Please explain 1st Corinthians 7:36-38.
If any man thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to, if she is getting beyond the usual age for marriage, and he feels he should marry — he can do what he wants. He is not sinning; they can get married. But he who stands firm in his heart (who is under no compulsion, but has control over his own will) and has decided in his heart to keep her as his fiancé, will do well. So then he who marries his fiancé does well, but he who does not marry will do better.
1st Corinthians 7:36-38 CSB
This is talking about arranged marriages and the responsibility a Christian man
(of that day mainly) would have towards the woman to whom he had been espoused
without his will or even knowledge when he was a child. This is a very unusual
situation in present day USA confined almost exclusively to first or second
generation immigrants from cultures where this espousal of children to other
children for marriage in later life is still practiced. Paul tells such men that
they are not biblically obligated to honor that commitment which was not of
their making because Christians are not obligated to get married.
See the link: Arranged Marriages
I stumbled across your website and have a question for you. I met and fell in love with a man who is divorced. The biblical implications of his divorce are unclear to me and I think I just need a little help with understanding. First of all, I’ve prayed extensively over this relationship and it seems as though God is blessing it to move forward, but I want to be sure (I’ve even prayed for God to remove it if it isn’t right or his will, I’ve told God I’ll walk away, if he wants but there seems to be no indication of that).
So my divorcee, was married to someone that he says he knew he was getting clear signs from the Lord not to marry, and the marriage ended 2 years later. He told me that in order to make it work with her, he’d have to step away from his ministry where God called him and he knew that the Lord wouldn’t be pleased with that. Long story short, they both committed adultery, which he admitted to it in hopes for reconciliation, but she’s never admitted to hers. He said he was settled on the fact that he married the wrong person and would just live in a miserable marriage because he did not believe in divorce and he loves God with his whole heart and didn’t want to let him down in that way. His wife ended up leaving him and saying she was never coming back but never filed for divorce, so he did. And he ONLY did because by that point he knew she was not coming back and all hope for reconciliation was lost (and because he also knew that she was only staying married to him on paper for the legal marital benefits).
Our spiritual leaders support our union, and we pray together all the time and both feel like the Lord has put his stamp of approval on this, brought us together even. I guess I just want to make sure that we’re not just hearing what we want to hear. That’s been my prayer a lot lately, “Lord I don’t want to hear what I want to hear, I want your will to be done, and if it’s not this, I will let it go but please let me know.” But I feel him keep saying that he approves of this. I know this may be silly, but an unbiased view from someone who doesn’t know us (and who isn’t enamored by the ministry we are doing together/ could do together) would be really helpful in settling my anxiety about this.
Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance.
Good to make your acquaintance.
Here is something I read in scripture apropos of all this:
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
Luke 12:13-15 NIV
When our Lord was asked to weigh in on interpreting a legal situation to which
He was no party, He declined to do so – but He did lay out the most important
point of truth regarding the request. He is our perfect example, so I will try
to do likewise the best I can.
I cannot weigh in on the specifics because it is impossible for me to know anymore than you may tell me – which, life being what it is, is certainly far less than the complete history of all related events. That you certainly cannot know even yourself, and, as reported, even your intended does not know everything about prior situations.
On top of the above, in my opinion it is always a mistake to approach scripture in legal terms on specific matters of interest. It is always better to grow up spiritually to the point of maturity by learning the truth broadly and deeply . . . and then, when such questions come up, considering the matter in the Spirit with prayer. Looking to specific scriptures is, of course, not wrong, but when it comes to matters of application such as in this case, it's all about the individual Christians in question who have to make those applications the best they can based upon where they personally are in their spiritual lives.
That said, I can give my general advice for matters of marriage, divorce and remarriage which are based upon my understanding of the scriptures on these points:
1) Are you single? Best to stay single.
2) Are you married? Best to stay married.
3) Are you divorced? Best not to re-marry.
4) Have you remarried? Best not to divorce.
Violating the advice above is not necessarily sinful, but in the spirit of the apostle Paul's advice given at 1st Corinthians 7:28, "those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this."
Since you are new to the site, I will give you a list of links which deal with various aspects of these issues from a multiplicity of angles:
Undeserved Suffering in Marriage: Peter #35
Marriage and the Bible X
Marriage and the Bible IX
Marriage and the Bible VIII
Marriage and the Bible VII
Marriage and the Bible VI
Marriage and the Bible V
Marriage and the Bible IV
Marriage and the Bible III
Marriage and the Bible II
Marriage and the Bible I
No Grounds for Divorce?
Jephthah's Daughter, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage.
A conversation about divorce and remarriage.
Feelings of Guilt about Remarriage.
More on divorce and remarriage.
Divorce and remarriage.
Just to add my two bits. Everything you said about marriage in your posting is accurate and true. It's my belief that it takes two to make a whole, complete human being; male and female. I think that was part of the plan and design. Yes, of course, there were troubles, though I prefer to think of them as challenges. When I really annoyed her, she would haul off and round-house me on the shoulder. She got her point across though she did no actual damage.
In almost 35 years of marriage before she passed, she shaped my thinking as I'm sure I did hers. The only time in our married life I asserted my "authority" (which is an oxymoron in marriage) was when I accepted a job in Texas. We both benefited though it was hard for all of us. I have not remarried, nor would I want to.
As for your correspondents who seek proof of the Lord's promises, I would suggest there are many if they just open there eyes and hearts to see. I am living on the little patch of prairie for which I prayed, The Lord said, "Whatever you ask in my name, you will be given." I was given – and more than I asked. My swallows and wrens return to their summer homes every spring, the rabbits and road runners run freely. Even the rattlesnakes seem willing to live and let live. There is a remarkable consistency to the Lord's design.
The Spirit, in my experience, intervenes when necessary but for the most part, is rather reserved. It truly is all up to us. He does intervene, rather forcefully when required, but those times are lessons, if we listen.
So, Bob, my friend. without further rhapsodizing, I'll leave it at that. If anything I've said is wrong, please correct me.
In our Lord, Savior and maker of this world,
This is a wonderful testimony, my friend!
Hope you don't mind me sharing it. From where I sit, this is a paradigm of what a Christian marriage should be – and will give those not yet "in it" some idea of what to expect . . . if they listen to the Spirit, wait and choose wisely.
Feel free to share. I didn't expect that but if it helps others, more
the better. Saturday's post revealed quite a bit of angst – though
mostly by folks already in a second marriage. Your comments would be
useful for others agonizing over past sins if they read the post. The
rather long thread from a correspondent trying to understand the
differences between men and women read like it was from someone who is
unmarried. Your advice was crystal clear which I suspect he would have
understood the first time had he been married. Marriage, I believe, will
be increasingly difficult as we get closer to the Tribulation. God help
I would add that prayer and patience would be essential. Our Lord said, "Ask and you'll receive." He didn't say how quickly and sometimes, we're too bull-headed to accept that answer when first given.
In our Lord,
Much appreciated. You're right in your assumption. There is no substitute for actual combat experience.
And amen to "prayer and patience". Two pretty good weapons "in the left hand and in the right" (2Cor.6:7) for whatever we are dealing with down here until the Lord returns. Abraham had to wait decades for his heir.
Yes, none of this seems to be getting any easier. There's probably good reason for that.
Here's praying we all make it to the "line of departure" in good shape and ready to go.
Something else I wanted to ask was that does 1 Corinthians 7:7 prove outright that some people are supposed to be married while others stay single? I'm aware of all the debate and discussion that has circulated over this issue but I'm asking for myself personally as I study the passage on my own. So my question doesn't involve anyone else here. I already know your thoughts on this matter, "if you're single, stay single," but I understand that you believe some (most) people are supposed to get married. I know that the gift spoken of in 1 Corinthians 7:7 is obviously not a spiritual gift, but something else. Is the meaning of that word referring to empowerment? How does it read in Greek? Would the necessity of marriage for most individuals stem from failure on their part or something out of their control due to how God has created or "gifted/intended" them?
As to getting married, I have merely have repeated the biblical guidance. We also have this:
But if you do marry, you have not sinned;
1st Corinthians 7:28a NIV
Believers just need to be aware of the facts about marriage ahead of time, that it brings trouble, and that it takes away from wholehearted devotion to the Lord.
But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
1st Corinthians 7:28c NIV
I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided.
1st Corinthians 7:32-34a NIV
On the other hand, if a person is not really fit to live unmarried – and
very few are – then by all means it is better to be married . . . to
another Christian in a marriage that the Lord is bringing our way (as
opposed to us jumping into something that is clearly problematic).
There have been plenty of Christians who not only lived godly lives but clearly produced a bumper crop for the Lord though married. Peter was married. James and Jude were married. David was married (many times). It's a lot easier, in fact, to count up those who were than those who weren't. But it is also true that, ideally and mutatis mutandis, being unmarried increases the "bandwidth" for anyone wanting to serve the Lord . . . potentially. I say potentially because, if a person is going to be spending all his/her unmarried time preoccupied by the fact that he/she is NOT married, then what is the advantage? And especially if being single leads them into sin.
The word at 1st Corinthians 7:7 is charisma, "grace-thing", the word used for spiritual gifts throughout the NT (cf. "Charismatics"). So the distinction is not in the word but in how Paul is using it in this context. We are all "given things" by the Lord, spiritual gifts (technical charismata) and plenty of other things too. You may be able to run faster than I can just by nature – that is a gift (but not a "spiritual gift" on the level of, e.g., pastor-teacher). One brother may be able to control himself in terms of living alone and not getting into trouble better than the next – to the extent that this is the result of natural features of his constitution, rather than merely self-discipline, training, dedication, prudence, etc., then that would be a gift as well . . . but not a spiritual gift per se (those are specific empowerments designed to directly further ministry to the Body of Christ).
So I don't think we need to speak of failure or success here. We can debate these things in the abstract. In the real world, if the Lord brings just the right woman into your path, well, in my opinion you'd be foolish not to accept that gift. But on the other hand if He is not doing so, it would likewise be a mistake to go out searching for someone who would probably not be in His first best will for you.
Your explanation of 1 Corinthians 7:7 answers my question about the word gift in that passage. Most people are supposed to get married because they are called to it. And I understand that a person who should get married will increase their productivity for the Lord. They will be more productive if they do actually marry because they won't be overly preocuppied with overcoming sexual sin all the time. It would help their focus. However, (as you already pointed out) Paul still mentions the fact that the single life has more advantages. Wouldn't this suggest God is setting up some for greater success than others? You say, there are no limits to what we can accomplish for the Lord- the only limits are the ones we put on ourselves. Eternal reward is determined by how well we respond to God through free will choice. So being single doesn't guarantee greater spiritual success. I don't believe God limits people's potential based on their circumstances (marriage in this case). Yet, why give an edge to those unmarried, especially when those who married simply OBEYED God's will for their life?" If God doesn't limit us according to our lot and/or circumstances in life, then would the example of the widow's mite (Luke 21:1-4) answer this question? In other words, it's all about how well we do with what we've been given and how much we produce in proportion to what we have? For example, I don't think anyone would be crazy enough to say that someone who has two spiritual gifts will receive more than someone with only one gift based on the simple fact that he has an extra gift. I suppose we could conclude this discussion by simply stating that God is just so that we don't need to worry about any of this. So I would imagine that the example of the widow's mite does apply here. The Lord will give to those who deserve and withhold from those who don't deserve (not that any believer deserves eternal life and all that comes with it).
On "a person who should get married will increase their productivity
for the Lord", that is certainly possible. But it depends on a lot
of factors, the Christian character of the other party in large degree,
and also the discipline of the person who is getting married. Because
beyond all argument marriage, however blessed the particular union may
be, will eat up a lot of time and energy – and sometimes the happier it
is, the more that will happen. And if the other party isn't really
committed to ministry and spiritual growth, that will tend to impede
rather than empower one's efforts.
So "it is what it is". We can all see these things clearly enough if we are looking at them objectively. As I have said repeatedly, God knows us better than we know ourselves and the Lord certainly knows what's best for us in this regard. If we are listening to the Spirit, we will avoid chasing what we ought not to chase, as well as not miss what we ought not to miss.
In terms of fairness, God cannot be unfair, of course. So we can take it to the bank that however He is working this issue out for us personally is not only fair but also the most blessed way for us to proceed – if we are listening to the Spirit, that is, and following His guidance.
As I also often say, there are no hypothetical alternative "plans of God" – just the one perfect one we are presently participating in. If our heart is disposed to do our best for Jesus Christ, we will be helped to earn the best and greatest reward we were willing to win (by doing what was necessary to win it). That is absolutely fair. We are the ones making the choices – and God helps us in all the good ones we make. No one has ever been disadvantaged in the least. If it seems that way to us now, it will be revealed at all of the coming judgments that God helped us maximize what we were truly willing to do – and that includes all aspects of this issue as well.
Hi Dr Luginbill,
[question/comment about women expending money, time and effort on having nice surroundings in one's home]
p.s., Some of my favorite stories have people who lived centuries.
Women are the best home-makers – no doubt about it! Men may complain
that all they need is "two tomato crates pushed together and a folding
chair", but men do appreciate a well-organized, well-appointed
comfortable place to live and a household well run. We all have
different needs, different talents and different circumstances. There's
nothing wrong with "making a good nest", unless of course – as with all
things – one takes it too far or it detracts in any way from what is
really important in this life, namely, growing and progressing and
serving our Lord.
As to "lived centuries", I'm just happy I'm a lot closer to the end than to the beginning.
In Jesus our dear Savior,
Sometimes I do feel real loss missing out on basic things one gets
through family and community and their spouse through one's whole life,
and ask myself 'this is my life?'
But then I started a bit on reading Greek, and changed my mind-I think having the resources to learn Biblical Greek, do the prayers, read more of the Bible than I otherwise could, and things like that is a desirable life.
For every married person who is blissfully happy being married there are probably a dozen (or more) who are not having that same experience.
It may be true that nothing is better than a good, godly marriage. But it is also true that not much is worse than a miserable marriage which is so because it was not in God's will and/or because one or both of the parties is not putting God first – and there are plenty of those nowadays because 1) most people aren't willing to sacrifice and compromise sufficiently, and 2) there are so few mature Christians around who are willing to put the Lord first in their marriages as in everything else.
But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
1st Corinthians 7:28 NIV
That is partly why I sent you the plan. Although I think that I'm doing the right thing, I do have doubts. It is possible for us to have a much, much cheaper wedding.
So, it is possible to have a very inexpensive wedding. But there would then be family complications that bother me.
I know that you won't tell me what to do, but I am always grateful for the perspectives that you share with me. They help me get to a place of reasonable clarity.
And thank you very much too, Sir, for continuing to pray for us. We are keeping you in our prayers here too.
Your student in Jesus
I wouldn't presume to weigh in on cultures and customs about which I
know precious little. If my own experience of things in this regard and
knowledge of the ancient world tells me anything, it is that there are
subtleties which outsiders have trouble grasping – and that can lead to
problems if any serious decisions are taken based upon a faulty
understanding of critical matters by outsiders.
Over here, sometimes weddings are massive. But my parents stopped at a justice of the peace and were married without any friends or family and no expense beyond paying the civil fee. And they had the best marriage I know of. On the other hand, my nephew and niece-in-law had a really impressive wedding in a big church. At the reception, once everyone was seated, they drove into the venue in a monster truck bigger than the ones you see on TV! And they seem to be doing very well too. So from my point of view, I guess the moral is that if the two people getting married are really a good match in the Lord, the rest of it doesn't matter.
Keeping you in my prayers, my friend!
Hi Dr. Luginbill,
Feel free to answer later, or skip entirely. It is more of a trying-to-understand-a-life-thing question. Though that overlaps with how we believers live. Okay. I supposedly had 3 sets of grandparents.
I look at the Bible and it does seem like for women who didn't just do the obedience thing (wife of Nabal comes to mind), and then how Martha was sort of rebuked for making too much of the homemaking. I guess, I am trying to ask: am I wrong to conclude that there is a middle ground to be had here, and while we do obey and take care of our husbands, there is a limit (and you also have to take care of yourself). Is it wrong for me to think that my third grandmother has the right of it [being more independent the others]?
We believers are not required to get married.
I will say that it is good to consider what the Bible has to say about marriage before getting married. But every marriage is different because the two people in it are different – and different from each other critically as well.
The only way any Christian marriage can work well is if both partners are
committed to loving the Lord and doing what He tells us to do. If they are not,
it will produce more than "merely" the tribulation the Bible promises to all
married people (1Cor.7:28).
Just that, when I was younger I thought the overly submissive agreeable thing is the way to go but as I get older I move more and more to this other grandmother's side. Am I bad for doing that? Just that I feel more kinship with Abigail and Rebecca than with Sarah.
Hope you are well!
The Bible only gives a very few details about that latter relationship.
We can't really even begin to understand Sarah in terms of her marriage
relationship without also figuring in Abraham – just for starters.
Marriage is always a calculus of two.
I think any Christian man and woman who are planning on getting married need to heed the biblical advice: the wife needs to let the husband lead and the husband needs to love his wife more than himself. If both partners really love and respect each other – and more than that if they have a sense of proper duty and responsibility to the Lord to do things the right way – then following this advice will result in a workable marriage.
Few people measure up to these standards, however. So it is a flawed idea to think that marriage will be automatically blissful and problem free, even a genuinely Christian marriage.
It's also impossible, in my view, to dictate in ones heart how things
"will go" or how one will handle the unforeseen before the unforeseen
happens. We can commit to doing what God tells us to do; other than
that, we have to wait on events to see what life brings. And it
never turns out the way we expect. In marriage in
particular that is true because the other partner will always provide us
with many surprises (just was we will surely surprise them).
Good morning Dr L!
So I was looking into the idea of pre-nups. And I am asking what you think. I can tell you what I make of it so far, but you have much more wisdom and knowledge than me so you may come back with something that I am missing (I mean I am not dogmatic about what I am about to say).
How are things there?
Sunflowers are just starting to bloom here in Louisville.
On pre-nups, that's something between the two parties. I wouldn't want to weigh in one way or another in a particular case. I do have to admit that it strikes me as symptomatic of making a mistake in getting married in the first place. I mean, if two people are not absolutely head over heels about each other to the point where they are thinking ahead of time about the possibility of breaking up, what are the chances of making a go of it, given how difficult marriage has always been and how much is stacked against it these days?
[omitted emails regarding a problematic dating situation and decision to end it]
I think you are very much justified in all this. It's clear that relationships – even contemplating them / developing them – take up a tremendous amount of time, energy and emotion. Marriage is harder in that regard according to scripture (1Cor.7:28b). We're not obligated as Christians to allow ourselves to be "yanked around" like this, so if you are experiencing this while dating, then caution regarding getting more serious would seem to be prudent.
Also, it's good to remember that God is in control, that He has the perfect plan
for your life, that if something serious is meant for you, it will happen in due
time, and that there is nothing worse than trying to force something that's just
not right (just ask Abraham and Sarah).
Is it normal to feel really lonely as a Christian? To be honest I also seek so much time alone now that I feel like I am becoming reclusive. I have so little in common with most people and conversations with unbelievers is 95% sinful (gossip, profanity, coarse humour and worldly idolatry) that it seems utterly pointless.
I'm not at that point yet were I can rub along with people in a day to day way without compromise on my own walk. I find myself saying less and less and less and less. As I only have these emails as fellowship it is a very lonely situation. Of course I am not alone with the Lord and maybe I have to go through this time to get closer to him so my fear of people subsides and the illusion of loneliness ebbs away.
I don't have the confidence yet to be able to pepper my speech with truth without it being a bible thumping exercise. The pressure to people please takes over when I am embarrassed that I don't know what to say in company and so I blurt to fill the air and I sin (gossip, unseemly humour, judge or become worldly.)
Maybe this is just a season of silence for me. I was painfully shy as a child and I created a false persona in my teens to "fit in". This is when I embraced sin wholesale and I saw my popularity soar. Now that I am a believer I have virtually no one anymore but that is mostly because I have isolated myself as I know what people's reactions will be.
Anyway, I am using the time instead to keep up studying your ministry.
I realise that the Apostles weren't exactly "shooting hoops" with unbelievers. The only time they would spend with the unsaved world was preaching and then the rest of the time would be fellowship with believers or being alone.
Today I saw that Jeremiah was known as the "weeping prophet". I am no prophet or even a great believer but the weeping part is something that I share with him.
Trying to grow spiritually against an unyielding wall of apathy is a special sort of challenge. I'm not looking for persecution obviously (and I know we are not long for it) but there is something enervating and wearing about being against a floppy surface than a hard and sharp one. This Laodicean age is hard: the soporific rot of it is worse than a commie boot in the face. I know in the future I will find out if this is true and hopefully I won't be eating my words when the food is gone.
Reading a part of your Christology section has made me realise just how lonely the walk to the cross was and how lonely to die there for our sakes. I can't imagine what our Lord went through and we'll probably never know how terrible it was for Him. He knows suffering and loneliness to a depth and profundity that we can never grasp and yet He did it all with faith that likewise we can never fully appreciate or comprehend.
As soon as I realised this, I felt peace knowing that I am truly never alone in the Lord. That my weak flesh feels lonely for human fellowship and yet I have true, rich and deep and abiding fellowship with God now that pales in comparison to a world full of possible human friends put together! I also realise that whenever I have met Christians, they have often had less zeal or a hunger for the truth that I have or have been led to compromise and then it hasn't been true fellowship for me.
I think now that the Lord wants me to carry on as I am for sometime longer and be more reliant on Him for everything. As soon as I thought that I have felt huge peace inside knowing that I wouldn't have to go through that disappointment again of bad fellowship that hurts my walk.
So at the moment I will continue as I am and I want to step up the study I am already doing so that I am reading some and listening to others everyday (I am three quarters the way through SR and just started CT. I am also in the Peter Series and started your section of Salvation.)
I am really enjoying it! It was nice to read one of my old emails again in your weekly issue! It really encouraged me!
You have said before that you think the Lord led me to your site! Indeed He did and now I really should take time to praise Him for doing so as you have only been a blessing upon blessing for me!
Keeping you and your ministry in my prayers daily my friend!
I think it is part and parcel of the human condition for people to either always be feeling lonely or else be feeling they need "some alone time". While in the USMC, I unexpectedly bumped into my old TBS roommate on board a helicopter carrier one time (during an exercise on and off South Korea). I hadn't seen since graduation. He had gotten married to his fiancée in the meantime (they were only just recently engaged the last time I'd seen him). So I asked him with more than incidental curiosity what married life was like. He said, "The choice is, to be lonely all of the time, or angry all of the time". An exaggeration I'm sure, but it resonated. People who pine for a spouse are often shortly after being married pining for some separation from said spouse. We human beings are impossible to satisfy.
So to the extent that a single person can really walk closely with the Lord, indeed that is so very helpful with the loneliness problem. But because of how He made us, (cf., "It's not good for man to be alone": Gen.2:18), we still are always going to crave human companionship. Given how absolutely enervating a BAD relationship can be, however, it's always best to trust Him to provide a good and blessed one for us rather than going running after one ourselves. Even the best marriages are still wrought with bad times as well as good. We can be sure if the marriage is from Him, it will be a good one – and also that He will get us through to that point, however far off or close to hand it may be.
In terms of other friendships, in my experience, life is too short to waste time on people who don't love the Lord like we do. Unless we're talking about family or tested friendships of longstanding, better to spend our time in the Word of God than to worry about "making friends", in my humble opinion.
Thanks for the kind and encouraging words, my friend!
In Jesus our dear Savior,
The Bible says that women are the weaker vessel. I know many people
today in America react badly to this, but you know how the
culture/system/whatever treated me, so when I was reading the Bible when
younger my mind was that it can burn for all I care. (I mean, I do care
about individual's people's lives but not about their opinions except to
the degree I need to to survive). So I take the Bible as a manual, this
culture that treated like that can get lost. Anyway, when us girls are
dating, we really have to be cognizant of things a lot of guys don't
know anything about, mostly related to our own safety. And if this is
brought up, the response tends to be indignation not help.
All this to say that the Bible is very wise. And I think women, if they are dating, should look for men who treat them like the weaker vessel (not roughly like another man).
So this verse so many people hate will save (metaphorically) women's lives. Hopefully what I said is correct.
As to "weaker vessel", I have discussed this passage at the link in
Peter #35. It has to do not so much with
physical issues but with the fact that, all other things being equal,
women, having been created by God to be responders, are for that reason
more susceptible to being deceived than men are who are not so prone to
respond to and follow others. For this reason, as well as for the others
you mention, women, especially in this day and age, do need to take
extreme care when getting involved with any man on whatever level,
particularly in the early going.
It is certainly true that we are talking about a general principle here. We all no doubt know women who are much more level-headed than many men we also know.
Wishing you a good and a restful weekend as well!
[question about being pressured into dating someone]
Learning to say "no!" can be hard for anyone who is naturally empathetic and kind. This can cause problems even for men who are of that bent but even more so for women – and I think more women tend to be that way.
One shouldn't feel bad about saying "no!" when it is warranted,
moreover, because in my experience and observation the more necessary it
is to say, the more the ones we'll be saying it to are not at all
deserving of our empathy or consideration.
Take care of yourself.
Would it be sinful for an adult and a teenager to be in a relationship?
When you say "adult", I assume you mean then that the teenager is not an
adult. I couldn't recommend that at all. While there is no biblical
admonition that I know of about this, we know that there is no sexual
relationship allowed by scripture except for that of man and wife inside
of marriage. And we also know from the Bible (as well as from
experience) that marriage is problematic.
In the ancient world, it can be argued, people grew up quicker in emotional terms so that getting married in one's late teens was not unusual nor did it doom a marriage even if the marriage partner was somewhat older (actually, a typical situation with women generally marrying earlier than men). In today's US, however, I dare say that emotional adolescence seems to be getting pushed farther and farther back. If a person has been sheltered and had little contact with the "real world", getting married at an early age nowadays is probably the last thing said person needs. Also, depending upon the age we're talking about, there are laws against getting married before a certain age in most states in this country I'm aware of (the particular age varies), and violation of law cannot be condoned by Christians.
If the Tribulation comes soon, then those who have not complicated their lives with marriages and children will probably be better off than those who have (Matt.24:19; Lk.23:29).
I am keeping you in my daily prayers.
[question about finding the right spouse and the challenge of balancing marriage with ministry]
Apologies for the late response: yesterday was "posting day" and I rarely have
time to get to emails.
I wouldn't stress out about it. If you're meant to be married, the Lord will work that out; if not, then He will provide you with plenty to do for the kingdom of God. Either way, you win, as long as you trust in Him.
But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.
1st Corinthians 7:33-35 NIV
I keep you in my prayers daily, my friend.
Hope your health is fully recovered!
[questions about getting married and how to find the right spouse]
Marriage is not easy. It's not for no reason that in this country at
least about half of marriages end in divorce. No one wants that. For a
marriage to work, it takes a great deal of sacrifice from BOTH sides. If
a person is worried about sacrificing more than a prospective partner,
better not to get married – because, since we are all concerned for
ourselves to some degree, it probably will always seem that way to all
people who are married. There's a lot about this in
Peter #35 (at the link).
Also, it's not like buying a car where you can go pick one out – at least it shouldn't be. For a Christian, no marriage is likely to be successful if the Lord is not behind it. He knows who is right for us and who isn't; we tend to look at superficial issues – and of course while He can see the other person's heart, we are a lot less good at reading others, especially if we are emotionally compromised (aka "in love").
So I usually counsel people to stick to their knitting: spiritual growth, progress and production. If we do that, and if we really do need a partner (most people do), then the Lord will help us with that in a way that no one else will be able to – including ourselves.
Keeping you in my prayers daily.
As much as I have wanted it, I think maybe it isn't for me. I have learn how to
let go of the fantasy I built in my head. And I kind of did that to myself over
a period of time.
Because I look at my life as a certain set of limited resources and I want to put them where I think it is best. And that is why I would look at potential spouses that way (would I do more good works and grow spiritually more or would I be sinking resources into nothing?). I know that sounds cold to look at a marriage that way. But I do trust your judgement and wisdom. So that is why maybe it is not for me. I would feel resentful pouring resources into something that isn't producing fruit like I'd want. Because as a single person, either I got my prayers in for the day or I didn't-and it is much easier for that to go right, that kind of thinking.
It's very true: if you're living with someone else, your time is never your own
in the same way as when you live alone. But a lot of people can't handle the
loneliness – even if they also can't stand the togetherness. No perfect solution
this side of New Jerusalem.
I certainly also don't mean to be thought to be making any pronouncements for YOU. Everyone is different and we all have to make our own decisions about these sorts of things. It's a sacrifice to remain single . . . if we are doing it for the Lord (to have time to pray et al.).
Keeping you in my prayers on this issue.
It does take all kinds. No two people are alike, so it's not worth thinking about precisely what a marriage might look like in the abstract . . . beyond what the Bible says it should look like (Eph.5:22-28; Col.3:18-19):
(1) Likewise you wives [should be] subordinating yourselves to your own husbands, so that if any of them are not [at present] obedient to the Word of God, they may be won over without a word from you through the godly conduct of [you], their wives, (2) as they keep observing [that] pure conduct of yours [towards them], [rendered] with respect. (3) In regard to this, let not your outward appearance [be your top priority, adopting an inordinate concern for] orderliness in the styling of your hair, the display of your jewelry and the arrangement of your clothing, (4) but [focus instead] on the inner-person of your heart (i.e., spiritual growth) through the chaste humility of a quiet spirit (i.e., proper spiritual application) - this is of much [more] value in God's eyes. (5) This, after all, is how believing (lit., sanctified or holy) women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves, namely, through subordinating themselves to their own husbands, (6) just as Sarah heeded Abraham, in calling him "lord". You have become her (true) children, if you do what is right [for the right reasons] and not out of any fear of intimidation. (7) Likewise [you] husbands are to live together [with your wives] in accordance with [biblical] knowledge (i.e., according to what the Bible has to say by word and example about how to properly treat one's wife), [behaving] as [one ought] towards persons [who, as women, are] weaker. [You husbands] must bestow [all appropriate] honor [on your wives] as fellow heirs of the grace of [eternal] life, so that your prayers may not be hindered (i.e., sin in this regard compromising prayer).
1st Peter 3:1-7
If two Christians find a way to mesh to the point of having a workable
relationship, that is a victory no matter how the meshing works out.
Yes, the other side is our highest hope. Everything down here turns to dust eventually anyway. I have seen happy marriages in my life . . . that came to an end through the demise of one of the parties. But we can count on the Lord to get us through whatever it is we face in this life. He is our life; dying is gain (Phil.1:21).
(1) Therefore since you have been resurrected [positionally] with Christ, strive for the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (2) Think on the things above, and not the things on the earth. (3) For you are already [positionally] dead [to all that], and your [true] life has been hidden away with Christ in God. (4) When Christ – your [true] life – is revealed [at the 2nd Advent], then you too will be revealed in glory.