Does I Corinthians 7:11 Authorize Divorce?

I Cor 7:10 reads “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband.” So it is a command of the Lord Jesus that a woman not depart from her husband – even if she never remarries. Both divorce and marital separation involve departing and therefore are forbidden by this verse.

Some say God allows divorce as long as you don’t get remarried, and as proof they use verse 11 which reads “But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband ….” They argue that Paul would not have told the woman what to do if she departed, unless departing was right.

But notice a parallel – I John 2:1: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (ESV). By the above false reasoning, John would not have told us what to do if we sinned unless it was right to sin.

Notice another parallel – Deut 22:28-29: “If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife ….” By the above false reasoning, Moses would not have told the man what to do if he committed fornication, unless the fornication was right.

You see, “contingency legislation” does not necessarily condone, nor condemn the contingency.

Conclusion: Divorce (except for fornication) is a sin (Matt 5:32, etc.), even if no remarriage follows.


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