Author(s): Ward B. Powers
The Bible's "Law and Grace" approach is summed up in the one short saying (1 Corinthians 7:27-28, CEB.): "If you are married, don't get a divorce. If you are divorced, don't try to find a spouse. But if you do marry, you have not sinned." This book provides a careful and detailed presentation of these aspects of the Bible's teaching, and its application in the lives of Christians in the twenty-first century. Divorce is completely contrary to the will and purpose of God, which is: "One man, one woman, for life". "For I hate divorce, says the Lord" (Mal 2:16). But Jesus focuses our attention on the real problem: sin disrupting, damaging and ultimately destroying the marriage relationship. "Do not let this happen," Jesus warns us. He says, "They are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore humans shouldn't pull apart what God has put together" (Matt 19:6//Mark 10:8-9, CEB). And to allow (or to cause) the marriage relationship to be sundered is a serious sin. But the grace of Christ can forgive sin, and restore the sinner. And in certain circumstances, as set out by Paul, the Apostle says to those who have been divorced, "they must marry".
THE THREE-STEP PAULINE PROCEDURE when a marriage is being sundered: 1. If there is a rift in the marriage relationship, "seek reconciliation" (1 Corinthians 7:11b). Paul bases this instruction upon the crystal-clear command of Christ: "Do not let anyone sunder the one-flesh relationship of marriage" (Matt 19:6). Whatever is going wrong with that relationship: deal with it. This is the word of the Lord himself. 2. But if because of human sin and disobedience the marriage breaks up, then "remain unmarried" (1 Corinthians 7:11a). And seek now whether God is giving the gift of celibacy, chastity and continence, as Paul himself had received (1 Corinthians 7:7-8). This may now be God's calling to the person who has become agamos, "demarried", whether divorced or widowed. 3. But for others who have become agamos and who find, after seeking to live celibate, that they do not have this gift, Paul has a word of guidance in their circumstances: "they must marry" (1 Corinthians 7:9).
B Ward Powers is Dean of New Testament and Director of Tyndale College, Sydney. He has served on the faculty of Moore Theological College and Sydney Missionary Bible College. Ward is the author of some 15 books including The Writing of the Synoptic Gospel and The Sin That We Treat As a Virtue.