What does the Bible say about marriage and divorce? What about remarriage? And is any of it relevant for today?
Job 41 & 42
1 Corinthians 7.1-19
Job 41 & 42:
Behemoth, leviathan & their creator
In chapter 41 God continues to challenge Job with just Who He really is! He uses creation and His sovereign control of every aspect of the universe to illustrate this truth.
I was struck with the incredible variation in all the species that God created. A few chapters ago we read about the ostrich and what a magnificent bird she is, but it says, “God deprived her of wisdom, and did not endow her with understanding …”
Then we read about the horse and his power, how he is not afraid in battle, and of his pure strength. The passage goes on to talk about the uniqueness of the hawk and the eagle and the behemoth. Now in chapter 41, God describes a huge sea creature called leviathan. Verses 9-10 say, “Indeed, any hope of overcoming him is false; shall one not be overwhelmed at the sight of him? No one is so fierce that he would dare stir him up.”
Verse 10 goes on, “Who then is able to stand against Me?” If the creatures God created are incredible, what should that tell us about the One who created them?
Job, too, finally gets it! He responds with humility and repentance and God later restores to him all that he had and more.
Sinful heart attitudes
Verse 5, “Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; the one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, him I will not endure.”
Gossip is never a secret to God. And attitudes of the heart like pride are just as sinful to God as those things we consider “serious” sins.
Sickness or drunkenness?
These verses continue to talk about the drunkard and how even after the miserable effects of a hangover, he (or she) runs to look for his next drink. The world wants us to believe they can’t help it, that it’s a disease. But God says, “Do not get drunk with wine …” God does not command us to do anything that is not in our power to obey with His help. This is not a medical issue. It’s a sin issue!
1 Corinthians 7.1-19:
Sex, singleness, marriage and divorce
Paul has a great deal to say about marriage, divorce, and singleness in this chapter. In verses 1-9 He explains that sex within marriage is God’s only provision for sexual fulfillment. That has not changed in spite of what our culture tells us.
I know this is a huge challenge for some of you who are single and desire to be married. I just want to encourage you that God has not forgotten you, that He is good, and that He will give you the grace to respond biblically to this challenge.
And to the married, verse 5 says:
5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
For those who are married, sex is to be continual. It is never to be withheld from one’s partner except by mutual agreement and then only for the purpose of prayer and fasting and only temporarily. In the past, this passage was most often applied to women in counseling situations, but more and more I hear of women whose husbands are not interested in sex.
It’s ironic that in a culture where sex is everywhere—on billboards, on TV, on movie screens, and on the street—this has not freed people to enjoy God’s gift of sexuality. Instead, it has done serious harm. The reasons are numerous, and if you’re struggling with this situation, I would encourage you to seek counseling for both you and your spouse if he or she is willing, or for yourself, if not.
Verses 10-16 talk about divorce:
10 Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord. A wife is not to depart from her husband. 11 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.
Believers are not to seek a divorce except in the case of sexually immorality and, even then, it is not commanded. If a believer has already divorced his or her spouse for unbiblical reasons, he or she is not free to remarry under most circumstances.
Verses 12-13, But to the rest I, not the Lord, say. If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him.
If a believer is married to an unbeliever, the believer is to do his or her best to represent Christ in that home and not to seek a divorce.
Verse 14, For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.
This does not mean that the unbelieving spouse is saved, but somehow the unsaved spouse enjoys a special relationship with God. I imagine it is a little like our immigration laws. When a citizen marries someone who is not, it does not automatically make him a citizen, but he is given special consideration. God will work in some distinct way in the life of that unbelieving spouse, often through the testimony of the believing one.
Verse 15 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.
If however, an unbelieving spouse seeks a divorce, the believer is not commanded to stay married. In fact, the verse says, “… let him depart …” At some point if the unbeliever shows no change of heart we must “let them depart.”
Verse 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?
Again this does not mean that we save someone else, but our lives can be used by God in a great way.
Then verse 17 from tomorrow’s reading says:
17 But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches.
Finally, God has called us to be content in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, whether married or single.
Lord, give us the grace to find contentment in whatever state we are in—whether married or single. And help us to live our lives as faithful ambassadors of your grace and love, reflecting that love to others, especially our spouses, in Christ’s name and for His glory. Amen.
God bless you all in the Lord,
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