Let’s start out by reading verses 1-2: “Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (NKJV). The saints at Corinth had written to the apostle Paul with questions about marriage and in this chapter he answers no less than seven of them. Paul himself was not married and throughout this chapter he encourages believers to remain single. Verse 8 highlights this truth: “But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain as I am.” Later, in verse 35, he states the main reason for this: “And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and THAT YOU MAY SERVE THE LORD WITHOUT DISTRACTION.” He knew that the unmarried state gave one more time and freedom to serve the Lord. But Paul also realized that fornication abounded in Corinth and thus there would be a temptation to fall into “sexual immorality.” Because of this he encourages those who may be tempted to seek a wife or husband.

He goes on in verses 3-5 to instruct those that are married by telling them that they should give themselves to one another, for their bodies are not their own any longer. He states this quite bluntly in verse 5, “Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you give yourselves to fasting and prayer.” But He is quick to say, “and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” Paul was not only aware of the sexual immorality that abounded in Corinth; he also knew that within our human nature there are sexual urges that are legitimately met in the marriage union.

In verse 7 Paul says, “For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God.” Again, Paul desired those in Corinth who were single to remain single, but he also knew that God’s grace alone could keep one from being tempted in the single state. He elaborates on this in verses 8-9, “But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” Paul was a very practical man and in these words he is giving his judgment in the matter: if one lacks sexual control (because God hasn’t given them the “gift of celibacy”), then he/she should marry.

So, to answer your question, yes, “marriage is the right way to escape lust.” But this doesn’t mean one should marry anyone simply to avoid sexual immorality. There are many scriptural principles that guide one as to marriage, including marrying one who is saved and who desires to serve the Lord (see 2nd Corinthians 6:14 and 1st Corinthians 7:39). The marriage should also be based on true love for one another, and not just a physical attraction and fulfilling sexual desires (see Ephesians 5:25 and Titus 2:4). (272.5) (DO)