|Small Church in Corinth|
Another pressing issue for Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 is mutuality in marriage, and singleness for other brothers and sisters. What is more fascinating about this is how Paul presents a picture of husband and wife yielding to one another; in a culture that prioritizes the individual over and against the corporate nature of community, Paul’s admonitions are precise and completely at odds with how the evangelical church functions. In Christian circles, marriage is the prime rib of human experience, and singleness is viewed as a problem. Paul’s preference for both men and women to remain single in the Lord shows us two things: first, Paul did not view singleness as separation from a community of believers, but that they would be united to a community and able to serve more fully as a community. Second, Paul wants both men and women, single or married, to be full participants within the community of Christ.
We need to encourage singleness in our churches, and maybe demonstrate this as brothers and sisters who embody the single life for the Christians who cannot be married (whether they be gay or straight). Solidarity with the other is a Christian virtue, and we tarnish it by not participating in the life of all the members of our community. Paul is eminently practical here.