Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Giving Away Daughters (1 Corinthians 7:32-38)

"So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better" (1 Cor. 7:38).

In these verses, Paul continues his instruction on how the married have more concern for the things of this world than the unmarried; this being the case and because of impending troubles, it is better to remain unmarried. Paul extends this instruction to the fathers in verses 36–38. It is important to note that male headship over daughters is respected by the apostle, as it should be in every age. It was assumed that the father remained the head of the daughter until she was given away in marriage. She did not run around “dating” whom she wanted, but she sought marriage under the supervision of her father. This being the natural state of relations, Paul addresses the head of the family on the matter of unmarried daughters.

In the Jewish and Greek culture, if a woman remained unmarried past a certain age, she was considered odd or looked upon with suspicion. It was assumed that all young women were to be married, and if they were not, there must be something wrong with them. Paul speaks out against this. Evidently there were fathers who thought they should press their daughters into marriage. But Paul tells them that if their daughters are of age, but have no interest in getting married, then it is right that they remain unmarried. There is nothing shameful in this situation. However, if their daughters who are of age express a desire to get married and the situation presents itself, then they ought to marry. But a father should not be pressured to marry off his daughter just because of social influence. If he has determined in his own heart and mind, and if the situation requires it, i.e. she has no desire to be married, then it is certainly good for the daughter to remain single. It is better for the daughter to remain unmarried than to be pressured into an undesired marriage.

For our purposes today, it would do every family well to take note of the authority and headship of the father over his daughter. She must seek his approval and guidance in marriage. Nowhere is the daughter given license to act on her own accord in a matter as serious as marriage. She is under her father’s authority until she is given away by her parents to her husband.

How is this male headship of fathers and even brothers denied in today’s society? What practices today go against Scripture’s teaching that daughter’s are to be given away under the authority of their fathers? What changes need to be made For our church families to act more biblically in this matter?