For a variety of reasons, many people not only in Japan, but in America as well are putting off marriage until their late 20s and into their 30s.
In some ways, that’s probably a good thing. There was no way I was ready for marriage at age 19 or 20 as some of my friends were when they got married. (I must admit, I was a bit surprised and perhaps a bit skeptical at the time, but they remain happily married to this day).
But everyone is different, and what is perfectly fine for some people is not for others. And that’s what Paul points out here in this passage.
Again, one of the main questions some Corinthian couples had here was the issue of whether it was appropriate for them to get married or whether it was better to put it off, in some cases permanently.
And Paul gives us three things that we should think about when we’re considering whether to get married or to put it off.
I think one thing to consider is your attitude toward marriage. Namely, are you going into it totally committed to making it work, or are you going into it already planning an out? In other words, are you thinking, “Well, if things don’t work out, I can always get divorced.” If in the back of your mind you are not committed to marriage and are already leaving the back door open, you shouldn’t get married. Why? Because Jesus said it was to be permanent.
To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. (10-11)
This was the application that Paul drew from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 19:3-12. Even Jesus’ disciples were shocked by it at the time, saying, “If that’s the case, it’s better not to get married.”
And if that’s the attitude you have, don’t get married. Put it off until your attitude changes. And if it never changes, then it’s best for you to never get married.
Another factor to consider is your circumstances. Because of the Corinthians’ “present crisis,” Paul advised them to put it off. He said,
But those who marry [in these less than ideal circumstances] will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this. (28)
Paul was probably talking about the circumstances of persecution of the church, as I mentioned before. But I think we can draw in a larger principle. There are circumstances in which it would probably be best to put off marriage.
One might be finances. If you are not financially prepared for marriage, it will be very tough, and it is in fact the reason for many divorces in society today.
Another reason might be your own emotional baggage that you have to deal with. Perhaps you were abused by your father or by previous boyfriends. That kind of thing can have a huge effect on your relationship with your spouse. And in that kind of situation it is best to put it off until you resolve those issues.
But whatever your situation, Paul gives us another consideration to weigh. Struggling with sexual temptation may seem to be a bad reason to get married, and certainly it’s not the best reason to get married, but it is also a very real issue for many people. And Paul writes,
Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion (8-9)
Paul is saying here, “If you’re feeling intense sexual desire for your boyfriend or girlfriend and you don’t feel that you can control it, then get married, even if the circumstances don’t seem ideal.”
That said, Paul again says if you can at all control your desires for a time, it’s better to put things off until you get your other issues resolved. By getting married too soon can put a strain on you and your marriage. But by God’s grace, if you are committed to your partner with no back doors, he can bring you through whatever marital struggles you go through.
So the really big question you need to ask yourself before getting married is this: Are you willing to commit yourself to your spouse with no back doors?