This passage of teaching from Paul reveals him at his most pragmatic and has proved hugely helpful to many through the years who have become believers after they were married. We have noted already that the church fellowship at Corinth believed wholeheartedly in freedom in Christ and sometimes took this principle to excess. Here, Paul is speaking about another example of this in that new believers in the church felt that they were automatically freed from their marriage to unbelieving husbands or wives. This may seem completely irrational to us today, but remember that this was the first century and these were the first generation of Christians! We should be grateful to the Corinthians, because Paul has written so much about living as believers which is still very useful today. Paul is dealing with three differing situations: 1. Those who are unmarried or widows. Paul asserted that there was no one action which was correct and if they struggled with their sexual appetite as single and celibate, they should seek to get married. 2. Those who are married. Paul forbids divorce on the grounds that Jesus forbade it. This seems a very high moral goal, but it was vital that the church at Corinth did not sink into the general morally lax living which the rest of the population were in. 3. The marriage of believers and unbelievers. Now, interestingly, as Jesus gave no definite command about this, Paul gives his own judgement and practical wisdom. Paul would have known that one of the great complaints against Christianity was that it broke up families. We read in 1 Peter 4 v 15 that one accusation was that it tampered with domestic relationships and so threatened society. Paul declares that the unbelieving partner is consecrated by the believer, what a beautiful thought! It is more that the unbeliever is brought into contact with the realm of grace than the believer feel threatened by the realm of sin. This implicates the whole family, bringing the children into the realm of grace. I think we can extend that into our general family. You may be the only believer amongst your brothers and sisters and parents, but you bring the grace of God into their lives! I met a young woman in India who had recently converted from Hinduism to Christianity, the first of her large family and the day I and some others visited her the home was full of family-extended cousins and so on-all wanting to see and hear what these Christian people were to say! We read of one of Paul's foundational principles here and elsewhere: 'God has called you to live in peace'.
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