Separation and divorce is a subject of much interest in the lives of people today, even God’s people. His Word has given His people guidelines concerning this subject–guidelines that are CLEAR and HOLY and REASONABLE. Let’s examine the Holy Word.
It is most helpful to realize that when Jesus was teachings on this subject it was concerning married believers. He was speaking to the Old Covenant people. They were not allowed to marry unbelievers. Later Paul deals with the situation of believers being married to unbelievers.
Moses in Deuteronomy 24:1-2 allowed a man to divorce his wife and for her to be married to another. When Jesus was questioned about this in Mark 10:1-9, He made it clear that divorce was not in God’s order in the beginning, but was allowed because of the HARDNESS of the people’s hearts. God had said, “A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh.” Jesus said, “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Moses’ law, the Old Testament law, allowed divorce because of the hardness of the people’s hearts. But God’s people, under the New Testament, DON’T HAVE HARD HEARTS. We are new creatures with new hearts, loving the commandments of God, walking after His Spirit, and dead to ourselves (II Corinthians 5:17, Ezekiel 11:19, I John 5:3, Romans 8:14, Matthew 16:24-25). Therefore, Jesus taught that God’s will for His people was that they have a life without divorce (Mark 10:11-12, Matthew 5:32, Matthew 19:9, Luke 16:18). The love of God in the hearts of his saints makes divorce of TWO true believers an unheard of thing. For divorce to happen, someone must forsake the Lord.
These teachings of Jesus also indicate that fornication–not found in a Christian’s life–is the only legitimate grounds for divorce in God’s eyes. If a husband or wife commits fornication they may be divorced–put away. The faithful husband or wife must be careful to show mercy when it’s called for. Never should the unfaithful mate’s sin be reason for divorce when the unfaithful mate is truly repentant (Matthew 18:21-22).
God’s order of authority in I Corinthians 11:3 is, “the head of every man is Christ: the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” The wife is to be subject to the husband, and the husband to Christ, and Christ to God. This is God’s perfect order, but a problem arises for the wife if the husband is not subject to Christ. If he isn’t a Christian–subject to Christ–he may require things of his wife that are SIN for her. In this case, I believe, the wife must remain in God’s order by being SUBJECT TO CHRIST and NOT TO HER HUSBAND. He is out of God’s order. In other matters, I believe she should remain subject to her husband.
The Apostle Paul teaches in I Corinthians, chapter 7, concerning divorce and separation. He teaches in verses 10 and 11, even as Jesus taught, that two believers should not divorce or separate. But, if separation happens the only course is reconciliation or to remain unmarried. He then in verses 12-16 counsels concerning a subject Jesus didn’t mention–those who have unbelieving husbands or wives. If the unbeliever wants to live with the Christian husband or wife, then the Christian should live with them in hope of converting them. I believe the Christian needs to make clear to the unbeliever the type of life that the Christian intends to live–a life subject to Christ: holy, pure, without sin. If the unbeliever decides he doesn’t want to live with the Christian, then don’t hinder him from leaving. “God has called us to peace.”
If the unbeliever leaves, choosing not to live with the believer, the believer is not “UNDER BONDAGE.” I believe this forsaken Christian is free to remarry (I Corinthians 7:15), but only to a Christian.