Monday, 21 July 2014
But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. 1 Corinthians 7:15
Jesus had said that the only reason for divorce is adultery. When saying this, He was speaking to the covenant people, Israel, and at a time which was under the law. Paul, now writing to the church for church-age doctrine, has been careful to repeat Jesus’ words and note that they are, in fact, His words. After citing that, he said in verse 12, “But to the rest I, not the Lord, say…”
He then went on to say that a believer cannot leave a non-believing spouse and he gave a very important reason for it. Verse 15 is still a part of Paul’s personal directions and it may seem, at first, contrary to Jesus’ words, but it is not. He is being carried by the Spirit and his words have become a part of God’s word.
“But” begins this verse and it is in contrast to the two previous verses. “If the unbeliever departs, let him depart.” This goes in either direction, whether the unbeliever is a man or a woman, but he uses the masculine for both as will be seen in a moment. Either way, if an unbeliever wants to be out of the marriage, then the believer may let them go. In fact, they probably don’t have any choice in the matter in most countries and cultures anyway. If they want to go and can go, then there is nothing which mandates that they must stay.
Paul then explains this position by saying that “a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases.” We, as believers, have been brought out from the bondage of sin to a new master. To be in a different form of bondage wouldn’t suit our new position and calling, and it could only be detrimental to our walk with the Lord. Therefore, to release the unbeliever is acceptable when they wish to go. And the reason is that “God has called us to peace.”
We are His and we are to live in peace under His authority. If our allegiances are skewed because of a marriage fraught with conflict and trial, then we are not living in the peace which He intends for us. And so in this verse we have the only other reason which is biblically acceptable for dissolving a marriage. Understanding this then, we need to think rationally and carefully about our marriage choices and do our utmost to adhere to the commands of the Bible.
Life application: Let us stand firm on the Bible, even through those issues which may be difficult or even displeasing. We have been called to obey the prescriptive statements made there and it is unwise and inappropriate to pick and choose which ones we will adhere to.
Heavenly Father, again I look at Your word and I see commands which are hard for me to accept at given times of my life. But if I am honestly concerned about pleasing You, I will accept them as written and in the context in which they are given. Those which apply to me directly will be those things which I will determine to do, even if they are hard to meet or unpleasant to me. Your will O God, not mine! Amen.