Is it Better to Marry Than to Burn with Passion?

In 1 Corinthians 7:9, Paul says, “But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”

A couple of years ago I was talking to a young woman who was facing divorce.  I made a mistake in talking with her.  I had become so focused on “do it God’s way and everything will be fine,” that I was thrown aback when I asked her, “If you had said no to sex before marriage, would you have married at all?”  Most women pause when I ask them this and say, “No. He would not have stuck around long enough to marry.” Usually they immediately see the flaw in what they’ve just said. Yeah… Now there are kids involved and the marriage still failed.

But this time when I asked the question, her response was, “We didn’t have sex before we married.”  I sat there a bit dismayed and unsure how to go forward.  I’d never run across that predicament before.  My next question was, “Did you rush into marriage in order to have sex?”  She thoughtfully said, “Yeah.  Probably.”

So what does Paul mean when he says it is better to marry than to burn with passion?  How many unhappy marriages are there because this scripture was not taken in the correct context?  Paul isn’t saying, “Hurry up and get married because if you keep flirting with the sexual side of your relationship, you’re probably going to sin.”  Remember, he’s urging people to put serving God first and not desire to be married.  That is the point to the whole message.  Put God first!  If you’re rushing into marriage, are you placing God first?  It may feel like it, but perhaps you’re actually circumventing God.  It’s possible that you’re taking His will out of the equation and rushing to the pastor.

Paul is urging everyone to put God first; to serve Him first.  Even when you are married, God should be the head of the union, yes?  If sex was the sole reason for marrying, then God was definitely left out of the equation.  So yes…  there are some (not many) who married as virgins or abstained from sex during the relationship and still wound up totally disappointed and trapped in an unhappy marriage.

The reason I bring this story to you?  I just want to raise awareness that sex may be the icing on the cake of a good marriage, but it’s not the cake.  What if one of you ends up in a wreck and unable to have sex?  What if one of you has a stroke?  Will the other one stick around?  There’s a good chance that if sex was the driving force behind the marriage… the answer may be no.

Food for thought (no pun intended…)  The icing on the cake is anything extra wonderful that God brings to the marriage.  This is why He HAS to be the head of the union.  His will must be sought daily.  And He loves you enough to sacrifice His life for you.  When you honor Him in your decisions, He will use that and what a joy and an honor to be used by the Creator of the Universe, Abba Father!

8 thoughts on “Is it Better to Marry Than to Burn with Passion?

  1. 1 Corinthians 7 also features a section where Paul extols the virtues of singleness, then he has to add this thought: “Hey married, I know that I just said that I prefer singleness, but don’t divorce each other just to live out the higher, holier calling of single living! Stay as you are!”
    Is God really in charge? Or are people playing God by ordering people about, putting them order, teaching and preaching on order more than God?
    Sometimes you can’t fix other people’s relationships.


    • Absolutely God is always in charge… However, He is a gentleman. He doesn’t go where He’s not wanted. He doesn’t impose Himself where He’s been unwelcomed. As more and more of our country turns their back on God, more and more of His children will be standing up and telling others about Him. No relationship can ever be fixed because someone threw God into their face… But I will tell you that I would never, EVER have abstained from sex for almost 12 years if I had not started reading how other Christians came to know His will; by reading their testimonies, by reading their interpretation of events. It’s now my turn to pass on what I have learned.

      In 1 John:1-4, it says, “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.”

      What good would it have done if the blind man never told others what had happened to him? I reach out to others because Jesus Christ reached out to me. If I did anything else, I would be failing. I will always be reaching out to the women who are asking themselves, “Is this all there is? Is this it? This is all there is in this life?” Christ lightened my yoke and I will always reach out to see if someone else needs a word of encouragement. God told me to write. I write.


  2. I was thinking in terms of creation order – is it vital … a matter of salvation – if a wife takes the lead … if a husband submits rather than be the head? What’s so wrong when a wife steps up and a husband steps down?


    • Well, that’s a great question and no, I’m sure it’s not a matter of salvation and every marriage needs to work with its own strengths to make it work. If the marriage is happy and both spouses are happy in their roles, then who’s to say it’s “wrong?”

      I guess it depends on whether it’s a matter of the wife stepping on the husband’s lifeless body in order to lead… well… lol That would have to be between her and God. If it’s a matter of the wife stepping up and filling in where the husband refuses to step up? That’s between him and God.

      I think when God wants the man to lead, He’s not necessarily speaking of working (though in the Bible, it’s assumed that the man was bread-winner). I, personally believe, that the man MUST be the spiritual head of the family. My pastor gave a great analogy:

      You have a baseball team. Every team must have a coach and an assistant coach. The head coach leans on the advice and wisdom of the assistant coach when it comes to the team, if he truly has the best interest of the team at heart. For the most part, the assistant coach has got the run of things, but when there is a difference of opinion on how to best get the most from the team, the head coach must step up and make the call. The assistant coach may not like it, but if they’re smart, they’ll support the head coach. If the decision comes back and fails, the head coach steps up, apologizes, take the blame and they move on. I love that analogy because in God’s design of a good marriage, it’s about team work. Someone must lead and I believe he prefers it to be the man, but if both husband and wife and putting God first, then who can cast stones?

      My prayer for any marriage is that it glorifies God.


      • The fault lies in the narrow definition. It depends upon a husband wife who are perfectly healthy and capable, who both agree to that sort of thinking. What if one spouse doesn’t see it that way? What if a husband lacks leadership or discernment, or would rather be a stay-at-home dad? People are all so unique, we don’t all fit a one-size-fits all mold, neither do our families. Mine isn’t like my cousins’, my aunts’ and uncles’, my siblings’ … why should we all operate as if we’re the exact same when we’re all so very different? What recourse is there for a head coach who abuses his authority and the assistant coach who has nowhere to turn?


      • Good questions, all. Great observations. God’s #1 desire for our lives is to be glorified in them. If a husband lacks leadership and the woman is an over-achieving type of personality and would rather have a man who will stay at home… as I said, who can cast stones. I would just have to wonder if both are truly, truly happy in these roles. Every marriage has its ups and downs but if this is a system that is working, the children are happy and cared for; the husband is confident in his role and the woman isn’t feeling like she is being forced to step up… I would say go for it!

        I was a very independent woman after my divorce. The more I achieved, the less I desired to be married. The closer I got to God, the less I desired to marry (90% of the time). My motto was, “It will take a very strong man to lead this strong woman.” I knew that ultimately I wanted a leader. If I was going to give up the life I had created for myself, then I needed to be able to absolutely count on his ability to lead me. I was divorced for almost 19 years and I’m definitely not saying it all came together smoothly. My husband equated the first year of our marriage as equivalent to taming a wild mare. I’m sure he’s correct. I gradually turned the reigns over to him. I’m personally glad that there were no small kids involved or it would have been an entirely different story. But we are now a team. I work in his business, I make most of the financial decisions, but if there’s a huge decision to be made… I go to him. If I’m struggling with an ethical question and can’t get my answer from the Bible, I can go to him and he’s always right on. But the same is true on the flip side. We’re a team. I’m better in some areas than he is and vice versa. We are well yoked.

        But our biggest desire, the goal that this team strives for, is to honor Christ. It’s a goal we pull towards together and you do what you have to do in order to achieve that. God will never be honored with laziness or lackluster motivation. But if both sides are pulling together in unison towards Him? It doesn’t get any better than that!


      • Why is there this assumption that man = husband = leader and woman = wife = follower? Looking at Huldah and Deborah, both were center-stage and their husbands not so much. So many women in the NT are listed without a specific mention of their husbands – Eodia, Syntche, Nympha, Persis … I wonder why we’re reading 50 a.d. social norms from a patriarchal society onto the “God-ordained pattern” for all humanity the world over.
        It seems to me that there are exceptions to ever rule, some men who just aren’t born leaders, and some women who are.


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