Permission (1 Cor 7:35-38)

If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin.” (1 Corinthians 7:36, ESV)

There is an episode in the TV series “Everybody Loves Raymond,” which ran from 1996 to 2005, where Robert wants to marry his fiancée, Amy. Robert, decides to ask Amy’s parents for permission. After all, it is just a formality. Amy’s parents are very cordial and it seems that things will go well. Yet, her parents very calmly tell Robert one word, “No.” Robert leaves and later goes back to see Amy’s parents with Raymond. He thinks things will go better. But they fail to get a different result. Later, when Amy finds out about it, she lets Robert know that she still wants to marry him.

The tradition of asking the girl’s parents for permission to marry the daughter seems to have died off to some extent today. Most think it is just a formality. Yet, I guess on some occasions, the father of the girl might say no and this for a variety of reasons. He may think that his daughter is too young or perhaps he just does not like the man she would marry. There are likely many reasons. Often it is just difficult for a dad to give away his daughter in marriage.

Paul had been presenting his view on the blessings of being single. Some of the points he made were that life had many struggles and that marriage might add to the burden. He indicated that the single person would find it easier to stay focused on the Lord and His will. He mentioned that the married person’s priorities would be divided be trying to please the Lord and please the spouse at the same time. He said all of this to point out that he made this recommendation so that the believer could experience undivided devotion to the Lord.

You can imagine that after understanding Paul’s recommendations, that a father and mother may have stood in the way of their daughter being married. The parental control over the marriage of a daughter was very strong in biblical days. Pre-arranged marriages, orchestrated by the parents was quite normal. in particular, the father would have a strong hand in determining who might marry his daughter. Thus, in light of Paul’s advocation of singleness for a Christian, there might be resistance in permitting the daughter to marry. In this case, the father might permanently keep the daughter single for the Lord.

In these verses, Paul clarifies this, to let the father know that if the daughter is betrothed, and she has the desire to marry in her heart, that he should permit her to marry. He goes on to reiterate that it is not a sin to marry and it is not a sin to stay single.

Today, we do not seem to have the same control over the situation. However, we as parents do have much to say in molding and shaping our children spiritually so that when they come of age to marry, they will make wise decisions. One of the greatest mistakes I have seen as a pastor when it comes to marriage is when young people in a rush to marry become unequally yoked, that is a believer marries an unbeliever. In this case, the parent should give counsel. The second error I see in marriages is a lack of premarital counselling from a Christian perspective. The last problem is that young people often rush into things too fast, realizing that in God’s eyes to join together in marriage is a commitment for life.

Unfortunately, the parent in our culture will not be able to keep two young adults from doing what they want to do despite the wishes and best counsel given. Remember, if your daughter enters into an ill-advised marriage, she is still your daughter, and you will still love her. But do your best to demonstrate a godly marriage to your children and instruct them regarding good, wholesome, and loving marriages.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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