Day 66…1 Corinthians 7:12-16
I Corinthians 7:12-16: Divorce between a believer & unbeliever
After speaking to the married couples that are believers Paul now turns his attention to those who are married to unbelievers. This is part 2 of the Christian view of divorce from Paul.
v.12-13, Paul starts this verse by saying “now, I will speak to the rest of you, though I do not have a direct command from the Lord.” This is the people in the Corinth church that were married but felt single because their spouses were unbelievers. They might have both been unbelievers when they first got married but shortly after getting married one spouse became a Christian and other remained an unbeliever. The question that came from the Corinthian believers was “should we stay married to an unbeliever or should we divorce.” Paul answers the question but before doing so he let’s the believers at Corinth know it is not from the Lord but his own wise counsel. This doesn’t mean Paul regarded his words had no authority it just means on this matter he can’t quote any of Jesus’ teaching. Paul based his advice on God’s commands about marriage and applied them to the situation the Corinthians were facing. Now Paul answers their question. “If a Christian man has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to continue living with him, he must not leave her” and “if a Christian woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to continue living with her, she must not leave him.” Paul affirms the marriage commitment. God’s ideal for marriage is to stay together–even when one spouse is an unbeliever. To leave would be disobeying God’s command regarding marriage (Mark 10:2-9).
v.14, This verse can be confusing when we hear “the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the Christian husband brings holiness to his marriage.” When we think of holiness (NLT) or sanctification (NIV) we definitely don’t equate it to unbelievers, it usually describes Christians. This verse doesn’t teach that the unbelieving spouse is “saved” because of the believing spouse. Because we know that each person must make a decision for themselves to accept Christ. What this verse means is the believer exerts a spiritual influence in the home that can lead to salvation of the unbelieving spouse. The marriage relationship is holy or sanctified in spite of the fact one spouse is an unbeliever. So there is a moral influence on the unbeliever as the Christian spouse lives a Christ-like life obedient to God. So believers married to unbelievers should not think they will be defiled or unclean by having sex with their unbelieving spouse. “Your children would not be holy, but now they are holy.” Paul calls the children of such a marriage “holy” because of God’s blessing on the family. The children are not unclean or illegitimate just because one of the parents is an unbeliever. “Holy” means dedicated to God by the believing parent. The believing parent is called by God to raise his/her children in faith, hoping some day that their influence will lead the child(ren) to accept salvation for themselves.
v.15, While the believing spouse must not leave the marriage if the unbelieving spouse wants to stay, the opposite may also happen.“But if the husband or wife who isn’t a believer insists on leaving, let them go.” The unbelieving spouse might decide to leave because their spouse has become a Christian, the marriage should then be dissolved and the believing spouse should let the unbeliever leave. When a divorce happens for this reason “the Christian husband or wife is no longer bound to the other” and they are not disobeying God by this divorce. The last part of the verse says “for God has called you to live in peace.” A situation that would be impossible in a home where the unbeliever didn’t want to stay with the believer. It would just lead to frustration, it is better for this marriage to be dissolved.
v.16, Paul finishes this section by going back to keeping a marriage between a believer and unbeliever together for the express reason that the believing spouse could lead the unbelieving spouse to Christ. Paul says “Don’t you wives realize that your husbands might be saved because of you? And don’t you husbands realize that your wives might be saved because of you?” But this is only for those couples who can stay together “in peace.”
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? I think ultimately God wants us to stay with the person we married even if they are an unbeliever and especially if we can live at peace with them. However if they want to leave we should let them go but continue to pray for their salvation.
WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? Again I am just so thankful I am married to a believer and I don’t have to worry about any of these issues.
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