This topic was originally written for a reply to a forum thread that I had started a few weeks ago on The Rebelution. This will both express where I stand on this issue, and address the replies to my thread.
One person said that marriage was for our own enjoyment, and that person is both right and wrong. Is having a life long companion and being sexually active enjoyable? Of course. Did God intend for it to be that way? Yes. Is that why we get married? No. You see God blesses us with things so that we can turn around and give him the praise and glory for it; and let all who are around us see that as well. As John Piper says, “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.” Don’t ever think that there are things purely for our pleasure, because God does all things so that in the end, He will get the preeminence and glory; which He does by blessing and cursing us, but that’s another topic all together.
Just a few quick notes about some of the scripture references that were given. Yes, we are to be fruitful and multiply. Yes, marriage is a representation of Christ and the church. Yes, marriage is how we pass down the laws of the Lord to the next generation, and it’s how we actually get the next generation, for that matter. I agree with all those references, but they only apply to those who are supposed to be married. So who’s supposed to marry, and what does the Bible say about all that?
Well I think 1 Cor. 7 sums everything up for us.
1Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.
3The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.
4The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
5Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
6But this I say by way of concession, not of command.
7Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.
8But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I.
9But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
10But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband
11(but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.
12But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her.
13And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away.
14For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.
15Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.
16For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?
17Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk And so I direct in all the churches.
18Was any man called when he was already circumcised? He is not to become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? He is not to be circumcised.
19Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.
20Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called.
21Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that.
22For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave.
23You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.
24Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called.
25Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy.
26I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is.
27Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife.
28But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you.
29But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none;
30and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess;
31and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away.
32But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord;
33but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife,
34and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.
35This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.
36But if any man thinks that he is acting unbecomingly toward his virgin daughter, if she is past her youth, and if it must be so, let him do what he wishes, he does not sin; let her marry.
37But he who stands firm in his heart, being under no constraint, but has authority over his own will, and has decided this in his own heart, to keep his own virgin daughter, he will do well.
38So then both he who gives his own virgin daughter in marriage does well, and he who does not give her in marriage will do better.
39A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.
40But in my opinion she is happier if she remains as she is; and I think that I also have the Spirit of God.
Everything said here is Paul’s opinion, and not a command that is to be obeyed. Although, since Paul’s opinion got put in the Bible, it’s God’s opinion too. So I’ll make reference to what I’m saying by saying, “God says”. First of all, singleness is said to be one of the gifts, and God gives people different gifts so we can all function as a body. Paul says that marriage is for those who have a lack of self-control (vv. 9), but that’s not meant in a bad way, or to be looked down upon.
Really, this is how it works. If you can live without marriage (ie. the companionship and sex) then you’ll be able to live your life for God better without being married (vv. 32), but if you really have a burning passion for such things, then it’s better to get married so that it isn’t a distraction for you from God; but you still won’t live for God as well as you would by not being married. It’s like the verse that talks about not being able to serve two masters. Your partner in marriage is your master, and you belong to that person (vv 4.). Therefore, it becomes difficult to balance your love and time for both God and your partner (vv 32-34).
Marriage is a needful thing, but I honestly think more people get married than I think should. I’ll be honest with everyone, I struggle with lust all the time, just as much as any other guy; but it’s something I know I can and am having victory in. A note in my commentary says, “The reason for getting married is so important a matter that it should not be made until you’ve deliberately spent some time carefully considering the circumstances, and upon very reasonable grounds, it will be to your advantage spiritually to do so.” In short, as my friend, Mac Lynch always says, “you need to make every decision with the thought of what is best spiritually for you.” You also need to consider the circumstances. If you’re planning on joining the military, you can’t be the husband and father you ought to be when you’re overseas for long periods of time. Let’s say you were going into a mission field where the chances of you getting killed are very high, you may not want to marry so you or your partner don’t suffer grief if one or the other is killed.
All in all, the issue of marriage has to be dealt with on an individual basis; there’s no one answer for everyone. Don’t use marriage as your way out of your lust problems either because it doesn’t stop after marriage; it can actually get worse. Just make sure that what you do will ultimately glorify God; stay tightly tuned in with Him, and He will guide your ways.