Either marriage is obligatory or not, whether you chose to marry or not marry, the greatest error you can commit is unfaithfulness in the state you are called into. And it’s good to know that marriage is God’s remedy for fornication. And marriage, with all its inconveniences, is much better than to burn with impure and lustful desires. Marriage is honourable in all; but it is a duty in those who cannot contain nor conquer those inclinations.
Though it has not been found in the Bible where it’s specifically and clearly said that marriage is obligatory or optional, but we see how the Bible has placed much importance and value on it, with strong emphases from teachings of apostle Paul, the strong disciple of Christ, and Jesus Christ Himself.
This is one of the most controversial questions that have been asked about marriage for long time. But, as it’s so controversial so it has answer. I will like the answer to this question to be from the Scripture because this is basically a Scriptural issue, and the Scripture is the most reliable source of reference to clearly shed light on this.
Obligatory Or Optional?
Though, whether marriage is obligatory or is optional is not what matters most in the life of human beings, but the life they see as most beneficial and profitable to them. What do I mean? I mean you have to choose the kind of life based on the state you see suit you best—You are in the right position to choose the kind of life you want to live and the state or position you want to be in. Therefore, is it obligatory or optional?
It’s not obligatory
Now, to be factual and realistic and to give answer to the question, marriage is not obligatory, but duty (moral duty or responsibility) in those who don’t have ability to control (self control/continence) themselves. it’s not bound upon anybody by any law to marry under duress (force). No law says, even the Bible, “if you don’t marry, you won’t make heaven or you will be punished”, or, in other words, no law says “you must marry by force, and if you don’t do so, you must be punished”. Yes, you can stay unmarried and still be living a good, fine and normal life in the sight of the living God, but, there is a great danger found associated with this kind of state (single state). What’s the danger found with it? It’s clear that those who decide or choose to stay unmarried are greatly exposed to danger of sin of fornication: Those who chose to stay unmarried expose themselves to great danger by attempting to perform what is above their strength. Worst thing can happen to you when you are alone!
Fact: Marriage is highly essential in the life of human beings; it’s a remedy for problem of fornication; and every true Christian will agree with me that if you—especially, as a child of God—want to spiritually succeed as a Christian, you must marry, but if you are giftedly able to control yourself, you may decide to stay unmarried. But, the best state ever so find—on earth—for man to be in is marriage state.
It’s not optional—but a duty
As said earlier, and as an emphasis, marriage is not optional but a duty; that is, it’s your moral right and responsibility to choose to stay married if you don’t have ability to stay unmarried (if you don’t have ability to control yourself or if you can’t conquer your lustful/sinful inclinations)—this is your duty. “Each man and woman should have his or her own husband or wife because of fornication (to avoid fornication)”—this is what apostle Paul said to the Corinthians concerning whether to marry or not.
Warning: Don’t think of staying unmarried at all if you can’t stay controlled (If you don’t have the gift of self-control).
Note: Even if you choose to stay unmarried for the sake of your service (because of your spiritual service) to God, first ask or check yourself to see or know whether you have the ability to stay unmarried successfully. It’s better to know your ability than to be burning with sinful passion/inclinations that can definitely land you in hell. And, one more thing, if your circumstances or state requires you to marry for preventing the lust of uncleanness, then choosing to stay unmarried is completely wrong for you; it’s an error! Why should you choose to stay unmarried and go to hell because of inability to have yourself controlled—because this can land in committing secret sins.
Note again: Therefore, marriage, with all its conveniences, is much better than to burn with impure desires and suffers from secret sins. Marriage is honourable in all; but it’s a duty in those who cannot contain (control) or conquer those sinful inclinations.
Apostle Paul & Jesus’ Teachings
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 7: 1-2, 32-34
“1 Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband and each man his own wife. … for they that are unmarried have opportunity, if they have but a heart, to care more for the things of the Lord, how they may please the Lord” (1 Corinthians. 7:32-34)
Apostle Paul showed casuistry in settling the issue the Corinthians brought before him—in verse 1 of the verses above—regarding marriage. He, at first, made them understand that it’s not good to touch (; that is, to have a wife or sexual intercourse) a woman. Then, he further made it clear to them the basic important reason for marriage—which he showed as basically because of:
- Fornication because of lack of self-control and,
- Spiritual service to God (1 Corinthians 7: 32-34)
And also, Jesus said to, in Mathew 19: 3-12
“…haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
“The disciples said to Him, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry. 11 But He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. 12“For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”
Pharisees and Sadducees, in the above quoted passage, by bringing them back to the beginning of creation and showed them why God has created man male and female, in response to their quarry, which is solely because of marriage. He says you should marry because:
- God created man male and female
And further made it clear, in His parable of the three eunuchs, the only reason for them to stay unmarried, in response to the disciples decision not to marry because of His teachings concerning divorce: He says you may not marry:
- Because of the kingdom of God (your service to God, referring back to what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7: 32-34)
- And if you are able to accept this (if you have the ability to control yourself)
Let me quickly explain the number two point He made to them here: By the word if you are able means if you have the ability to stay single or unmarried (if you have the gift of continence) because not all people can accept this fact because of their inability to put themselves under control.
Now, furthermore, having understood the main reasons for marriage, I will like to make something very clear to you about the teachings of Apostle Paul and Jesus:
Both of them Justified singleness by their words. How? Apostle Paul explained good important reasons for why one can stay unmarried by saying “for they that are unmarried have opportunity, if they have but a heart, to care more for the things of the Lord, how they may please the Lord“. And, Jesus showed this by narrating the parable of the three eunuchs “…and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it“.
By the statement “he who is able to accept this, let him accept it” Christ allowed what the disciples said, “It is good not to marry“; not as an objection against the prohibition of divorce, as they intended it, but as giving them a rule (perhaps no less unpleasing to them), that they who have the gift of continence, and are not under any necessity of marrying, do best if they continue single (Mathew Henry commentary).
Therefore, if you prefer to stay unmarried, this is not a sin or error, but it will be a sin and an error if it’s for any other reasons than the reasons given by the Scripture.
As marriage has been confirmed from the beginning of creations to be a divine special state into which all human beings are called to be, It’s therefore very important for you and I to know and understand that God has reasons for putting us in this divine state—because lt’s a perfect state of comfort, honor, glory and peace for humanity. Seen the incomplete state of man (Adam) in the garden of Eden, in the beginning of creations, God proposed the existence of woman in order to be his perfect companion, and He thus removed lonesomeness out of the way of human beings. Now, having seen clearly the vital reason for which marriage has been established by God between man and woman, there shouldn’t be any argument as to whether to stay married or unmarried. But you may choose the state you feel suit you best—you are not under any obligations to marry, but it’s your moral duty/responsibility to marry if you do not have the gift of self-control.
Finally, the point is:
Marriage is God’s remedy for lust. The fire may be quenched by the means it has appointed. And marriage, with all its inconveniences, is much better than to burn with impure and lustful desires. Marriage is honourable in all; but it is a duty in those who cannot contain nor conquer those inclinations.