Original Research

Reinterpreting Paul’s perspective of celibacy in 1 Corinthians 7 in light of singlehood amongst Nigerian Christians

Solomon O. Ademiluka
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 42, No 1 | a2147 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v42i1.2147 | © 2021 Solomon O. Ademiluka | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 September 2020 | Published: 16 March 2021

About the author(s)

Solomon O. Ademiluka, Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, School of Humanities, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


In Nigeria, the rate of involuntary singlehood among women has since been on the increase. While marriage at about the age of 30–35 is not considered late for men, most often a lady is expected to be married at 25–27 years of age, and when it is not so, the life of the woman concerned is largely characterised by desperation for marriage. The article attempted a reinterpretation of Paul’s perception of celibacy in 1 Corinthians 7 considering the Nigerian Christians’ attitude to involuntary singlehood. In essence, it sought the possibility of accommodating celibacy as an accepted Christian alternative to marriage. Using the descriptive approach, the author gathered and utilised material relevant for the constraints of singlehood in Nigeria as well as the reinterpretation of celibacy in the Nigerian context. The article employed the exegetical method for the study of 1 Corinthians 7 in relation to marriage and celibacy. The article found that Nigerian single women live their lives in desperation for marriage. The situation of Nigerian singles is compounded by the general negative attitude of the church which considers marriage, as against celibacy, to be the normal course for Christians. The work concluded that Paul’s position in 1 Corinthians 7 gives room for a Christian sexuality which values celibacy as of equal status with marriage. The church in Nigeria should develop a sexual theology that accepts sexuality in this way. In this way, marriage and celibacy become complimentary to each other in the pursuit of the church’s mission.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This research involved the disciplines of the New Testament and Christian Ethics. It reinterpreted Paul’s perspective of celibacy in 1 Corinthians 7 in the Nigerian context. The article postulated that a sexual theology based on this perspective would enable Nigerian Christian singles to see singlehood as a possible calling to serve God.


singlehood; marriage; celibacy; 1 Corinthians 7; sexual theology


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Crossref Citations

1. ‘[A]nd when I came to her I found she was not a virgin’: A contextual re-reading of Deuteronomy 22:13–21 among Nigerian Christians
Solomon O. Ademiluka
Verbum et Ecclesia  vol: 43  issue: 1  year: 2022  
doi: 10.4102/ve.v43i1.2455