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Does Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:10-16 contradict what Jesus said about divorce?

1 Corinthians talks about a Christian who has an unbelieving mate. At one point, Paul says, “But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases” (v. 15). Jesus said in Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:8-9 that one can divorce a spouse only in the case of marital unfaithfulness. Does Paul advocate divorce or abandonment?

1 Corinthians 7:10 - 16

ESV - 10 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.

Clarify Share Report Asked August 19 2019 Mini Jack Gutknecht

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
I would say that the difference between Jesus and Paul on this subject is the issue of whose side the initiative is on.

According to Jesus, a Christian is not permitted to pursue divorce from a spouse (even if that spouse is an unbeliever) except on grounds of adultery on the spouse's part. (In addition, even in cases of adultery on the spouse's part, the Christian is not commanded or obligated to seek divorce, but is just allowed to do so.)

In Paul's teaching, by contrast, the initiative is on the part of an unbelieving husband or wife who does not share his or her spouse's Christian faith. As a non-Christian, the unbelieving spouse is not bound by Christ's teaching. If an unbelieving spouse leaves a Christian spouse because of being unwilling to accept or co-exist with the Christian's faith, and refuses to remain in the marriage as long as the believing spouse is a Christian, then the Christian's obligation to God takes precedence even over the marriage vows between the spouses, and even if the Christian would be willing to remain with the unbelieving spouse.

August 19 2019 3 responses Vote Up Share Report


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