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Is separation in marriage ever an option? What is taught in 1 Cor. 7?

In rare instances I recommend biblical separation in a marriage, and always with a time limit to come back together. Sometimes we need a brief time of space to regroup and gain perspective--and seek the Lord. However, as you learned from my sermon series Marriage on the Rocks (, I do not believe 1 Cor. 7:10-11 is talking about separation, but divorce. The passage reads as follows: “ … the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.”

The message in this passage is that divorce is not desirable. This and dozens of other passages that I noted in my messages state clearly that one “should not” get divorced (Malachi 2:16; Matt. 5:31-32; 19:3-9; 1Cor. 7:10-13). Indeed, why would Paul grant the wife to divorce her (presumably) believing husband in 1 Cor. 7:11, and then forbid her from divorcing her unbelieving husband in 7:13? Elsewhere in Scripture, God says not to commit murder, and follows this command by describing the consequences “if someone commits murder…” The same is true of 1 Cor. 7:10-11--the consequences of disobeying God by getting divorced is a life of singlehood (or reconciliation with one's spouse). Anyone using 1 Cor. 7:10-11 as a passage that encourages divorce is doing serious damage to the text.

God's will is that the two of you reconcile and remarry. Having said that, your legal divorce is still a divorce. Although (in my opinion) you are not still married even in “God's eyes,” nevertheless you are not free to marry another until the door legally closes on the possibility to reconcile with your spouse (i.e., until she gets remarried). Until then, God's will is for you to remain single and pray for reconciliation (1 Cor. 7:11).

Related Topics: Scripture Twisting, Marriage

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