The wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.
–1 Corinthians 7:10-11
Jesus ministered in the early thirties AD. Twenty years later, Paul began his ministry. During those twenty years, Christianity had begun to spread like wildfire through the Roman Empire, and it created all kinds of problems that Jesus did not address. For example, what if one spouse becomes a Christian and is still married to a non-Christian? What are you supposed to do in that situation?
So Paul addressed this issue in 1 Corinthians 7. In verse 10, he started by saying, “To the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband.” Paul was affirming what Jesus said–that people were to remain married. By embracing what Jesus said, obviously he was embracing the exception of adultery as well.
But what if a Christian finds himself in an unbearable relationship with an unbeliever? Maybe the unbeliever is constantly berating his mate for her faith. What if he is threatening her with physical abuse or verbal abuse? What if the home is nothing but anger and fear? Look at verses 10-11: “The wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.” Here is a wife who obviously wants to leave her husband for a reason other than adultery, since Paul had already affirmed what Jesus said about adultery. Maybe she wants to leave because of physical abuse. Paul was saying, “If you find yourself having to leave, you can do so, but you have to remain unmarried.”
I want to be very clear: nowhere does the Bible tell women–or men–who are suffering physical abuse to stay in that situation. If you or your children are suffering or being threatened with physical abuse, get out of that house. God does not require you to live in that situation. The sanctity of life refers to more than just life inside the womb. Life is sacred outside the womb too. God hates violence. In fact, Genesis 6 says the reason God destroyed the entire world with a flood was because of violence. God hates it when people commit violence against one another. If you are being abused or threatened with violence, you are free under Scripture to get out of that house and protect yourself and your children. But if you end up divorcing, Paul’s instruction was to remain unmarried or go back to your mate. According to 1 Corinthians 7, we can leave an abusive situation, but we are not to remarry.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Good-Grace Marriages” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org