June 24, 2024
Marriage

Reading

1 Corinthians 7:10-16 - To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace.

Summary

In 1 Corinthians 7:10-16, Paul addresses the topic of marriage and divorce, giving instructions to both Christian couples and those married to unbelievers. For Christian couples, Paul emphasizes that they should not divorce or separate from each other. If a separation does occur, they should remain unmarried or reconcile. This command comes directly from the Lord, not just Paul. For those married to unbelievers, Paul gives his own inspired advice. If the unbelieving spouse is willing to stay in the marriage, the Christian should not seek a divorce. The reason is that the unbelieving spouse is in a sense made holy through the believing spouse, and the children are also holy. However, if the unbelieving spouse separates, the Christian is not bound to the marriage. Still, as much as it depends on them, the Christian should seek to live in peace. The overarching principle is that marriage is meant to be a lifelong covenant relationship. Divorce is not part of God's original plan. For Christians, even being married to an unbeliever is not grounds for divorce if the unbeliever is content to stay. The goal is to honor God in our marriages and to live in peace, recognizing the sanctifying influence a believing spouse can have on the family. Only if the unbeliever departs is the Christian no longer under obligation, but they should still pursue peace. These instructions uphold the sanctity of marriage while acknowledging the complexities introduced by human hardness of heart.

Reflection

This passage speaks to the high value God places on marriage and the permanence He intends for it. In a world where divorce is common and often treated casually, these are challenging words. They call us to a higher standard, one that reflects God's faithfulness and covenant-keeping love. For Christian couples, the command is clear: do not divorce or separate. Marriage is meant to be a lifelong commitment, reflecting Christ's unbreakable covenant with His church. When we face difficulties in marriage (as all couples do), our response should not be to bail out, but to press in - to seek God, to work on reconciliation, to keep our vows. This requires humility, forgiveness, and a willingness to grow. It's not easy, but it's what we're called to. The instructions for those married to unbelievers are intriguing. On one hand, it affirms that the ideal is for believers to marry believers. Being 'unequally yoked' introduces challenges. Yet it also highlights the sanctifying influence a believing spouse can have. By staying faithful to an unbelieving spouse, the Christian partner can potentially win them to Christ. It's a powerful testimony. At the same time, Paul is realistic. He recognizes that not all unbelieving spouses will be content to stay. In such cases, the Christian is not 'enslaved' or bound to the marriage. But even then, the goal is to live at peace as much as possible. Underlying all of this is the principle that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). It's not part of His original design. Marriage is meant to be a covenant commitment, a promise made before God to love and be faithful 'till death do us part.' When we keep our marriage vows, even in difficult circumstances, we reflect God's steadfast love and faithfulness. Of course, this doesn't mean that those who have experienced divorce are unloved by God or are second-class Christians. God's grace covers all our sins and failures. But it does mean we should have a very high view of marriage and do all we can to build strong, enduring marriages that honor God. In a society where the sanctity of marriage is often not respected, where people upgrade spouses like they upgrade phones, these truths are vital. As Christians, we're called to a different standard - the standard of covenantal commitment, of faithfulness even in the face of difficulty. As we live this out, our marriages can be a powerful witness of God's steadfast love in a world of instability. They can point others to the unbreakable covenant love of Christ for His bride, the church.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of marriage. Thank You that marriage is meant to be a reflection of Your covenant love for us. Forgive us for the times we have treated marriage lightly or selfishly. For those of us who are married, help us to love our spouses with a steadfast, Christ-like love. Give us the humility to serve, the courage to confront, the willingness to forgive. When we face challenges, remind us of our covenant commitment before You. Help us to press in rather than pull away. For those married to unbelievers, give them wisdom, patience and a faithful witness. May their steadfast love and commitment be a testimony that draws their spouse to You. For those who have experienced the pain of divorce, pour out Your healing grace. Remind them that their identity is in You, not in their marital status. Heal their wounds and give them hope for the future. For those considering marriage, grant them discernment. May they enter into the covenant of marriage with eyes wide open, ready to love faithfully no matter what. May our marriages be a light in a dark world, a testimony to Your unbreakable love. In the name of Jesus, the faithful bridegroom of the church, Amen.

Generated Image(s)

"Steadfast in love, bound by grace - a marriage reflecting God's covenant."

"Steadfast in love, bound by grace - a marriage reflecting God's covenant."

This image was generated by AI from the devotion text.