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Another Ground For Divorce

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1.    The subject matter of this lesson is one that touches every member of the Lord’s church like no other.

(1)          We have family friends and loved ones who suffer or have suffered marital difficulties.

(2)          Unfortunately not all have solved their difficulties in a scriptural manner.

A.     I could quote statistics but it is not necessary for if you think about it, I’m sure you can fill your mind with folks impacted by divorce.

B.     I could quote statistics but the massive amount of pain and suffering inflicted by divorce in our nation demands more than statistics.

(a)    I believe the pain and suffering are a reason for the weakened stance some now take on Divorce and remarriage.

(b)    I must admit that there are times when I wish I could say, “Oh it doesn’t matter what the Bible teaches on the subject.  All that matters is whether or not you are happy!” (cf. Gal. 1:6-8).

2.    I believe we as Christians are reaping today what we sowed yesterday.

(1)          Among preachers, elders, congregations of the past some stood firm but many turned their heads, others buckled, and some tucked tail and ran.

(2)          The Bibles teaching regarding marriage and divorce are not complicated.  In fact easy to understand.   Difficult at times to uphold, but easily understood.

3.    A study of God’s word is a tremendous occasion.

(1)          Tremendous blessing.

(2)          Tremendous opportunity.

(3)          Tremendous responsibility (The eternity of souls is at stake).

4.    So it goes with this lesson.

(1)          I will not exhaust the topic.

(2)          I have not time to expositorily go through the chapter.

DISCUSSION: (Read and briefly discuss 1 Cor. 7:1-16).


1.       We’ve already brought to remembrance the magnitude of the subject today.

(1)          Statistically – a divorce every 27 seconds.

(2)          We have what is called, “NO FAULT” divorce!

2.       We understand that our culture can (it should not) “skew the way we view!”

3.       The Bible teaches “… hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” (2 Pet. 3:16).

4.       God’s word on marriage and biblical cause for divorce could not be simpler.

(1)          God created one man and one woman –one flesh (Gen. 1; Rom. 7:2,3).

(2)          God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16).

(3)          God suffered it in times past (Deut. 24:1-4; Mt. 19:7-8) but Jesus said from the beginning such was not His desire for man.

(4)          Jesus clearly taught there is only one cause for divorce (Mt. 19:3-12; Mt. 5:31-32).

5.       People’s circumstance (divorced / have loved ones divorced) “skews our view.”

II.          THE PERVERSION OF THE PASSAGE (Read 1 Cor. 7:1-16).

1.       Bottom line = some view V. 15 as giving a Christian permission to remarry, if an unbelieving spouse divorces them, regardless of the cause.

2.       The reasoning follows this line:

(1)          VV. 10-11 deal exclusively with two Christians (An Assumption. TLS).

(2)          Paul said that the Lord Himself gave word on such a case (V. 10).

(3)          VV. 12-13 deals with a Xian married to a non-Xian, and here Paul says, the Lord Himself did not speak on such a case.

(4)          Therefore they say, “since Mt. 19:9 discusses marriage and divorce, it must be the case that this teaching (Mt. 19:9) applies to 1 Cor. 7:10-11.

A.        Which they assume to be Xian married to Xian (exclusively).

B.        They continue their reasoning to say, “Therefore, Mt. 19:9 applies only to those in a ‘covenant relationship’ (Xian to Xian), and to them Mt. 19:9 does not apply to all marriages.

C.        In other words Mt. 19:9 applies to vv. 10-11 but not v. 12-15.

3.       From here it is only a short hop, skip, and jump to the doctrine that the gospel accounts are not New Testament doctrine.

4.       The “twist” they make to the passage:

(1)          Yes, Paul said the Lord dealt with this type situation, but Paul did not say, “this situation (v. 10-11) is what Jesus was talking about in Mt. 19:9.  IN FACT GOOD CHANCE MT. NOT RECORDED AT TIME PAUL WROTE!

(2)          The assertion  (only Christians in vv. 10-11) cannot be proved.

(3)          Another twist/assertion that cannot be proved = “not under  bondage” (v. 15) = means free to remarry.  We will say more about this shortly.

III.        THE PARENTHESIS PASSAGE     (Read 1 Cor. 7:12-16)  *** verse 15.

1.       What is the purpose of this section?

(1)          Encourage Christians (and those becoming Christians) married to non-Christians to continue in their marriages. (most likely married before converting to Christianity)

(2)          Just because you become a Christian (married) to Christ doesn’t mean you should stop being married to your heathen spouse.

2.       There is an exception given to the situation by Paul.

(1)          Paul is inspired and speaks with all authority (Mt. 28:18f).

(2)          Paul is not saying this is my personal piece of advice.  Paul is saying the Lord didn’t address this subject specifically, but here is my inspired commandment (cf. 1 Cor. 14:37).

3.       Paul says, if the unbeliever departs, NAS = leaves; RSV = separates the believer may let them do so.

(1)          Apparently the unbeliever separates because of the believer’s faith.

(2)          Departs = chorizetai = to disassociate, to separate, to divorce[1]

(3)          Paul says, “not under bondage in such cases” (v. 15).

4.       Here’s where the “twist” comes in!

(1)          Departs may mean divorce, but it must not unequivocally mean it!  However the context of the passage leads us to believe it is divorce.  (At first I did not think it was a reference to divorce but rather abandonment.)

(2)          Not under bondage is then taken by some to mean, “not bound by God’s marriage law any longer.”

A.        Douloo = verb form = under bondage (appears only 8 times).

B.        Dedulotai = noun form = slave (appears often).

C.        Douloo in passive voice = literally “becomes a slave.” (Acts 7:6).

D.        Douloo in middle voice = figurative,  “describes some other kind of enslavement.”

a.         Titus 2:3 – “not given to much wine” or not enslaved to such.

b.         Gal. 4:3 – “we were in bondage under the elements of the world.”

c.     Rom. 6:18 – “you became slaves of righteousness.”

E.        The phrase “not under bondage” is in negative perfect tense.

a.         Paul is not saying:

i.                 You are no longer in bondage.

ii.               You have been freed from the bondage you were in.

b.         Paul IS saying:  “You have never ever been in bondage on this matter.

F.         We know the “bondage” relates to the marriage but what is it?

a.         They were bound to Christ’s prohibition of Mt. 19 (cf. Vv. 12-13).

b.         Upon a spouses departure one would not be in Bondage to render sexual duties or provide for the spouse in other ways, but they had at one time been in such “bondage” (cf. Vv. 2-5).

c.    Is it that one is not bound to renounce the faith?  (Sounds more reasonable, but Paul says (negative perfect) you have never been in such bondage.)  No condition ever makes it right to renounce!


1.       One other place in the New Testament where this phrase appears in the exact same form (tense, voice, mood, person) is 2 Pet. 2:19 (Read).

(1)          Peter shows that a man is the slave of whatever masters him.

2.       Paul is saying to one, who probably became a Christian after marriage and has a heathen spouse, :

(1)          Your spouse does not have power over you when it comes to the practice of your religion.

(2)          If they do, then you will become a “slave of sin” (Jn. 8:34).

(3)          You made a commitment to be a slave of Christ.

3.       Paul doesn’t say, “You are not bound to the marriage!  You may remarry anyone you like!”

(1)          Our divorced culture might “skew our view” towards that.

(2)          Desertion is not given in this passage as another acceptable reason for divorce.

4.       A marriage that comes to an end because of desertion by the non-Christian is to be viewed as one would any other unscriptural divorce (cf. Lk. 16:18).

5.       Paul says, “You haven’t been enslaved.  You’ve been called to peace.”

(1)          Do all you can to keep the union, but if the unbelieving spouse is determined to depart, follow a course of peace.

(2)          Rather than engage in the strife and disruption and try to force the unbeliever to remain, allow the unbeliever to depart.


1.    There are many reasons for which a marriage might be ended, but there is only one given on the pages of Scripture whereby the wronged party may remarry (Mt. 19).

2.    We are in bondage to Christ.


[1] Liddel & Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1869), p. 1840

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