Summary: Exposition of 1 Cor 7:10-24 regarding marriage, divorce, and remarriage
Text: 1 Corinthians 7:10-24, Title: Stay Married, Date/Place: NRBC, 11/7/10, AM
A. Opening illustration: the pastor says to the husband, "The Bible says you’re to love your wife as Jesus Christ loved the church." He says, "Oh, I can’t do that." The pastor says, "If you can’t begin at that level, then begin on a lower level. You’re supposed to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Can you at least love her as you would love a neighbor?" The husband says, "No. That’s still too high a level." The pastor says, "The Bible says, Love your enemies. Begin there." “Bad news in a good way…”
B. Background to passage: Remember that we are dealing with questions that Paul was asked by the Corinthian church as they wrestle through how their new faith affects all parts of their lives. Must remember the context, this will help us out much today. They have written Paul regarding marriage and sexual relations to deal with two major issues – men in the church using prostitutes and spouses who want to abstain from sexual relations within marriage or divorce their partner to achieve celibacy, which was considered a holier state. Now most cases of divorce in our society are not because people want to live holy lives of celibacy, so some of this would be stated differently for us. So having dealt with immorality, abstinence, and singleness, now we turn to divorce. Also note that this instruction is given in addition to, not contradicting, Jesus’ statements on divorce found in Matt 19. DISCLAIMER: want to make a couple of statements prior to preaching this message: I realize that this is a very sensitive subject. All of us have had divorce touch our lives at some level. And every situation is different, and too complex to make many blanket statements from the pulpit. But the bible is relevant and practical about these things. And as in a funeral where it does a great injustice to the family, the community, and the gospel to present a sinner as a saint, it is not helpful to soften biblical teaching so that feelings are spared; serious matters, like adultery, are in view here. That having been said, I am going to attempt to be faithful to the hard things that Jesus and Paul said in a compassionate way. Some of you may be offended, but that is not my intention; my intention is to clearly teach what Jesus and Paul taught in a manner pleasing to Him. Also note that this is not a comprehensive study on divorce and remarriage. Let me assure you, there are chapters and books dedicated to this topic by many great pastors and scholars (with varying viewpoints I might add). That was the difficulty on this topic. As with all subjects and texts I preach on, don’t simply take my word (or other pastors and scholars)—examine it in light of the scriptures with the aid of the Holy Spirit, and make sure that what I say if consistent with the bible.
C. Main thought: in these verses Paul gives instructions regarding divorce and remarriage: stay married…
A. Married to a Believer (v. 10-11)
1. First he takes up those that are married to believers in the church. He already told them not to deprive one another marital relations; now he tells them not to divorce. Similar to what Jesus said; Paul notes that. End of sermon…JK. It is odd that the woman is mentioned first, maybe an indication of who is desiring the divorce in this circumstance. But both spouses have the same command, same level of commitment, and the same level of responsibility to the commitment. Don’t divorce. Both words used here mean divorce. Now the instruction here is limited to divorces that don’t involve adultery. (Just btw however, adultery doesn’t necessitate a divorce). Not contradicting himself, but realizing that some people, especially in the emotional turbulence of marital difficulties, are going to divorce rather than heed his instruction. It’s a sin, but Paul is trying to keep them from sinning further, committing adultery. So he says that if they do divorce, to remain unmarried or be reconciled. Of course if they blow off the command not to divorce, why not the remain single command, right?