Pleased to be Together

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“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #67

“But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him” (1 Cor. 7:12-13).

Paul then moves into uncharted territory. The Lord’s teaching on divorce presupposed two members of the covenant. But because of the expansion of the gospel into the pagan world, a new situation had arisen—that of mixed marriages. Now what? So Paul is not saying that this teaching is uninspired, while the earlier standard was inspired by the Lord. The earlier teaching came from the Lord Jesus in His earthly ministry, and this teaching came from Paul’s apostolic ministry.

So what was that teaching? The bottom line is that mere unbelief on the part of a spouse is not grounds for divorce. This means having sex with a pagan is not automatically contaminating for the believer.

The word that is used in both verses, applied to both sexes, is suneudokeo—pleased to be together with. This presupposes a willingness on the part of the unbeliever to live within the confines of a biblical definition of marriage. If he or she is willing for that, then the marriage should continue. If the situation is one of animus and open hostility, then the circumstances don’t fit with Paul’s hypothetical situation. But even there, Paul assumes that it will be the unbeliever who departs (v. 15). The believer may have to take the initiative at some point, especially if the unbeliever is adept at passive aggressive games, but if at all possible the hostility of desertion should be the work of the hostile one.


If a Christian is the hostile one, and departs from a fellow Christian without biblical warrant, and there has been no porneias, then that Christian should be disciplined by the church for his or her actions. Once that has happened, their judicial status is that of an unbeliever, and the teaching of this passage applies.

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