Our pastor read this verse during a sermon: “It’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am” (1 Corinthians 7:8). Quite happily wed himself, he followed the reading by saying, “Marriage complicates things.” Seconds later, a masculine voice emitted a long exaggerated “Aaaaamen.” The congregation broke into laughter.

In some cases, marriage can make life more complicated. Paul pointed out that people who are married need to think about their “earthly responsibilities” and how to please their spouses (1 Corinthians 7:33-34). A married person needs to consider his or her spouse in things such as spending money, making meals, or organizing a home environment.

As an alternative to marriage, Paul suggested that unmarried people could choose to remain single. This would protect a person from becoming overly focused on things other than ministering for Christ. Specifically, Paul said, “I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking about how to please him” (1 Corinthians 7:32).

While there are advantages to being single, there are also merits to being married. Married couples have an outlet for their physical passion (1 Corinthians 7:9). In addition, a healthy marriage provides for the foundation of a family in which both parents can nurture and lovingly equip their children to grow physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Marriages are happiest when they mirror the mutual benefits and consistent faithfulness reflected in the relationship between Jesus and the church. Symbolically, believers are the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-26). In this role, we receive the promise of Jesus’ never-ending protection, provision, and love.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Jeremiah 38:1-13