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1 Corinthians 7:36-38

The Virgin Daughter

36 But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. 37 Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. 38 So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.


After all the discussion on celibacy and marriage, the Jewish convert who was the father or guardian to a young virgin would probably have had many questions about his own responsibility. It was the duty of the Jewish father to arrange a suitable marriage for his daughter. Sometimes, when the child was just an infant, she was already promised to someone. A woman who had passed the "flower of her age" without being married was treated with a degree of contempt by society, as someone who was not wanted by any man. The marital age was held to be between twelve and twenty years old. Since Paul had written that it was better to remain unmarried and celibate, what was a father to do about his virgin daughter?

"But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin." If a father or guardian felt that he was doing an injustice to his daughter, he should allow her to marry. If he sensed that she was not able to control herself and remain a virgin, he should allow her to marry. It would not be good for him to place his daughter into a situation in which she was tempted to be sexually active outside of marriage. Or, if he sensed that the community in which they lived would place unfair social pressures upon her once she had passed the marital age, he could allow her to marry. "Let him do what he will, he sinneth not." The father should use his best judgment and, whatever his decision would be, it would be acceptable.

"Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, etc." If the father had made up his mind that it was best for his daughter to remain an unmarried virgin and there were no other reasons to the contrary, he would do well to keep her from marrying. This was based on what Paul had taught earlier, that a person could better serve the Lord without the distractions of marriage. But it was also dependent on whether or not the father had "power over his own will." He must take into consideration all of the other factors mentioned above and consider what was best for his daughter. He might have to surrender his own will to her best interests.

Paul was writing to Christians who were very serious about their faith but had many questions. It must have been a great relief for those fathers to hear that they could use their best judgment in raising their daughters. Whether they gave their daughter in marriage or had them remain virgins was entirely up to their discretion. As men who feared the Lord, Paul trusted that they would do what was best, and they had no reason to fear that their decisions would be in anyway sinful. He did, however, say once again that it was better for the daughters to remain as virgins.

Modern society and its cultural demands are so drastically different from those in Corinth that it may be difficult to see how this passage can be applied to us. However, our daughters face social pressures too. They are very different from those of Paul's time, nevertheless they can drastically affect the way in which young ladies can serve the Lord. Teenage girls are sometimes pressured by their peers to lose their virginity before marriage or be mocked and rejected. The marital age is now much older and there is no disgrace for remaining single. The greatest pressure they face is to be sexually immoral.

Fathers have less authority over their children today but the same responsibility to raise them in the knowledge of the Lord. Christian parents must rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If they teach their children the gospel, pray for them, love them and model a life of righteousness, God will do the rest.

Before The Throne:

Pray for our children, male and female. Ask the Lord to help Christian parents to raise their children with love and wisdom. Perhaps you have a young virgin in your family. Pray for her salvation. Pray for her purity. Pray for her protection from the pressures and temptations that she faces each day. Trust the Lord to do His will in her life.

For Further Study:

(v.36)
** the flower. 1Sa 2:33; ** and need. 1Cor 7:9; ** he sinneth. 7:28;

(v.38) ** doeth well. 1Cor 7:2; Heb 13:4; ** doeth better. 1Cor 7:1, 8, 26, 32-34;

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