December 3, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.”—1 Corinthians 7:10–11 (NKJV)
1 Corinthians is filled with spiritual instructions. Paul did, after all, write it in order to correct so many things that had gone wrong with the Corinthian Christians. And if we’re honest, we’re glad he did! Because the things they were dealing with in Corinth are the same things we’re prone to deal with in our own day and age.
For example, marriage and all of the problems that can accompany it. Paul devotes an entire chapter to this subject because it touches so many people in so many ways! In fact, it’s not an exaggeration to say there’s no other area of Scripture that gives us more guidance on God’s will for marriage than here in chapter 7.
So what is God’s will when it comes to marriage? In the verses above, Paul points us to two principles that are so important they bear repeating: “A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.”
This tells us that God’s heart for the marriage union is that it’s permanent. When a man and woman are brought together in marriage, God wants it to be something that stands the test of time and weathers every storm of life. It’s to be secure and lasting in this lifetime, because Paul also teaches elsewhere that marriage is a reflection of Christ’s relationship with us (Ephesians 5:25–33). Our binding union with Him is to be reflected in marriage between husbands and wives.
But as we know, this doesn’t describe every marriage. Because we live in a fallen world, we contend with the presence of sin. And because of sin, we have the reality of divorce. Now, not every divorce is sinful, because God does permit divorce under certain conditions (Matthew 5:32; 1 Corinthians 7:15). But here, Paul is giving guidance to those who have divorced or are contemplating divorce outside of those conditions. He says wives are not to depart from their husbands and husbands are not to divorce their wives. Divorce should be avoided and not entertained because God desires marriage to be as permanent as possible.
Paul then goes on to address those who’ve already been divorced, and instructs they shouldn’t pursue remarriage to another person but reconciliation to their original spouse. This reflects God’s heart for reconciliation, which is a major theme throughout this book as well as the entire Bible. In fact, the gospel is essentially a story of reconciliation. Paul’s point here is that marriage is so sacred to God, it should be protected at all possible costs. And even when the marriage bond is broken, His heart is for reconciliation.
Again, we live in a fallen world and things don’t always go the way they should. But this should not keep us from seeing and honoring things as God does, especially in the case of marriage.
Pause: What are the two key principles of marriage Paul reveals to us in this passage?
Practice: How is an earthly marriage relationship to reflect the relationship between us and Christ?
Pray: Lord, I know this is an area of life that was intended to be a blessing by You, but which has also resulted in a lot of wounds and confusion because of the world’s fallen condition. Help me to see marriage as You do and to honor it as You would want me to. Amen.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.