Let Them Marry

1Corinthians 7:36-40 But if any man think that he behave himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinned not: let them marry. Nevertheless he that stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well. So then he that gives her in marriage does well; but he that gives her not in marriage does better. The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God. 

‘Uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sins not: let them marry.’ In the early times among both Jews and Christians the daughters were wholly in the power of the father, so that he might give them in marriage or bind them to perpetual virginity. If the father had devoted his daughter to perpetual virginity, and afterwards found that she had her affection centred upon a man, being strongly inclined to marry, he could change his plans regarding her virginity and give her in marriage at any time, even after the flower of her age. He would not be committing sin by changing his plans for her. ‘His virgin’ – this will be his virgin daughter, not a sweetheart.

‘If she pass the flower of her age.’ If she is of full age to marry, which was at a very young age as was the Eastern culture for women.

‘And need so require’ – If she wants to get married instead of being a perpetual virgin. Sometimes the conditions of 1Corinthians 7:8-9 enter into the picture.

‘Let him do what he will, he sinned not: let them marry.’ Let the father of the virgin do what he knows is best for his daughter under the circumstances, regardless of how he has already planned her life. He is free from all former plans and vows.

‘Nevertheless he that stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well.’ If the father finds it unnecessary to change his plans, it being unnecessary to betroth his virgin daughter, because of her being inclined not to marry and wanting to consecrate both body and spirit, as in 1Corinthians 7:34, then let him keep his daughter from marriage.

‘So then he that gives her in marriage does well; but he that gives her not in marriage does better.’ This explains 1Corinthians 7:36-37 and proves that it is a father who gives or does not give his virgin daughter in marriage. ‘Wife is bound by the law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.’ Evidently this verse is in answer to a question of the Corinthians about a woman whose husband was dead. Should she remarry? Paul gave the Christian law on this and laid down a restriction that she remarries only a Christian man, not a heathen. He then gave the advice that she would be happier if she remained single in view of the present conditions in the world for Christians (7:40). Paul by no means contended for celibacy, but gave sound advice for the present distress.

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