I find 1st Corinthians to be one of the more fascinating books of the bible, simply because it is so... un-ideal.
What do we see addressed in 1st Corinthians?
1. Spatting spouses refusing to sleep with each other.
2. Marriage means problems.
3. Better to marry than to burn with lust.
4. Putting up with spouses that are difficult.
5. Dealing with an unbelieving spouse.
6. We are all called to different vocations.
7. Being a slave stinks. Oh well.
8. Don't want to be unmarried or even married too much.
9. Try to be free from anxiety, so don't mess with your vocations willy-nilly.
10. Yeah, again, it's better to marry than to burn.
Life, and marriage, is not romanticized here. You don't have Paul banging his fist down saying, "These are the purposes for which marriage was given, and you must make yourself conform!" Nope. It's this -- yeah... life is difficult in a sinful world. Stinks, doesn't it?
I think verse 17 is the lynch pin - "Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches."
If you are married -- be married. Take care of your spouse... and yes, I and St. Paul both mean "take care of" your spouse.
Oh, you aren't content to be single cause you are burning with passion - well, drat. Guess you better get married, but be ready for the problems that will bring.
Oh, you're married to an unbeliever? Well, guess what that means. You are married to an unbeliever - you've got to deal with it.
Oh, you're a slave. That stinks - maybe you'll be able to buy your freedom, but you know what you are until then? A slave. Yeah, that stinks, but you've got to deal with it.
It's an interesting approach, and it's one that cuts off so many idealistic dreams we have, so many escapist delusions we suffer from. "If only this.... then my life would be perfect." Ha! Fat chance. You change your vocation, you just add more burdens. We don't do that Pharisaical "korban" junk -- just because you take care of the church doesn't mean you don't have to take care of your parents. Oh, you think getting married will solve all your problems -- nah, you'll just have more, so you better be ready for them.
Life in this world is hard. It's full of junk that we don't enjoy. You aren't going to get out of it -- don't try to escape - deal with what you have to deal, and don't willy-nilly throwing more on to your plate thinking that will make things easier.
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Did St. Paul just say he thinks it's better to not get married? Yes, yes he did. Put that in your "this is the ideal way life should be" pipe and smoke it.