(1 Cor. 7:9) Did Paul have a low view of marriage?

CLAIM: Paul writes, “It is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Cor. 7:9). This seems to imply that we should just marry as a way of handling our sexual desires. Isn’t this a low view of marriage?

RESPONSE: This passage is not commanding sexually promiscuous people to get married: After all, if we cannot control our sexuality now, what makes us think we will do so later when married? Notice the language: Paul is not commanding a promiscuous person to marry. Instead, he is teaching that we should allow them to marry (“let them marry”), because this would be better than the alternative (“burning with passion”).

Paul isn’t lowering the bar for marriage; he is raising the bar for sexual integrity. He is teaching the principle that sexual integrity is incredibly serious and important for the Christian life. Moreover, Paul’s comments about passion in marriage were common to the Greek world. Blomberg observes, “Greek romantic novels regularly made similar claims in context of celebrating sexual pleasure in marriage, so this would not have sounded to the Corinthians like the grudging concession it often seems to us.”[1]

[1] Craig Blomberg, From Pentecost to Patmos: an Introduction to Acts through Revelation (Nashville, TN: B & H Academic, 2006), 177.