Which is Better: Marriage or Singleness? - The Warrior's Journey®

Which is Better: Marriage or Singleness?

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

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The Corinthian church’s problem was that, not only were some engaging in immorality. Others had gone to the other extreme. They were frowning on marriage as an unspiritual enterprise and pushed celibacy. These extreme opposite views may have reflected the teachings of the Epicureans (who were hedonistic) and the Stoics (who were ascetic) who dominated philosophic thought in the area. One group believed that pleasure should be the main pursuit in life. The other believed that the body’s appetites should be suppressed by austere living.   

In this chapter Paul defends celibacy as a means of being free to devote one’s self completely to the Lord. For marriage inevitably leads to increased responsibilities and difficulties – many of which can distract us from pure devotion to Christ. 

On the other hand, Paul recognizes the impracticality of trying to be celibate in such an immoral world – which was the case in Corinth.  Besides, marriage is God’s design for the vast majority of humans. Marriage alone has the power to tame the sexual drive God gave us and channel it so that it both bonds the husband and wife more closely and serves God’s purpose of raising new generations of godly men and women.

In the middle of this discussion on the merits of celibacy and married life, Paul makes a profound statement. “But each of has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that” (v.7). Many biblical interpreters see this as Paul declaring that celibacy is one of the spiritual gifts God gives to His people. In other words, God enables some people to be celibate for God’s kingdom. Jesus also mentions that there are some who become celibate for the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:12). But in that same passage Jesus acknowledges, like Paul, that His guidance on marriage may not be applicable to all (Matthew 19:10-11), that God calls each of us to different paths. 

It seems clear from the Bible that God equips us – emotionally, mentally, and spiritually – for either marriage or for celibacy. Those whom God calls to be celibate may have their moments in which they long for intimacy. But that desire is not all-consuming. They value the things of God far too much to be distracted by marital burdens. On the other hand, the person whom God calls to be married and raise children, yearns for that life and only occasionally sighs beneath its burdens. They find tremendous fulfillment in marriage and their lives would be empty without it. And it’s a good thing that most Christian believers are called to marriage. Otherwise, churches would be dying out everywhere. For history has taught us that religious groups which forbid marriage (e.g. the Shakers) are condemned to extinction. 


  • Do you yearn for intimacy, for having children, and raising a family? 
  • What does that suggest about the path God is calling you to follow? 
  • Whatever God calls you to do He will also equip you to do. 

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