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(4) Another view is that porneia refers to a relentless, persistent, unrepentant lifestyle of sexual unfaithfulness (different from a one-time act of illicit relations). (In the NT porneia is broader than moicheia). Such a continued practice would thus be the basis for divorce, since such unfaithful and unrelenting conduct would have broken the marriage bond. (On the subject of divorce and remarriage, see comments on 1 Cor. 7:10-16.)

Whatever view one takes on the exception clause, Jesus obviously affirmed the permanence of marriage. Those who heard His words understood Him in this way, for they reasoned that if there were no grounds for divorce one would be better off never to marry. But this was not what Jesus intended, for God has given marriage to people for their betterment (Genesis 2:18). Marriage should be a deterrent to lustful sin and to unfaithfulness (1 Corinthians 7:2). But a few either do not have normal sexual desires (they were born eunuchs or were castrated), or are able to control those desires for the furtherance of God's program on the earth (Matthew 19:12; cf. 1 Corinthians 7:7-8,26). But not all are able to accept the single role (Matthew 19:11). Many marry and carry out God's purposes, extending His work in the world.

1 Corinthians 7:10-11; 1 Corinthians 7:12-13; 1 Corinthians 7:14; 1 Corinthians 7:15; 1 Corinthians 7:16; 1 Corinthians 7:17


Paul's advice to married Christians is summed up in verse 24 after he addressed, in turn, individual Christians married to one another (vv. 10-11 ), Christians married to non-Christians (vv. 12-16), and other external physical and vocational states for Christians (vv. 17-23).

7:10-11. Paul's direction to Christians married to one another was like that of Jesus Himself (Mark 10:2-12): as a rule, no divorce (cf. Matthew 5:32). The difference in language between separate (choristhenai) on the part of the wife (1 Corinthians 7:10 ) and divorce (aphienai) on the part of the husband (v. 11) was probably due to stylistic variation as the word translated "separate" (chorizo) was commonly used in the vernacular as a term for divorce (William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Ging-rich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 4 th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957, p. 899). When problems occurred in a Christian marriage, the resolution was to be sought in reconciliation (cf. Ephesians 4:32), not in divorce.

7:12-13. The rest referred to Christians who were married to non-Christians. Jesus, in the course of His ministry, never had addressed this issue (cf. vv. 10 1 Corinthians 7:25). But Paul, with no less authority (cf. v. 25) did. Some divorces may have been initiated because of the command of Ezra to the Israelites in Jerusalem after the Exile (Ezra 10:11) to divorce themselves from pagan spouses. Paul affirmed that the same principle should operate in a believer-unbeliever marriage as in a marriage of two Christians: as a rule, no divorce. A Christian husband must not divorce (aphieto) an unbelieving wife, and a Christian wife must not divorce (aphieto) a non-Christian husband.

7:14. Divorce was to be avoided because the Christian spouse was a channel of God's grace in the marriage. Within the "one flesh" relationship the blessing of God which came to the Christian affected the family as a whole (cf. Jacob in Laban's household [Genesis 30:27] and Joseph in Potiphar's [Genesis 39:5]; also cf. Romans 11:16). It is in this sense that the unbelieving spouse was sanctified and the children were holy.

7:15. However, there were exceptions to the rule of no divorce. If the unbeliever insisted on a divorce, he was not to be denied (the word trans, leaves is chorizetai, the verb used in v. 10 ). Should this occur, the Christian was not bound to maintain the marriage but was free to marry again (cf. v. 39). Paul did not say, as he did in verse 11, that the Christian in this case should "remain unmarried." (However, some Bible students say that not being "bound" means the Christian is not obligated to prevent the divorce, but that it does not give freedom for remarriage.)

The second part of this verse in which Paul affirmed that God had called Christians to live in peace could be understood as a separate sentence. The same conjunction (de, but) which introduced the exception at the beginning of this verse was repeated by Paul, probably to indicate another shift in thought and a return to the main point in this section, namely, the importance for the Christian spouse of preserving the marriage union and living "in peace" with the non-Christian. (For a similar digression in a discourse on the general rule of no divorce, see Matthew 19:9.) Paul's point was that a Christian should strive to preserve the union and to keep the peace, but with the understanding that marriage is a mutual not a unilateral relationship.

7:16. Paul then stated a second (cf. v. 14) and crucial reason why a Christian should stay married to a non-Christian. God might use the Christian mate as a channel of blessing (cf. v. 14), leading ultimately to the point where the unbelieving spouse would believe the message of the Cross and experience salvation (cf. 1 Peter 3:1-2).

7:17. The general principle which Paul affirmed in dealing with decisions affecting a Christian's marital status was again stated three times (vv. 17,20,24; cf. also v. 26): in brief, "stay put." The call to conversion radically altered an individual's spiritual relationship but need effect no changes at all in physical relationships that were not immoral.

(from Bible Knowledge Commentary/Old Testament Copyright 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries; Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament Copyright 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries. All rights reserved.)

DIVORCE (The TouchPoints View)

What are some ways to prevent divorce?

Ephesians 5:24-25

24 As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, AMP

1 Thessalonians 5:12

11 Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify (strengthen and build up) one another, just as you are doing. AMP

Couples who love each other with the kind of love Christ showed when he died for us, and who seek to please one another, and who encourage each other and build up one another - these are the couples who will likely remain together in a happy marriage. The format is simple, but the fulfillment takes some doing! Never let your marriage become a marriage of convenience.

How do I deal with the bitterness I feel from divorce?

Hebrews 12:15

15 Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God's grace (His unmerited favor and spiritual blessing), in order that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness, or hatred) shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment, and the many become contaminated and defiled by it AMP

If you are a victim of divorce, you may have been hurt badly, you may have been treated unjustly, you may have been humiliated. But if you allow your bitterness to fester and grow, it will overshadow all you do and render you useless for effectively serving God. You must let your bitterness go and forgive, so that God's Holy Spirit can continue to work in your life and help you start anew.

Will God forgive me if I do get divorced?

Psalms 103:3

3 Who forgives [every one of] all your iniquities, Who heals [each one of] all your diseases, AMP

1 John 1:9

9 If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]. AMP

No sin is beyond God's forgiveness, and nothing others do against us can separate us from God's unconditional love. No matter what happens to you, let God restore you to wholeness.

What does the Bible say about divorce?

Malachi 2:14-16

14 Yet you ask, Why does He reject it? Because the Lord was witness [to the covenant made at your marriage] between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously and to whom you were faithless. Yet she is your companion and the wife of your covenant [made by your marriage vows].

15 And did not God make [you and your wife] one [flesh]? Did not One make you and preserve your spirit alive? And why [did God make you two] one? Because He sought a godly offspring [from your union]. Therefore take heed to yourselves, and let no one deal treacherously and be faithless to the wife of his youth.

16 For the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I hate divorce and marital separation and him who covers his garment [his wife] with violence. Therefore keep a watch upon your spirit [that it may be controlled by My Spirit], that you deal not treacherously and faithlessly [with your marriage mate]. AMP

God sees divorce as wrong because it is the breaking of a binding commitment. One or both spouses have made a conscious decision to be unfaithful.

Matthew 19:3-9

3 And Pharisees came to Him and put Him to the test by asking, Is it lawful and right to dismiss and repudiate and divorce one's wife for any and every cause?

4 He replied, Have you never read that He Who made them from the beginning made them male and female,

5 And said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be united firmly (joined inseparably) to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? [Genesis 1:27; 2:24.]

6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder (separate).

7 They said to Him, Why then did Moses command [us] to give a certificate of divorce and thus to dismiss and repudiate a wife? [Deuteronomy 24:1-4.]

8 He said to them, Because of the hardness (stubbornness and perversity) of your hearts Moses permitted you to dismiss and repudiate and divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been so [ordained].

9 I say to you: whoever dismisses (repudiates, divorces) his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery,and he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. AMP

There is a wide range of interpretation concerning this passage, with wide application to specific situations. The Old Testament provided for specific rules concerning divorce and limited remarriage in special cases (Deuteronomy 24:1-4), while at the same time making it clear that divorce is not God's intention (Malachi 2:14-16). The New Testament also makes it clear that divorce is wrong (Matthew 5:31-32; 1 Corinthians 7:10-11), while allowing for limited exceptions as Jesus mentions in this passage.

Deuteronomy 24:1-4

24:1 WHEN A man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a bill of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house,

2 And when she departs out of his house she goes and marries another man,

3 And if the latter husband dislikes her and writes her a bill of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies, who took her as his wife,

4 Then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife after she is defiled. For that is an abomination before the Lord; and you shall not bring guilt upon the land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance. AMP

Malachi 2:14-16