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The Scriptorium

Staying the Course in Marriage

We can, and we must. 1 Corinthians 7.10-16

1 Corinthians 7 (2)

Pray Psalm 56.10-13.
In God (I will praise His word),
In the LORD (I will praise His word),
In God I have put my trust;
I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
Vows made to You are binding upon me, O God;
I will render praises to You,
For You have delivered my soul from death.
Have You not kept my feet from falling,
That I may walk before God
In the light of the living?

Sing Psalm 56.10-13.
(Morecambe: Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart)
I will not fear what foes might do to me.
I give You thanks, my vows will I renew.
You have redeemed me, set my spirit free,
and ever in Your light I’ll walk with You.

Read 1 Corinthians 7.1-16; meditate on verses 10-16.

1. What did Paul say about divorce?

2. Why should believing spouses remain with unbelieving ones, if they can?

Let’s take the view from 30,000 feet so that we don’t get confused about Paul’s teaching on marriage. Marriage, Paul is saying, is very important. Married couples should stay together, especially if they are believers (vv. 10, 11). This was God’s plan from the beginning.

And if you are a believer married to an unbeliever, do your best to keep your marriage together, and that for two reasons. First, your children will benefit from it, especially those who have been set apart unto the Lord from childhood. But second, your being faithful to the Lord will show a kind of character that allows the grace of God to flow to your unbelieving spouse, which may—may, he emphasizes—end up in that unbelieving spouse coming to faith (vv. 12-14).

But if you are a believer married to an unbeliever, and that unbeliever wants out of the marriage, either by suing for divorce or through abandonment, don’t contest it. Let them go. Keep the peace as best you can, for God has called us to be a peaceable people (v. 15). In such situations, the believing spouse is no longer obligated to marriage vows effectively destroyed by the other spouse. Which means, that innocent spouse is free to marry again.

OK, that’s clear enough. Paul explained, in verses 12-16, that he had no direct revelation from the Lord on this matter; he was giving his opinion, based on his knowledge of Scripture and his understanding of our calling to the Kingdom and glory of the Lord. That doesn’t mean these verses are not inspired, or not part of Scripture. Paul was clear enough on these topics to assert his view confidently, and that is tantamount to a word from the Lord.

Marriage is a gift from God, and we must use that gift as He intends, that He may be glorified through our marriage.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.
“But God has called us to peace” (1 Cor. 7.15).
So say the Scriptures, so said Paul.

As an aside, abuse in a marriage is a form of abandonment. If there is abuse of any kind going on in a marriage, the abused party is free to leave, perhaps with the hope that putting “away from yourselves the evil person” (1 Cor. 5.13) will bring about repentance and salvation in the end (1 Cor. 7.16).

Now to the peace which we are to seek:
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5.15-17).

“Great peace have those who love Your law,
and nothing causes them to stumble” (Ps. 119.165).
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You,
because He trusts in You” (Is. 26.3).

Pat Hunter, our mentor, had some great words of wisdom for a happy marriage. She said we are to love, not because of the target; but because of the love God generates in our hearts. Well said, no?

Love like that helps us to stay the course in marriage, for the good days and the bad. Those days we’ve vowed to love through: “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge myself to you.”

That’s the peace in marriage which God the Creator (Gen. 2.24) has called us to.
We can “Stay the Course” through Him, His power, His faithfulness, and His love!

For reflection
1. Why is marriage so important to the divine plan for humankind?

2. What would you say are the keys for staying the course in marriage?

3. How can believers help one another to stay the course in marriage?

Marriage is a Divine institution; and is an engagement for life, by God’s appointment. We are bound, as much as in us lies, to live peaceably with all men, Romans 12:18, therefore to promote the peace and comfort of our nearest relatives, though unbelievers. It should be the labor and study of those who are married, to make each other as easy and happy as possible.
Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on the 1 Corinthians 7.10-16

Pray Psalm 56.1-9.
Bring your challenges, trials, fears, and concerns to the Lord. Lay them at His feet and ask Him for mercy and grace to help in your time of need.

Sing Psalm 56.1-9.
(Morecambe: Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart)
Savior, be gracious, gracious unto me!
Weary, I seek the shelter of Your wings.
‘Til trouble passes, ‘til my sighings flee;
I seek the LORD Who for me does all things.

When I’m afraid I’ll put my trust in You,
You, LORD, Whose everlasting Word I praise.
I will not fear what foes to me might do,
but will in faith to You my crying raise.

Wickedly how my foes distort my words.
Constant attacks and snares await my way.
Pour out Your wrath, consume them, mighty LORD!
Bring evil to its end, O LORD, I pray!

LORD, see my wand’rings, see my anxious tears!
Help me to trust and praise Your holy Word.
Gladly I know that when I call You hear;
I will not fear but trust in You, O LORD.

T. M. and Susie Moore

The Church in Corinth needed revival. But there was much to be done before that would happen. The Church today needs revival, and the same is true for us. Our book, Revived!, can help us discern our need for revival and lead us in getting there. Order your copy by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalteravailable by clicking here.


T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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