Friday, May 3, 2024

Advice to Widows (1 Corinthians 7:39-40)

"… if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord" (1 Cor. 7:39).

The Bible teaches that marriage is a contract for life between one man and one woman, indissoluble by either party or by any human authority. However, the death of either party leaves the survivor free to contract another marriage. Because this is the mandate of the Lord concerning marriage, no civil or ecclesiastical body can rightfully establish a different rule. Any attempts to promote anything contrary to biblical teaching will have devastating effects on society, as we see in the increased divorce rate in our own country. Paul teaches that a woman is bound to her husband, and he to her, until death.

Evidently there were groups in the Jewish and Greek society of the early church that were teaching that a widowed woman cannot be remarried because she is still bound to her dead husband. Paul argues against this and pronounces that the widow has the freedom to marry whom she will as long as it is “in the Lord” i.e., a Christian. The admonishment for women, and it can be extended to men as well, to take seriously whom they should marry applies to every situation in life. Whether you be a young virgin, a woman who has been deserted by an unbelieving spouse, or a widow, if you choose to remarry, it must be done according to biblical principles. It would be tempting in such a case to marry the first person who shows you love and attention, but this is not an appropriate basis for marriage. It would also be tempting, if you have children, to look for a husband who would be a good father to your children even though you might not love him. While you certainly want to marry someone who will be a good father to your children, you must not forsake the foundations of love and spiritual intimacy that are necessary between the husband and wife. If a man can provide for a family but not love his wife, the effects of that cool relationship will eventually be felt by the children. And, of course, as Paul emphasizes here, it is unthinkable that even a widow should consider marrying someone who is not a Christian.

Once again, Paul concludes with his divinely inspired advice that considering the difficulty of the times, it would be better for a widow to remain unmarried if that is the desire of her heart.

Read Acts 6:1–4, James 1:26–27. What is the church’s responsibility in caring for widows? Invite a widower, widow, or divorced man or woman to dinner sometime soon. Show them that they are truly a part of the church body. Pray for the widows, widowers, and divorced people in your church that they might be strong in the Lord.