It would appear that in 1 Corinthians 7:1-40 Paul talks mainly about marriage, and rightly so. Sometimes it seems that Paul switches in between certain subjects that veer off the topic of Marriage for a few lines, then he picks up again with marriage & interrelated marriage topics. My question is, despite the context, does Paul indicate that God calls people to singleness against their own desires or will to get married in 1 Cor 7:17, & 20??? I’m aware of V.18, V.19, etc How can we interpret this, especially since the Apostle Paul seems to make it clear in earlier verses that someone can desire marriage?

“Nevertheless, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each person, so must he live. I give this sort of direction in all the churches.

Let each one remain in that situation in life in which he was called.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭7:17, 20‬ ‭NET


  • someone can desire marriage - One is allowed, but not forced, to desire marriage: there is a difference.
    – Lucian
    Sep 30, 2021 at 15:06

3 Answers 3


1 Corinthians 7 is divided into 3 sections:

The Marriage Covenant ( 7:1⁠–⁠40 )
a. Principles of Marriage ( 7:1⁠–⁠16 )
b. Live Your Calling ( 7:17⁠–⁠24 )
c. The Unmarried and Widowed ( 7:25⁠–⁠40 )

17 Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. 18Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. 19Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. 20Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

Verses 17 to 20 talk about keeping your current status.

36 If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married.

Does 1 Corinthians 7:17, 20 mean God calls people to singleness against their own desire to marry?

You are free to marry if you desire to. Paul said it again in 1 Timothy 4:

1The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.

  • Thanks for the insight Tony!
    – Cork88
    Sep 29, 2021 at 19:48
  • 1
    Glad to be of service :)
    – user35953
    Sep 29, 2021 at 19:59
  • Good answer +1.
    – Dottard
    Sep 29, 2021 at 20:51

If I recall Paul is not saying go against your own desire on the contrary he says to follow your desire for a mate.

Paul's work did not permit time for a family. If such is your case; your life is dedicated in service to God then remain single as himself.

It's his advice not a command. He didn't say God said.

(There being no modern forms of transport, nor communication at this time made family life very difficult if you were as Paul traveling long distances to establish churches in what was very dangerous times for a Christian in that part of the world)

He continues to say ; if you burn in passion for a mate, it's better to marry than to contain.

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


I recently was on a presentation on marriage and love, in which they stated that those people have the gift of singleness, they don't feel like it, or in other words, they have peace deep inside them, not to marry. Which is given by GOD which also should mean that GOD does not call to singleness. In fact, there are plenty of verses that call not to stay alone.

  • Define gift of singleness? So some have it as a gift from God, but are also not called to singleness? I’m slightly confused.
    – Cork88
    Sep 30, 2021 at 1:51
  • Welcome to the site, Alvin. If you click the 'Tour' link (bottom of this page) you will see what is required for hermeneutic answers. There's a need to back up any claims with sources that show this is not just your opinion you're stating. So, if you could expand your answer with such sources, and also clear up the apparent contradiction Cork88 mentions, your answer will be improved. Can you detail, for instance, what and when that presentation was, and who was speaking?
    – Anne
    Sep 30, 2021 at 11:42
  • Some people stay single because of dysfunction and trauma resulting from memories of their parents' less than ideal marriage. Whether that constitutes a gift from God or not, I don't know.
    – moron
    Oct 2, 2021 at 7:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.