8 “But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; 9but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
Paul speaks to four groups of people: (1) widows, (2) unmarried, (3) married to believers, (4) married to unbelievers. In verses eight and nine, he speaks directly to single people.
But I say to the unmarried and to the widows:
The unmarried and widows are two categories of single people. The “unmarried” may consist of some who were previously married but divorced.
It is good for them if they remain even as I am;
Paul’s advice to the unmarried and widows is that it good for them to remain unmarried. Paul was married, but his preference was for his readers to remain single.
but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry.
A principle for single people is that if they cannot maintain sexual self-control, then they should marry. The “if” in the Greek assumes that it is true that some cannot exercise self-control in areas of sexual passion.
For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
If a person cannot sustain self-control in sex, then it is better to marry. Continual burning with sexual desire without fulfillment for some people is not a good thing.
As a general principle, it is better to remain in the status quo except for burning passion.
Some people have the urge to play cupid, but that is a mistake because it may be the will of God for some people to remain single. Marriage is not God’s will for everyone, so it is not necessarily superior to singleness. Marriage is God’s norm as a divine institution, but there are exceptions to that norm. There is something worse than being single and lonely, and that is being married and in slavery. It is better to remain single than marry the wrong person. Marriage is no panacea.
Domination by sexual passion may require marriage to fulfill sexual passion.