Question:

I have heard it expressed before by a past preacher in a church of Christ that he did not consider single women to be mature in Christ.  The implication being that all women must marry if they are to obtain maturity spiritually.  This perplexes me and I find myself coming back to his statement again and again.  It seems to be in conflict with I Corinthians 7:34, that an "unmarried woman" (woman, not child, or girl) cares for the things of the Lord rather than a husband, and it appears to conflict with the teachings that all Christians continue to mature in faith if they remain in the Word throughout their lives. 

Paul uses the word "virgin" in I Corinthians 7:34.  How then should a woman who is not a virgin in the physical sense, though never married, having been called out of the worldly life she was once leading and having given up the sexual immorality, consider herself?  I firmly understand and believe that Christians are "new creatures in Christ," and that the old sins are washed away when baptized for the remission of sins.  Do we not then become virgins again in a spiritual sense, though not having that physical virginity restored?  Is a woman in such a case wrong to choose not to seek a spouse but to remain just as she is?  Can she truly mature in Christ without becoming a wife?  I believe the scriptures teach that she can.  I can find no supporting scripture that says an unmarried woman cannot mature in faith and that a married woman, by virtue of her marriage, obtains some greater level of maturity. 

Your insights would be welcome.  Thank you.


Answer:

If it were true for a woman that only in marriage can she become spiritually mature, then it would also be true for men. This would mean that this man was unintentionally claiming Paul and Jesus were not spiritually mature.

Paul stated, "But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am" (I Corinthians 7:8). Yet, if a person cannot mature without marriage, then it would not be good for them to remain single.

Marriage isn't for everyone. Seeking change because others are pressuring you to change isn't the right motivation. "But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches. ... Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you" (I Corinthians 7:17, 27-28). Marriage is one of those areas where God has given us choice as to whether we participate or not.

I wouldn't let this man's opinions bother you.

Thank you for your words and the scripture references. I did not think it a correct position with respect to the Bible's teachings. I'm not sure why it kept coming back to mind, but I needed some clarification.