Scripture: I Corinthians 7:1-9
Key verses: (8-9) To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. But if they are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.
Reflection: “I am a great lover” I once heard a Sister of Mercy announce as she explained to an audience how she was able to live a celibate life. It wasn’t because she did not understand love and desire, quite the opposite she declared, but for her love and desire were expressed and fuelled by channeling them in to service to and prayer for God’s people.
In our many discussions on marriage we lose sight that according to Paul, the New Testament approach to marriage is: don’t do it! Unless you are a Da Vinci Code enthusiast, Jesus wasn’t married and Paul didn’t marry either. Despite his wonderful hymn of love quoted at so many of our weddings, Paul it appears was not the romantic, marrying kind. Maybe he just was not inclined that way, who knows. He does have a rather curious view suggesting that we not marry unless we are aflame with passion (because marriage will cure that Paul?!).
It’s a rather low view of marriage Paul offers, leaning heavily on the practical: Marry or don’t marry just don’t lose sight of Jesus.
Paul is sure that he knows what is best and how to live a Godly life if you are single — (which is what the Greek word translated as widow here implies) be celibate and don’t ever marry. Interesting though and almost unexpected that he is prepared to make concessions, to allow room for others who are not able to live as he is. There is a generous orthodoxy to Paul’s theology. He makes room for followers of Christ who are doing their best but have different results and different ideas of how they will live in their bodies as they faithfully follow Christ. What is not optional for Paul is a passion for Christ and living a life that as he so often describes as one that prays without ceasing, let’s its gentleness be known by all, holds fast to all that is good, renounces evil and worries about nothing for the Lord is near.
Prayer: From Teresa of Avila, passionate follower of Jesus and a lover of God: It is not a matter of thinking a great deal but of loving a great deal, so do whatever arouses you most to love. Amen.
Author: Derek Macleod
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].