Paul and the 21st Century Church: Divorce
by Bobby Bruno

What is one issue where Paul encourages his churches that would also benefit the 21st century church, and how it would help. Provide Scripture to back up your claims.

With one of the biggest issues of today being the sky-rocketing divorce rate, I believe that Paul's admonition of husbands and wives submitting to each other is important. Even though back in Paul's day, new believers were leaving their spouses due to their not wanting to follow the risen Christ, which Paul then had to state the only way a believer could leave his or her spouse legally in the eyes of the church (1 Cor. 7:15/Rom. 7:2-3). Today, married couples act as if they are still following the Law of Moses in that they divorce for any reason they like. We've gone back to the days of divorcing just because our wash wasn't done right, or our spouses can't cook a decent meal every night.

Paul was very adamant about a married couple staying together (1 Cor. 7:10-12). Only adultery on the part of one spouse is acceptable as a reason to divorce a spouse, but even then the couple must work towards forgiveness and reconciliation (1 Cor. 7:16). The couple should stay together for the believer makes the unbeliever holy in God's eyes (1 Cor 7:13-14), and also, staying married even to an unbeliever makes the children born of the union acceptable to God (1 Cor. 7:14). When it came to married couples submitting to each other Paul was very forth-right in his admonitions to both the husband and wife (Col. 3:18-19/Eph. 3:21-24). Not in submission as one spouse lords their authority over the other, but in the way Christ is head of the Church. But the most important element that Paul spent the most time on was with couples needing to love each other as Christ loves the Church (Eph. 5:25-33). If the love of Christ is present, then love will always prevail without fail (1 Cor. 13:1-13).

In today's world, couples sometimes take the easy road to divorce instead of working out their problems the way Jesus taught us through His own words and the words He gave to Paul to speak to us. If Jesus is in a marriage relationship the relationship can weather even the rockiest of storms. Jesus proved to us that He can calm any storm we find ourselves in if we just let love be the guiding force behind everything we do. If married couples do what Jesus commanded to love our neighbors (spouses included) as we love ourselves, then Paul's admonition in 1 Corinthians 7:17 will be the call to living as we should, "Everyone should live the life that the Lord gave him when God called him. This is the guideline I use in every church." If married, stay married and let the love of Christ through the Holy Spirit work out the kinks in the relationship until He returns to take us as His Bride as we submit our eternity into His care.

Colossians 3:18-19 (GW)
18 Wives, place yourselves under your husbands' authority. This is appropriate behavior for the Lord's people. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and don't be harsh with them.

Romans 7:2-3 (GW)
2 For example, a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he is alive. But if her husband dies, that marriage law is no longer in effect for her. 3 So if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she will be called an adulterer. But if her husband dies, she is free from this law, so she is not committing adultery if she marries another man.

1 Corinthians 7:10-17 (GW)
10 I pass this command along (not really I, but the Lord): A wife shouldn't leave her husband. 11 If she does, she should stay single or make up with her husband. Likewise, a husband should not divorce his wife. 12 I (not the Lord) say to the rest of you: If any Christian man is married to a woman who is an unbeliever, and she is willing to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any Christian woman is married to a man who is an unbeliever, and he is willing to live with her, she should not divorce her husband. 14 Actually, the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and an unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise, their children would be unacceptable {to God}, but now they are acceptable to him. 15 But if the unbelieving partners leave, let them go. Under these circumstances a Christian man or Christian woman is not bound {by a marriage vow}. God has called you to live in peace. 16 How do you as a wife know whether you will save your husband? How do you as a husband know whether you will save your wife? 17 Everyone should live the life that the Lord gave him when God called him. This is the guideline I use in every church.

Ephesians 5:21-33 (GW)
21 Place yourselves under each other's authority out of respect for Christ. 22 Wives, place yourselves under your husbands' authority as you have placed yourselves under the Lord's authority. 23 The husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. It is his body, and he is its Savior. 24 As the church is under Christ's authority, so wives are under their husbands' authority in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it. 26 He did this to make the church holy by cleansing it, washing it using water along with spoken words. 27 Then he could present it to himself as a glorious church, without any kind of stain or wrinkleholy and without faults. 28 So husbands must love their wives as they love their own bodies. A man who loves his wife loves himself. 29 No one ever hated his own body. Instead, he feeds and takes care of it, as Christ takes care of the church. 30 We are parts of his body. 31 That's why a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will be one. 32 This is a great mystery. (I'm talking about Christ's relationship to the church.) 33 But every husband must love his wife as he loves himself, and wives should respect their husbands.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (GW)
1 I may speak in the languages of humans and of angels. But if I don't have love, I am a loud gong or a clashing cymbal. 2 I may have the gift to speak what God has revealed, and I may understand all mysteries and have all knowledge. I may even have enough faith to move mountains. But if I don't have love, I am nothing. 3 I may even give away all that I have and give up my body to be burned. But if I don't have love, none of these things will help me. 4 Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn't jealous. It doesn't sing its own praises. It isn't arrogant. 5 It isn't rude. It doesn't think about itself. It isn't irritable. It doesn't keep track of wrongs. 6 It isn't happy when injustice is done, but it is happy with the truth. 7 Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up. 8 Love never comes to an end. There is the gift of speaking what God has revealed, but it will no longer be used. There is the gift of speaking in other languages, but it will stop by itself. There is the gift of knowledge, but it will no longer be used. 9 Our knowledge is incomplete and our ability to speak what God has revealed is incomplete. 10 But when what is complete comes, then what is incomplete will no longer be used. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I no longer used childish ways. 12 Now we see a blurred image in a mirror. Then we will see very clearly. Now my knowledge is incomplete. Then I will have complete knowledge as God has complete knowledge of me. 13 So these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the best one of these is love.

Comment: "My question for you would be, is there anything that would give reason for a divorce? Also, do you think that those rules for marriage could be cultural, and not meant to be used in the 21st century?"

Author Response: I think the biggest reason for divorce is that it is easier to leave the marriage than to fight for the marriage. It's easier to give up than it is to give in. I believe the Bible's words about divorce are for all time. When we look at the fact that God wants the Jews and the Gentiles to get along, an impossible feat without Jesus doing the reconciling, then I believe He expects men and women to get along even better. We can see that divorce today is causing a mess of issues that are slowly tearing humanity apart. This list includes abortion, broken homes, and children without one or both parents and so on. Broken homes mean broken children without direction. Can we attribute the rising abortion and murder rate to broken homes? Some people think so. The problem is that many adults, in the mess of their marital issues sometimes forget the children. My first wife (we were not saved) divorced me after I left home due to mental illness. I planned on returning but she couldn't wait six months. I tried for a year to reconcile with her (I had stayed faithful during those months) but she wouldn't have me back. Thankfully my children turned out successful, but it doesn't always happen this way in other broken marriages. Like many, my first wife gave up on me before I even had a chance to state my case. As I stated, too many give up on the marriage too soon without giving it a long enough chance to survive the couple involved. I believe, the longer you're married, the longer you have to try to make it work.

Comment: "The fact that an idol is any ANYTHING that comes before God needs to be said. That means, your husband, your wife, your children, your mom, daddog, catmoney, house, car, or boatANYTHING! It's tough to hear but that's exactly what it is."

Author Response: I believe that the worst idolization is done by some of the churches that proclaim to teach the Bible every weekend. There are churches that idolize their worship; the preacher is put on a pedestal because of his great teaching; they worship and pray to someone other than Jesus or God and expect an answer to those prayers; they may not even let their people read their Bibles so that they might find out that the preacher is wrong in his teaching. Just like the priests of B'aal, these altars need to be blown away by Holy Fire. I like how God allowed that to happen right in front of their faces so there would be no doubt about who was the real God. God needs to do that today, because, at the moment at least, He is letting some churches get away with blasphemy and idol worship that could even rival that of the B'aal's.

Comment: "If God really only wanted man to be one woman why do you think he let man take concubines on as family? And exactly when did it all change?"

Author Response: You could say that there is a little disappointment about my divorce. We were married for sixteen years before the breakup; had two wonderful children, a nice house. I believe that there is always disappointment on the part of at least one of the partners in a divorce. I really wanted to make it work, but, like I said, lies get in and the lie is believed over the greater truth, so even if the truth became known the damage is already done. Why do I think that God allowed man to take on concubines? It's simple, God always allows man to do what he wants even if it is against God. Somewhere in time, a man decided that he wanted more sex than his wife would give him, so why not bring in these ungodly women just to have sex with. We know from the story of Abraham that God did not like the fact that Abraham slept with Hagar. How do we know this? Since that time there has been no peace in the Middle East because the families of Isaac and Ishmael are still fighting for the right to be the leader of Israel. Abraham's wife convinced him to have sex with Hagar. Tell me, what man in his right mind would turn down an offer from his wife to sleep with another woman with her okay? Again, we see King David having loads of trouble from his children from different mothers. One of his kids even killed his "brother". As scripture says, God allows man to take the rope out as far as he wants to, but God is ready to reel in that rope when we call to Him in mercy. The longer we take out the rope, the more tangled we can become in our sins until terrible things happen to our families because of them. Imagine how tired Solomon must have been after having sex with all of his 700+ concubines every day????? Sex was God's idea; sex with someone you are not directly married to was not.

Comment: "Nothing has changed; the world would rather accept a thief rather than the one who came to give them life. "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."(John 10:10, KJV)."

Author Response: Unfortunately, you are correct,but most people, especially those who make a lot of money, feel that they are already living the abundant life. Look at Donald Trump, could you ever convince him that he needs Jesus to give him an abundant life when he already has more than he needs are far as possessions and money go? I'm staying with friends at the moment and they like to watch HGTV, especially the shows about people looking for houses. The money these people have to spend astounds me. They can afford any house they want yet they bicker about how small the bathroom is or how terrible the kitchen looks. Here I am without my own place to live and these people are complaining that the bathroom is too small? My bathroom in my last apartment had just enough room for a tub, a sink, and a toilet and room for one person to stand in and I was fine with it. I can only watch these shows for so long because these people make me mad. Give me $750,000 as a Christian and see what I can do with it. Give me a $100,000 dollar home and I'll give the rest away. That's the abundant life that Jesus gives to us -- the choice to give rather than to keep. Too many well-to-do-people think that all they need is a huge house in a perfect neighborhood with perfect children in a perfect school district. Where is the "life" in that?

Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love.  He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.

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