Questions/Answers Please explain what the Apostle Paul meant when he called marriage a “distraction” (I Corinthians 7:32-35)

Please explain what the Apostle Paul meant when he called marriage a “distraction” (I Corinthians 7:32-35)

Please explain what the Apostle Paul meant when he called marriage a “distraction” (I Corinthians 7:32-35)

 

         Let us read the whole passage to understand what the apostle meant.

But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. 1 Corinthians 7:32-35

       With a casual reading of 1 Corinthians 7 the first impression that a reader gets is that the apostle is promoting celibacy and is not in favor for a Christian to get married. But we see the same apostle talking about the virtues of marriage in other of his epistles. For example in Ephesians 5 we see Paul comparing husband and wife to Christ and the church.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. Ephesians 5:25

       In the letter to the Hebrews the apostle wrote positively of marriage.

Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled. Hebrews 13:4

      By the inspiration of God the apostle wrote that the time would come when some Christians would depart from the faith, and one of the things that they would do is promote celibacy. He wrote to his young disciple Timothy.

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry. 1 Timothy 4:1-3

     Judging by what Paul has written elsewhere we can safely conclude that Paul was not promoting celibacy and discouraging marriage when he wrote to the Corinthian believers. The context has to be carefully seen.

     There was a crisis that was present and Paul in that context was advising the Corinthian church what to do during this time.

I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be. Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. 1 Corinthians 7:26, 27

     Notice the phrase how Paul started the above verses—“this is good for the present distress”. There was a present distress in Paul’s time. We really do not know what the trouble the church was going through or would shortly go through. But we know there was to shortly come upon all in the first century a great crisis at the destruction of Jerusalem which took place in AD 70.

     The Lord Jesus also talked about this time of trouble and mentioned about women who would be in the family way who were having infants would especially suffer during this time. The Lord Jesus said.

But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. Luke 21:23

     Probably it was in this context that the apostle Paul was counseling his church members to take precaution lest they suffer more when the crisis came upon all in the first century where little children were mercilessly put to death in front of the despairing mothers! The history of what happened to carrying and feeding mothers is heart-rendering to read.

     We know that “there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time” (Daniel 12:1), and that time of distress and trouble is soon to come upon us. And this wonderful counsel from the apostle would be a blessing to many!

     But otherwise, as we have seen, the apostle clearly spoke in favor of marriage which is not a distraction, but a blessing and honor!

 

Pastor Michael Pedrin Preaching