Let’s quickly look at a couple of different points from today’s reading. These are things that cause some people to wonder what Paul meant, so I hope I can clear them up for you.
Let’s first tackle the parts where Paul says he is expressing his opinion. Does that mean that we can discount what he says if we don’t like what we hear? No. Those parts don’t somehow become the uninspired Word of God. If they did, then they would not be included in the Bible. What Paul was saying was that there were no scriptures yet in existence that dealt with the issue, so He wasn’t able to quote any verses to support what he was teaching here. But if you look at how he ended the chapter, he was declaring that he was lead by the Holy Spirit. When he says, “I think that I too have God’s Spirit”, he was not expressing doubt. In the language of the day, he was saying, “I am convinced that I have God’s Spirit.” And since that is true, his teaching on the subject is from God.
The next thing that causes some difficulty for many people is where Paul mentions that the unbelieving spouse is made acceptable to God by the believing spouse. Some people mistakenly think that this means that an unbelieving husband or wife gets a free pass to Heaven because they are married to a believing spouse, or the children of a believer get a free pass. Of course that is not true. Each person must accept Christ on their own. There are no coattails upon which you can ride into Heaven.
If you look at the passage again, you’ll see that Paul was talking about divorce. He was saying that if the unbeliever agrees to live with the believer, then their marriage will be recognized by God as a holy, valid marriage. They do not need to be divorced. And since their marriage is acceptable to God, then their children are not deemed as illegitimate, as they would be if their parents were unmarried.
Paul goes on to say that “God has called you to live in peace”. Of course He doesn’t want lives to be turned upside down by divorce over this. And in staying together, the unbelieving spouse might be convinced of the reality of God’s love by the loving example of the believing spouse, and be brought to the cross of Christ.
Do you have other ideas? I’d be glad to hear them. Leave a comment below.