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What Does the Bible Say About … 1 COR. 7:36?

What does the bible mean in 1 Cor. 7:36 “If anyone thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting along in years and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married.”

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God’s plan for marriage was that it be a permanent union between one man and one woman – a union broken only by death. Divorce was something God hated (Gen. 2:24, Mal. 2:16, Matt. 19:3-6, Roman 7:2-4). From earliest times, however, mankind on the whole rejected God, and polygamy and divorce became common practices (Gen. 6:1-8; Rom 1:20-27).

Examples from Bible times:

Among the Israelites of Moses’ time, marriage disorders had become so widespread that Moses set out special laws designed to deal with the problem. In particular he wanted to stop easy divorce and protect women from unjust treatment.

For instance, if a man tried to find an excuse for divorcing his wife by accusing her (falsely) of sexual immorality before marriage, he was fined for his cruel accusation and prevented from divorcing her (Deut 22:13-19). He could divorce her only if there was a valid reason, and only if he gave her divorce documents that protected her rights should she want to marry someone else. He could not take her back if he later changed his mind, and she could not go back to him if her second marriage came to an end (Deut. 24:1-4.

Moses’ decision to permit divorce in certain circumstances was not because he approved of divorce. Rather he was trying to reduce divorce and restore some moral order to society. When Jews of later times quoted Moses law as approval for divorce, Jesus referred them back to God’s original standard. According to that standard, to divorce and remarry was adultery (Mark 10:2-12); Luke 16:18; 1 Cor. 7: 10-11). The only exception that Jesus allowed was the case where a person’s adultery was already destroying the marriage (Matt. 5:31-32; 19:3-9;

A Universal problem

In any society where there is a widespread break down of marriage, the result will be an increasing number of social and family problems. The Creator knows what is best for his creatures, and where people reject the plan he has laid down, they will have troubles (cf Deut. 10:13).

There is often no clear-cut solution to the complications that develop because of divorce and remarriage. In some cases, no matter what is done some ideal will be broken. Moses accepted less than the best because of the people’s hardness of heart’, which suggests that the right course of action may sometimes mean choosing the lesser of two evils (Matt. 19:8).


Repentant sinners can receive God’s merciful forgiveness for divorce and adultery as they can for others sins (2 Sam 12:13, Ps 51:1-19, 145:14, Isa 43:45. Whatever people might have been guilty of previously, when God forgives them the church must also forgive them.

Christians must, like Jesus, uphold God’s standards when others want to destroy them (Matt 19:3-9), they must also, like Jesus, give help to those who, having broken God’s law, are later repentant (Luke 7:36-50, John 8:1-11, cf. Hosea 14:4).

Couples must also learn to forgive themselves instead of allow the devil to break their homes. The devil is a thief who has come to steal, to kill and to destroy; Jesus has come to give your home abundant life (John 10:10)!


It is important that communication must be encouraged to be free. When there is communication break down, this is the beginning of problems. The devil finds a place in the home to cause divorce. Let the husband and wife, where possible live together and bring up their children in the fear of God.


For those expecting the blessing of the womb, this should not cause divorce. Let us learn from the lives of the following who waited on God and the Lord eventually answered them:

Sarah Rachael Hannah

If God can visit all of the above, the expectant mothers’ case would not be different.

Long expectation of the blessing of the womb sometimes may cause divorce. This should not be so. Trust must be on the Lord from whom all blessings flow!

For more counseling, questions and comments, please e-mail me or visit our web site where I have answered questions of the week that relate to marriage.

Jesus is Lord over your Home!

Rev Debo Adeyemo


1Corinthians 7:36-AV But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of [her] age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.

To understand this verse one needs an understanding of the customs of the times. It was considered ‘uncomely’ for a father to retain his daughter in a single state after she reached the age of ‘the flower of her age’, which by the Jews, was considered to be twelve and a half years old. If the need so required, that is if it seemed unlikely that the girl would be able to contain herself, or if she was of a mind to marry, then the father could let her marry. There was no sin in it.

This is very similar to another verse;

1Corinthians 7:9-AV But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

This statement was made in the context of marriage, where Paul was saying it was good to remain celibate to have more time to serve God in a ministry capacity, as he did, but nevertheless, if a person could not contain, they should marry. It is better to marry than to burn (with lust).

The whole sense of the verse in question is that when a virgin has reached a ‘ripe’ age, she should be permitted to marry. It was better for a young couple to marry than to fornicate. There was no sin in marriage. In our own society we would never think to let a twelve and a half year old girl marry. (Should such even be permitted by our civil laws) Rather we would encourage them to wait until they were grown up.

The principle for the modern Christian family would be to teach their children to contain themselves. But if it became evident that containment was not going to happen because of the power of the hormones, then young marriages should be permitted, to prevent sin.

Thought provoking isn’t it? Go in peace….

Lance Wearmouth

If any one thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry — it is no sin. But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. So that he who marries his betrothed does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better. {1 Cor 7:36-38 RSV} Paul makes it very clear that there is no moral wrong in marrying, even though it comes later on in life. Yet there is to be no sexual license on the part of those who remain single. How clearly this answers some of the implications of much literature that is being widely distributed today. Single people are to keep their passions under control, if not, then let them marry. “It is better to marry,” Paul says earlier, “than to burn with passion,” {1 Cor 7:9 NIV}. Bailey

Gertrude E NSSC

Yes, they should get married so they won’t burn with lust.

If he is causing her shame, reproach or disgrace then he should do the proper thing so that she will (as we say ) as some say “save face” and do what is right.

John Bailey


It sounds to me that both people involved should do what their heart tells them to do.


To marry for lust only, is not usually a good thing, and that is what is meant in the verse 1 Cor 7:36, the guy is horney and wants to marry to have sex so that he is not sinning when he has sex, and to be married, even if it is just to have sex is not a sin.


In the world of today with so many ramifications from sexual contact I feel that anyone having pre marital sex is playing with fire. Just because you are engaged doesn’t mean that you’re getting married as it’s a period time of trial. I feel this is not freedom for couples that are officially engaged to be sexually active.

So if an engaged couple have a ‘slip up’ and split, what does this then mean? So I feel it’s best to leave this for marriage and facing the minister at the alter with total clear consciences – makes it a much more memorable day.

I don’t think he is sinning if he is single and she is. If he wants to get married and she does, there isn’t any sin in this because of age.

God Bless,