Tuesday, January 22, 2013

In Praise of Godly Singleness

There is difference also between a wife and a virgin.
The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord,
that she may be holy both in body and in spirit:
but she that is married careth for the things of the world,
how she may please her husband.
~ I Corinthians 7:34

The apostle here intends, undoubtedly, to intimate that there were dangers to personal piety in the married life, which would not occur in a state of celibacy; and that the unmarried female would have greater opportunities for devotion and usefulness than if married. And he intimates that the married female would be in danger of losing her zeal and marring her piety, by attention to her husband, and by a constant effort to please him. Some of the ways in which this might be done are the following:

(1) As in the former case 1 Corinthians 7:33, her affections might be transferred from God to the partner of her life.

(2) her time will be occupied by an attention to him [her husband] and to his will; and there would be danger that that attention would be allowed to interfere with her hours of secret retirement and communion with God.

(3) her time will be necessarily broken in upon by the cares of a family, and she should therefore guard with special vigilance, that she may redeem time for secret communion with God.

(4) the time which she before gave to benevolent objects, may now be given to please her husband. Before her marriage she may have been distinguished for zeal, and for active efforts in every plan of doing good; subsequently, she may lay aside this zeal, and withdraw from these plans, and be as little distinguished as others.

(5) her piety may be greatly injured by false notions of what should be done to please her husband. If he is a worldly and fashionable man, she may seek to please him by "gold, and pearls, and costly array." Instead of cultivating the ornament of "a meek and quiet spirit," her main wish may be to decorate her person, and render herself attractive by the adorning of her person rather than of her mind.

(6) if he is opposed to religion, or if he has lax opinions on the subject, or if he is sceptical and worldly, she will be in danger of relaxing in her views in regard to the strictness of Christianity, and of becoming conformed to his. She will insensibly become less strict in regard to Sunday, the Bible, the prayer meeting, the Sunday School, the plans of Christian benevolence, the doctrines of the gospel.

(7) to please him, she will be found in the frivilous circle, perhaps in the assembly room, or even the theater, or amidst companies of gaiety and amusement, and will forget that she is professedly devoted only to God. And,

(8) She is in danger, as the result of all this, of forsaking her old religious friends, the companions of purer, brighter days, the humble and devoted friends of Jesus; and of seeking society among the frivolous, the rich, the proud, the worldly. Her piety thus is injured; she becomes worldly and vain, and less and less like Christ; until heaven, perhaps, in mercy smites her idol, and he dies and leaves her again to the blessedness of single-hearted devotion to God. O! how many a Christian female has thus been injured by an unhappy marriage with a frivolous and worldly man! How often has the church occasion to mourn over piety that is dimmed, benevolence that is quenched, zeal that is extinguished by devotion to a frivolous and worldly husband! How often does humble piety weep over such a scene! How often does the cause of sacred charity sigh! How often is the Redeemer wounded in the house of His friends! And O how often does it become necessary for God to interpose, and to remove by death the object of the affection of His wandering child, and to clothe her in the habiliments of mourning, and to bathe her cheeks in tears, that "by the sadness of the countenance her heart may be made better." Who can tell how many a widow is made such from this cause; who can tell how much religion is injured by thus stealing away the affections from God?

~ Albert Barnes

And this I speak for your own profit;
not that I may cast a snare upon you,
but for that which is comely,
and that ye may attend upon the Lord
without distraction.~ I Corinthians 7:35

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