What God Hath Joined Together



    We will now examine a verse that is sometimes used as a Biblical basis for remarriage after divorce. I Corinthians 7:15:

But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

    Does I Corinthians 7:15 teach that if the unbelieving spouse insists upon a divorce, the believing spouse is no longer bound in that marriage, and therefore is free to remarry?

    We know from our previous studies that the conclusion that a divorced person can remarry is erroneous. The key word that we need to understand is the word that means "under bondage." It is the Greek word "douloo" which means "to enslave." It is from the Greek word "doulos" which is translated "slave," "bondservant," or "servant" in the Bible. It is commonly used to refer to a manís relationship to Christ. Paul was a servant (doulos) of Christ (Romans 1:1). We are servants of Christ (Colossians 4:12;II Timothy 2:24). On the other hand, we may be the slave of sin (II Peter 2:19).

    The word "doulos" or "douloo" is never used of the relationship that exists between husband and wife. Insofar as the Bible is concerned, the husband is never the slave of the wife; the wife is never the slave of the husband.

    God says in I Corinthians 7:27, "Art thou bound unto a wife?" but this word "bound" is entirely different from "doulos" or "douloo." It is the Greek word "deo." It is a word that gives the sense of two things being bound or tied together. The prisoner is bound (Mark 6:17). The donkey was tied (Mark 11:2). The husband and wife are bound to each other (I Corinthians 7:27, 39; Romans 7:2), but the idea of being a servant or a slave is not found in the word "deo."

    Nowhere else in the Bible is "douloo" identified with the husband-wife relationship. How are we to understand its use in I Corinthians 7:15? The answer can be seen if we properly understand the problem being addressed by this verse.

    Let use look at a situation common to our day. The Christian wife knows there is not to be a divorce under any circumstance, but the unsaved husband insists on a divorce. He refuses to obey Godís Word because he is unsaved. Godís Word means little or nothing to him.

    What is his wife to do? Is she bitterly and relentlessly to fight her husband in order to prevent the divorce? God has an answer for this situation. She is called to peace. She is not to fight. In her bondage to Christ, earnestly desiring to do Godís will, she is not to fight the divorce. She is not bound to Christís written law to the point that she is to engage in such a fight.


    If her husband divorces her, she cannot remarry as long as her husband is living (Romans 7:2-3). Instead of marrying, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband as I Corinthians 7:11 says:

But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

    I Corinthians 7:15 is not intended to give aid or comfort to those seeking divorce. When carefully understood in the light of everything else the Bible teaches about marriage, this verse is found to be in perfect agreement with the principle that there is not to be divorce for any reason.


    Another passage that is sometimes made to serve as a rationale to permit divorce is I Corinthians 7:27-28:

Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife, seek not a wife. but and 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.

    It is apparent and certainly Biblical to understand the phrase "seek not to be loosed," as a command not to seek divorce. That conclusion agrees with everything we have seen in the Bible concerning marriage. But verses 27 and 28 go on to say, "Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned."

    With this statement in mind, the argument is often presented that if the first word "loosed" in verse 27 refers to divorce, then the second word "loosed" must also refer to divorce. This interpretation makes the verse seem to teach that someone who is divorced can remarry. However, that conclusion, when tested by all the passages of the Bible that speak of divorce and remarriage, is shown to be wrong. Nowhere else in the Bible does God permit remarriage after divorce if the wife or husband still lives. Therefore, we should know that we have arrived at a wrong conclusion concerning the meaning of this verse.

    First, we assumed that the word "loosed" refers only to divorce. Actually, there are two ways a husband could be loosed from a wife; she could have been divorced or she could have died. Therefore, verse 27 is simply saying, "Art thou bound" [Greek deo which means shackled to], unto a wife? seek not to [desire to] be loosed." That is, do not desire that God would take her in death, the Biblical means of ending the marriage; and do not desire to be divorced from her, the unbiblical way to end the marriage. If you are loosed from a wife, verse 28 declares you can remarry. Since there is clear evidence in the Bible that you cannot remarry if you have been divorced, we can be sure that in the second usage of the word "loosed," God cannot have divorce in mind. If He did, this verse would contradict everything else in the Bible that concerns marriage and divorce


    The only possible meaning in regards to the second usage o the word "loosed" is that the shackle that has bound the wife to the husband has been broken by her death. That conclusion is in total agreement with passages like Romans 7:1-4.

    As a matter of fact, even the first usage of the word "loosed" in I Corinthians 7:27 cannot refer to divorce because Romans 7:2 stipulates that only if her husband is dead is a wife loosed from the law of her husband. In other words, even if a husband divorces his wife, she is still bound to him insofar as Godís law is concerned. Therefore, when God speaks of a man being loosed from his wife, He can be referring only to the loosing caused by the death of his wife.

    Thus, I Corinthians 7:27-28, like all of the other passages we have examined, gives no assent whatsoever to the idea of divorce or remarriage after divorce.