Paul saw his single state as a gift, something given by God. It is very easy for the Church to tell those who are in their 30's and single that they should embrace their singleness as a God-given gift, but how does that person know they have received it as a gift, rather than understanding that it may be their current situation, but still to plan to be married? Most of you will know of my dear friend Dave, who has preached a few times at Bearfield. His wife, Naomi, had been single until she was 40 and is now married with a child. Another friend of ours is getting married for the first time in her mid-40's. Some you know get married for their first time in their 50's and 60's, so when is this 'call to singleness' confirmed for life? We knew a dear woman, who had to make the decision to marry someone she was engaged to or go out to Malaysia as a missionary. She chose the latter and has remained single all her life-she is now in her 70's. So, I think we must be careful in what we, as church or me as church leader tell people. For Paul, the call seemed to come in parallel with his missionary calling. There were other apostles, such as Peter, who were married and Peter's wife accompanied him on his mission trips, but Paul felt he could respond to God's calling promptly as a single man. Paul also speaks here to married couples. For a single man he writes with great pragmatism and understanding. He recognises that sexual desires are part of our make up as humans and an essential part of a good marriage. He puts equal weight on the husband's responsibilities to his wife as the wife's responsibilities to her husband. It is probable that Paul had once been married. We find the evidence in his writings and also that he identified himself as once having been a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin- Acts 26 v 10- and to do that, it was compulsory that one was married. Possibly, his wife had died or she had broken up the marriage when she discovered that Paul had become a Christian or when she came to recognise that he was devoted to Christ, leaving no room for devotion elsewhere. Women have often suffered by being married to great Christian figures: John Wesley and his wife had a very difficult marriage and for William Carey-first missionary to India- his wife had long periods of mental health issues in India. To sum up: in Corinth, there were those who evidently were stating that all believing married couples should abstain from sex completely. Paul, wisely, understood the desires of the body and encouraged his readers to have active sex lives as they had committed so to do by getting married.
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