Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Is it a sin for a widow to marry a non-Christian because of (1 Corinthians 7:39-40)?

The Passage in Question: 
  • A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. But in my opinion she is happier if she remains as she is; and I think that I also have the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 7:39-40).
The Question:
  • The question about widows not marrying Christians usually arises with the phrase “only in the Lord” in verse 39.
  • We do need to consider the context in which this passage falls before we make any application.
What interpretation does this context dictate? What is "Only in the Lord" in reference to?
  • Note (1 Corinthians 7:22) "For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave".
    • Context seems to demand that we interpret the phrase “in the Lord” as “being a Christian”.
  • Now that we have determined what the phrase “in the Lord” is in reference to (marrying a Christian), we must determine if it is a command for today. 
  • Note: (7:26) The context of this passage is “the present distress”. See post here for explanation on the context of this section of Scripture.
    • This passage is still in the context of Practical Inspired Apostolic Advice to Aid the Christian in persevering through persecution. 
    • Paul is advising this church and specifically widows in this passage that it would be unwise to marry a non-Christian in the midst of severe persecution.
    • Being married to a non-Christian would make it difficult to still serve God in these circumstances.
Conclusion: This passage presents good practical advice for Christian widows living in the “present distress” of vs. 22 ("present distress" = severe persecution in the 1st Century). It is not a sin for a widow to marry a non-Christian, although it may not be wise even today.

Post by Cliff Sabroe - Scripture quotes from NASB 95.