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We have the similar question: Is celibacy a gift according to 1 Corinthians 7:7?

I’m not asking if Celibacy is a gift, but my question is: Q: Does 1 Corinthians 7:7 mean God predestines some to be gifted with singleness & others with marriage against their will?

“Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. For I wish that all men were even as I myself.

But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.” ‭‭I Corinthians‬ ‭7:2, 7‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Of course, we want to consider 1 Corinthians 7:1-40, but 1 Corinthians 7:7 makes it seem like God distributes marriage to whom He wills, any interpretative thoughts?

What if God doesn’t give one type of gift to one believer(marriage) and gives the other type of gift(singleness) to another believer?

If 1 Corinthians 7:7 can be interpreted this way then it would seem to imply a “predestination of who gets to be married via God’s sovereign gifting”.

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  • Low quality question. Everything is predestined by God, without violating free will. God doesn't predestined only some things.
    – Michael16
    Commented Sep 6, 2022 at 3:01
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    @Michael16 Low quality comment, consider an answer if you think there is something to say on this matter.
    – Cork88
    Commented Sep 6, 2022 at 3:12
  • Answer is not possible for such ques based on systematic theology issues. It should be closed. There maybe many other questions asking the sake about what is and what not predestined. Both Calvin's and arminian ques should be closed.
    – Michael16
    Commented Sep 6, 2022 at 3:14
  • @Michael16 I don’t agree for the reason that this is a question about the interpretation of a particular text. Especially given the context of 1 Cor 7:1-40 has the options for people desiring marriage and what is good for people in light of choices. So the question is actually a good one, you are probably inflating in your thoughts with an ambiguous angle to it. This doesn’t pertain to dead end, per the question. What does 1 Corinthians 7:7 mean? That can be asked. Your comments don’t make sense.
    – Cork88
    Commented Sep 6, 2022 at 3:24

4 Answers 4

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+100

1 Corinthians 7:7

"I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another". ESV

"All". Paul is addressing the church as in 1 Cor 1:2. "to the church of God..". All of the church; every member is included.

"I wish". Paul expresses a personal wish but submits it to a higher authority. Every member of the church has a gift from God. Nobody is exempt.

Conclusion: Within the context, which is of marriage and singleness, whatever a member of the church has , has come from God.

To me this verse is very simple and clear. The problems arise not from the verse itself but from the church not having yet attained to the "unity of faith" Ephesians 4:13.

Christians who believe all human actions are derived from "free will" will read it one way; Christians who believe that all their actions are an outworking of God's sovereignty will read it another way and those Christians who believe that both of these are ultimately compatible will read it another way.

In your question you use the phrase "against their will".

Jeremiah 29:13

"You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart".

If God predestines/gives someone to marry or not marry and that goes against what they were hoping for, then, if they follow God's leading and obey against their feelings, there is a sense in which what God has for them is not against their will if it is their will to seek God with all their heart. It is only against their feelings.

Romans 8:28

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."

If God does lead someone into something that they were not expecting to make them happy and fulfilled, then, because He loves them they will at some point, one might expect, be shown why what He gave was good for them. And their feelings, in time, come into line with that.

In looking at any Bible verse there are two things interacting 1. God's Word and 2. Us.

I suggest that 1 Corinthians 7:7 is very simple. I suggest that if it appears complicated we may not have examined ourselves and realised that our lack of clear thinking and the state of our faith may have resulted in our having undefined presuppositions regarding "freewill" and predestination.

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First, I completely agree that celibacy is a spiritual gift given to some, 1 Cor 7:7, but (like all spiritual gifts) not all.

Note the surrounding material in this chapter of 1 Cor 7:

V8, 9 - Now to the unmarried and widows I say this: It is good for them to remain unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

V17 - Regardless, each one should lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is what I prescribe in all the churches.

I also note that I have observed many, who, having been contentedly married for some time, become widowed and live equally contented lives of singleness until death giving wonderful service and ministry in the church.

Equally, I have also observed many who, while single for many years (some well into middle age) get married and serve the church in ministry just as effectively.

That is, God's calling is not necessarily static and unchanging - sometimes God calls people to do something different and begin a new work, as with marriage or singleness.

The relationship between God's sovereignty and human will has a HUGE literature and this site will not resolve the question here. Suffice to say that I have observed many who serve God faithfully and loose their faith and cease serving God - that is their choice. Not everyone does the will of God and so God's sovereignty is not absolute (Matt 7:21, 21:28-32); if it were, we would be automatons.

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The call to an unmarried life should not be viewed as predestined by God, but offered by him as an option. God will not condemn a the person for choosing marriage. This attitude is echoed in Jesus' own statements about marriage and celibacy.

For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it. (Matthew 19:12)

Here, it is the person who makes himself a "eunuch." There is no implication that God decrees it as a sovereign, or predestines it. It is an offering made freely by the believer.

We also need to consider the fact that in his earlier letters, Paul expected the imminent return of Christ, so that he speaks of himself among those who are "left" (on earth) when Christ returns (1 Thess. 4). Thus, he encouraged believers to focus urgently on spreading the Gospel, and he wants as many as possible to remain as he is, unmarried. But in 1 Timothy 3:2 we read:

Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher...

Thus, by the time 1 Timothy was written [either by Paul or one of his followers as critical scholars hold] even bishops could or possibly should be married. One would think that if God predestined anyone to celibacy it would be those who occupied the church's highest office. So, accepting "the life that the Lord has assigned to him" does not seem to refer to celibacy.

These points lead me to believe that 1 Cor. 7:7 should not be interpreted as a decree by God that he predestines those who choose either marriage or celibacy.

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God's gift depends not only on God, but also on our efforts, how we cultivate this gift, talent - plunder it or increase it, and if second, then to what extent we increase it, for there are degrees there. Now, in usual circumstances it is impossible for man to be happy without love of a woman, and vice versa (to pay this permissible tribute to political correctness madness) and this is a great mystery of two lives becoming one life through love (for without love mystery is not a mystery but some hellish thing that is abominable even to mention). However, if man or woman develops and increases grace given to him/her to the highest and angelic levels, then such humans can be happy even without loveful sexual life with a life-long partner - wife or husband, because angels do not marry not out of compulsion, but they already have no need of it. Thus, there are angelic-state humans who become voluntary eunuchs and voluntary celibates. For such it will be a torment to force them even a loveful sexual life. But both celibacy and married life should happen in total freedom and unrestrainedness, with a full thankfulness to God. This is a sine qua non.

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