Let’s Talk “It’s Better to Marry Than to Burn”

by | May 12, 2020 | Theology of Marriage and Sex | 42 comments

1 Corinthians 7:9 Better to Marry than to Burn

What does 1 Corinthians 7:9–“it is better to marry than to burn with passion”–mean?

I was blown away by the comments last Friday when we were talking about the gatekeeping phenomenon that many women feel, when we think that the boy is the accelerator when it comes to physical contact, and the girl must be the brakes (as one commenter put it so well). That can have repercussions once we’re married, because girls can be so used to that role, and so used to being hyper vigilant, that they have a hard time experiencing what’s actually happening in their bodies.

That’s a big part of what we’re writing in The Great Sex Rescue, which is due in at the publishers on Friday. I’ve been doing basically nothing but eating, sleeping, and writing this book. Rebecca and I spent twelve hours on FaceTime yesterday hammering out the last edits on four chapters (including the gatekeeping one).

Usually I’m ahead on the blog, but I’m just not right now. So I’m writing about things I’m thinking, off the top of my head (like Tiger King!), and I thought I’d comment on some things that were in the comments last week.

One comment thread was talking about how, if you are finding it hard to keep your hands off each other, you should just marry, rather than playing gatekeeper for an extended time. So I thought we could explore what Paul was talking about with that verse.

Here goes!

1. It is better to marry than to burn is talking about huge lifestyle issues, not one particular state of being right now

The issue that Paul is debating in that verse and the one around it is whether or not people should marry. He’s talking about how single people are able to devote themselves 100% to God, as Paul was able to do, and this was a good thing. If you were able to do that, you should.

But then he said, “but if you really can’t, then you should marry.” Some people, you see, are cut out to be single. They don’t have a strong sex drive, or they can channel it somewhere else.

Some people, though, do have strong sex drives, and to try to be single and sold out 100% for God’s work would actually not work very well. They’d spend so much emotional and mental energy trying to get over their strong sexual drive, that they really wouldn’t be able to dedicate themselves totally for God’s work. In those cases, it’s better to marry. Get married, so that the sexual drive is taken care of, and then you can dedicate yourself to God’s work as a married person.

2. That means that the “burning” Paul was thinking about long term sexual frustration, not occasional lust issues

Some people read this passage and think, “If I am sexually frustrated and I am single, I am somehow doing something wrong.” But that wasn’t what Paul was saying. He was contrasting the single life with married life. He wasn’t trying to imply that sexual frustration is morally bad and needs to be fixed, and you should feel badly about it. He was just saying, “hey, if you’re sexually frustrated all the time, the single life probably isn’t for you. It’s okay to aim to get married rather than deciding to stay single.”

So no one should feel guilty if they are single and sexually frustrated. That wasn’t what Paul was talking about.

3. Deciding to marry is still a deliberate act

Here’s where people often read way too much into this passage: So a couple is dating, and the hormones are running wild, and they’re finding it very hard to resist. Well, Paul said it was better to marry than to burn, so I guess that means we should get married!

But Paul is not saying, when you are burning with passion, you should marry. He was saying that if you’re someone with a high sex drive, you should aim to be married rather than aim to be single.

So don’t feel as if you’ve sinned by becoming sexually frustrated with someone, and don’t feel that if you are sexually frustrated with someone you’re dating, you now must marry them.

You still must be wise. None of this instruction means we should marry flippantly.

I was reviewing Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage for our Great Sex Rescue book project, and it scored in the top middle of the pack. It had some things that we found iffy, but many things that were very good. But one of his points that he was making is that we look for mates all wrong. We’ll go into a room, and scan for the people who automatically attract us, and then we’ll talk to them to see if there’s a spark and if we’re interested in them.

But in doing so, we write off 70-80% of the room. And often sexual attraction grows out of a deep friendship. Since it’s friendship that keeps your marriage together, it’s better to find people you are friends with and see if a spark grows (that’s my story with Keith! We were best friends for a year and a half before we started dating).

Keith and Sheila Dating

This picture used to be in Keith’s wallet

So look for friendship, not just attraction. Don’t marry in haste just because there’s attraction or sexual frustration. That’s not what Paul says at all.

Okay, with me so far? Two more things.

4. If you are going to marry, though, marry quickly

If you’ve found that friend with whom you have a spark; if you’re sure you’re going to marry; if you’re heading in that direction and you know this is a wise choice for you–then marry quickly. Long engagements aren’t wise. Sometimes they may be necessary, but in general, shorter engagements are to be preferred.

I think both my girls had about 6-7 month engagements, and that worked well for us. They dated for long enough before that that they knew for certain they were getting married, and at that point, let’s just get it done!

And one last one:

5. Burning is a big reason for marrying. So if you’re not burning, that could be an issue.

Sometimes we focus so much on being “holy” that we forget that you should be physically attracted to the person you marry, and you should find it hard to keep your hands off of them. We want to be pure so badly that we can almost be proud of ourselves for not being physically attracted to the person we’re going to marry, because we’ve so suppressed our sex drive.

But Paul is saying in this passage that if you are able to stay single, then stay single! But if you aren’t, then marry.

He’s expecting that those who marry will burn with passion.

I know that many women don’t have high libidos, or have so suppressed their sex drives that they don’t feel much of anything. But if you honestly don’t, if you aren’t burning at all, that likely is something to look into before the wedding. Read The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex and understand that sex is not shameful. Take our Honeymoon Course that talks about what arousal should be like.

God made sex to be AWESOME!

It’s supposed to be great physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Feel like something’s missing?

Talk to professional, licensed counselors if you have to if you’ve never had any sexual feelings at all. But realize that sex will be, and should be, a big part of your marriage. God never meant for us to turn of our sex drives. So let’s make sure that we do have one before we choose to marry!

What do you think of my five points about “it’s better to marry than to burn?” #5 is the one I’m having the hardest time articulating well. Do you agree with it? Disagree with it? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Sarah O

    I like point number five especially. I think women, especially Christian women, get pigeonholed into marriage and children. There is simply no vision or advice for what a woman should do with her life if she “fails” to marry and have children. So many men write into this blog about sexless marriages and maybe some of that might very well be women who were not built for marriage but either didn’t consider a different life path or were told any other way of life would be selfish or sinful. Many in the strictly complementarian churches are told outright that God will never call them to any form of ministry other than breeding. That being said, if you marry you are now married so there’s no point wasting time wondering “what if” individually.
    Re #3, I also think this is one of those verses we use to try strongarming God into accepting our relationships. Like when people say “we were having sex before marriage and got pregnant so we got married to ‘make it right with God'”. I’m not trying to heap shame on anyone who got pregnant before marriage, I’m just saying that the only way to make any sin right with God is to repent and turn away from the sin, not alter the context of our sin so it somehow squeaks by. You can’t get around repentance. You can’t “unwrong” something. In the same way, I don’t we should use our own flesh temptations to decipher God’s will. A desire to jump someone’s bones is not God’s way of mandating marriage.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So good, Sarah! Completely agree on all points.
      It’s funny, Rebecca and Joanna and I were talking a few days ago about your point about how some people may honestly be asexual, but they aren’t given permission not to marry, and so they do marry anyway. We don’t talk about this enough. We don’t validate that enough. That’s certainly something to think about!

    • Madeline

      I think you’re very right about women (and to an extent men too) being pigeonholed, Sarah O. I didn’t date at all in high school and started to wonder if it was because marriage wasn’t for me. It was around that time that I noticed EVERYONE around me said “when” you get married vs. “if” its God’s plan or “if” its for you. Its such a built-in assumption that everyone is meant to get married, have kids, etc etc.

    • Arwen

      Sarah, this was a really good, good comment. I have thought the same for many years now.

    • libl

      Protestantism is very marriage-centric. What I like about Catholicism is they not only believe very strongly in marriage, but they also believe very strongly in singlehood, too. A single person can enter religious life as a nun or monk or priest, or they can remain single in the world and consecrate themselves to the Lord. There are vocations for everyone in all walks of life.
      Catholics also believe strongly in sexual self-control. Not only is any form of birth control not allowed other than abstinence, but neither is masturbation. Men are expected to control themselves and honor their wives and her natural cycle. Not force her to use artificial means so he can “get some” when he wants it. It is considered a mortal sin to spill your seed outside your wife (nocturnal emissions excluded).
      Some think it is too strict, but look at the laws in the Old Testament.

      • A Believer

        I do not believe birth control is wrong with a married couple. God made sexual relation between a husband and wife for the following reasons:
        1) For Procreation
        2) For Unity (to bring a couple close together, but this unity may not always come before sex, but may come later as a result of sex).
        3) For visual pleasure
        4) For physical pleasure
        5) For relief of physical and emotional stress. To comfort one another
        6) Sacrifice & Submission
        If you are planning your family there is no reason why a woman and man cannot space out their children and decide after three children to stop having offspring.

    • J P

      Interesting take.

      I agree and am grateful for the blog and your response. It set some clarity as I was sent to this post my date. I ignored advice but this gave me better understanding.

      I plan to apply this.

      Thank you all!

  2. Jane Eyre

    Lots of thoughts here.
    I have known people who got married young (college) because they wanted to have sex, and the marriage ultimately failed. This is a bad idea. There are also people, usually women, who think that if you’re having sex, you have to get married (even if he is the wrong person, or they are devastated when he breaks up with them because they thought sex was an implicit promise of eventual marriage).
    We do a great job of making a rather large mess out of the issue.
    Seems like the proper order is to determine if marriage is right while not being too physical, get engaged, get married without drawing it out too much, and then be physical. In other words, you can’t make sex an excuse for doing an end-run around prudence.
    You married young and your daughters married young. That’s great! Much of the problem in our society now (average age of first-time marriage is approaching 30 in many states) is people screw around, literally, and then look for someone to marry. Maybe “better to marry than to burn” could be taken to mean: stop assuming you can’t marry young. If you’re actually mature enough for sex, you’re mature enough to get married (and if you feel ready for sex but not marriage, you’re not ready for sex).
    Some people have noticed that we no longer have premarital sex in our society (e.g., having sex before the wedding day); we have non-marital sex, where people have no intention of marrying their sexual partners. That’s all sorts of messed up.
    Maybe some of what Paul is saying is that you can’t use “but I should be single for (nice-sounding reason)” as an excuse to have sex with no intention of marriage.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Really interesting, Jane! I like this, too: “you can’t make sex an excuse for doing an end-run around prudence.”. yep.
      I do know that my girls and I were all so blessed to meet our husbands when we were young, and that is not everyone’s story, nor should it be. I use it just for illustration that we did try to keep engagements short, which I think is wise. But I really agree with you–get to know each other, be wise, don’t be too physical, get engaged, get married soon. That’s how we should do it, at whatever age!

      • Jane Eyre

        You met your husbands young, but that’s partly because you were ready to see them as husbands and not as flings; likewise, they saw you as wives and not as flings. As in, had you met at the same age but had a different mentality, you might not be married at all, might have married someone else much later, or been married much later to each other.
        I’m not sure how that benefits anyone, really. One of my sisters dated a really great guy in college – kind, smart, good-looking, and now successful (management track at a Fortune 100 company at 24), dated him for a few years, and dumped him because he wanted to be serious after college. She wanted to “enjoy her youth” and “be herself.” She didn’t meet her husband in college because she chose to not do so.
        I am *not* advocating for marrying whomever will have you; that creates misery. But if you’re happy with the person, have completed your degree or are most of the way there, and they are good husband/wife material, consider that you might have met your spouse. Consider that if you break it off for frivolous reasons, you have chosen to have not met your spouse.
        In the modern era, I think that’s the best application for Paul’s words. So many people seem to choose to not have met their spouses.

        • Madeline

          I don’t know Jane, I get what you’re saying; it does feel like a waste of time in some ways to date for so long just to break it off, but at the same time I feel like what’s so wrong with wanting to enjoy your youth without the massive commitment that is marriage? I know that’s not a very popular opinion on this blog (to wait until later adulthood to marry just because you don’t feel like settling down yet). While I married relatively young and have absolutely no regrets about that, I don’t think that’s for everyone. I think about the fact that my husband and I decided to take turns going to grad school (the schools that would work for us are nowhere near each other). I believe that that was the right choice for us and I would 100% rather be married to my love and wait for a while to pursue my academic goals over not being married to him any day. But what if you just don’t love the person you’re dating that much?
          Maybe the answer is that you just shouldn’t date then? I’m not sure.

          • Jane Eyre

            Madeline, the assumption you are making is that one can just pluck a spouse off the flourishing spouse tree whenever one is “ready” to get married.
            In reality, a whole lotta people who think they can spend their 20s having flings spend their 30s wondering where on earth their spouse is.
            You’re also making the assumption that dating around in your 20s is fun. It is not, at least if you’re commitment-minded. Breaking up is not fun.
            Getting married in your late 30s is not easy. Even if pregnancy happens, you’re on a very tight timeline to have kids. The choices are dictated by biology, not what the couple wants.

          • Madeline

            I’d still push back and say that not everyone is commitment minded…should we be telling those people they should hurry up and marry someone they don’t really want to just because they can?
            I’m not even making assumptions about how fun or not fun dating is in your 20’s. I went ahead and got married at 21 so its obviously not something I was personally interested in. I’m saying I think its unfair that we push people into getting married if its not something they’re not really passionate about. That can’t be a good thing in any way.

          • Madeline

            My Dad readily admits that he wasn’t really mature enough to marry yet when he married my Mom at 21. My parents were able to stay married but they had a terrible early marriage and sometimes I wonder if they’ve ever 100% gotten over it. I think my Dad did mature into a much better mate but it took some time. A lot of people don’t want to marry super young because we (my generation) grew up with divorce or unhappy marriages and I honestly think its better to have the cultural expectation that its acceptable to wait a little longer to marry than to expect to marry really young. I think that’s a big reason why my parents jumped in unwisely. Obviously I don’t advise everyone sleep around and have a ton of flings to get it out of their system, that is NOT the kind of singleness I’m condoning.
            Additionally, neither my sister or I were people who envisioned ourselves getting married young or even at all. I didn’t have any flings, I was just happy living single when I met my now husband and we married young because we found each other and built a happy relationship together. My sister isn’t married but she’s only with the second boyfriend she’s ever had and they’re pretty serious. She’s only 20, so again, she did realize she was ready to be more serious with someone that made it feel like it was worth it. I think we need to stop treating people who haven’t found that yet like they’re somehow morally at fault. Sometimes there are people who ravish being immature and don’t ever want to commit because they want to remain children, I’m not denying that those happen. But it feels like there is an assumption on this blog that anyone who enjoys being single and isn’t fervently searching and searching for a mate is that person who doesn’t want to grow up.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I certainly don’t want to give that impression, Madeline, and I think your observations are totally valid.
            I personally find it so odd, like I truly don’t understand not thinking about marriage because I always knew I wanted to be married, and being married and being a mom is so great, so it’s hard for me to understand anything else. I’ll fully admit that’s my bias.
            And I understand being gunshy because of parents (though for me it was the opposite; I wanted to get the marriage I hadn’t grown up with).
            I just think that when people paint themselves into boxes (like “I need to be married by 23” or “I won’t date until I’m 24”) we miss opportunities that God may have for us. The wiser thing is just to ask for God’s guidance.
            I know many on this blog didn’t marry until they were older, and that’s perfectly fine, too. The real question is, “when you married, were you ready?” and “were you seeking God about it?”

        • Jane Eyre

          Madeline, my parents have four divorces among them. I am not clear as to why you think I need the “children of divorce” lecture.
          I was explicit about not marrying young just to get married. My point, which you dodge, obfuscate, and straw-man, is that many people meet someone who could be their spouse but insanely choose to not be together because they are young.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I’ve actually known people like that, Jane–people who are determined not to date in college (I actually wrote a post about it) or not get serious in college. As a Christian, I’ve never understood that, because it seems to me that we should be open to what God brings and shouldn’t decide for ourselves what our future is. We should be seeking His guidance.
            Of course, if you’re truly not ready for marriage, it’s better for everyone if you don’t marry. But then the question is, “why are you not ready for marriage?”
            In boys, of course, brain development doesn’t stop until the early twenties, so marrying at 18 or 19 is really young. But when we’re talking early to mid-twenties, it is kind of strange.

          • Madeline

            Jane, I don’t see how I’m the one dodging and such when you’re the one who told me three assumptions I made and I’m showing you show I make none of those. You act like I’m a terrible arguer because I disagree with you. Two people can make good and logically valid arguments and still disagree.
            The last thing I’ll say to you is this: you describe people as “insanely” not choosing to marry someone that could be their spouse. At the end of the day they are the only people who can choose their spouse, so obviously that person was not spouse material to them. Heaping judgment and calling them insane will result in people marrying before they’re ready.

          • Madeline

            Thank you for clarifying, Sheila. And thank you for your admission of bias. I think its beautiful that you had such a desire for a family at a young age. If you didn’t have such a love for family and marriage you probably wouldn’t have this whole ministry! That passion has really shaped the trajectory of your life. I know you don’t understand people who don’t have such a strong desire for the same things, but I hope that my comments helps you see more from that perspective as well. I still have immense respect for you and what you do.

    • Greg

      Jane, I just want to give another opinion regarding being single. Your only single and young for a short amount of time so why not live it up and that includes non-comittal sex. I did it all when I was single and young then as I got older I married and had two kids. So in a way I got it out of my system.

      • Phil

        Greg. I dont know what to say except I have to say something. First let me say I am glad you are here and I hope you are receiving the message that is being taught around here. That being said offering comments that dont align with the word of God will certainly get some backlash. I for one am no saint and my past serves as an example of that. I am a recovering sex addict – porn was my primary vehicle. That being said I am here today to be a better person and improve my marriage. Thats why I come here. Offering such advice/comments as live it up aka sin is NOT something I would say is welcome here. You are here reading. There is a message for you here. I got news for you. The primary message around here is not sex. First and foremost the message here is that Jesus is our savior. Second marriage is beautiful way to express Gods Love. Sex is God given gift of his way for us to express oneness. The Human race in general has messed up that gift. Sheila and Company are trying to change that. As I say glad You are here. I hope you are getting the message.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Thank you so much, Phil! That’s lovely.

      • Madeline

        Are you the same Greg that said sex with your own wife is not intimate? And refuses to give up porn despite learning that it fuels sex trafficking and damages your own relationship with your spouse?
        I don’t judge anyone who doesn’t identify as a Christian and hence doesn’t feel the need to follow Christian teaching. I can totally respect people coming from a different worldview. I’ve learned a TREMENDOUS amount from people who don’t consider themselves to be religious at all or who practice a different religion than I do. That being said, what I can’t be okay with are people who promote a lifestyle that is clearly harmful. I know this sounds mean (and may even be removed from the comments), but your sex life sounds terrible. You have to look to porn to feel good rather than have any fulfilling experiences with your wife. I don’t want that life and I don’t want that for the next generation either, because it sounds terribly painful and empty. I really hope you’re not in any position of influence over any young men who think that they can model their lives after you and have a fulfilling, healthy relationship with a woman. I really think you should stop offering your opinions as if what you have is working for you and actually open your mind to what you COULD have if you were willing to learn from another view.

    • Kya

      When my husband and I got engaged, my mother did not approve. She wasn’t difficult about it–she just said she thought we were making the wrong decision. I asked her why, and she said A) we were too young and B) we hadn’t been dating long enough. On our wedding day I was 23 and my husband was 25. We had been dating for 3.5 years and engaged for 1 year. (In hindsight that is way too long to date, but it was a situation that couldn’t be helped.) I decided that I disagreed with my mother’s opinion because if 4.5 years isn’t long enough to date someone before marriage, I’m not sure what is! We have been married for 9 years now (and my mom has admitted that she is glad we’re married), but that memory has always stuck with me. When did the default response to a 23-year-old marrying become that she’s too young?

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Great question, Kya! It is really common, though, for people to think it’s odd today to get married in your early 20s.

        • Shy Plewis

          So true! I caused a huge uproar in my small hometown Saskatchewan church because I got engaged at 17, just over a week before graduating. The rumours and speculations of me being pregnant were unreal. (And not true!) The pastor went to the point of confronting my mom about why she was letting me “run off with some boy” at such a young age. I had people saying marrying young would cause me to divorce within the first year.
          On my wedding day I was 18 (barely lol) and my husband was 19. Five years and three kids later, we are still happily married and couldn’t imagine it any other way! Marrying young definitely isn’t for everyone, but in our case it has been a huge blessing.

          • Ina

            Haha! Also an Sk girl married at 18 here with three kids now! We also got quite a bit of judgment (though ours were secular family members thinking we’d been brainwashed and should just live together instead.) I love how my husband and I have grown together in these years. It’s been a huge blessing!

      • Madeline

        Kya, that’s so wild! While its not as extreme as your story, I had a similar experience with my mother-in-law. When my husband and I got married we were both 21 and had dated for 2.5 years. Two years or so into our marriage his mom told me that she was very worried for us to the point of bringing her concerns to her church friends “because you two were just SO young.” I have a cousin who got married at 18 (which I think is probably too young except in very special circumstances) so in my mind 21 wasn’t even young! I was so surprised that she was so worried for that reason, especially after we dated for years!

        • Anon

          The church I grew up in was the opposite. When one of my friends got engaged, the whole church was talking about how lovely it was that she had found someone ‘eventually’ and that marriages between ‘older couples’ who met ‘later in life’ often turned out well. She and her fiance were both under 25 at the time!

  3. Anonymous

    Thanks for point no 5. As someone that grew in a conservative circle, we were thought the “God’s will” approach. I put that in parenthesis because I really think that topic was not properly handled. The teaching included God making marry someone against your will or desires. Thankfully, my immediate family never played down on affection in a relationship. I dated someone for months that I genuinely felt no sort of attraction for but I rationalized that he’s a born again Christian (as he said then). In fact, thoughts of intimacy got me worried while dating him. I remember asking God to work on that aspect of the relationship but the attraction never developed. Fortunately for me, a character inconsistencies led to the end of that relationship. Some years down the line, I met this other guy(in Church too) and it was sparks from day one. I might not have ended up with him, but it was an eye opener. Sexual attraction should not be underplayed. It’s funny how people try to convince single ladies that lowering your standards includes having to marry someone you’re genuinely not sexually attracted to. I don’t think that’s a good message. May sound super spiritual and mature but definitely not right.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Definitely true! It’s a tricky one to navigate, because often sexual attraction grows out of an abiding friendship. But if there’s genuinely nothing there, that’s not fair to your potential spouse, either.

  4. Kya

    I agree 100% with what you said about marrying for friendship! My husband remembers the day we met, but he doesn’t remember meeting me. He remembers meeting my college roommate, whom he was instantly attracted to. He pursued her for several months and got to know me in the meantime, just because I was there. We became best friends, and eventually we were doing everything together. One day a lightbulb went off and he stopped pursuing my roommate and started pursuing me. We celebrated our 9-year anniversary last week! (And I still tease him about having a crush on my roommate first.)

  5. Rosanna

    I have known who my husband was since I was about 13 years old. He was about 20 at the time. I had zero attraction to him. When I was about 18, though, we started to get to know each other and became friends. I started to realize that he was a nice guy. I dated someone else for awhile and our friendship waned a bit (I learned later he had wanted to ask me out but other guy beat him to it) but once I broke up with the other guy, we rekindled our friendship. It wasn’t long until we were dating. We will celebrate our 18th anniversary next month! Anyway, for me being friends with my husband is what started the attraction. And after we started dating, the sparks flew. We didn’t have a long dating relationship or engagement, ( just until a year total) and we made it to our wedding night having saved ourselves for marriage. There are no regrets. Oh and I was 20 turning 21 and he was 28.

  6. B

    I’m mid-30’s and getting divorced currently. Coming out of a non-violent-but-abusive marriage, it’s much too early for me to say whether I burn with passion or not. My libido has been wounded by years of sexual misappropriation (ex-spouse’s porn use, infidelity, fetishes, etc). Between the Bible, Sheila’s blog and books, and carefully-selected other sources, I hope to correct my perspective and heal my hurts.
    I think the thing that will push me to a future marriage more than anything is companionship. I know that can be had with friends, but I expect I will want deeper, cowarrior-level companionship. And I have enjoyed sex and don’t feel nun-ish.
    So do Paul’s words apply to that? Desiring deep companionship with a person of the opposite gender, including sex? Right now, I’m fine without it, but what if that changes as God heals me?

    • Ashley

      B, I’m so, so sorry for what you’ve been through and are still having to work through. Our stories are very similar. I’ve been divorced for 1 year and 9 months now. There is so much healing available to you in Christ. God bless you.

  7. Arwen

    This was great Sheila and agree 100% on ALL points raised. One of the many lessons i love learning from Scripture is that it teaches us to be introspective and examine our heart daily. It would behoove Christians when it comes to marriage to do just that. Ask why do i want to get married? Is it because culture is pressuring me, family is nagging me, because i’m the only single friend left, etc. Like Sarah above touched upon many people do things because others are doing them without shred of though of their own. So when something doesn’t work out they come out cynical and blame the institution for why they are surrounded by broken marriages, rather than blaming the individuals who hastily got married.
    I see this around my apartment complex and neighborhood a LOT. The amount of young people shacking up, some with kids, and no marriage in sight is huge! Again they are doing what everyone around them is doing. Nobody is getting married so they don’t get married. Always following the crowd never standing out. I even get invites to more baby showers than marriages outside of the Christian community. Sad.
    I just love the pictures you post of when you two were young. Every time i go to people’s houses i ask them for their photo album and i just love flipping through them. Because a picture tells a thousand stories, and who doesn’t love a stories.

  8. Ashley

    Welllllll, I’m in the burning category almost 2 years post-divorce. Guess that means I should be praying for a husband, huh?
    I’m glad you talked about making wise decisions. I wish I had learned that earlier. Red flags matter, people!

    • Tanya

      I wish I’d read this when I was 16! I didn’t have this wisdom from anyone. However, on point no. 5, I met my husband online and we had an intellectual and emotional connection before a physical one. And the physical one isn’t very strong (we weren’t ‘burning’) – I have a high sex drive but we average about once a month. However, I would still rather be married to him than anyone else and I do think it was totally right for us to get married. Still a good thing to consider before marriage though. There was no physical attraction on my side in my first marriage (one which had no redeeming features) and I wish I’d had this advice from someone.

  9. Anonymous

    I feel like I’m in a predicament. I’m a young Christian man with Asperger’s and never had a girlfriend. My sex drive is strong and trying to repress my desire for future companionship just makes me feel depressed (even though I already spend most of my time alone and am used to it). 1 Corinthians 7:9 does say if you can’t control your urges, you should marry, but I don’t want to get married. Marriage scares me. I don’t want to be with somebody who will verbally batter me with yelling and tones, boss me around, throw away my stuff without asking, and withhold sex from me. From what I’ve seen, heard, and experienced, that’s how most women are (even Christian women) and I just don’t want to chance it. It’s not worth the risk. I struggle to understand why the God (through Apostle Paul) urges people with strong sex drives to get married if most women don’t even like or want sex. I’d rather never marry at all then end up with such a woman. I don’t even want kids either (they really overwhelm me). I honestly don’t know what to do.

    • E

      Hi. Hopefully you will not give up on love. Many women love sex and I have never said no to my husband in almost 20 years. He says no sometimes. Also there are all types of personalities, so just keep looking for that girl that suits you. I hope you find her. Even if you find the ideal person you have to be open to growing and changing because life happens, but having a special person is so valuable in this life.

      • Taylor

        I’m at my wits end.
        My boyfriend and I have struggled with our physical boundaries for a long time. We’ve been dating for a year and half and started struggling about 6 months into it. We both desire to wait for marriage to have sex, and we have done well with that! However, we’ve done everything short of that. Literally everything….and in turn, we’ve done everything to not do that. Set boundaries, talked to older couples/mentors etc, read books etc. We have been “victorious” many times but when something happens, it just rips us up. I can feel the trust getting ruined in between us…we are plowing through  boundaries, disrespecting one another and not displaying Christ’s love. It’s both of us pushing too….not one of us pressuring more. I think we are both not strong enough to say no and our bodies want it so much (even though we know it’s wrong and going to hurt us after). That’s why we’re struggling.
        I have read all of your articles on this matter so I have a question…would this relationship be one that you would move forward in? We both know that getting married won’t solve the issue, but would it even be wise to stay with one another if we can’t respect the other now in dating? Or how do we start over and continue after living like this for a year? I know our attraction is normal and it’s only increasing as we get closer and are together longer. But why can’t we control the lust in our hearts? I’m just so scared that this will ruin our marriage. Do we stay with each other if this is a struggle?
        Thanks so much!!


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