“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)
The Basket Case Chronicles #66
“And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord. Let not the wife depart from her husband. But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife” (1 Cor. 7:10-11).
Recall that this is Paul’s summary and application of the Lord’s teaching on marriage, as it applies to two members of the covenant. In the new covenant, this means that these two verses are addressing a troubled marriage of two professing Christians. It is clear from what Paul says here that the exception clause that the Lord gives (except for porneias) is not yet operative, which means that we have two Christians who cannot get along. This is therefore not a situation where the marriage vow has been broken through some form of infidelity, but rather what the Lord described as Moses making allowance for the problem of hard hearts.
In such circumstances, Paul says, a wife should not leave her husband. We can see the Lord’s restrictions coming into play next, because Paul then says that if the situation is bad enough that the wife has to leave, she should make a point to remain unmarried. This fits perfectly with what the Lord taught—if she leaves, but there has been no porneias, and she then she marries another, then that is tantamount to adultery. So, if she has to separate, which is sometimes necessary, don’t compound the problems by marrying another.
One other thing is important to note. If she has to separate (for the sake of her safety, say), and her husband is a professing Christian whose behavior has been horrendous, one of the things that should happen is that the church should discipline him. If he is unrepentant, and chases his wife away, and the church excommunicates him, then he is judicially an unbeliever, and then Paul’s instructions about mixed marriage (v. 12ff) would then apply.