Thoughts on Divorce and Singleness

1 Corinthians 7:12-31

Jacob, age 92, and Rebecca, age 89 are all excited about
their decision to get married. They go for a stroll to discuss
the wedding, and on the way, they pass a pharmacy. Jacob
suggests they go in.

Jacob addresses the man behind the counter, “Are you the
owner?” The Pharmacist answers, “Yes.”

Jacob: “We’re about to get married. Do you sell heart
Pharmacist: “Of course we do.”
Jacob: “Medicine for rheumatism?”
Pharmacist: “Definitely.”
Jacob: “Medicine for memory problems, arthritis and
Pharmacist: “Yes, a large variety. The works.”
Jacob: “What about vitamins, sleeping pills, Geritol,
antidotes for Parkinson’s disease?”
Pharmacist: “Absolutely.”
Jacob: “Everything for heartburn and indigestion?”
Pharmacist: “We sure do.”
Jacob: “You sell wheelchairs and walkers and canes?”
Pharmacist: “All speeds and sizes.”

Jacob: “In that case, we’d like to use this store for our
wedding registry.”

Last week we read Paul’s thoughts on marriage as a response to
some questions that were asked of him by the Corinthian church.

Today we will continue looking at the 7th chapter of 1 Corinthians.
Paul continues to answer questions from the Corinthian believers.

I Corinthians 7:12-15

The first question seems to have been
“Do we have to remain married to our unbelieving spouses?”
I’m sure it was difficult to remain married to a spouse who
continued visiting the temple prostitutes and living the Corinthian
lifestyle. Some of the Christians at Corinth may have thought that
divorcing their unbelieving spouse would have been the best
option but Paul disagrees. He says,
As long as the unbelieving spouse is willing to stay in the
marriage, stay married.

Another reason Paul says believers should remain married to
their unbelieving spouses is because a believing spouse has a
spiritual influence on their unsaved spouse.

Look at what Peter had to say about this:
I Peter 3:1-2 “Likewise, wives, be submissive to your own
husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they
may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives –
when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”

We should never underestimate the power of a changed life.

When we are saved by God’s grace He transforms us. We love as
He loves and forgive as He forgives. That can have a dramatic
impact on a relationship.

A Christian should not initiate divorce from an unbelieving spouse.

What about Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 6:14 about being
unequally yoked?
That is related to getting married.
A believer should not knowingly marry an unbeliever.
It has nothing to do with folks who are already married.
In Corinth, none of them were believers until Paul came and
shared the gospel with them. Some believed, others didn’t.

What does Paul mean in v. 14 when he writes that the unbelieving
spouse is made holy by the believing spouse?

Paul is not saying they are saved by the faith of their believing
spouse, it’s more like the house is set apart from the evil influence
of the world. Every person must decide in their heart to follow
Christ and receive personal forgiveness for their sins.

John MacArthur writes “the sanctification is matrimonial and
familial, not personal or spiritual, and means that the
unsaved partner is set apart for temporal blessing because
the other belongs to God. One Christian in a marriage brings
grace that spills over on the spouse – even possibly leading
them to salvation.”

What does Paul mean with his statement about children being
unclean or holy? Again, he is not saying that children are saved
because of the faith of their parents. However, they can be
influenced spiritually by the believing parent.
In a family where no parent is a believer they will have no spiritual
influence, but even if one parent is a Christian the child will be
exposed to the grace and forgiveness of Christ.

Next, Paul addresses the situation when the unbeliever doesn’t
want to stay in the relationship with the believer.

Paul gives the concession to divorce an unbelieving spouse if
they don’t want to remain married. If they leave, Paul reminds
them that God has called us to peace.

Romans 12:18 “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live
peaceably with all.”

As long as there is no chance of reconciliation they are free to
marry another believer.
Once the unbeliever leaves they will likely get remarried or be in a
relationship with another person, thus the infidelity comes into
play which is the one case Jesus did say was an acceptable
reason for divorce.

Only God knows if unbelieving spouses will turn to Him.

It’s not the spouses job to save the unbelieving spouse.
Only Jesus can save.
It is important however, to live a transformed life.
Love like Christ and that oftentimes leads a person to seek Christ.

Have you ever heard someone say “I’m not saved but Christianity
has made my wife a better person, a better mate, a better lover
and a better mother.” Unsaved partners may argue with the truth
of the gospel but they cannot argue with a changed life.

I Corinthians 7:17-24

Be content where you are.

Remain in your current state. Don’t try to change who you are.
As far as salvation, all are equal.
Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is
neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for
you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Paul uses two illustrations to drive his point home that believers
married to unbelievers should remain in the marriage.

Paul argues that there is no need for Jews to try to uncircumcise
themselves, and there is likewise no need for Greeks to get
Some Judaizers were claiming that Gentiles needed to be
circumcised in order to be true Christians.
The point is that how you were when God called you is how you
should stay. There is no need to change your social status.

Sources say that around 50% of the people in Corinth were slaves.
There is no need for slaves to demand freedom,
but if they can purchase it, they should.
No need for a freeman to become a slave.
We are slaves to Christ. We die to ourselves daily as we take up
our cross and follow Him.

God has already changed you, transformed your life.
No need to try to conform to some additional standard.
Simply follow the commands of God.
God is concerned with our heart.

You were bought with a price – do not become slaves of men.
Not talking about being a slave, rather about giving in to the ways
of men.
Letting the world dictate what you do and when and how.
We are free in Christ He has saved us and set us free.

I Corinthians 7:25-31

Unmarried Christians

ESV translated the Greek word for virgins betrothed.
Means they are of a marriageable age and have never been

Paul says it is good for a man to remain as he is.

No need to go out and get married just to get married.

Time of distress

There was persecution of believers in Corinth.
No need to make unnecessary changes in life.
No need to feel pressured into getting married or getting divorced.

Warning against worldly troubles

Being married is hard work – it is a commitment

Paul recognizes that marriage is difficult and the pressures of the
world work against couples.
His warning isn’t a prohibition against marriage, just a statement
that there are many more concerns when you are married and
have a family.

In regards to persecution, having a family can be another thing to
worry about.
Evil people in the world use family to attempt to coerce believers
to renounce their faith.
Paul’s point is that being single takes the threat of harming a
spouse or child off the table.


Even though Paul was answering questions to him from the
believers at Corinth, this Scripture contains lessons we can learn
from today as well.

Marriage is Sacred – God does not want us to divorce.
Even though the Scripture doesn’t cover every single
circumstance that could come up, we know that God hates
divorce. He wants us to honor the covenant we have made and
work on our marriages.

Relationships are important
We must work on our marriages daily.
Love your spouse well and show them by loving them in their love
Make them feel special.
Thank them for all they do.