By William C. Sexton
Paul has a long chapter dealing with some important matters in 1 Corinthians 7. Many aspects of the marriage relationship in a time “of distress,” or difficulty, are touched upon. Prayerful and serious consideration should be given to them. Let us desire to know the truth and be determined to practice it when we see it.
In verses 27-28 there’s a principle that gives some trouble. I wish for us to ponder the idea that is presented there. The way it is translated in the KJV it may appear to say something that is out of harmony with other Scriptures. It reads:
Art thou bound to a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. But if thou marry, thou has not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh; but I spare you.
To some at first the word loosed may seem to mean that you have been bound (married) and then set free, by way of divorce, when they read the second part of the verse where the word loosed means “divorce.” However, it can be and is translated:
Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this (NIV).
In this way of translating the verse, it makes sense, and is in harmony with what is stated elsewhere. Matthew 19:9, points to the necessity of staying married, with but one exception, that of “fornication” or unfaithfulness on the part of one. If such violation has occurred (fornication), the other is able to marry again without the sin of adultery. That same principle has been restated in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 along with Romans 7:1-4. If the verse was read to mean that loosed means divorced in verse 27 for any cause without qualification, then it would be saying that they can remarry without sin. That is contrary to all that the Lord says on the subject, and thus cannot mean that. Rather it is talking about the unmarried, not having a wife. For the present distress, troubling times, it would be better to remain unmarried, as is stated in the first verse of the chapter.
Let us read God’s word in context, and with the flow of divine thought that is in harmony with all that God says on the subject. This is an important matter that is disregarded by many in and out of the church today, with grave consequences. We challenge each to see the meaning of the Lord’s teachings and to determine to abide within their bounds.
Such activity is possible and profitable. When we look into the perfect law of liberty (Jas. 1:25) and continue therein, doing what we are directed to do, we are in good condition. When we fail to walk according to the teachings, we are off on our own and will perish.
Beloved in our day there is much trouble in our nation and in the church due to a violation of God’s law given to regulate the family. We shall be able to help only when we read carefully so as to understand what God says, and then have deep enough conviction to live by it and to place it clearly before others, asking them to consider the teachings and the fruit of being governed by the “law of Christ” (1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2).
I know of nothing in our land to-day that is so destructive to the souls of people and produces more heart-ache than the breakup of the family. It is occurring in and out of the church, due to a lack of teaching and respect for God’s will. The ills that we see everywhere shall continue to grow, till people in leadership roles stand up, speak out, and hold their ground on this vital matter.
I recognize that not all who hear the truth will believe and practice it, but they can’t possibly do right if they are ignorant of God’s teachings. Who has the responsibility/privilege to make it known? Will we step for-ward and discharge our responsibility or shall we remain in the shadows claiming we have no duty to speak out?
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 11, p. 5
June 3, 1993