8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry,for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. 10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife..—1 Cor. 7:8-11 NIV
Paul feels that his not being married gives him more freedom and more time to serve the Lord. He says that it would be good if you would stay unmarried unless this would cause you to commit the sin of sex outside of marriage. If you desire intimate companionship and children, then you should marry a Godly person. But once you make that commitment, you must remain faithful to that one spouse. God would prefer that we not divorce at all, but He gave us free wills and He knew that we would do that. Paul is writing a short paraphrase of what Jesus told the Pharisees in Matthew 19.
7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”—Matt 19:7-9 NIV
Notice that when Jesus answers, He replaces the word “commanded” with the word “permitted”. Because of our free wills, God will not force anyone to stay married, but He would prefer that we allow Him to show us how to forgive and forget.
God’s grace is sufficient and mercy complete, and through Christ we are accepted. Couple other things of note:
– Jesus made it clear that it was “Moses” who permitted, rather than God (this understanding does NOT preclude a believer who has divorced from a reconciled relationship with God, should they willingly acknowledge that their decision is in conflict with God’s will, and only by God’s mercy and grace through Christ are they accepted)
– Paul (through the Holy Spirit) states clearly that a believer MUST not separate or divorce from their spouse, while insisting that should they do so, they must remain unwed OR be reconciled with their spouse; this exemplifies Jesus’ decision to to remain with His bride (after she separated from him) rather than being wed to another.