‘Married for God, Divorced for Good?’ (1 Corinthians 7:10–16)

sermon photoFirst Corinthians 7:10–16 brings us to one of the most heart-wrenching passages in Scripture. As it deals with marriage, divorce, and remarriage, it gives counsel to Christian marriages (vv. 10–11) and “mixed marriage” (vv. 12–16) that are looking into the teeth of divorce. In the context of a horribly sad week (#AltonSterling, #PhilandoCastille, and #DallasPoliceShooting), I bookended this sermon with the gospel truth that God comforts those who are broken by sin. My prayer is that as God’s truth is declared, it brings clarity and comfort.

You can listen to the audio from Sunday’s message or peruse the sermon notes here. For those who want to go deeper, there are discussion questions below and resources explaining the Majority and Minority position on divorce and remarriage.

1 Corinthians 7:10–16 (ESV)

To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.

12 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. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 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. 15 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. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

For Discussion

  1. How does the brokenness of our human condition, and especially of recent events, prepare us to read 1 Corinthians 7?
  2. What does it mean to be married for God? Can divorce ever be called ‘good’?
  3. What is Paul’s instruction to Christian marriages (see vv. 10–11)? Why is this instruction different than what he says to “mixed marriages” (vv. 12–16)?
  4. What concession does Paul make regarding divorce?
    1. What does the Old Testament teach about marriage, divorce, and remarriage (see Genesis 2:18–25; Deuteronomy 24:1–4; Malachi 2:10–16)?
    2. What does Jesus say about divorce? (Matthew 5:32; 19:1–12; Mark 10:1–12; Luke 16:18)
    3. Are the reasons for permitting remarriage convincing? (See sermon notes, pp. 12–14).
  5. The Majority Position among evangelicals is to permit remarriage when the divorce is legitimate. What makes a divorce legitimate? What counsel would you give to someone contemplating marriage (with regards to divorce)? Or divorce? Or remarriage?

For Further Study

Majority View (remarriage is permissible after a legitimate divorce)

You may also find help on this subject in three posts I’ve written:

Minority View (no remarriage after divorce)

On Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage

Father in heaven, may marriages be strengthened and saved by the truths presented in these resources. May those whose marriages have been devastated by sin find grace in your gospel and healing in your presence. And may those who are wondering what to do next — in marriage, divorce, or remarriage — find wisdom in Scripture and biblical aid from godly, Spirit-filled counselors in their local church.

Soli Deo Gloria, ds