losers.

I was at a right wing, political blog where all the married people were responding to a news story about childless and single women.

Many of these right wing people on that blog were insulting singles and the state of being childless.

Even secular right wingers tend to make an idol out of marriage, parenting, and the nuclear family.

Many married right wingers, even the secular ones, assume women who are never-married and childless past their 30s are man-hating, atheistic feminists who vote Democrat and have posters of Obama all over their bedroom walls with lipstick-kiss marks on them.

These types of right wing morons never realize that women can be conservative Republican and/or Christians and be single and childless into adulthood, based on circumstances they had no control over, or, based on their choice (but choices which are NOT based on atheism, feminism, liberalism, or hatred of God, country, conservatives, or babies).

Singlehood and childless/child-free are not bastions or life stations of liberal feminists and Democrats only. There are plenty of right wing, Republican, Christian, pro life women who choose to stay single and childless, or who find themselves that way due to circumstance.

Every time these types of right wing jackholes bash liberal feminists for being single and childless, they are also inadvertently bashing Republican, Christian, childless/ childfree women too.

When I tried explaining to these people that I am right wing also, but I am single and childless myself, some of them mellowed out in their criticisms and slams against singles and the childless, but some actually ramped the vitriol up… UNTIL… I quoted this at them:

    8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.

Once I quoted that from 1 Cor 7, that shut the married Marriage and Baby Idolaters up pronto.

Several replied, “You’re right; the Bible and God are okay with singleness, and women are not expected by God to have kids if they are single, and marriage is a choice, not a commandment. You are right.”

So, 1 Cor 7 can come in handy for an adult single who is getting damn tired of hearing she is a failure or weirdo for not being married past her 20s.

Oddly, the fact that Jesus Christ and Paul were single seem to usually not leave much of an impact on married Marriage and Family Idolaters, when that fact is thrown in their faces.

But, and stranger still, Jesus’ and Paul’s singlehood and childless status is none-the-less a tid bit that Married, Christian Condescending People like to remind Non-Content Adult Singles of.

Seems like 30% – 40% of articles I read for singles by married Christians likes to offer the chirpy reminder, “Remember, singles, Jesus and Paul were single and childless too!”

Okay, Enthusiastic Christian Married Guy, it’s good for you to respect singleness and being childless by recognizing that Jesus Christ and Paul was single and childless.

Married Christians should indeed keep that in mind, that Christ and Paul were single and childless, because God knows, Christians often go blank on that and assume Marriage and Kids are God’s default for EVERYONE.

However, while that is great for Jesus and Paul, I personally would like to marry so I can bang a man weekly (ie, get my sexual lusts fulfilled), have some constant companionship, to stave off bouts of loneliness. Maybe get chocolates in a heart shaped box on Valentine’s from a sweetie pie, instead of eating Campbell’s soup for one over the sink again. That sort of stuff.

On the one hand, 1 Cor 7 can be used as a weapon against married Christians by singles, against the types of married Christians who tend to elevate marriage at the expense of singles and singleness. That is to the single’s advantage.

On the other hand, some Christians, usually married idiots, misuse 1 Cor 7 as a battering ram against adult singles who want to get married.

And that is not right; the twisting or abuse of 1 Cor 7, borders on this:

1 Timothy 4:3

    3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.

I’m an American in 2014. There is no “present” crisis going on with me personally in 2014 America, as there was when Paul wrote to people telling them it is better for them to remain as they were (single if single, or married if married), given their “present crisis.”

Whatever that crisis was – maybe Christians were being persecuted for being Christian?

The good thing about drifting away from the Christian faith for me personally,is that much of this stuff becomes moot for me.

I no longer feel bound to follow the Bible on most points, or on other people’s interpretations about anything biblical, including singlehood and marriage.

Take the “be not yoked” passage used against singles, as an example.

Christian ladies are told to consider dating and marrying ONLY Christian men.

Well, there is a Christian man shortage of adult singles going on. It’s kind of frikkin’ hard for me to marry a Christian man when there are no Christian men in existence.

I am damn sick and tired of waiting for Mr. Christian Right to show up, the one that my parents and other Christians promised me when I was a teen and 21 year old, would be mine if I just “waited on the Lord’s timing” and kept praying, yada yada yada.

I tried, in my 30s, going to various churches to bump into single Christian men my age, and there were next to no single males my age at any of those churches. It was a waste of my time.

I tried dating sites, including “Christian” ones.

Some of the men who classify as Christian on dating sites are perverts and vulgar pigs in their profiles. They pepper their dating profiles with offensive, sexually tinged material.

I’m fine with people being somewhat vulgar, using cuss words, telling sex jokes, using bathroom humor, after I’ve known them for months and months, after they have already established themselves as a decent person, but first impressions matter to me.

If I am on a dude’s dating profile, and the first thing I see are dirty sex jokes or his sexual preferences, just NO.

No no no no no.

Be a total gentlemen up front in person and on dating sites – no kink, no vulgarity, no sex jokes, I don’t want or need to know you prefer oral sex to vaginal sex or whatever – and then later, once I have gotten to know you THEN you can tell me that occasional X-rated – or at least “R rated” – sex jokes, and I may even laugh at them.

But when I first meet you, or even the first several meetings or phone calls? NO.

When I am glancing at your dating site profile? NO.

Then, I started seeing lots of Christian preachers turn up in news stories, found guilty of using or creating child porn, robbing from people, murdering their wives, etc (examples of that here and here), and I remember having met some perfectly nice, upstanding, attractive NON Christian men over my life…

And I realize, why should I be beholden to a book that says “Be not yoked” in regards to my love life?

Why should I make all my choices based on a book that talks about not trying to change your circumstances, stay single if you are single?

Another thing I have noticed over my life:
Even if the Bible teaches “X” about a topic, Christians are guilty of misinterpreting it to say it means “Z.”

Look at gender complementarianism, as an example.

You have many sexist Christians, and some sincerely misled ones, who misuse and misinterpret 2 to 3 verses about women being silent in church, etc, to construct this view of women in the church where men get to use, abuse, and control women in church and in marriages.

Even if a woman is gifted by God to preach and lead, these idiots, these gender comps, point to the same 2, 3 verses (which they take out of context and misinterpret) to justify why all women should be barred always, in every church and situation, from being leaders, speakers, teachers, or preachers, while they ignore the many examples of women in the Bible Old and New Testament, who did teach, preach, who worked as apostles, etc.

I am done basing my life and life choices on a 2,000 – 5,000 year old book (the Holy Bible). Done.

I am also done basing my life choices on what other Christians THINK that book says.

Because often, Christians get it wrong, or, they can’t even agree about WHAT it teaches.

Christians in various denominations and churches today cannot agree on baby sprinkling vs full body, adult- only baptism. But both sides of the debate claim to fully believe in the Bible and that it is God’s inerrant word.

People who profess to believe in the Bible can’t agree on the timing of the Rapture, or if there will even be one.

Christians disagree about Eternal Security, Vs. Conditional Security, Vs. OSAS. And, again, everyone in these debates will swear up and down they respect the Scriptures and believe them to be “fully God breathed.”

Christians cannot agree on open theism vs. God knowing the future.

Some Christians say there is a literal hell with hell fire, while others say people cease to exist when they die, and still others teach no, everyone gets to go to Heaven in the end, while others say Hell is allegorical.

Christians bicker over the age of the earth: is it millions of years old, or only 6,000 years old?

Does humanity have total free will, partial, or not? (Calvinism Vs Armianism, and all the in-between views).

(The solution is not to become a Roman Cahtolic. Roman Catholics are just as screwed up as Baptists and Protestants on doctrine.

I don’t believe Peter was the first Pope and all that stuff. So don’t even try to sell me on Catholicism, if you are a Catholic who is reading this.

Lay persons in Roman Catholicism can’t agree on every thing… look at abortion, for instance. There are Pro Life Catholics and Pro Choice Catholics. Becoming a Catholic is not a magic cure all for the issues I am talking about here.)

In light of all this, I don’t see why I should base my choice on who to marry on a verse that says “be not yoked to an unbeliever.”

I don’t see why I should stay single and not try to get married because Paul told some people in a church 2,000 years ago to “be content where you are, and don’t try to change.”

It’s not that I think the Bible is totally confusing or unclear on all topics. I wrote a post about it last week, after all:
(Link): Sometimes the Bible is Clear – Regarding Rachel Held Evan’s Post

But I do see enough in-fighting among Christians about how to interpret the Bible, with all the conflicting interpretations and hypocrisy, that I’ve finally arrived at the conclusion of “why bother with this anymore” and “can anyone really trust anyone’s teachings on what the Bible says on 50% or so of its contents?”

I also see many Christians not even attempting to live out the parts of the Bible that are rather clear, like the part in the New Testament (and in the Old) about pre marital sex being sinful.

Plenty of Christians – not all; some adult Christians are still virgins – but enough of them are ignoring that biblical injunction against pre martial sex to have sex prior to marriage anyway, along with preachers who admit they are afraid to condemn sexual sin in sermons lest it offend the fornicators, and so it makes me wonder why I should bother.

The Bible also talks about adultery being sinful and harming children is wrong, but about every week, I see new news stories about married preachers who hire prostitutes or who are into raping little children.

I don’t really see where, even in Paul’s comments about being content, where a single woman’s desire for marriage is condemned or said to be selfish or idolatry.

My perception from what the Bible says is that God is fine with whatever YOU CHOOSE to do about it… if you want to stay single, God is cool with that. If you want to be married, God is cool with that.

God does not shame or guilt anyone about wanting to be married.

I really think the hardest place to be if you are a Baptist, Reformed, Fundamentalist, or evangelical Christian, is an adult single who desires marriage.

If you are such a Christian, you are unfortunately sandwiched between:

1. a.

    singles who truly love being single and have zippo desire for marriage

1. b. Christian married authors who assume ALL singles should be like the singles I just mentioned under 1a, and who shame or guilt you for wanting marriage. They will tell you to “be content in your singlenss” and so on. These are the ones who are more likely to quote 1 Cor 7 at you.

2. Christian married people, sometimes who are preachers, who shame and condemn you for being single, or who act as though there is something wrong with being single, and who may assume you are single because you are lazy, selfish, and you have CHOSEN to be single.

And these are the types, under point 2, who need to hear 1 Cor 7, because they seem to think God hates singles and childless-ness.

There should be a group 3:

3. Christians who are single and want to be married but who also want to be treated with dignity and respect for so long as they are single.

But no such ‘group 3’ is recognized in 99% of Christian literature or sermons about dating, marriage, sex, and singleness. All singles are assumed to fall under points 1 or 2.

In my view, if a Christian adult single desires marriage, she should not be discouraged from seeking or wanting marriage, nor should she be shamed or discouraged from pursuing it, as in, using dating sites to find a mate.

Single women who desire marriage should not be clubbed over the head with cliches about the Lord being their spouse, that they should be content, with verses from 1 Cor 7, or with shaming tactics of, “God desires your holiness not your happiness, so stop desiring marriage.”

At the same time, though, married Christians should stop spreading, teaching, and adhering to so many false teachings and stereotypes about adult, female, Christian singles, such as (and the Bible does not support these views),

Single Adult Women:

    • are immature;
    • are sleazey harlots who are having lots of (or any at all) pre marital sex;
    • are un-godly;
    • are feminists who hate men/ family/ babies/ marriage;
    • intentionally put marriage off to obsess over career ladders;
    must be too fat or ugly or have too much baggage to snare a man

There is a basic lack of respect, by married Christians and Christian culture, for singles WHILE THEY ARE SINGLE, even for singles who DESIRE MARRIAGE.

So long as you remain single, even if you want to be married, those who are already married do not care.

Most Christians generally see no difference between you, the single who desires marriage, and the woman who does NOT want to be married. The only exception: when you correct them on this and say, “Oh no, I’d love to be married,” they will scold you for “making marriage an idol” and “not being content in your singleness.”

In- so- far as you should care about what Paul wrote about singleness is that many Christians are “sola scriptura.”

Many conservative Christians, who tend to harbor bad attitudes towards singles and idolize marriage, will not be convinced to treat single adults better, or their desire to be married, without having to occasionally quote Bible verses at them, and that would include a few things Paul wrote about singleness.

There are actually some Christians who teach that you, as an unmarried person, are not fully human. You are not fully in God’s image, they believe. They teach you can only be considered fully human and of God if you marry.

See (Link): this post and (Link): this post (Link): this post for examples.

And if you are a single, Christian woman, you in particular, also have to contend with (Link): this Christian bias and (Link): this set of prejudices.

So long as I remain single, I want to be treated with respect AS A SINGLE WOMAN. That means married Christians need to realize there is nothing inherently wrong with singleness, single people, and that God does not condemn singles or singleness. That may mean quoting 1 Cor 7 at obnoxious married people from time to time.

Of course, Christians should not discourage me, a single adult who wants marriage, from seeking marriage, or tell me it’s selfish, or whatever, for me to still want to be married.

Christians need to put concrete measures into place to help single adults who desire marriage to get married.

That can be as simple as holding a prayer circle weekly or monthly where all the Christians in a group or church agree in prayer that God send each woman who wants a mate a mate.

It might mean churches funding cross-church singles get-together events, say, a church-wide potluck where singles from several churches in an area meet at one church to have a dinner, to meet and mingle, or this sort of even can be hosted at a restaurant.

The point is churches need to be helping singles who want marriage, if those singles want to be helped.

Not quoting 1 Cor 7 at singles, which, let’s face it, does nothing but keep them single, but actually in helping them achieve their goal in getting married… because the older I get, I am not seeing God magically sending a mate cross single women’s paths – there has to be some human intervention involved, like a preacher fixing up one single with another, or church sponsored singles mixers, or what have you.

There are singles who desire marriage. They should not be lectured to “be content where they are” if they want marriage (that would be a misuse of biblical passages such as 1 Cor 7). Adult singles who desire marriage should be assisted in their goal of getting married.

At the same time, adult singles should not be treated as failures, weirdos, or suspected of being homosexual, or as inferiors to married couples, so long as they are single – and this is where 1 Corinthians 7 does in fact come in handy, for it reminds the married people that singles are not below, or substandard to, married couples.

There is nothing wrong or flawed with being single or with singlehood itself. But there is also nothing wrong, selfish, or unbiblical with a single person wanting to be married or actively trying to make marriage happen.

The problem is, most of Christian culture cannot see both points together; some Christians either assume there is something wrong with singles and singlehood, or they shame Christians who desire marriage, or they discourage them from seeking marriage.

And, by the way, one reasons churches keep losing members and cannot attract new ones is that 44% of American adults are single, but the preachers keep gearing all sermons and ministries to people who are already married, or to the youth. There is nothing to appeal to, or meet the needs of, never-married, childless adults who are over the age of 30.

Many denominations and Churches worship marriage and the traditional family. They are obsessed with “the family.” As a result, singles and/or the childless feel unwanted, unloved, and like square pegs. So they stop going to church.
————————–
Related posts:

(Link): I’m Single But I’m Still A Whole Person

(Link): False Christian Teaching: “Only A Few Are Called to Singleness and Celibacy” or (also false): God’s gifting of singleness is rare – More Accurate: God calls only a few to marriage and God gifts only the rare with the gift of Marriage

(Link):  Gallup: Record Low 24% Believe Bible Is Literal Word of God (May 2017)

(Link): Singleness Is Not A Gift

(Link): The Myth of the Gift – Regarding Christian Teachings on Gift of Singleness and Gift of Celibacy

(Link): The Gift of Singleness – A Mistranslation and a Poorly Used Cliche’

(Link): There is No Such Thing as a Gift of Singleness or Gift of Celibacy or A Calling To Either One

(Link): Gift of Singleness Gift of Celibacy Unbiblical – Those Terms and Teachings Contribute to Fornication / Editorial About Sex Surrogates

(Link): New-ish Christian Cliche’ About Singlehood: Don’t Waste Your Singleness -or- Make the Most of Your Singleness

(Link): False Christian Teaching: “Only A Few Are Called to Singleness and Celibacy” or (also false): God’s gifting of singleness is rare – More Accurate: God calls only a few to marriage and God gifts only the rare with the gift of Marriage

(Link): The Netherworld of Singleness for Some Singles – You Want Marriage But Don’t Want to Be Disrespected or Ignored for Being Single While You’re Single

(Link): Preacher Mark Driscoll Basically Says No, Single Christian Males Cannot or Should Not Serve as Preachers / in Leadership Positions – Attempts to Justify Unbiblical, Anti Singleness Christian Bias

(Link): Christian Patriarchy Group: God Demands You Marry and Have Babies to Defeat Paganism and Satan. Singles and the Childless Worthless (in this worldview).

(Link): Sick of Being Single / I Am So Sick and Tired of Being Single Alone Unmarried Lonely

(Link): The Types of Christian Singles Who Annoy Me

2 thoughts on “Singles Who Desire Marriage and 1 Corinthians 7 – but 1 Timothy 4:3 – Also: Singlehood and Messed Up Hermeneutics”

  1. yes and that person you were referring to was me !! i for 7 needs to be taken in context and nothing more than Pauls opinion back then as in not now !! its not up to Paul if anyone gets married or not. If a person wants to get married then they should not let the words of Paul get in the way at all !!! I don’t Iike I cor. 7 because I dont have to. I have had the passage usced against me as the reason God called me to be single . I dont have to like or agree with I Cor 7 but i saw in another post about calling out blogs and articles are shaming people for wanting to get married. i agree its not up to those authors is it? No it most certianly is not !!

    1. What do you do when you are talking to Christians on the internet, or in person, and they imply or state out right that singleness is ungodly, wrong, bad, and that marriage is God’s only or highest calling for a person? How do you respond?

      Telling them you want to be married will not help… such people don’t care if you want to be married or not; all they know is that you are single, and in their view, being single is not as good as being married.

      How do you combat the stereotypes from Christian culture that singles are not as good as married people, that singlehood is not as good as marriage, and that marriage makes a person more mature, godly, and important?

      P.S. / edit. I never said you had to “like” 1 Cor 7.

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