Scripture: But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; 9 but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. 1 Corinthians 7:8-9 (NKJV)

Observation:  Cannot contain. Paul stresses the importance of being continent, but he also recognizes that all men are not like him (see on v. 7). Furthermore, those who have been accustomed to marriage may find it harder to maintain complete continence (see 1 Tim. 5:11, 14).
To burn. Paul advises those who have undue difficulty in keeping their sexual desires under control, to marry rather than be constantly subjected to the excitement of unsatisfied desire. The instruction here is plain and in harmony with the general tenor of the preceding verses, namely, the preservation of purity and the best attitude toward marriage (see vs. 2, 3, 5). Even when all the problems associated with married life during a period of persecution and distress are taken into account (see v. 26), it is better to marry than to be inwardly consumed with the mentally, emotionally, and physically disturbing condition of unsatisfied desire. [The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 6. 1980 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (708). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

Application:  I’ve considered the words of this text often.  At first sight Paul seems to recommend marriage as a way to handle sexual desire.  If you are burning with sexual desire, it seems to dictate, then marry so all your sexual needs will be met.  But I’m not sure that’s what Paul in mind.  Should that be the main reason you marry someone?  So that you can have your sexual desires met?
I think what Paul is advocating is sexual purity.  We find examples of people in the Bible who didn’t simply give in to their sexual needs but who chose to remain sexually pure as a way to honor God.  One of the first and most prominent such examples is Joseph, the son of Jacob.  While a slave, serving in Potiphar’s house, he was repeatedly tempted by his master’s wife to have sexual relations with her.  His response is exemplary and one for which he is well remembered, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9 NKJV).
So Paul is not advocating marriage as a way to avoid sexual temptation or sexual immorality.  Instead, what Paul is advocating is sexual purity among those who are not married, but also for those who are married.  Don’t let lust and passion control your life; rather, let Jesus have control of your passions.

A Prayer You May Say:  Father God, help me to yield my passion to Your control that my love may be directed to you first and most of all.

Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.



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