Principles for Marriage – Part 2

1Corinthians 7:7-9 For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man has his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

‘For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man has his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.’ This was Paul’s personal desire, but he was sensible enough to recognize that every man did not have his gift of self-control. Where it does not exist naturally, or by a miraculous interference or by an operation (Matt. 19:12), marriage is the answer.

‘But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.’ It is best to have the gift of self-control, but for those who don’t, “it is better to marry than to burn.”

‘Contain’ [Greek: engkrateuomai] have self-control; have command of the passions and appetites.

‘Burn’ [Greek: puroo] to burn; be aflame (7:9; 2Cor. 11:29; Eph. 6:16; 2Pet. 3:12; Rev. 1:15; 3:18). Here it means to have difficulty controlling the passions. In such a case, it would be better to marry.

Facts on Biblical marriages: It was customary for Jewish couples to remain with their parents for a considerable time after the marriage was contracted. In addition to the dowry and other details of the agreement, the contract also specified the time when the couple should come together as man and wife. Therefore, a man who was betrothed was free from military duty until he had consummated his marriage; and he remained exempt a full year afterwards, to enjoy married life (Deut. 20:7; 24:5; 28:30; Pro. 5:18-19).

By Israel’s law, if a man wanted to marry a beautiful woman among the captives of war, he had to wait a month before completing the marriage. This gave the woman time to go through certain rites and become reconciled to her new life. It also gave him time to test his affections for her. If he became indifferent, he was not to sell her as a slave or retain her as such. She was to freely go where she wanted, with the provision that he made for her. There is no indication that he had relations with her. Rejecting her after a month was humiliating since she would have had an exalted position in marriage (Deut. 21:10-14).

It was customary for parents to keep the spotted bedclothes of their daughter’s wedding night as proof of her virginity. In Egypt and Syria, they took them immediately after the marriage night. Keeping them was important in Israel because it could save the life of the virgin (Deut. 22:13-21). When disputed, there were four commands to protect an innocent wife: If a man tries to divorce his wife by falsely accusing her of not being a virgin, then her father and mother shall bring the proof of her virginity to the elders of the city (Deut. 22:14-15). The parents shall prove to the elders that she was a virgin and that her husband is slandering her for selfish reasons (Deut. 22:16-17). The elders shall chastise the man, fine him 100 shekels of silver, and give the money to his wife’s father (Deut. 22:18-19). She shall remain his wife; he may not divorce her all the days of his life (Deut. 22:19).

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