As with all missives that are written partially to answer a series of questions sent, the frustration here is that we don't know what the contents of this list of questions Paul mentions here, were. As we mentioned recently, the principle that the body is essentially evil could lead to two very different lifestyles: either completely licentious or extreme ascetic behaviour. It appears from Paul's writing here that there were both types in the church at Corinth. Some of the believers were so committed to the idea that they should deny all the instincts and desires which are natural to the body that there were refusing to marry, anathema especially to the Jews. Some churches today expect the impossible from their young people. I love Paul especially at times like this, when he is so practical and pragmatic. He pictures the locality and reminds his first century readers that they are living in a city renowned for its immorality. ''Get married'', he declares. Paul the celibate single man is urging the believers to marry! ''Better to marry than to burn'' is another of his epithets. Paul always saw the celibate, single life as the best way to live for Jesus, without ties and domesticity, but recognised that not everybody could live as he did, thank goodness! If he had advocated more strongly to live as he did, I'm sure that we would have had more morally shipwrecked Christian lives down the centuries than we have had. ''Examine yourself honestly'', he says, ''and choose the way of life in which you can best live as a Christian. Don't attempt what for most is an impossible standard.'' This, I believe, can be transplanted to other areas of life and reminds us that we can live fully as Christians whilst making pragmatic decisions which make things possible rather than setting such a high standard that we crumble. There may be those who read this and think, ''Well, its alright for Paul to have recommended marriage as it was much easier to get married then. And its easy for David to encourage the same, having been a young man surrounded by other young men and women in his church. But what about me? How do I find a partner for life when there is so much choice, but so few seem ready to commit? I would encourage you to commit to attendance at evening services at a large church which has many in your age group and there to actively seek God's will for your life partner. It will be difficult, because life generally is structured now around people having a series of long-term monogamous relationships, whereas Christians are called to marry rather than live together. Please ask to talk to me if you are finding it frustrating!
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